middle-aged Hispanic woman in a light-colored blouse and jeans, spraying perfume onto a young adult Caucasian man wearing a blue button-up shirt and chinos.

How to Remove Perfume Smell from Clothes

Have you ever had that moment where you over-spritzed your favorite perfume and your clothes ended up smelling like a flower shop explosion? Or maybe you bought a pre-loved item online, and when it arrived, it reeked of the previous owner’s signature scent. Whether it’s your fault or not, sometimes we find ourselves in a predicament where we need to know how to remove perfume smell from clothes.

Perfume smells can be delightful in small doses, but overwhelming when they linger on your clothes. Some people might even experience skin irritation or allergies due to strong scents. Fear not! We’ve got your back. In this article, we’ll guide you through the different methods of banishing those overpowering perfume smells from your clothes, ensuring they’re fresh and ready for your next adventure.

Whether it’s a delicate silk blouse or your comfy cotton t-shirt, we’ll cover all the bases, giving you practical and easy-to-follow steps to remove that unwanted perfume odor. So, grab your laundry basket, and let’s dive in!

Understanding the Source

When it comes to how to remove perfume smell from clothes, it’s important to know why the smell sticks around in the first place. Perfumes are made up of various oils and ingredients that are designed to create long-lasting scents. These oils can bind to the fabric of your clothes, which is why the scent can linger even after the perfume has dried.

Why Perfume Binds to Fabric

The binding of perfume to fabric happens because of the oil-based nature of most fragrances. These oils can penetrate the fibers of the fabric, making the scent last longer. It’s the same reason why we can still smell the perfume even after a few days.

Different Types of Scents

When trying to remove perfume smells, it’s crucial to understand the difference between light, moderate, and heavy scents.

Light Scents

Light scents typically contain citrus or floral notes and are less likely to linger on clothes. They are generally easier to remove.

Moderate Scents

Moderate scents are a bit heavier and may include spices or fruits. They can linger a little longer and might require more effort to remove.

Heavy Scents

Heavy scents are usually made up of deep, musky, or woody notes and are the hardest to remove from clothes. They can stick around for days or even weeks, and removing them might require some special techniques.

Each type of scent will affect the removal process differently, and it’s essential to tailor your approach accordingly. Understanding the type of scent you’re dealing with is the first step in successfully removing perfume smells from your clothes.

Preventative Measures

Before we dive deeper into how to remove perfume smell from clothes, it’s worth noting that prevention is often the best solution. By being a little careful when applying perfume, you can significantly reduce the chances of overwhelming your garments with fragrance in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the steps you can take to prevent perfume from getting onto your clothes.

How to Apply Perfume the Right Way

Perfume is meant to enhance your presence, not overpower it. With that in mind, here’s how you can apply perfume to minimize its contact with your attire:

  1. Spritz Wisely: Aim to apply perfume to pulse points like your wrists, neck, and behind your ears. These areas emit heat, which helps to diffuse the perfume across your body, making the scent last longer.
  2. Avoid Direct Spraying: Instead of spraying directly onto your clothes, spray the perfume into the air and then walk through the mist. This allows the fragrance to settle evenly and lightly onto your clothes without saturating any specific area.
  3. Distance Matters: Hold the perfume bottle at least 5-6 inches away from your body. This distance ensures a finer mist and even distribution.

Wait Before You Dress

Now, here’s a step many people skip: letting the perfume dry.

The Science Behind Drying:

When you apply perfume directly onto your skin, the alcohol content in it starts evaporating, leaving only the fragrance behind. If you dress immediately after spraying, your clothes trap this alcohol, causing both the scent and alcohol to bind to the fabric.

The Solution:

Always wait for a couple of minutes after applying perfume before putting on your clothes. This brief pause allows the alcohol to evaporate, preventing it from transferring to your garments.

By implementing these preventative measures, you’ll not only make sure your clothes remain fresh, but you’ll also ensure that the perfume complements rather than dominates your overall aura.

