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How to Remove Tough Odors From Clothes

Over the years I have been accustomed to wearing smelly clothes.  It’s not like I didn’t wash or wear the same shirts or shorts over multiple days, it is just they seemed to stink within a few hours after putting them on.  It was actually driving me nuts and making me feel very self conscious at times.


This year I finally broke down and decided I didn’t want to smell any more.  I was pretty much at my wits end wanting to throw away most of my sports related tee-shirts, but knew there must be a better option.

Sweat X and Nathan Power Wash

Occasionally  I will attend a running or cycling expo and usually there are a few companies showcasing some magical liquid that removes smell from clothes.   Two sports washes that come to mind are Sweat X and Nathan Power Wash.  My issues with most of these pertains to the ingredients, which I contend are rather toxic or at least not something you should use on a consistent basis.  Nathan claims their Power Wash is 100% NON-TOXIC, BIODEGRADABLE & ECO-FRIENDLY, but that is what they always say, until years later it turns out not to be exactly true.  That said, if you want to go the sports wash route, Nathan Power Wash seems to work rather well.

I wanted something that I felt I could used consistently without worrying about growing an extra arm or getting some toxic disease that would have me walking around like a Zombie.  I wanted something that was as close to natural as I could get.  Something my grandmother might have used.

I wasn’t sure if natural and removing stink was a pipe dream, but that would be the ultimate way for me to be satisfied.


White Distilled Vinegar - How to Remove Tough Odors From Clothes

Well as it turns out there is a liquid that would meet my needs for being stink free and it happens to be a very old commonly used household product called VINEGAR.  Yep Vinegar is the magic elixir.  Who knew, obviously I didn’t.


Clothes smell because fungus has taken hold and grown on the fibers clothes are made from.  When you workout and don’t wash your clothes immediately, fungus and mildew can start to grow.  After a few days shirts and other athletic gear will start to smell musty.  At this point even if you wash them, mildew has had it’s way and now has become one with whatever it’s growing on.  To make matters worse, when combining cloths in the washer, there can be a transfer of this fungus to other non sports related cloths.  It’s sort of like a Zombie apocalypse in your washing machine.  A shirt is infected with mildew and it in turn infects other clothes and so on.

You might not notice it at first, but as soon as the fibers become wet through sweat or rain, the musty smell of the fungus becomes all too real and you start to stink.  This was my life for at least 30 years as an athlete.  Funny enough I don’t remember having this issue for my first 20 years of life.  Maybe at that time some of the detergents that were used had ingredient that killed fungus.  Whatever the reason it appears that most of the detergents today, do zip to remove fungus.


White vinegar is a mild acid that has been used to kill roughly 82 percent of mold species and has even been known to prevent future mold outbreaks.  The acid, which appears to be gentle enough for clothes, kills the fungus and leaves the clothes intact.  It’s the perfect weapon and is “GEAR MASHERS APPROVED”.

When I first heard that Vinegar had the potential to remove fungus from clothes and save them from being thrown out, I was overjoyed, but I had my doubts.  I mean vinegar has it’s own pretty hardcore odor, so even if it killed the fungus, wouldn’t the clothes start smelling like vinegar?  I certainly didn’t want to be know as VINEGAR MAN, even if I had super human abilities.

It turns out Vinegar does smell, but after a few hours the odor dissipates and no longer smells like vinegar.  It’s like the heavens aligned and the angels started singing.  Vinegar would be my savior, at least when it comes to smelly fungus filled apparel.

When you’re ready to wash your clothes, simply use whatever detergent you like and start the wash allowing the washer to fill with water.  When it’s almost full add a cup of the Distilled White Vinegar and you’re good to go.  The acidic nature of Vinegar will do it’s job and kill whatever fungus has taken hold.

It’s such a Win/Win with no downside that I can see.









About The Author

Tom Crandall

Tom has been writing about photography, cycling, running and fitness since 1988, covering everything from the product reviews to the latest in fitness trends. Tom is the Editor-in-chief of,,,, and a few other publications, he began racing in college while getting an Information Resource Management degree at George Mason University. Based in the photography and cycling-crazed city of Austin, Texas, with his wife Kathleen and pug Olaf, Tom enjoys running, walking or riding most every day.

1 Comment

  1. Kathleen Crandall

    Your wife must be grateful for this discovery! and extra blessed that her husband does the laundry 😉


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