How to Remove Chemical Odors from Jeans


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.

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Odor:


  1. It will be easiest to apply these cleaners either in the washing machine or while soaking in a bucket/sink.
  2. Vinegar is a 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.
  3. If the vinegar doesn’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.
  4. Remove the jeans from the bucket and wash as normal.
  5. 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.



  1. E. Greiger says:

    I’m sure you must be referring to black Faded Glory jeans – horrible smell which CANNOT be removed.

  2. Tina says:

    I have had this problem as well, one pair of black jeans and one pair dark blue. I have tried everything mentioned on the internet, including the vinegar; nothing works. This weekend, I sprayed them before wearing with Resolve foam and rubbed it in; it worked for the day. When washed and dried, the smell was back. Washed a second time before putting them in dryer, I sprayed them again (heavy) with the foam; they came out smelling fresh! YEAH! I am hoping if I do this a time or two there will be no smell at all EVER!

  3. Alexandra says:

    I will try all of the above. I have a favorite pair (black skinny jeans) I like, however they STINK. I have tried several things and they still stink, so I will buy Resolve.

  4. Auntie S. says:

    What you folks are smelling is formaldehyde. Stuff to embalm dead humans. If you can smell it, then you can absorb it through your skin, too. The smell never comes out.

  5. Wendy says:

    I tried the OxiClean idea, soaking black jeans overnight. Now I have gray jeans that still stink.

  6. Dee says:

    I tried soaking them in vinegar about three times and washing three times. The smell faded enough to wear, but I still get a faint smell once in a while.

  7. Dee says:

    Yes!! I used the Resolve Foam and it worked! I sprayed it inside and out on my black jeans. I used half the can while the jeans were hanging on a hanger outside. Once I sprayed the foam, I rubbed the foam really good into the fabric, left them outside for five minutes, and then added Oxiclean and Tide Total Care to the washer, washed the jeans and wow: I can’t smell the stink anymore! Hope it works for you!

  8. James says:

    Are you referring to Resolve Foam, the carpet cleaner?

  9. Marie says:

    I too want to know if it’s the carpet cleaner that Dee was talking about; as I have just purchased a pair of black jeans which smell to high heaven. I hate to wear them like that as people will think it’s me that they are smelling! I also want to know why they would be using formaldehyde in the making of jeans. And just the dark ones?

  10. Tami says:

    I am going to try the Resolve tomorrow, and will update!

  11. Heather says:

    I think it must be just a small portion of the population that can smell this because of some comments I have seen on the internet like, wash them, use vinegar, or “it’s your fabric softener.” Um no, these smell repulsive. I never had this problem with black jeans until a few years ago and the pants both were black and came from Walmart. I wore a lot of black in my youth and never smelled this before. I have to conclude this is some new extremely cheap dye that is being used. I sure hope lots of people will start complaining and they’ll go back to the old stuff. By the way, the smell does not disappear after several washings/soakings. I eventually gave up.

  12. Rhonda says:

    I have a pair of Merona dark blue jeans from Target that have a petroleum smell I cannot get out with washing or vinegar. Resolve Foam will be my next try.

  13. Katy says:

    I bought three pairs of Jeggings from JCPenny’s; a black, light brown and olive green pair. All THREE STINK to high heaven. I washed and dried them – no change. Then I washed again with 1/2 cup bleach and detergent – no change. Washed a third time with Oxi-Clean liquid added to the water and detergent – no change. Washed a fourth time with detergent and a whole box of baking soda – no change. I have hung them out to dry on the line and leave them out (not in the closet) to air. THEY ARE UNWEARABLE THE ODOR IS SO STRONG! It is a very heavy chemical, almost petroleum, smell. I will try the vinegar tonight since I have it on hand. The cost of the Resolve and the time and effort makes me think I will take the pants back and file a formal complaint. :(

  14. Sue says:

    I agree that the smell came about a few years ago. Old Navy stores have that bad smell. It does smell like petroleum or burning rubber. I wear black jeans to work and the smell is embarrassing. I am going to try the Resolve foam as well.

  15. Katy says:

    Report # 2. I soaked the Jeggings overnight in the washing machine with white vinegar and my laundry soap, washed them in the morning. No change. The next night I soaked them overnight in the washing machine using three cups of liquid Oxi-Clean and laundry soap in the water. I washed them the next day and NO CHANGE. I am going to try the Resolve on 1 pair because of the expense and amount of work required. If that doesn’t work, all three pairs are going back to the store and I will write a customer review on the Jeggings.

  16. Nancy says:

    I recently bought three pairs of black Lucky skinny jeans. Love them, however they smell awful!! Tried the vinegar; didn’t work…will try a small amount of Oxi-Clean. Do not want them to fade.

  17. Yazmin says:

    1980 bought a black jean; we were traveling to Europe…I was going crazy with the horrible smell; all the clothes in the suitcase got it. I never bought a black jean again until last year; it’s a DG2 (Diane Gilman, QVC). PLEEEEAAAASSSEEEE; how can I remove the horrible odor? People mentioned Walmart, Old Navy, JCP; it doesn’t matter the brand, IT’S HORRIBLE!!! I’m going to try all of the above.

  18. Bert says:

    I have some jeans I just got with this smell and I used Murphy Oil Soap and then rewashed once with soap, OxiClean and borax and again with soap, OxiClean and some stuff used to remove pet odors. Most of the smell is gone. Will hang them outside in the sun; should get what’s left. I have some jackets I got last year that had this same smell and you would never know it now.

