Baking Soda Pre-Soak For Smelly Clothes

dirty clothes

Whether it’s sweaty gym shorts or a t-shirt you wore on a hot summer day, sometimes washing with laundry detergent is not enough to remove the funk from your clothes.

In this article, you will learn how to deodorize smelly clothes with the help of baking soda.

I use this pre-soak all the time before throwing my gym clothes in the washer.

I hope that you’ll give it a try.

What you’ll need:

1-2 cups Baking Soda

Laundry basin or sink



1. Fill the laundry basin about halfway with water.

fill basin with water

2. Pour in 1-2 cups of baking soda. The amount will depend on the size of the basin, but it should be roughly around one cup per gallon of water.

pour baking soda in basin

3. Add funky clothes to the basin. Make sure it’s fully submerged.

soak clothes in baking soda and water

4. Let it sit for at least 3 hours. It works even better if you soak your clothes overnight. That will give the baking soda more time to work its magic.

5. After pre-soaking, take a quick whiff. You will notice that the funky smell is gone. Put your clothes in the washer and launder them like usual.

Will Pre-Soaking with Baking Soda Damage My Clothes?

From my experience, I’ve never had a garment fade or get damaged when I pre-soak them in baking soda and water.

And I’ve done it with different fabric types. I’ve used it for my cotton shirts, nylon rashguards, towels, etc.

I noticed that some tough fabrics like jeans get softer but not damaged.

When in doubt, it’s best to check the clothing tags beforehand.

Do I Have to Separate Whites from Colors?

It’s always a good idea to separate whites from colors whether you pre-soak them with baking soda or not.

When you soak them together, you run the risk of one of the colored clothes bleeding dye, ruining your whites.

That’s why I use two different laundry basins whenever I pre-soak my clothes. One for my whites, the other for my colors. It’s safer that way.

Why Baking Soda is Effective in Removing Odors

Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a natural deodorizer and neutralizer. It works by reacting with acids and bases to balance pH levels, which helps eliminate odors caused by acidic or alkaline substances. 

Baking soda can absorb moisture, which is another reason why it’s effective in eliminating odors. It’s safe to use on most fabrics and surfaces and doesn’t contain harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin or harm the environment.

How Long Can You Soak Clothes in Baking Soda?

You can soak your clothes in baking soda for several hours or overnight, depending on the level of odor or stain you’re trying to remove. A minimum of 3 hours is recommended to allow the baking soda enough time to neutralize the odor, but leaving the clothes to soak overnight can provide better results. 

However, it’s not recommended to soak clothes in baking soda for more than 24 hours, as it can potentially damage the fabric. It’s important to rinse the clothes thoroughly after soaking and before washing them with laundry detergent

How to Make Baking Soda Pre-Soak More Effective with Vinegar

To make a more effective pre-soak with baking soda, you can add white vinegar to the mixture. Vinegar is acidic and can help break down and dissolve any buildup or residue that can trap odors in the fabric. 

To use vinegar with baking soda, add a cup of white vinegar to the laundry basin after adding the baking soda and water. Soak the clothes for at least three hours, or overnight if possible, and then launder as usual.

Baking Soda Pre-Soak for Pet Odors on Clothes

Pet odors can be tough to remove from clothes, but a baking soda pre-soak can help. 

To remove pet odors from clothes, add 1-2 cups of baking soda to the laundry basin filled with water and then add the clothes. Let the clothes soak for at least three hours, or overnight if possible, and then launder as usual. 

You can also add a cup of white vinegar to the pre-soak mixture to help remove any buildup or residue that can trap odors in the fabric.

Other Natural Alternatives to Baking Soda for Pre-Soaking Clothes

While baking soda is a great natural deodorizer, there are other ingredients you can use for pre-soaking clothes. One option is white vinegar, which can also help remove odors and stains from clothes. 

Another alternative is hydrogen peroxide, which can help whiten and brighten clothes while eliminating odors. Essential oils, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil, can also be added to the pre-soak to give clothes a fresh scent.

5 Tips for Preventing Clothes from Smelling Bad in the First Place

Preventing clothes from smelling bad in the first place can save time and effort in the long run. Some tips to prevent clothes from developing a funky odor include:

  1. Washing clothes regularly, especially after exercising or sweating
  2. Hanging clothes to air dry instead of leaving them in a pile or in a damp environment
  3. Using a fabric softener or dryer sheets to add a pleasant scent to clothes
  4. Avoiding using too much detergent, as it can leave a residue that can trap odors in the fabric
  5. Storing clothes in a cool, dry place with good ventilation to prevent mildew or mold growth.

How to Store Baking Soda for Laundry Use

To keep baking soda fresh and effective for laundry use, store it in a cool, dry place in an airtight container. Avoid storing baking soda in the refrigerator or freezer unsealed, as moisture can affect its effectiveness.

You can also add a small amount of baking soda to your laundry detergent to boost its cleaning power and deodorizing abilities.


There you have it. That’s how I use baking soda to remove the funk from my clothes.

Baking soda also works great for cleaning your toilet. Read on it if you have time.

Thanks for dropping by my blog.

If you find this article helpful, please share it with your friends.

Until next time!

-Baking Soda Guy

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

  1. Can I use baking soda to remove specific odors from clothes, such as cigarette smoke or cooking smells? Yes, baking soda can help neutralize various odors, including cigarette smoke and cooking smells. The absorbent nature of baking soda allows it to trap and eliminate these odors. For particularly stubborn odors, you may want to let the clothes soak in the baking soda solution for a longer duration or repeat the process.
  2. Can I use baking soda to remove stains from clothes, or is it only effective for odors? Baking soda can help with some stains, especially those caused by acidic substances. However, its primary function is as a deodorizer and not a stain remover. For tough stains, it’s best to use specific stain removers or follow stain removal techniques based on the type of stain.
  3. Can I reuse the baking soda and water solution for multiple pre-soaks? While reusing the solution might be tempting, it’s best to create a fresh solution each time you pre-soak your clothes. The baking soda in the solution absorbs odors and impurities, so it becomes less effective with each use.
  4. Can I use baking soda pre-soak on delicate fabrics like silk or wool? Baking soda is generally safe for most fabrics, but it’s best to test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the delicate fabric first. Delicate fabrics might be more prone to damage from prolonged soaking, so it’s essential to exercise caution.
  5. Can I pre-soak clothes with baking soda in a washing machine instead of a laundry basin? Yes, you can pre-soak clothes with baking soda in a washing machine. Simply fill the machine with water, add the appropriate amount of baking soda, and let it soak before running a regular wash cycle.
  6. Can I combine baking soda with other laundry products, such as fabric softener or detergent? Yes, you can combine baking soda with fabric softener or laundry detergent. Adding a small amount of baking soda to your regular detergent can boost its cleaning power and deodorizing abilities. Additionally, using fabric softener after pre-soaking with baking soda can leave your clothes smelling fresh and feeling soft.
  7. Can I use baking soda to deodorize shoes and sports equipment? Absolutely! Baking soda is an excellent natural deodorizer, and it can work wonders on shoes, gym bags, and sports equipment. Simply sprinkle some baking soda inside shoes or equipment, let it sit for a few hours, and then shake off the excess before use.
  8. How often should I use baking soda pre-soak on my clothes? The frequency of using baking soda pre-soak depends on how often your clothes develop odors and how heavily they are soiled. For regular gym clothes or sweaty items, using baking soda pre-soak once a week or as needed can help keep them fresh and odor-free.

Top Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash