How to Remove Essential Oil Smell from Fabric

yellow oil stain

Essential oils are widely used for their aromatic properties and therapeutic benefits. However, if not handled properly, these potent oils can leave a strong and lingering scent on fabric. 

Whether it’s an accidental spill or you’re trying to eliminate the residual smell after using essential oils, there are effective methods to help you remove these odors. 

In this article, we will explore step-by-step instructions on how to remove essential oil smells from fabric, ensuring your textiles smell fresh and clean again.

Let’s begin.

Understanding Essential Oil Smells on Fabric

Before we delve into the removal process, it’s essential to understand why essential oil smells can be challenging to remove from fabric. 

The concentrated nature of essential oils allows them to penetrate deep into the fibers, making their scent difficult to eliminate. 

However, with the right techniques and a little patience, you can successfully restore your fabric to its odor-free state.

Preparing the Fabric for Odor Removal

Before you begin the odor removal process, gather the necessary supplies. You’ll need mild detergent, white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, a spray bottle, and access to sunlight

Additionally, always check the care instructions on the fabric to ensure you use the appropriate cleaning methods without causing any damage.

Basic Steps for Removing Essential Oil Smells

Step 1: Spot testing 

To avoid potential discoloration or damage, perform a spot test on an inconspicuous area of the fabric

Apply a small amount of the cleaning solution you plan to use and observe for any adverse reactions. If the fabric remains unaffected, proceed with confidence.

Step 2: Pre-treating the fabric 

If the fabric is washable, pre-treating it before washing can help break down the essential oil molecules. 

Mix a solution of mild detergent and warm water. Gently blot the affected area with a clean cloth soaked in the solution. Avoid rubbing vigorously, as this can push the oil deeper into the fabric.

Step 3: Washing the fabric 

Once the fabric has been pre-treated, launder it according to the care instructions. Use the warmest water temperature suitable for the fabric and add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. 

Vinegar helps neutralize odors and acts as a natural fabric softener. After washing, give the fabric a sniff test to determine if the odor is still present. If needed, repeat the process.

Additional Methods for Odor Removal

Method 1: Baking soda and vinegar 

For stubborn odors, create a paste by mixing baking soda with water. Apply the paste to the affected area and let it sit for 30 minutes. 

Then, dampen a clean cloth with white vinegar and gently dab the area to neutralize the odor. Rinse the fabric thoroughly and air dry.

Method 2: Lemon juice and sunlight 

Lemon juice has natural deodorizing properties that can help eliminate essential oil smells. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the fabric and let it sit in direct sunlight for a few hours. 

The combination of lemon juice and sunlight will work together to break down the oils and freshen the fabric. Afterward, wash the fabric, as usual, to remove any residue and enjoy the refreshed scent. Don’t forget to always spot-test first.

Method 3: Odor-neutralizing sprays 

If you prefer a quick and convenient solution, you can use commercial odor-neutralizing sprays specifically designed for fabrics. These sprays contain enzymes that break down the odor-causing molecules. 

Simply spray the affected area, following the instructions on the product label, and allow it to air dry. Remember to test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure compatibility with your fabric.

Tips for Preventing Essential Oil Smells on Fabric

  1. Dilute essential oils properly: Always follow the recommended dilution ratios when using essential oils. This helps minimize the strength of the scent and reduces the likelihood of it clinging to the fabric.
  2. Use protective barriers: When applying essential oils topically, consider using a barrier like a cloth or a towel to prevent direct contact with your clothing or other fabrics.
  3. Proper storage: Store essential oils in airtight containers away from fabrics to prevent accidental spills or leaks.
  4. Immediate action: In case of spills, act quickly by blotting the area with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb as much oil as possible before it seeps into the fabric.
  5. Launder regularly: Regularly wash fabrics exposed to essential oils to prevent any buildup of scent over time.


Removing essential oil smells from fabric may require a few extra steps, but it is entirely possible with the right techniques. 

By following the outlined methods, you can effectively eliminate unwanted odors and restore freshness to your fabrics. Remember to always check the fabric care instructions and perform spot tests before applying any cleaning solutions. 

With a little patience and care, you’ll be able to enjoy clean, odor-free textiles once again.

Do you have a perfume bottle you want to reuse? Read How to Remove Perfume Smell from Bottle.


Can I use bleach to remove essential oil smells from the fabric?

It’s generally not recommended to use bleach on fabrics with essential oil smells, as it can cause discoloration or damage. Stick to the methods outlined in the article for safe and effective odor removal.

Are there any fabrics that are more challenging to remove essential oil smells from?

Some fabrics, such as silk or delicate materials, may require extra caution and gentle cleaning methods. Always refer to the fabric care instructions and adjust the cleaning approach accordingly.

How long does it usually take to remove essential oil smells from fabric?

The time it takes to remove the smell depends on the fabric, the intensity of the odor, and the method used. It can range from a few hours to a couple of days, allowing for proper drying and airing out.

Can I use fabric softener to eliminate essential oil smells?

Fabric softeners may mask the odor temporarily, but they won’t completely eliminate essential oil smells. It’s best to follow the recommended methods mentioned in the article for effective odor removal.

Are there any natural alternatives to commercial odor-neutralizing sprays?

Yes, you can create your own natural fabric sprays using ingredients like vodka, distilled water, and essential oils. These can help neutralize odors without the use of harsh chemicals.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels