Skip to Content

3 Easy Ways To Get The Sweat Smell Out Of Shirts And Gym Clothes

3 EASY ways to get the sweat smell out of shirts and gym clothes using 2 natural ingredients or 1 of my favorite clothes cleaning products!

How To Get The Sweat Smell Out Of Shirts And Gym Clothes

If you exercise a lot, work outside, or just live in a hot, humid area, you’ve probably noticed that some clothes smell like sweat, even after washing.

Ironically, your deodorant, detergent, and fabric softener can all trap bacteria and odors in clothes. That’s because they can each leave a little residue on the fibers. And, that residue builds up overtime.

Image of yellow, sweat smells in the armpit of a shirt before washing it in OxiClean.
You can see the yellow, dark, deodorant and sweat trapped in the armpit of this shirt.

Some links on this post are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. 

You’ve probably noticed deodorant residue in the armpit area on shirts and gym clothes.

But, don’t worry, it’s pretty easy to get rid of that built-up residue that traps body odor and sweat smell in gym cloths, shirts, and other clothes.

Let’s get to the 3 ways to get the sweat smell out of gym clothes and shirts! Then I’ll follow that up with some answers to common questions and laundry tips.

Gym clothes with a dark deodorant stain in the armpit and a sweat smell that doesn't wash out.
This exercise tank has a dark deodorant stain in the armpit and a strong sweat smell that doesn’t wash out.

Quick Warning: This post only applies to clothes that can be washed in a washing machine. I don’t recommend trying these on clothes that need to be dry cleaned.

Check the label on your clothes for washing instructions before following the directions in this post.

Image shows someone smelling a bad odor in a shirt for a post about how to get sweat smells out of clothes.
Get that bad odor out of your gym clothes with these easy laundry pretreatments.

1. How To Use Vinegar To Get Smells Out Of Clothes

You can use distilled white vinegar to get the sweat smell out of shirts and gym clothes. Distilled white vinegar is the vinegar that you usually find in the baked goods section in every grocery store.

To remove odor from clothes with vinegar, add 2 cups of white vinegar to 1/2 a gallon of tap water in a large bowl, sink, or bucket.

Image of vinegar about to be mixed into a pretreat for bad odor smells in clothes.
Use normal white vinegar mixed with water as a pre-wash soak.

Then submerge your stinky clothes in the vinegar mixture. And, leave them to soak for 3 hours or longer. I recommend leaving your clothes in the pretreat overnight.

The longer it’s in the mix, the better it works. Then wash and dry your clothes as usual.

My Vinegar Pretreat Test Results

I tested 2 shirts with a body odor smell in a weaker vinegar mix. I used just 1 cup of vinegar with 1/2 a gallon on tap water. Then, I let 2 shirts with body odor soak in the vinegar mix overnight.

After washing and drying as usual, one shirt was completely odor free after washing and drying. But the other shirt still had a very faint body odor smell in the armpits.

Scrubbing pit stains in a shirt before washing.
When a shirt has a lot of residue, I scrub the armpit fabric together to remove most of it before soaking. You can also use a soft bristle toothbrush to gently scrub off the residue before soaking your armpit stains. This works with all 3 pretreats.

So, since there was a HUGE IMPROVEMENT with the vinegar, I decided that doubling the amount of vinegar used would have completely gotten rid of the sweat smell in shirts and other clothes.

Instead of just 1 cup of vinegar (like I used), I recommend using 2 cups of vinegar with water as a laundry pretreat for clothes that smell bad.

2. How To Use Baking Soda To Get The Smell Out Of Clothes

You can pretreat clothes with sweat smells in a mixture of 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 a gallon of tap water. Be sure to stir the baking soda until it fully dissolves before adding the clothes.

Image of someone mixing baking soda with water to remove body odor from shirts and gym clothes.
1 cup of baking soda mixed into 1/2 a gallon of water is a great prewash treatment for body odors in clothes.

Then, let your smelly clothes soak for at least 3 hours. But, again, letting them soak overnight will give the best results.

After soaking the stinky clothes in baking soda and water, wash and dry them as you normally would.

I tested this baking soda laundry pretreat on 2 of my shirts with sweat smells. And, I was honestly surprised that it completely removed the body odors.

Mixing OxiClean Odor Blasters to get rid of sweat smells in shirts and gym clothes.
Use 1 full scoop of OxiClean Odor Blasters to pretreat bad smells in laundry.

3. How To Use OxiClean Odor Blasters To Get The Smell Out Of Clothes

This is my favorite way to get rid of sweat smell out of shirts and gym clothes!!!