  19. Liz says:

    I just bought a pair of medium blue Gloria Vanderbilt jeans at Kohl’s, and they really stink. I washed them in with my regular load of dark clothes and they still stink. I have never smelled anything like this! It’s awful!! I am going to buy some Resolve and try that. The funny thing is that I bought two pairs of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans at Kohl’s last summer and they didn’t smell at all.

  20. Edina says:

    I bought four bras (2 white, 2 nude) new from Amazon and they utterly stink. I’m posting this because they are not heavily dyed. So why do they smell? Do they use chemicals for another process in clothes manufacturing?
    I’ve tried washing them 1. just laundry soap, when I first got them. 2. vinegar and laundry soap. 3. Baking soda and laundry soap. 4. vinegar and laundry soap…and they still stink. They’re going to be worn out before I ever wear them. :(

  21. Jeannie says:

    I got mine from HSN; their Soho Skinny DKNY Jeans. I had gotten blue ones, no smell; only with the black. I tried all the above to help with cleaning. I too will try the Resolve. I washed the jeans with other clothing and they all took on that smell. I’ll get back after the next test.

  22. Patty says:

    I’m having the same problem and I bought my light blue denim jeans and a medium blue denim jacket at Macy’s. This was the first year I had strong petroleum odor problems with their denims. My jeans and jacket were made in China. Need I say more? I think it is important to complain to the store where the offensive items were purchased so they can realize there is a very big problem here.

  23. Warren says:

    I read somewhere else that the coloring chemicals in the dark skinny jeans are not water-soluble. Wash as much as you want, but the odor will remain. Apparently you have to put the jeans in the oven first and the chemicals break loose from the fabric. Then, wash the loose particles away and the smell is much reduced. The jeans may shrink a bit though. Can’t recall the exact oven temperatures, but it was around 250 degrees F.

  24. Margaret says:

    I bought a few pairs of Simon Chang black jeans from Suzannes. The odor is so strong! I even tried washing them in silver laundry soap! That is what hunters use to neutralize odor in their clothes! No luck! Will try soaking them in vinegar. Hopefully it works. I really like the fit of the jeans and would hate to have to discard them. :-(

  25. Fran says:

    So many people have this problem with dark wash and black jeans, but apparently noone is talking to the stores that sell these items because if enough did, I think there would be some positive response…have been buying jeans all my life and this super-stink is a new wrinkle…I have a suspicion those jeans were imported from China – where everything is done on the cheap.

  26. Lynne says:

    The jeans I bought had a very strong metallic smell; like chemicals. I made a huge mistake by washing them with a few other non-smelling jeans. Guess what?? It stunk up the other jeans too. Can’t get rid of the smell. Like mentioned above, the smell comes from different dyes or fabric treatment agents which can be absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream, causing symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headaches etc… If they still smell after one or two washes, return them to the maker or garbage! Your health is more important than the jeans.
    Also forgot to mention a weird trick to get rid of the stench. I have not tried it yet as I just read about it. Apparently boiling the jeans in a large pot with a tablespoon of laundry detergent for about 5-10 minutes. Heat apparently helps with the water insoluble agents. We’ll see! Note that the trick above will likely cause fading.

  27. Megan says:

    Two new pairs of jean shorts I just got from American Eagle smell AWFUL. To be honest, the smell reminds me of the urea we used when making tie dye shirts back in high school. This is the third time I’ve gotten clothing that reeked like this. I tried washing these new shorts two times and the smell is now on all the clothes I washed them with… ARGH. With my other jeans that had the smell, the smell just sort of faded away after a while, but these smell so strong.

  28. Skyler says:

    I had a pair of Merona dark indigo dyed jeans from Target (most likely the same ones as mentioned above) and boy did they STINK after their first use of wearing them. I read somewhere that the stink especially comes out when you apply heat (i.e. dryer, body heat, etc.), so that’s why you don’t smell it right away as you’re buying them. Well, of course, I just bought some at Black and White and they have the same smell, luckily not nearly as strong. I wonder, could I wash them with my other jeans and then hang them to dry, saving my other jeans from the terrible smell? I made the mistake of drying my Merona jeans with all my other jeans and destroyed them all from the smell. But I wonder if that’s just because the heat extracted the awful chemical smell onto everything else. I would rather not have to wash my new Black and White jeans separate every time if possible…but I also don’t want to destroy $200 dollars worth of denim as well. Lol. Any thoughts?

  29. Kaitlyn says:

    Yeah, I just bought a pair of Calvin Klein black jeggings and even after trying them on and bringing them home, I could still smell the horrible chemical smell on my skin from trying the jeggings on in the store. It’s so bad.

  30. Yikes says:

    I just bought a pair of Style & Co dark blue denim jeans. I always wash new clothing before wearing and the same holds true for these jeans. OMG. The chemical smell is awful and has given me a headache! They’re going back to Macy’s where I purchased them. My $1 is worth just as much as theirs and they’ll have to take a loss, not me.

  31. Gail says:

    Costco has Calvin Klein Skinny Power Jeans with the same problem! From all the comments, it sounds like it’s Costco’s job to go after CK’s factory to fix this issue. Mine will go back and Costco corporate will be informed.

  32. Mercedes says:

    Use DISHWASHING LIQUID; it cuts grease. The smell is usually from a petroleum/solvent-based solution used to preserve the fabric. Do not dry in the dryer. The heat activates petroleum products.

