shirts and jeans

How to Freshen Clothes Without Washing Them

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where your clothes are a bit pongy, not necessarily dirty or stained, just whiffy, and you haven’t got a washing machine at hand to clean them?

Surely there’s a backup option to help you keep your outfits looking swell when you’re in this kind of scenario?

There are, in fact, many ways you can spruce up your outfits without washing them!

It doesn’t matter what circumstance you find yourself in, it’s always handy to know how to freshen up your clothes without using a washing machine.

Tips before you dive in:

  • Always do a patch test with your chosen refreshing solution, if you’re using one. Find a discreet patch of material and put some solution onto it, and see what happens.
  • Be patient! Not all smells will come out after the first treatment, so you may have to repeat or use more than one method to eradicate particularly bad smells from your clothes.
  • If you’re going to use a liquid solution to freshen up your clothes, always stand away from your items, so you don’t saturate them.

Here are some methods you can try out, so you can refresh your laundry with ease.


1. Washing Line

dry jeans in clothesline

Arguably the cheapest and easiest way to remove odours and refresh clothes without using a washer, is to hang the garments on a line outside, and then you can leave the elements to take care of the laundry for you.

A gentle breeze and the sun’s rays can do the world of good for pongy clothes. So, allow your outfits to blow in the wind and either wear them again or store them.

For extra stinky clothes, you can leave them on a line outside all day long.

Not got a line? Don’t worry! You can use a balcony, drape clothes over a chair and pop them in the garden, or hang your laundry up near an open window to get the same effect.


2. Fabric Freshener

freshen jeans with fabric freshener

Got some pesky odours hanging about? Not a problem. Just mist them away using a garment refresher!

Garment refreshers, like Chinti & Parker’s vegan-friendly, lavender-scented solution, helps to freshen up clothes in between washes.

It can also be used to scent delicate materials like wool, cashmere and merino fabrics, all of which don’t require regular washing.

You can also make your own fabric refresher. To make your own refresher, drop a few fabric-safe essential oils into a sprayable bottle, fill the rest of the bottle up with water, and spray your garments.


3. Clothes Steamer

Using a clothes steamer

If you’ve got access to a clothes steamer, you can use it to remove odours from your clothes.

A steamer can also be used to soften the hold a stain has on an item of clothing’s fibres, so it can be removed later on as an added bonus!

All you need to do is make sure your item can be steamed, and then carefully move the steamer up and down over the item to refresh it.


4. Spray with Vodka

freshen clothes with vodka spray

Some of you will undoubtedly think that this next one is a complete waste of good vodka, but hear me out, it does work. Plus, the ‘waste’ won’t seem so bad when your clothes smell fresh!

If you’ve got stinky laundry, all you need to do is fill a clean spray bottle with some clear, straight vodka (you don’t need to fill the entire bottle up), turn your item(s) inside out, hang the item up, stand away from it (so you don’t get it soaking wet), and start spraying the vodka all over it.

You should pay close attention to particularly smelly zones, like under the arms, and you’ll likely need to spray these regions a little more than others.

In mere minutes the vodka will start to break down the stench on your outfit. You just have to wait for any vodka droplets to dry (if there are any), then you can store or wear your item.

If you have soaked your item a tad too much, feel free to pop it on a line to air-dry outside. The elements will also remove any lingering odours.

For this to work out effectively, you must only use clear vodka. If you use something that’s been coloured or has flavourings in it, it could stain your piece of clothing.

You don’t want this to happen because you’ll have to deal with another problem. So, make sure you pick the right spirit up!


5. Spray with White Vinegar

freshen clothes with white vinegar spray

If you’re absolutely against using quality vodka to freshen up your clothes, how about you try a bit of white vinegar?

To use white vinegar to refresh your clothes, you just need to fill a clean spray bottle up with half vinegar and half water, turn your garment inside out, stand back and then spray the whole item with the solution.

Of course, vinegar has its own smelly problems, so to combat this, you could pop a couple of drops of essential oil into the spray bottle and then refresh your items. But you will need to test out the essential oil before you use it.

On the other hand, you could just spray your garments and then stick them on the line to blow dry.

This would double your chances of removing any stinks, as you’re essentially combining two methods from this list! And it would help to neutralise the smell of vinegar.

Note: Make sure you only use distilled white vinegar. If you use any other type of vinegar, particularly ones that are coloured, they will stain your items.


6. Wardrobe Air Fresheners

Wardrobe Air Freshener

If you’re not in a rush, one less intrusive way to refresh your laundry is to hang it up in a wardrobe alongside some scented wardrobe sachets.

You can place or hang most sachets up, and their aroma permeates throughout the wardrobe (or drawer). This, in turn, can keep clothes smelling extra pungent for longer and stops them from smelling stale.

Scented wardrobe sachets can be picked up in most shops and come in a wealth of smells, so there’s something for everyone.


7. Spray with Lemon Water

spray with lemon water

Lemon is great at neutralising pesky odours. You’ve just got to be careful that you don’t bleach your garment with the juice!

If you’re set on trying out this method, you must test the lemon juice out on a discreet patch of material, and you can only continue if there’s no reaction.

In addition to this, you’ve got to dilute the lemon juice in a sufficient amount of water, then spray the laundry from a distance with the mixture.

Ideally, you should turn your smelly garment inside out and spray the potion onto particularly stinky zones (armpits, for example).

When you’re done, you can put your garment outside on the line to dry off or hang it up near a window.

But don’t leave the item in direct sunlight for too long, as this may bleach the fabric.


8. Dryer Sheets

Putting dryer sheet in dryer

A quick way to spruce up your laundry is to add it to a dryer alongside some dryer sheets, and then run a warm cycle.

As the washing tumbles around in the drum, the scent from the sheets will move onto the fabric and will neutralise any odours and freshen up your item for you.


9. Bicarbonate of Soda

freshen clothes with baking soda

This next method can be a bit messy, and it’s not suitable for all materials, but it’s a handy hack to keep in mind.

To remove odours from clothes and freshen them up, just pop them inside a sealable bag and then put a cup or two of bicarbonate of soda into the same bag.

Seal the bag when you’re ready, and give it a good shake.

The bicarb should coat the entire outfit, and all you need to do is leave the bag alone for about 15 minutes, before emptying the contents out, and giving your laundry a brushing down.

This isn’t the tidiest of methods, so make sure you prepare your workstation before you try it out.


10. Brush with a Clothes Brush

clothes brush

A simple way to freshen clothes is to just brush them with a clothes brush. Lots of general dust and grime get stuck on clothing, which in turn, can make the material smelly and a bit grubby.

So, if you’re outfit needs a little TLC, brush it, and you’ll notice the dirt literally being brushed off, as well as any lingering aromas.


11. Freeze Your Clothes

This isn’t the quickest method on the list, but if you’ve got time, you can freeze your clothes to remove odours from them, so that they end up smelling clean.

The cold will also kill off the bacteria that is setting up home on your outfit as a bonus!

All you need to do is pop your item(s) in a bag, put this bag in a freezer, leave it there for a few hours and then pull it out. By the end, your garment should be smelling better and will feel fresher.

bottle spray and shirt

FAQs on Refreshing Clothes

How can you refresh clothes fast?

To quickly refresh your clothes, you can spray some freshening mist over them, throw your items in a dryer with some dryer sheets, or squirt some vodka/vinegar over them.


How do you get the smell of body odour out of clothes without washing them?

You can use any of the methods listed above to remove the smell of body odour (BO) from clothes.

However, when cleaning said garments, you should pay close attention to the more scented regions, and make sure you refresh them thoroughly.

For example, if the armpit sections on a top is particularly pongy, you should spray this region with more product than any other area.

Say you chose to use the vodka method, you’d spray the entire top with a vodka mist, but you’d spray the armpit sections a few more times. This would help to neutralise the BO smell.