To make this pretreat for bad smelling clothes, add 1 full scoop of OxiClean Odor Blasters to 1/2 a gallon of tap water. Then stir the OxiClean into the water to dissolve it as much as possible.

Add your smelly clothes to the OxiClean mixture, then let them soak for 3 hours or longer. The longer they soak, the better it works. I soaked mine overnight.

Mixing OxiClean into water to soak laundry before washing.
Mix OxiClean into the water before adding your clothes.

After soaking, wash and dry your clothes as normal. As soon as my clothes came out of the dryer, I gave them the smell test.

The heat from the dryer would have brought out any bad body odors and sweat smells. BUT, the shirts that soaked in the OxiClean mix smelled fantastic straight from the dryer!!

And, I used this on the worst of my 6 stinky shirts. Then, I wore that shirt all day yesterday. I’m happy to say that I smelled ZERO body odor or sweat smell coming off the shirt. Even when I worked out.

Using OxiClean Odor Blasters to remove bad smells from laundry.
After soaking your smelly clothes in a pretreat, you can also add OxiClean Odor Blaster to the wash WITH your normal laundry detergent.

How Do You Get The Smell Out Of Clothes That Have Been Washed?

The best way to get the smell out of clothes that have been washed is with a pretreat soak that will destroy the odor causing bacteria and remove any residue that has built up on your clothes.

You can pretreat clothes with bad smells in vinegar, baking soda, or OxiClean Odor Blasters mixed with water. They’ve all worked well for me!

Check out the mixtures I used in the instructions above. Or, watch this video to see how to get body odor smells out of clothes.

3 EASY WAYS To Get The Sweat Smell Out Of Shirts And Gym Clothes!

Why Does My Shirt Still Smell Like Sweat After Washing It?

If your shirt still smells like sweat after washing it, you might have odor-trapping residue from deodorant, too much detergent, or fabric softener in your clothes.

You can use laundry pretreats like vinegar, baking soda, or OxiClean to breakdown that residue, remove deodorant stains, and destroy bacteria and odors in the fibers.

Check out the directions above to see how to make these body odor pretreats for laundry.

Soaking bad smelling gym clothes before washing them.
Make sure to get every bit of your clothing wet before leaving it in the bowl to soak. To soak a lot of clothes, you can use a sink, just double or triple your mix, as needed. See more of my cat in 6 Ways To Hide A Kitty Litter Box in a Cabinet.

Can You Skip Fabric Softener?

You do not need to use fabric softener in the washing machine. I never do. Fabric Softener leaves a residue on your clothes that can trap in body odors and sweat smells.

Use a wool dryer ball to prevent static cling and wrinkles instead.

And, even though liquid fabric softener might make your towels and clothes feel softer, it can also reduce the normal fluffiness and absorption in towels.

The best way to get soft feeling, fluffy, absorbent towels is by washing them in the recommended amount of laundry detergent (too much detergent can leave residue too).

Then, once every couple of months, soak your towels in a sink full of water and 2 cups of vinegar for 3 hours or longer.

That vinegar soak will strip the built-up detergent and fabric softener from the towels so that they can fluff up again.

Smelling clothes after removing body odor and sweat smells.
After soaking my smelly clothes in a pretreat, washing, and drying these clothes were smelling great again!

What Happens If You Use Vinegar And Laundry Detergent Together?

Mixing vinegar with laundry detergent will change the pH of the laundry detergent. Which can reduce it’s ability to clean your clothes.

Tide detergent has detailed info about how using vinegar or baking soda in the washing machine can negatively effect your clothes.

So, I would rarely use vinegar in your washing machine. Instead, you can pretreat your laundry in a sink with a vinegar or baking soda and water mix to remove residues, smoke smells, and laundry odors.

Image of someone smelling body odor in gym clothes for a post about how to get sweat smells out of shirts and clothes.

That’s it for this list of ways to get the sweat smell out of shirts and gym clothes. Here’s some of my favorite Home Cleaning tips, you might like.

Some DIYs You Might Like

Here’s how to Get Rid of Cable And Still Watch TV: Easy Guide.

Image of woman smiling for post about how to get rid of cable and still watch TV.. Text on image says "Quit Cable! Save Money?"

This post about How to Remove Water Stain from Ceiling Without Paint – 1 Easy Step is always popular!

Quick and easy written steps and video for How to Fix Water Stains on Ceiling Leaks without paint. In just a few minutes, get rid of most water stains.

Need to know how to whiten tile grout in your kitchen or bath? Check this out.

How to Whiten Grout with a quick and easy DIY Grout Renew.

Feeling inspired? Now that you’ve seen 3 ways to get rid of sweat smells in clothes, you can do it! Get washing!