  33. Anne says:

    Bought Lark Lane black jeans at Penny’s with the same sickening, nauseating perm smell. Have washed them twice so far with no success. Will try some of the things mentioned. They look so good on me, but I may have to return them. The stores need to demand that this finishing product/dye is unacceptable from the manufacturers.

  34. Pamela says:

    OMG! I thought I was going crazy because my new black jeans stink! I bought Style&Co jeans from Macys and they smelled up my entire closet. So, I washed them, left them outside, and sprayed them with Febreze. They still smell, kind of like a dead mouse smell; really disgusting. Wouldn’t you know, they fit perfectly, but they MUST go! I wish more people would return the stinky jeans so the stores stop selling us this cheap junk from overseas.

  35. Lisa says:

    As has been mentioned above, as a teenager/young adult, I purchased dozens of pairs of black jeans and they NEVER smelled as bad as this! I just bought a pair of perfectly-fitted jeans and was so happy that a 50-year-old could look good in jeans…I can’t wear the things for the odor. Worse, I washed them with dark clothes the first time and now that entire load of clothing (including my work uniforms) smells funky. I will give the Resolve a try. The drawback to air-drying as opposed to using the dryer is that the jeans are stiff and scratchy. Oh well – I suppose that’s better than smelling like a barn.

  36. Sheryl says:

    I bought several pairs of jeans two years ago at Lane Bryant, not dark, just regular blue color. Two of them did not smell, one pair did. All three were the same kind. That’s the first time I noticed this smell and it would get worse the warmer they got when I wore them. The smell was so bad in the summer, a friend riding in the truck with me could smell them. Drove me nuts; I thought I was crazy until she said she could smell them too. I washed them until they were so faded and I finally threw them away; the smell never got better.
    Now I just bought 3 more pairs from Kohl’s and brought them home washed them and guess what? All three pairs have that smell. Ugh! I’ve washed with Purex detergent and borax and super soda washing powders, all at once; still stink. Next, I soaked them in pure baking soda all day and them washed them with all that again and still stink. Will try the Resolve foam next. If not, those are going back to Kohl’s with a formal complaint.

  37. Kandy says:

    I bought some jeans last month from Kohl’s. I never had bought jeans that had a bad odor to them until now. I washed them the first time thinking that would help and it didn’t. I rinsed them yesterday for over an hour with white vinegar and that did not help. I tried this morning with baking soda and still the smell remains. I do not have the receipt and paid cash, so I don’t know if Kohl’s will even take them back. Maybe I will also try the Resolve foam too before I try taking them back. The smell is usually bad to where I can’t even wear them.

  38. Shar says:

    Here’s the deal ladies.
    Most clothes are from over seas… Somewhere.
    China, Mexico, India; all over.
    They make them, then they sit in huge containers for weeks or even months, before they are finally shipped.
    The dyes are part of the problem, yes; the other part is they spray these containers with bug spray!!
    Also, often just sitting there waiting to be shipped, fabric will take a kind of old sour smell kind of dusty and mildewy from the humid climates.
    Fred Myers has the worst old sour mildewy smell.
    They store their clothing right in the parking lot in the shipping containers, waiting for next season, or putting last season back in the store on sale.
    They are gross.
    They smell a bit like an old kitchen sponge. Then, add in the formaldehyde from the dyes and the bug spray, and you’ve got a toxic product.
    Just because you can’t smell it anymore doesn’t mean it’s not still in the fiber.
    Next time u go shopping, get in the habit of smelling before you purchase. Rmember, it will get worse fom your own body heat.
    That goes straight up your nose and into your brain.
    The next unexplained headache you get, look at what your wearing.
    I have a friend that works at Dress Barn.
    She said the days they get shipments in, they are all sick from the fumes coming from the clothing. In fact, now they use an extra room to air them out in before they put them out on the floor.
    We breath and wear all this stuff.
    Also, now that your clothes reek of soap and fabric softer, that’s not so good either.
    That’s all petroleum products!! Again, your body heat makes it leave the fibers, you inhale in right up your nose, right into your brain and lungs.
    We wonder why our kids don’t feel good.
    I speak from personal experience. Five years ago, I would have thought the person writing this was nuts and over reacting.
    I’ve learned different.
    Be careful.
    Read about MULTIPLE CHEMICAL SENSITIVITY. Then, apply it to how you feel.

  39. Jennifer says:

    I have two pairs of jeans that I purchased from American Eagle. They both smell horrible of mildew every time I wash them. I’ve tried using vinegar in with the wash and it doesn’t help. Also, I do not dry my jeans in the dryer. I always hang dry, but they still smell so bad. I wear them anyway, but I am so worried someone is going to be standing or sitting near me and thinking…what is that awful smell???

  40. Susan P says:

    I bought a pair of dark gray jeans form TJ MAXX and they have that awful smell too. This is not the first time. It also happened with light gray pajamas. Looks like I’m going to be taking them back. The smell just does not go away. What can we do to stop these stores from buying this? I guess ALWAYS return it so that they take the hit with the money instead of us. I am SO tired of this. I try to always smell before buy, especially at TJ MAXX.

  41. Deana says:

    The store really should take these jeans back. Don’t make the mistake of washing those jeans with other clothes, as the dye will infect them. Will have to throw away some nice things behind this mess.

  42. Kingjon says:

    I just bought two new pairs of Calvin Klein denim jean.
    I didn’t wash them yet. I just now went to smell them and they smell absolutely like nothing. Not even a new smell or what you smell at department stores/malls.

    They both are dark colors; one is black and the other is dark blueish black…

    Thing is, I didn’t go to the mall or a store, I ordered directly from their website.
    So no, I do not have any of your issues. I was just looking to see whether I should wash ’em before wearing. Many people say, do not wash until ~ 6 months. I find that a bit crazy though. They claim the denim will fade and break down and look like crap.

    Thing is, I have a Ralph Lauren denim from like 8 years ago that I wash all the time. They still look nearly exactly new as when I bought ’em. Yes, they were pricey, however, I bought many Levi’s and others and they all faded on me and shrunk. Took a try on some Calvin Klein’s and although I didn’t like most of the styles, a couple of the jeans seemed fine. I am not disappointed with my purchase. They smell great. (Probably has to do with the fact that I ordered mine online from them and not from one of those shitty mall/outlet/store things where the smell is very powerful.)

  43. Wendy says:

    I just bought some skinny jeans from Walmart with the same problem everyone else is having. I can’t understand why these stores don’t do something about the smells!!! Do they enjoy sending back merchandise all the time? Time to get after the manufacturers!! They have to know the problem with stores returning merchandise to them!!! How many people actually keep the smelly pants? I’ve returned them before also, but I am going to try the dish washing soap first, then the Resolve.

  44. Bruce says:

    Just bring the clothes back and stop trying to waste time with washing them… there’s obviously a problem that’s not practical to be solved by adding ANOTHER chemical cleaner to clean them. This garbage goes into our water tables and environments. We shouldn’t be trying to remove it with more cleaners and chemicals, we should be returning this crap until they stop using the chemicals all together. It’s corruption by money and they’ll poison us as long as we keep buying their tainted crap.

    Same with our food and GMOs that are made to tolerate more powerful and higher quantities of poison.

  45. Mel says:

    I am so happy to see that I am not the only one with this problem. I bought a pair of black NYGARD jeans at Costco in Canada, they fit wonderfully and my husband even said they looked good, so I went back and bought three more pairs: black, grey and blue. As soon as I put a pair on, I could smell something odd, then I tried the others on and they also smelled awful, so I thought I would soak them in the washing machine for a while to see if the smell would go away; it did not. My pants were made in Bangladesh, if that means anything. My husband says he can’t smell anything, but the smell knocks me out. I even tried to spray perfume on them to no avail. Does anyone think that I should try any of the above suggestions or should I attempt to bring them back to Costco in Canada?

  46. K says:

    Mel… You don’t have to attempt to take ANYTHING back to Costco… They have an amazing return policy… Bring them back and they will give your money back with a smile… That’s why I love Costco. Also, if you know how to sew or someone that does, make a template of them so they can be replicated. You could take them back a year from now and they would still give you your money back… Hope that helps… :)

  47. K says:

    I too am in the unfortunate situation that everyone else is mentioning here… After reading these comments, I thought to myself, “I just want my money back,” so I called Winners in Canada where I bought them ~ 3 pairs… 2 djeans brand and 1 Jones New York ~ all black. The manager was very concerned and was eager for me to return the jeans during her next shift. She said she will happily return my money. It has been less than a month since I bought them, but she also said that with a concern like this, she would consider it even if it was a year from now. She further offered that this was the first time she has come across this type of complaint. I told her that I was checking it out on the net about how to remove the smell and came across these posts and that most people just took their lumps and didn’t complain to the store where they bought them… So take ’em back everybody… Perhaps we will start a trend towards stores refusing to sell stinky crud!!!!! I recommend calling the store in advance and asking for the manager to tell them of your unpleasant experience… They want you to be happy… Take care all. :)

  48. Barbie says:

    I bought my jeans from Woman Within; said they were imported (but what isn’t). As soon as I opened the package, I could smell them and it is horrible!!! They cam from China!!!!! I have never bought clothes from China that I am aware of, but will be checking the label from now on and NOT ordering form Woman Within. I am also going to contact Woman Within about this problem. I’m gonna try Febreze and hang them outside; have used the vinegar, with cold and hot water.

  49. Janet says:

    I bought two pairs of Diane Gilman jeans from QVC. Loved the fit, but tried all these solutions and they still stink!! Never wore them because I always had them in the laundry. Finally decided to send them back to QVC after about seven times of soaking and washing, and QVC said, “sorry you kept them too long!” Nothing like customer service! They said there were no other complaints. I don’t believe that! I won’t be their customer any more!!!

  50. Janet says:

    Should we really have to do all this plus spend the extra money to take care of a problem that we already spent good money on? Tells me big companies don’t care if they have our business. They will take the next guy that comes along.

  51. Kelley says:

    Thought it was just me! They’re going back!! Macy’s INC black jeans. Wearing them right now at work and wish I had chosen something else to wear. Was hoping there was a solution, but clearly, there is not.

  52. Sava says:

    I have the same problem with my Levi’s jeans bought in Soho District, NYC in September. I washed them last week and the jeans smell of fuel and oil…I soaked them in water today and let’s see later the results. I paid more then $100 for this pair of jeans.

  53. Jill says:

    I have read all of y’alls comments on bad-smelling jeans. It’s just not jeans! I just bought a Croft and Barrow black flannel nightgown at Kolh’s and it smells burnt. Just like y’all, I have washed it a few times and tried everything. Nothing has helped so I am returning it ASAP.

  54. Kathy says:

    I just took back a pair of Lees skinny black jeans to Sears for the same problem of the stink. I tried washing them and they still smelled bad. The first time that I noticed this problem was at Macy’s on their INC brand and I thought I was going to choke! I told my friend about this horrible smell and now we can just walk into a store and know exactly where the black pants are. Give up and just return them!!

  55. Aida S says:

    I had a pair of distressed jeans from AE a few years ago that absolutely stunk. I think I got them on sale for under $30, but I probably spent $50+ in water, electricity, detergents, vinegar, etc. to get rid of the smell. In the end, I gave up and returned them. AE was awesome about them too. All denim has a slight smell when you first buy it. It may just be the dye, or just being in bags/boxes, but it’s never significant enough for you to smell it when wearing them. If it’s that strong, save your money! Nothing will get that smell out. I’ve found a lot of times, especially with big stores like AE, Abercrombie, etc. they just have bad batches. Take them back to the store and try to find a pair that doesn’t have a strong distinct odour. If you are out of luck, just cut your losses and return the jeans! If the smell doesn’t come out in the first wash, it will NEVER come out! I know how disappointing it is to find the perfect pair only to have to give them up because the manufacturer cheaped out on the dying process. But believe me, you will find another pair!

  56. Jane says:

    Castile soap! I soaked a couple pairs of new smelly jeans in castile soap for a couple hours, then washed them in a mix of detergent and castile soap. They don’t smell bad at all now. They did give off a good bit of dye, but they don’t look too faded.

  57. CC says:

    I had a pair of dark Levis from Kohl’s that stunk. I left them in the sun for about three weeks and now they’re fine. A friend also mentioned salt soak, then wash works for her.

  58. KLH says:

    I have purchased 3 or 4 new pairs of dark coloured skinny jeans from several places in November – Sears, Forever 21, and Walmart Canada. I love them. They don’t stink, BUT now I have contact dermatitis all over my thighs from the dyes and other toxins in the jeans. I guess that means back to my light-colored, sloppy jeans until I can get my hands on something to wear between the toxic jeans and my skin or find a way to wash out the toxins. They spent all day yesterday in a vinegar soak. I am going to buy some castille soap, but may try dishwasher detergent next. Thanks for all your suggestions. I’ve had them too long to take back, and “luckily” got them on good sales so it won’t be hard to cut my losses.

  59. Gin says:

    I bought a pair of GV jeans recently from Khol’s that have the same horrible rubber smell. Have washed them about 10 times with no improvement. I am going to try the Resolve because everything else sounds like they will fade. If that doesn’t work, will return them. I just left a bad review on Khol’s website and complained to them.

  60. Lisa says:

    I just tried the carpet cleaner and it wasn’t Resolve, but it took the smell out of my pants. It was just a cheap brand. Thank you for the tip.

  61. Rebecca says:

    I will try the Resolve and OxiClean on my 2 new pairs of jeans from Nordstom’s Rack. They BOTH STINK like burnt rubber! Beware of the brands Jolt and Democracy, they are giving me a headache right now as I sit at my desk trying to work!

  62. Cal says:

    I just got some dark blue jeans from Belk, Levis (not cheap), and they smelled bad! I washed them 2 or 3 times and still nothing. We even used some odor eater; that did not work. So then, after looking around on here, I saw some people were doing carpet cleaner. So I got the carpet cleaner and it seems to work. Now I’m just going to let them dry. All I did was take the carpet cleaner and a wash cloth and just wiped down the inside and outside of the jeans.

  63. Raelynn says:

    I bought a black pair of Faded Glory jeans yesterday from Wal-Mart and I never really knew there was an odor until after I bought it. I used vinegar and Resolve to get rid of the stench. I let them sit in a bucket of hot water with vinegar first, then washed it with hot water. Then, repeated the same steps with Resolve. I did this a couple of times before airing it out. For drying methods, I didn’t use my dryer because I didn’t want the color to fade. I air dried them overnight and I can honestly say the smell is GONE! I can’t guarantee this will work for everyone, but I know it did for me personally. So GOOD LUCK GUYS!

  64. Dawn says:

    So disappointed. Splurged on a pair of denim capris at White House Black Market and can’t stand to wear them due to the odor. I don’t buy jeans often, so was excited to have a pair I intended to wear for a long time. Hoping the vinegar and Oxi-clean work… :(

  65. Bernice B says:

    I’ve been buying jeans for years & for the first time, I got a Merona jean jacket from Target that smells bad, just like kerosene. I washed it & the smell came back stronger. I did some research & found some suggestions. I soaked the jacket in Oxyclean for 3 days & a oily, brown color came out of it. I’m soaking it in Dawn dish washing detergent right now. I have 3 more steps to try, then I’m going to try Resolve & Castille soap. (I have to wash this thing by hand because my husband has severe contact dermatitis & just about anything sets off his rashing.) I went back to Target thinking that I got a defective jacket & they were sold out of that brand. I “sniff tested” another brand’s jacket & got the same smell! I hate to throw out the jacket, but I may have to. In the future, there are several options that I may pursue when buying jeans to avoid the smell. Buy them from thrift stores, vintage shops, or “sniff test” new ones before I buy them. Several years ago, I had a friend who worked at a factory that dyed jeans. The company closed the plant & moved it to China. Not only did my friend lose her job, but it almost destroyed the town that the factory was located at. (Jeans are made in USA. Shipped to China & dyed. Then shipped back to USA. “Made in USA”…) See any correlation?

  66. Phyllis says:

    This odor is pesticides from shipping containers coming from foreign countries.
    WE should all take them back to the store; it is their problem and the items should not be put out for sale. It is our health and we all know we are slowly being poisoned by stuff being shipped to the U.S.A. RETURN THEM. I bought a pair of jeans from Penny’s…have tried everything…no wonder we have all these weird diseases popping up. They smell like KEROSENE.

  67. Sandy says:

    I bought black pants from Kohl’s. The smell is awful. I washed them three times; no improvement. I noticed that the odor was especially strong on the elastic waistband. Yesterday I sprayed them with Febreze Air Effects (Ginger-Verbena). They are much better. Sprayed again today & better again. Hoping this solves the problem; of course now they smell like Febreze. I will certainly do the “sniff test” with any new purchases. I’ll also complain to Kohl’s!! This isn’t something consumers should put up with. Good luck!!

  68. Teresa says:

    Do NOT wash them like people recommend as I now can’t get the smell out of my washer and dryer! I am running bleach through the washer now, but I don’t have any idea how I will get the dryer smell out!!! They are toxic. Return them and do a sniff test on all/any jeans going forward! My car still smells 6 hours later just from having them in the bag in the car!

  69. John says:

    Have the same problem with two pairs of black Levi jeans purchased from Wal-Mart Stores. I will not attempt to remove the smell from the jeans, but will return them to the seller. It is obvious to me that the large corporate companies are aware of this problem, but the bottom line of their P&L Statement is more important than customers’ satisfaction and health.

  70. Karen says:

    This is my first experience with the horrible chemical smell. My jeans are regular color denim from Dress Barn. Just washed them for the first time. Slightly better, but still very strong smell. I hate to return them because they are a perfect fit and at a size 20, that’s not an easy feat. LOL

  71. Sharon says:

    Wish I would’ve read about this before trying to wash or wear them!!! March 2015 I bought Celebrity jeans by Pink from Bergners – same problem. I thought the dye smell would wash out; no luck. I love the fit, HATE THE SMELL & hesitate to wear them anytime I will know I need to sit near a person so they don’t think it’s me that stinks. :( Just tried washing them in detergent & lots of baking soda since that takes out mildew odor, but see that it also took out LOTS of the red/fuschia dye now. No more wasting my time, these will go back to the store just so the store realizes the problem & stops importing this garbage!!!!!!! I encourage others to do the same & will be starting a FB post to hopefully circulate and get as many comments/shares etc. as possible – maybe strength in numbers will wake up American companies to stop putting our health in risk and wasting American consumers’ $$$! Good luck all!

  72. Abbie says:

    Please read the article at The smell likely is formaldehyde, which is highly toxic. Formaldehyde resin is put in clothing, especially 100% cotton, to make it wrinkle-free, not fade, stop mildew, and keep the hems from rolling up. You cannot wash it out of the material. Body heat and sweat releases it onto your skin. Don’t buy any clothing that has a smell.

  73. Erika says:

    Here’s an Australian side to the story. I bought a pair of black “megaflex denim” jeans from Just Jeans a couple of weeks ago along with a pair of blue Levis.

    All jeans have a bit of a new jeans smell, so I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary with the black jeans in the shop or even when I got them home. I wore them a couple of days later and the smell got worse as the day went on. I thought, “Oh, well, give them a wash and they’ll be good.”

    I gave them a wash and wore them a second time & they still stank. So I gave them a soak with some mild soap (I didn’t want to fade them) before I washed them. The soaking water picked up some of the colour and also the smell. I put them through the wash and hung them up to dry. Took them off the line just now &, guess what, they still smell.

    That was the point at which I thought, “I’ll Google ‘megaflex denim smells’.”

    I’ve now come to the conclusion those jeans are a lost cause.

    I don’t think insecticide is the problem. Australia has been importing virtually all clothing from China for about 25 years and THIS smell is new. (I will grant you, though, the smell is like a bit similar to things like DDT and deildrin that I am old enough to remember.)

    If we don’t like the smell imagine what it is like for the people who make the dyes, dye the fabric & sew the clothes. It cannot be good for their health.

    In my case, the smelly jeans are 89% cotton, 10% polyester and 1% elastene. Are other people’s smelly clothes partly synthetic?

    I’m distinctly annoyed – and at a bit of a loss (and doing my best to stick to the polite part of the dictionary). From reading the other posts here, the problem isn’t that people have been buying cheap clothing.

  74. Ljean says:

    Yes, same problem here with an awesome denim jacket from Kohl’s. Tried all the suggestions and nothing worked. What worked…hanging the jacket outside for 4 months (in the shade). It wasn’t a plan of mine, I was just annoyed with it and hung it out to dry one day and just left it there out of neglect. Zero odor now.

  75. Laura says:

    I bought a pair of black Democracy jeans ($50) from Norstrom Rack and they stink so badly like petroleum that everything in my hamper took on the same smell! They looked great on me -guess I’m going to have to smell everything from now on. I’m tempted to try the Resolve, but what if the formaldehyde claims are true? Trying to make up my mind whether to just throw them away. (I waited too long to wear them/wash them to be able to take them back.

  76. Sabrina says:

    The smell occurs in jeans with elastane in the fabric, which is usually black and dark blue wash; it is NOT from the dye. Unfortunately, I have never found a way to get rid of it. It is not from formaldehyde, and even if it was initially, washing would remove the odor (I work with this substance in a lab), it would not linger through repeated washing.

    It doesn’t matter what brand or how expensive or where they were purchased, if they contain elastane, they will have this smell. It is worse after taking them out of the dryer and then seems like it fades, but when you wear them it comes back. So gross! :(

  77. Jennifer says:

    Bought a pair of Guess jeans and cannot wear them because of the obnoxious smell. I washed them several times in vinegar and left them out on the clothes line to air for days, but nothing has worked.

  78. Barb says:

    I think the smell is from the elastane in my jeans. I’ve done the soaking in vinegar, extra washes, etc. As soon as they hit the heat of the dryer (even on low), the smell is back. I bought two pair of dark blue Levi’s from Kohl’s. They have a no-hassle return policy, so both of them are going back. I can’t stand the smell!

  79. Valerie says:

    I purchased a black jean jacket and noticed the chemical smell once I got the jacket home. I washed it with baking soda and still the odor remained. I soaked it in hot water with baking soda and vinegar for 24 hours, then washed in a normal cycle and STILL the odor remained. Finally I purchased borax and I soaked the jacket in the borax and hot water overnight. I then washed in a normal cycle with hot water, detergent and borax. I am happy to report that the smell is mostly neutralized. I wore the jacket today and so far I have only smelled a hint of that dreadful chemical smell. I am going to wash it with borax a couple of times just to make sure that the odor is 100% gone. Next time I purchase a black denim garment, I will be sure to give it a good sniff test before I purchase.

  80. Marie says:

    How much castile soap?

  81. Cathy says:

    I bought a pair of Parasuco black jeans and they stink. I just wrote them, complaining, after seeing I’m not alone here. I might try leaving them outside for months as someone suggested, or castile soap, which I have at home. I bought them months ago and have just had them in the laundry room because I feel lost!!!

  82. Nikki says:

    I had a pair of GUESS jeans a couple years ago that were dark denim, almost black, and they had this smell. It never came out – I washed them until all I had were faded jeans I could never wear and I eventually gave them away. I recently bought another pair from GUESS with a normal indigo wash and didn’t notice the smell until I was home and wearing them for the first time. I figured washing them would help, but no change. Tried to complain and take them back to the store and they refused because I had taken off the tags. They offered me an on-the-spot exchange, but refused a store credit or refund. As if I want to exchange one stinky pair for another! I have complained to their head office and am waiting for a response. If they won’t take them back, I will try the Resolve… but honestly, I don’t even want them anymore!! The jeans were $155 – they shouldn’t have this odor. I can’t wash them with other clothes or even keep them in my closet… a complete waste of time and $$.

  83. Bobbie says:

    OMG! After reading all these reviews, I am so taking my new jeans back to Kohl’s. The cost of the jeans and the crap that goes along with it just isn’t worth it!!!!!!!

  84. Cris says:

    You guys have NO idea how grateful I am to hear that I am NOT the only person in the world to have this problem. I can’t even wear the dark jeans as the chemicals in the dye are just too much for me to take. I find I have the smell problem with cotton items and use the vinegar/baking soda idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t; and sometimes it stinks up the washer and dryer and ruins the clothes I wash next. I’m still trying to figure out a fail-safe way to do this. Will keep trying. :)

  85. Veronica says:

    Black skinny Abercrombie jeans. Smell terrible. After reading the comments, I will return them. I had read about the formaldehyde coating, if we all return our stinky clothes and stop buying them, change will come.

  86. Crystal says:

    Bought two pair of Forever 21 jeans (I’d never shopped there before). Both were dark – one black, one navy. The navy pair were exceptionally cheap. Didn’t notice the chemical smell ’til I got them home. Tossed them in the wash… no change. Did the vinegar in the wash and that seemed to cure the black pair, but not the blue. Let the blue sit in vinegar and water overnight and then washed and air dried… the scent was cut in half, so I tried wearing them, but still got lightheaded within 10 minutes of sitting around in them, so I came here. Figuring, if it is an oil/grease/non-water-soluble issue, Cascade might help (since I’m out of carpet cleaner). So, now I’m soaking them outside in hot water and Cascade, tented under a mat so they can air out while still keeping wildlife from trying to drink from it. Will report back with findings.

    I haven’t had to buy new jeans in roughly 10 years and I must say, this recent trip for new jeans was disheartening. It’s all skinny, stretchy jeans with thin material. I even went to the Levi’s store, expecting more variety and better quality (after Old Navy and Forever 21), and it was vaguely better, but for 3x’s the price. It didn’t even occur to me ’til just now that I should hit thrift stores if I want older quality jeans without all the chemicals.

  87. Crystal says:

    Cascade worked! I used the dishwasher liquid with some hot water in a bucket and set it outside to vent under a tented mat to keep wildlife from accidentally drinking whatever chemical soup my pants and the soap were going to make. I left it for a few hours, occasionally going outside to stir and squeeze the jeans around in the water, then I brought them inside and washed them out with Oxi-Clean in the washing machine and hung them up to dry. There was a lot of dye that bled into the Cascade water, but the jeans themselves are still a dark, even navy denim. I’ve been sitting around in them for about an hour, curious if my body heat would unlock hidden badness, but it’s clear. There may or may not have been slight shrinkage from using hot and warm water. It’s hard to tell with stretchy skinny jeans beyond the length of the leg, I guess, which isn’t obvious enough for me be sure about, so… I think this might be a win.

