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Even the best laundry detergent can’t always get the stink out of your smelly cycling shorts, perfume-soaked blouse, or general heat wave attire. Adding an odor remover to your routine wash—especially if you are very active—will give your clothes a much-needed refresh. “Gym clothes can almost always benefit from an extra boost,” says Sadie Wilmes, a cleaning expert with more than 20 years of experience.
Some odor removers work by using oxygen boosts to deodorize your clothing and others contain essential oils to get things smelling fresh again. We researched the best odor removers on the market, evaluating each on effectiveness, ease of use, and convenience.
Our top choice, OxiClean Odor Blasters Versatile Stain and Odor Remover, is one of the most powerful and effective odor removers available, and it’s incredibly easy to use.
Below are the best laundry odor removers to keep your clothes and linens smelling fresh.
Best Overall: OxiClean Odor Blasters Stain & Odor Remover
Odor and stain remover
Easy to use
Can use as a soak for tough odors
Safe to use on many household surfaces
Not safe for all fabrics
What do buyers say? 87% of 19,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.
OxiClean Odor Blasters won over our hearts because it actually gets deep into the fibers of your clothes, sheets, aprons, and whatever else and lifts the dirt, grime, and stains that caused the odor in the first place. OxiClean works on everything from blood and sweat to grass stains and grease. If you need to tackle both stains and odors (let’s face it: If your clothes have odors, they likely also have stains), this is the perfect one-product answer.
To use this odor remover, add a scoop to your normal wash load and enjoy fresher, brighter clothes immediately. If you have extra-smelly clothing on your hands, you may need to soak it with OxiClean Odor Blasters before putting it through your washing machine. That process is also simple: Add one scoop of the powder to a gallon of water, drop it in your clothes, and let them soak for one to six hours, depending on the severity of the odor. After that, wash your laundry as you normally would.
This odor remover is chlorine-free and safe for colors—two things that are important if you are washing sweaty gym clothing made of performance fabrics. It works best if you use it periodically, but it's also safe enough to use in every load. Just make sure that you aren’t washing any delicate fabrics, such as silk or velvet.
You can also use OxiClean on other household surfaces, such as upholstery and even tile and grout. We recommend testing a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure that it won’t cause any discoloration.
Overall, OxiClean Odor Blasters packs a powerful punch in just one scoop of powder. It’s easy to use, color safe, and doubles as a stain remover for ultimate laundry day efficiency.
Best Budget: Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations In-Wash Scent Booster With Odor Blaster
Three scents available
Easy to measure and use
Small bottle size for occasional use
Fragrance can be strong
Not great at removing stains
Covers up unpleasant odors
If you only need a small amount of odor remover but want something that can tackle tough jobs, the Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations powder is the way to go. Plus, it's a budget-friendly choice. This Scentsations powder is powerful and easy to use: You can use the cap as a measuring cup to ensure you’re dispensing the right amount in your laundry. Pour it directly into the washer drum, and wash your items as you normally would. It works on all fabrics that are machine-washable.
There are three scent options available: fresh burst, tropical paradise, and purifying waters. These scents work to cover up unpleasant odors rather than remove them entirely from the fabric. If you’re sensitive to fragrances, this likely isn’t the best option for you. The baking soda in the formula does help lift some odors and stains, although it is not as effective as other odor removers or other Arm & Hammer products designed for deep cleaning.
Best Liquid Detergent: Nature's Miracle Laundry Boost
Works on many bodily fluids
Can be used as a presoak treatment
Great for pet odors
No fresh scent
Nature’s Miracle Laundry Boost is a true miracle for pet owners or anyone looking for a powerful liquid odor remover. It is made with bio-enzymatic odor-locking technology to remove odor-causing offenders from your smelliest items. This includes common pet odors such as urine, feces, vomit, and sweat. It also works on blood and grease. It doesn’t have any added scents, just a fresh laundry smell.
You can opt for the pour bottle or the squeeze bottle—whichever is the easiest application method for you. You can use Nature's Miracle detergent alongside your normal detergent in the same wash cycle. You can also use it as a presoak treatment for serious smells. Either way, this odor-removing detergent really works.
Best Spray: OxiClean MaxForce Laundry Stain Remover Spray, 12 Fl. oz.
Removes odors at the source
Can precisely target stains and odors
Easy to use
Not for daily laundry freshening
This OxiClean Max Force 5-in-1 Power Laundry Spray is a powerful stain remover. As a result, it removes odor-causing culprits and gets your laundry fresh, as well. Even though stain removal is its primary purpose, its odor-removing ability is still unmatched when compared to other odor remover sprays. Just remember that it is intended for as-needed use rather than a daily addition to your laundry. This OxiClean spray works on grease and oil, food, drink, grass stains, blood, soil, and clay. No matter what kind of stain and odors come your way, you can likely spray it away with this product.
Keep in mind that this is a spot treatment and is not intended for overall freshness. To use, spray it on a specific stained area, let it sit anywhere from five minutes to seven days (depending on the stain level), and then wash your clothing as you normally would.
Best Pods: Tide Odor Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster Pacs
Gets dirt out of fibers
Works with all detergents
Fixed amount of odor remover
If convenience is your number one priority, opt for odor remover pods. The Tide Odor Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster packs couldn’t be easier to use, and the formula works even on really tough smells. It is ideal for athletes and those who are dealing with very sweaty, very stinky clothes. Just toss a pod in your regular laundry, and it will get the stink out. You can even use it alongside other laundry detergent pods (as well as with liquid and powder detergent) to make your whole routine easy.
These pods are a bit expensive, which isn’t surprising given the convenience. They work by getting into the fibers of your clothing and linens for a really thorough clean that removes odor-causing dirt. If you have specific items—such as performance athletic wear—that hangs onto odors, these are well worth the cost. Since this odor remover is in pod form, you won’t be able to adjust the amount dispensed for super tough or very light odors.
Best Eco-Friendly: Branch Basics Oxygen Boost
Free of bleach, ammonia, fragrances, and dyes
Gets stains out
Not as effective as chemical formulas
Want to remove odors without relying on bleach, ammonia, fragrances, or dyes? Try Branch Basics Oxygen Boost. The natural formula is great for those with chemical or fragrance sensitivities that prefer to purchase environmentally conscious laundry products. It is also a good option for parents of young children who want to limit their exposure to potentially hazardous ingredients. This formula uses sodium percarbonate and sodium bicarbonate to get stains out, freshen your laundry, and brighten your whites.
This is more expensive than some other odor removers, and it doesn’t perform quite as well as the hard-hitting chemical formulas. If you just want a boost to your already clean laundry, you’ll be happy with the odor reduction of the Branch Basics Oxygen Boost. If you have really smelly clothes, you might need to try multiple applications, which can get pricey.
Best for Sweat: Active Wear Laundry Detergent & Soak
Works on oil and sweat
Free of harmful chemicals
Soaking uses up product quickly
Another enzyme formula, the Active Wear Laundry Detergent & Soak is perfect for people who would rather spend their time at the gym than do countless loads of laundry. Performance fabrics used in athletic apparel are woven very tightly, which is one reason why they hang onto odors even after they are washed. The Active Wear soak specifically targets oil and sweat in the fibers, two of the biggest culprits that cause odors.
The formula is safe to use in all washing machines and for those with a septic system. It doesn’t include sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), phosphate, bleach, dyes, or softeners. Instead, it is made with plant-based enzymes. You can use it as a regular laundry detergent or as a soaking formula for very soiled or stinky items. While it does come in a large quantity, you’ll go through it quickly if you use it as a soak because it requires up to four scoops.
Best for Pet Odors: Zero Odor Laundry Odor Eliminator
Gets odors out at molecular level
Very concentrated formula
Measuring cup not included
To get rid of stubborn pet odors, you’ll need something that is extra concentrated. The Zero Odor formula uses an odor-eliminating agent to get rid of the odors at the molecular level. It is also nontoxic and safe for all washing machines, so you don’t need to worry about your beloved pet having a reaction to their freshly laundered items.
You only need to use 2-4 ounces per wash for this odor eliminator to be effective. While the cap and bottle are convenient, there’s no measuring cup included. It is also a bit expensive for the size. Fortunately, it gets the odor-causing molecules out, so your pet is less likely to have an accident on the same item again. And if you’re a pet owner, you know that breaking that habit is priceless.
Our top pick is OxiClean Odor Blasters Versatile Stain and Odor Remover because it is simply the most effective odor remover out there. It’s very easy to use, safe for colors, and removes stains. If you’re only looking to treat odors occasionally, Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations In-Wash Scent Booster is a budget-friendly option that is sold in smaller quantities. It also has a nice fresh scent.
What to Look for in a Laundry Odor Remover
Laundry odor removers come in powder, liquid, or pod form. They are commonly added to the wash cycle, either as needed or as part of your laundry routine. Spray odor removers are also effective, but they are better when used to pre-treat specific stains and spots that have odors. Pods are the most convenient odor remover but also the most expensive.
Most laundry odor removers work with a standard washing machine. Many also work with high-efficiency washing machines, although the recommended amount or instructions for use might change depending on the type of machine you own. If you have a septic system, look for a formula that is septic-safe. Finally, make sure that you follow the instructions for use and pay close attention to the fabric type and water temperature needed for safe and effective results. You may need to wash your clothes on a hotter setting than usual.
Look for a laundry odor remover that eliminates odors rather than covers them up with fragrances. Once the smells from your dirty laundry are removed, some odor remover boosts use a fragrance to add an extra element of freshness. Some people who are sensitive to chemicals may prefer fragrance-free odor removers.
How do you remove pet urine odors from laundry?
Look for an odor remover with enzymes to break down the soiled spot that is causing the pet-related odor. Many formulas with these ingredients are marked specifically for pet use since those odors can linger. Just make sure that you don’t let your pet ingest any odor remover because they can be harmful.
“Pet urine is some of the toughest to clean, whether it’s in the carpet or on a pet bed,” said Wilmes. “You may need to wash things twice or even three times. Just make sure to wait to dry it until you are sure that it is clean.”
Why does my laundry not smell fresh?
Even clean laundry can stink as things like oil, grease, food, and grime get embedded into the fabric fibers over time. Most odor removers are formulated to get into the fibers of your clothing and linens to remove these odor-causing particles. Consider using an odor remover as a part of your regular laundry routine. If the smell persists, you might need to troubleshoot your washer for potential causes.
Does borax remove odors from clothes?
Borax, or sodium tetraborate, is a salt that is used to eliminate odors around the home. It can remove odors from clothes—especially food odors and cooking grease. Many odor removers use a similar formula or active ingredient to target odors and odor-causing particles. Borax is safe to use on clothing but not as convenient or effective as some other products designed specifically for laundry use. Read more about how to use borax in your laundry.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was researched and written by Katie Begley, a freelance writer specializing in home and family products. Katie has been writing for The Spruce since 2019. A Navy Veteran, Katie has used multiple laundry boosts from this list to keep her uniforms and physical fitness apparel clean and fresh. Now a mom of three, she relies on products that are convenient and easy to use. To compile this list, she prioritized effectiveness and simplicity. She also talked to Missouri-based cleaning expert Sadie Wilmes to get tips on how to use odor removers effectively.