Sharon asked: I purchased a new pair of black jeans. They have a distinct odor, which I think is probably the dye used on them. I have washed them a couple of times, but the smell continues! Any suggestions?
Sometimes the chemicals used during clothing production can linger. Dark jeans require a large amount of dye and chemicals to allow them to keep their color strong and vibrant. Removing the smell from these chemicals can be a challenge. Here are some things to try that others have had success with.
You Will Need:
Steps to Remove the Odor:
There are several cleaners you can choose from. It will be easiest to apply these cleaners either in the washing machine or while soaking in a bucket/sink. If you need to deodorize multiple pairs of jeans, it is best to treat them one at a time.
- Castile soap works very well for removing chemical odors from jeans. Add two tablespoons of a liquid castile soap, such as Dr. Bronners, to a small or four tablespoons to a medium wash load instead of your regular detergent. If adding the soap directly to the washer, try to distribute it evenly.
- Vinegar is also great deodorizer. Add some to the washing cycle and wash as normal. A normal sized load takes between ½ – 1 cup and a small load would require just ¼ cup.
- Another great deodorizer that works well on chemical odors is baking soda. Don’t use both vinegar and baking soda at the same time though as they cancel each other out. To use baking soda, add 1/2 cup to the a medium-size wash load along with your regular detergent. If possible, stop the load after it has filled to allow the items to soak for a couple hours.
- If those don’t do the trick, try filling a bucket with hot water and adding a scoop of OxiClean to it. Place the jeans in the bucket and allow them to soak overnight. There may be an odor as they are soaking, but it will go away once they are washed. Put on cleaning gloves, then remove the jeans from the bucket and wash them as normal.
- Another option is to add some borax to the washing cycle. Read the label for the appropriate amounts.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- Some cleaners, such as OxiClean and borax, may cause some fading. Test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the color is not affected.
- Do not add other clothes to the wash while treating the jeans as the other clothes could pick up some of the smell if it is not successfully removed.
- Jeans should never be washed with hot water as it can cause them to shrink.
- If you had your jeans dry cleaned and they now have a strong chemical smell, switch to a dry cleaner that does not use perc (perchloroethylene), which is a known carcinogen.
- Never store clothes in the dry cleaning bag as this can trap the odor of the chemicals and cause it to cling to the fabric.
- Several site users have commented below that they heard from somewhere else to put the clothes in the oven, as the heat can supposedly release/cancel the chemicals. Do NOT try this! You can very quickly set the fabric on fire, and another commenter (Thanks Linda!) says that this method flooded her home with chemical fumes.
- Better Basics for the Home by Annie Berthold-Bond
- Martha Stewart’s Homekeeping Handbook by Martha Stewart
- The Complete Household Handbook by Good Housekeeping