  88. Amanda says:

    I’ve had this problem and it sent me and my husband mad. We could smell this strange smell on all our clothes, but couldn’t find out where it had come from. I tried all the above (vinegar, bicarb soda, washing machine cleaner), then convinced myself it was my washer. In the end, I brought a new washer and threw away all the clothes which where now contaminated with this smell, which would not go and had now spread to everything in our wardrobes.
    Right, my point is Sainsuburys are having a double up week on points so I thought I would treat myself to some NEW BLACK JEANS, so I brought some, we went out for the night and you guessed it, me and my husband smelt that smell again. Got home, boiled, washed, vinegar, bicarbonate of soda, fabric softener, oxied them three times, still smelled. Took them back to Sainsuburys today who insisted that they just smell of my washing powder, I went and got a pair off the shelf and asked the staff at Sainsuburys to smell them. After 3 different staff smelling them and saying they can’t smell anything, they just smell like new jeans.
    So, at home now and found this thread about smelly jeans; so pleased I am not alone and going mental.
    Well, my jeans will be going in the bin. I can’t afford to ruin my wardrobe and washing machine again.
    Makes me mad that I threw my old washing machine away convienced that it was that, but so relieved to find out that it must be the cheap dye used the get the dark black colour. My heart goes go out to the people who are making these jeans; they must stink.
    Thank you for letting me have my rant.

  89. Aprilk says:

    OK, so I am not mad, I’m not the only one with weird-smelling jeans! I hate buying jeans, so a pair will last me many years. The last 2 pairs I bought were OK for a while, then started to emit a strong, oily, diesel-like smell. I thought maybe the elastic fibers were breaking down and creating this smell. I can get rid of it after a normal wash and air dry. If I don’t store them in the closet or drawer, they stay fresher longer. So I drape them over the back of a chair; charming, yes? I never had this problem with older 100% cotton jeans, ugh!

  90. Debbie says:

    I bought a black pair of jeans several years ago from ColdWater Creek that smelled. Fortunately, I was able to return them. In October this year, I bought a pair of black Lee jeans from Kohls. Didn’t notice the odor until I tried to wear them. I washed them normally with no luck. Soaked in vinegar, no luck. Tried baking soda, nothing. Vinegar and baking soda (for 3 days!), no luck. Found this site – didn’t have Resolve, but had a carpet cleaner with Oxiclean in it. Soaked again for 3 days. At first I thought they didn’t smell, but after they air dried, yep the stink again! Forwarning – don’t let the metal snaps or rivets touch the fabric when you use the carpet cleaner – it will make a white spot. Mine did, but it is up high so it won’t show with a long top. Of course, that is IF I can ever get the odor out! Think I will try Cascade and then Resolve. I figure at this point, what can it hurt. I can’t wear them like they are anyway and too late to attempt to take them back! I will never buy another pair of black jeans without smelling them first!!

  91. Jeanine says:

    I am so sad to hear that so many brands of jeans have this awful odor. I just bought 3 pairs of jeans from Chicos. I noticed the odor on the jeans in the store and asked the sales lady about it and she said she didn’t smell anything. I figured I was just being overly sensitive to smells and went ahead and purchased the jeans. I washed the jeans twice with a load of towels and now my towels and washing machine have the same disgusting odor. I have been soaking the jeans for the past 4 days in the tub with hot water and detergent trying to get rid of the smell. I finally decided to google “how to get rid of odors from clothes” and am disheartened by the number of responses that popped up. I didn’t realize this was such a huge issue and that it would be virtually impossible to get rid of the odor. I guess I will see if Chicos will let me return the jeans; otherwise, they are going in the trash. I am wondering if there are any brands out there that don’t have this problem?

  92. Kelly says:

    I thought this smell was MOTH BALLS (rather than dye chemicals), either from the factory or in the shipping containers. The first time this happened for me was maybe a couple of years ago purchasing jeans at Kohl’s. I finally got the odor completely out, but now I can’t remember what ended up working. I just bought jeans for my daughter and myself from American Eagle Outfitters and they have the same awful odor. So far I’ve washed (with the prewash cycle on) four times with vinegar and ammonia added to load. I’ll try soaking in sink with Oxiclean next. I really wish there was an advocacy group trying to get these companies to stop using whatever it is; it can’t be good for the environment or humans, especially when you factor in all of the cleaners and wash cycles we’re using to get rid of what must be toxic chemicals. :(

  93. Stephany says:

    I just received in the mail, my Levi’s Dark Blue Jean Jacket, from Zappos. The smell is horrible!! I washed it in cold water with detergent- didn’t touch it. After reading all these comments…it’s going back to Zappos as soon as it dries (outside).

  94. Hal says:

    My problem is similar, but slightly different: specially re-dyed (that telltale bleed at the seams and waistband) blue Levis that don’t smell per se, but wearing them leaves an acrid, metallic taste in my mouth and sometimes nose, exacerbated by the dye on my fingers touching any and everything (i.e. sandwich, even after hand washing). You can literally feel the fabric’s contact on the skin. I’ve done the vinegar washes repeatedly; this morning, three times in cold water. I have air dried them, but to no avail. Of course, these are the best fitting jeans I own, with a higher waist (past the age for low-cut) and still the stylish thinner calves/ankles, not the “dad jeans,” the shape/unstylishness of which revealed on wearing. I’m hoping my final effort proves successful. At this point, I just want a reduction in this syndrome, if not complete success. The aftertaste is bizarre, it reminds me of the first days in middle school every year when we had a new gym suit, that stiffening agent that made them so chemical-y. I’m told the vinegar could help, but at the same time, vinegar sets dye. Contradiction? We all seem held hostage to decisions made by manufacturers without any consumer feedback.

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