Basic Air-Out Method

Sometimes, the simplest solutions can be the most effective. When pondering how to remove perfume smell from clothes, one of the first methods to consider is the good old air-out method. It’s straightforward and doesn’t require any special tools or detergents. Let’s break it down.

Pros of the Air-Out Method

  1. No Chemicals Required: This method doesn’t need any additional cleaning agents, making it eco-friendly and safe for all fabric types.
  2. Cost-effective: Since you’re not using any products or professional services, airing out is free.
  3. Gentle on Fabrics: Especially useful for delicate garments that can’t be machine washed frequently.

Cons of the Air-Out Method

  1. Time-consuming: Depending on the perfume’s strength, it might take several hours or even days for the smell to fade completely.
  2. Not Always 100% Effective: For very strong scents, airing out alone might not do the trick.

Steps to Air-Out Your Clothes

To effectively use this method, follow these easy steps:

1. Hanging Clothes in a Well-Ventilated Area

  • Choose the Right Spot: An open area, preferably outdoors, like a balcony or backyard, is ideal. If that’s not possible, choose an indoor space with good airflow, such as near an open window or fan.
  • Space Out Garments: Make sure your clothes aren’t bunched up. They should be spread out to allow maximum airflow around them.

2. Avoiding Direct Sunlight to Prevent Color Fading

  • The Power of Shade: While fresh air is excellent, direct sunlight isn’t. Sun can fade the colors of your clothes, especially if they remain exposed for too long. Always hang your clothes in a shaded area when airing them out.
  • Rotate Regularly: If you can’t avoid some level of sun exposure, make sure to rotate your clothes occasionally to prevent prolonged exposure on one side.

In summary, the basic air-out method is a natural and gentle way to remove perfume smell from clothes. While it might take a bit of time, its simplicity and effectiveness make it a top choice, especially for those sensitive to chemicals or with delicate fabrics in their wardrobe.

Hand Washing

When considering how to remove perfume smell from clothes, especially those delicate or specialty garments, hand washing often comes to the rescue. This method ensures the longevity of your clothing items while still effectively removing unwanted scents.

Why Hand Washing is Perfect for Delicate Fabrics

Delicate fabrics such as silk, wool, or lace are prone to damage in regular washing machines. They can lose their shape, color, or even develop pulls and snags. Hand washing, on the other hand, offers a gentle yet thorough cleansing process, preserving the fabric’s integrity.

Steps to Hand Wash Your Clothes

For those new to the hand-washing game or anyone needing a refresher, here’s a straightforward guide to getting your clothes clean and perfume-free:

1. Filling a Basin with Cold Water and a Mild Detergent

  • Cold Water is Key: Cold water is gentle on fabrics and helps preserve their color. Always ensure the water is at a cool, room temperature.
  • Choosing the Right Detergent: Opt for a detergent formulated for delicates or a gentle baby shampoo. These are designed to cleanse without being too harsh on the fibers.

2. Submerging and Gently Agitating the Clothing

  • Dunk and Swirl: Fully submerge the clothing in the water, gently moving it around to ensure the detergent permeates every part. Avoid twisting or wringing the garment as it can damage the fabric.
  • Soak if Needed: For more potent perfumes, let the garment soak for up to 30 minutes.

3. Rinsing with Cold Water

  • Remove All Detergent: After washing, rinse the garment several times in clean, cold water. This ensures all the detergent is washed out, which could otherwise leave residues or affect the garment’s feel.
  • Gentle Pressing: Gently press the water out of the garment. Again, avoid wringing or twisting.

4. Drying Flat or Hanging, Away from Direct Sunlight

  • Flat Drying: For garments prone to losing their shape, lay them flat on a clean towel. Roll up the towel gently to remove excess water, then unroll and reshape the garment as it dries.
  • Hanging: For sturdier delicates, hang them up, but always avoid direct sunlight which can fade colors.

In conclusion, hand washing is an age-old, tried-and-true method to remove perfume smell from clothes. By following these steps, you can ensure your delicate garments remain in tip-top condition while also smelling fresh and clean.

Machine Washing

There’s no denying the convenience of machine washing. It’s quick, it’s efficient, and for many, it’s the go-to method for laundry. But when it comes to removing perfume smell from clothes, is it always the best option? Let’s delve into the nuances of machine washing for this purpose.

When to Use and When to Avoid Machine Washing

When to Use:

  1. Sturdy Fabrics: Materials like cotton, polyester, and denim can generally withstand the rigors of machine washing.
  2. Large Loads: If you have a whole batch of clothes affected by perfume smell, machine washing can handle the volume.

When to Avoid:

  1. Delicate Materials: Fabrics like silk, wool, and lace are best hand-washed.
  2. Clothes with Special Instructions: Always read the care label. If it says “hand wash only” or “dry clean,” it’s best to avoid the machine.

Steps for Machine Washing Your Clothes

Now, if you’ve determined that machine washing is the route for you, here are the steps to ensure maximum odor removal:

1. Using a Mild Detergent and Cold Water Setting

  • Protecting Your Clothes: A mild detergent is gentle on fabrics and helps in effectively removing unwanted scents. Coupled with a cold water setting, it ensures color preservation and fabric longevity.

2. Adding a Cup of White Vinegar or Baking Soda for Added Deodorizing Power (Optional)

  • White Vinegar: This natural acid helps break down oils from the perfume and acts as a deodorizer. Don’t worry; your clothes won’t smell like vinegar after they dry!
  • Baking Soda: Known for its odor-absorbing properties, adding half a cup to a full cup (depending on load size) can give your clothes an extra freshness boost.

3. Avoiding Fabric Softeners, Which Can Lock in Smells

  • Why to Skip: Fabric softeners can coat the fibers of your clothes, potentially trapping and locking in unwanted scents. For perfume odor removal, it’s best to give them a miss.

Machine washing offers a practical solution for removing perfume smells from most everyday clothing items. With the right settings and additives, your clothes can come out smelling as fresh as the day you bought them. Remember always to pay attention to care labels and choose the method best suited to your garment’s needs.

Natural Deodorizers

In today’s eco-conscious world, many are turning towards natural solutions for a variety of problems. Removing perfume smell from clothes is no exception. Natural deodorizers are not only gentle on the environment but also on your clothes and skin. Let’s explore the benefits and some of the top options available.

Benefits of Using Natural Remedies

  1. Eco-friendly: Using natural remedies reduces the chemical footprint, making it a more sustainable choice for the environment.
  2. Safe for Sensitive Skin: Without harsh chemicals, there’s a lower risk of skin irritations or allergies.
  3. Cost-effective: Many natural deodorizers are household staples, making them readily available and often cheaper than specialized products.
  4. Gentle on Clothes: These natural remedies won’t harm the fabric or color of your garments.

Options for Natural Deodorizing

1. White Vinegar

  • How it Works: The acidic nature of white vinegar breaks down the oils in perfumes, neutralizing the smell. And, contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t leave your clothes smelling like a salad!
  • Usage: For hand washing, add a cup to the rinsing water. For machine washing, pour it into the fabric softener compartment.

2. Baking Soda

  • How it Works: Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is renowned for its odor-absorbing properties. It neutralizes both acids and bases, making it effective against most odors.
  • Usage: Sprinkle some directly onto clothes before washing, or add half a cup to your machine wash along with the detergent.

3. Fresh Air and Sunlight

  • How it Works: Nature’s very own deodorizers! Fresh air helps to carry away odor particles, while sunlight’s UV rays can neutralize bacteria and smells.
  • Usage: Hang clothes in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors. However, avoid prolonged direct sunlight to prevent color fading.

4. Activated Charcoal Bags

  • How it Works: Activated charcoal is a potent natural adsorbent. It can trap and neutralize odors, making it perfect for freshening up clothes.
  • Usage: Place activated charcoal bags in your closet or drawers. If a garment has a strong perfume smell, place it in a sealed bag with an activated charcoal sachet for a day or two.

When pondering how to remove perfume smell from clothes, natural deodorizers offer a sustainable and effective option. With the choices listed above, you’re well-equipped to refresh your garments without resorting to chemicals. And, in doing so, you not only protect your clothes but also contribute positively to the environment.

Commercial Products

Natural remedies are fantastic, but sometimes, you might find yourself reaching for something a bit more specialized, especially for stubborn scents. Thankfully, the market has seen a proliferation of commercial products specifically designed to combat fabric odors. In this section, we’ll look at some of the available products and guide you on how to choose the right one.

Overview of Available Products

  1. Fabric Refreshers: These sprays are designed to be applied directly to clothes, breaking down odor particles and leaving a fresh scent. Brands like Febreze are quite popular in this category.
  2. Odor Eliminating Detergents: Some laundry detergents are formulated to tackle tough smells. They contain enzymes that break down odor molecules during the wash.
  3. Odor Neutralizing Beads or Pellets: These can be added to your washing machine. They release agents that neutralize odors during the wash cycle.
  4. Dryer Sheets: While primarily known for softening clothes and reducing static, some dryer sheets are also designed to impart long-lasting freshness to your clothes.

How to Choose the Right Product

1. Based on Fabric Type:

  • Delicate Fabrics: For materials like silk, wool, or lace, it’s best to use a product labeled as safe for delicates. An enzyme-based odor remover might be too harsh, while a fabric refresher spray could be ideal.
  • Sturdy Fabrics: For everyday materials like cotton and polyester, a specialized odor-eliminating detergent or laundry beads/pellets could be the best choice.

2. Based on Scent Strength:

  • Light Scents: If the perfume smell on your clothes is relatively mild, a fabric refresher or dryer sheet might suffice.
  • Strong, Stubborn Scents: For more potent perfumes, consider using odor-eliminating detergents or laundry additives that are designed to break down strong odor molecules.

While natural methods have their advantages, commercial products offer a potent solution specifically engineered to combat fabric odors. When opting for commercial solutions on how to remove perfume smell from clothes, always read the product label carefully. Ensure that it’s suitable for your fabric type and the strength of the scent you’re trying to eliminate. Moreover, as with all products, it’s a good idea to do a patch test on a small area of the garment first, especially if it’s a product you’re using for the first time. By doing so, you ensure the safety of your garments while enjoying the freshness and cleanliness that these products promise.

Dry Cleaning

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, certain scents refuse to budge, or the garment in question is too delicate or special to risk home remedies. This is where professional cleaning, like dry cleaning, can come into play. Let’s explore when and how to approach dry cleaning for the best results.

Situations When Professional Cleaning Might be the Best Option

  1. Special Garments: Items like wedding dresses, tailored suits, or other formal wear are often best left to professionals to ensure they remain in pristine condition.
  2. Stubborn Scents: If you’ve tried multiple methods and the perfume odor still lingers, it may be time to call in the experts.
  3. Delicate Fabrics: Materials like velvet, silk, or cashmere might require specialized cleaning methods that only a professional would know.
  4. Garments with “Dry Clean Only” Label: If the care label specifies dry cleaning, it’s best to adhere to that advice.

Tips on Communicating with the Dry Cleaner About the Perfume Issue

  1. Be Direct: Clearly state that the primary concern is the removal of perfume odor. By being upfront, you help the dry cleaner focus on the scent issue.
  2. Specify the Perfume, If Possible: If you know the exact perfume that caused the odor, share this information. Some high-end fragrances might have unique compositions that the dry cleaner may already have experience with.
  3. Ask About Their Process: Inquire about the chemicals or methods they intend to use. This not only educates you but also ensures that the process aligns with what you’re comfortable with, especially if you have skin sensitivities.
  4. Express Any Previous Attempts: Mention any methods you’ve tried at home to remove the scent. This will give the dry cleaner a better understanding of the treatment history of the garment.

In conclusion, while many of the methods mentioned in this guide on “How to Remove Perfume Smell from Clothes” are DIY, sometimes it’s best to leave things to the professionals. Dry cleaning provides an expert touch, and by communicating effectively with the dry cleaner, you can ensure the best possible outcome for your cherished garments.

Storing Clothes Properly

After investing time and effort into ensuring your clothes are free of unwanted odors, it’s crucial to maintain that freshness. How you store your clothes plays a significant role in preventing odor buildup and ensuring they remain smelling fresh for longer. Let’s dive into the importance of proper storage and some actionable tips.

Importance of Clean and Scent-Free Storage

Storing clothes in a clean environment ensures that they remain fresh and reduces the chances of odor-causing bacteria growth. Moreover, while some might enjoy the scent of fragranced liners or sachets, they can inadvertently introduce a new smell to your clothes. Opting for scent-free storage ensures that clothes retain their natural, clean smell without mingling with other fragrances.

Tips for Proper Storage

1. Using Scent-Free Liners or Sachets

  • Why?: Scent-free liners or sachets, often made of materials like cotton or linen, help absorb moisture and prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.
  • How: Place these liners at the bottom of drawers or hang sachets in your closet. They act as a protective barrier, ensuring external scents don’t seep into your clothes.

2. Ensuring Clothes are Completely Dry Before Storing

  • Why?: Storing damp clothes is a recipe for mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors. Even a slight dampness can result in a musty smell over time.
  • How: After washing, ensure clothes are thoroughly dried, either in a dryer or air-dried. If air drying indoors, make sure the room is well-ventilated. Before folding or hanging them up in your closet or drawers, give them a quick check to ensure they’re bone dry.

In wrapping up this section on “How to Remove Perfume Smell from Clothes,” remember that prevention is just as vital as the cure. By ensuring proper storage practices, you safeguard your clothes from unwanted smells, keeping them ready-to-wear and fresh at all times.

In Conclusion

Navigating the world of fragrances can sometimes leave us in a scented predicament, especially when our favorite garments unintentionally hold onto these smells for longer than we’d like. From understanding the root of the issue, through natural remedies and commercial products, to the expertise of dry cleaning and proper storage practices, there are numerous ways to address and prevent these olfactory challenges. Whether you’re trying to preserve the integrity of a special garment or simply want to enjoy your clothes without the lingering scent of a perfume, the methods highlighted in this guide provide solutions for all scenarios. Remember, clothes are an extension of our personal style and comfort, and ensuring they remain fresh and odor-free not only boosts our confidence but also prolongs the life of our cherished outfits. So the next time you find yourself pondering, “How to Remove Perfume Smell from Clothes?”, revisit these steps and breathe easy knowing you have the tools and knowledge at your fingertips. Happy freshening!


Depending on the potency of the perfume and the fabric type, it can take anywhere from a few hours to several days for the smell to fade naturally. However, this can be expedited using the methods mentioned in this guide.

While both vinegar and baking soda are excellent natural deodorizers, it’s generally not recommended to mix them together during washing as they can neutralize each other’s properties. Instead, use them separately for effective results.

Yes, steaming can be an effective method for certain fabrics. The heat from the steam can help release trapped scent molecules, making them easier to remove. However, always check the garment’s care label to ensure it’s safe to steam.

Not necessarily. Different commercial products have varied formulations. While some might be effective against a broad spectrum of odors, others might work best for specific types. It’s a good idea to read product reviews and perhaps test a product on a small area before full application.

While dry cleaning is a professional method that can effectively remove many odors, including perfume, it’s not a guaranteed solution for all scents and fabrics. Always communicate your specific concerns with the dry cleaner for the best results.

Depending on the specific product and environmental factors like humidity, scent-free liners or sachets typically last anywhere from 3-12 months. It’s a good practice to check them periodically and replace as needed.

Yes, fabrics like wool, silk, and other porous materials tend to trap scent molecules more effectively than smoother, less porous materials. They might require more attention or specialized methods for odor removal.