How to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothes: Effective Tips and Tricks for Fresh Laundry

Ever had one of those days where a simple fishing trip turns into a full-blown olfactory disaster? You know, the kind where your clothes smell like they’ve been marinating in a fish market for days? Trust me, I’ve been there, and it’s not exactly the scent of victory.

Getting that stubborn fish smell out of your clothes can feel like trying to wrestle a slippery eel. But don’t worry, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve that’ll have your wardrobe smelling fresh and fabulous in no time. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to be known as the person who smells like a tuna sandwich.

Materials Needed

Essential Cleaning Agents

  • White Vinegar: Consider this your trusty knight in shining armor. It might not look like much, but it works wonders.
  • Baking Soda: A box of this bad boy goes a long way. Trust me, you’ll want it on your team.
  • Laundry Detergent: Stick to your regular brand, dear, but make sure it’s tough on odors.
  • Lemon Juice: Nature’s deodorant. Plus, it smells way better than fish.
  • Enzyme Cleaner: If things get real stinky, this cleaner steps in like a superhero. It’s extra effective on stubborn smells.
  • Borax: Sprinkle some of this magic powder into the mix, especially for tougher battles.
  • Odor-Eliminating Spray: Great for a final touch, my friend. Give your clothes a spritz to make sure they smell fresh as a daisy.

Pre-Treatment Steps

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Alright, my dear fishing friends, it’s time to roll up those sleeves and tackle that stubborn fishy odor head-on! Let’s kick things off with some pre-treatment magic.

Identifying the Affected Areas

First things first, my friend, play detective and sniff out those stinky culprits. Fish smell can be sneaky and settle in the most unexpected spots. Pay close attention to sleeves, collars, and any other parts of the clothes that had close fishy encounters. A good sniff test works wonders here. Once you’ve zeroed in on the smelly zones, you’re ready for the next step!

Washing Techniques

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All right, my friend, now that we’ve sniffed out those stinky culprits, it’s time for some washing wizardry to banish the fishy odor from our beloved clothes.

Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Here’s my dear secret weapon duo—vinegar and baking soda. Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the machine’s drum like you’re hosting a fancy tea party for fish smell. Add in baking soda, about 1/2 cup, treating it like the baking showdown of our dreams. Set your washing machine to a hot water cycle. Hot water works wonders and makes the fishy odor wave goodbye.

But wait! For extra pizzazz, pre-soak the clothes in a vinegar bath. Fill a basin with hot water, toss in 1 cup of vinegar, and let your clothes marinate for 30 minutes. It’s like giving fishy smells the spa treatment!

Trying Lemon Juice or Vodka

Now let’s switch gears to our zesty cousin, Lemon Juice! When life gives us lemons, we don’t just make lemonade; we make stink-free clothes. Pour 1/2 cup of lemon juice into the washing machine’s fabric softener compartment. Lemon juice not only banishes odor but also leaves a fresh scent. It’s multitasking at its finest.

Onward to the party favorite—vodka. No, it’s not for drinking this time. Spray vodka directly onto the smelly areas and let it evaporate. Vodka’s alcohol content will tackle those odors better than a cousin at a BBQ. Just remember to use plain vodka; save the flavored types for actual parties.

Drying and Post-Wash Care

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Alright, my dear friend! So you’ve dunked and soaked your clothes in all sorts of potions to zap that fishy funk. Now comes the equally crucial part: drying and making sure your clothes smell as fresh as a daisy. Let’s dive into it!

Sun-Drying for Natural Odor Elimination

Let the sun do some magic. Hang your clothes outside, preferably on a line or drying rack, on a sunny day. The UV rays from the sun act like tiny little odor-fighting warriors, neutralizing those fishy smells. Plus, the fresh air really helps. Position your clothes where they’ll get the most sunlight, and if you’re feeling fancy, give them a couple of flips to make sure every bit gets sun-kissed.

Tips for Machine Drying

Not everyone has a bright and sunny backyard, I know. If machine drying is more your style, don’t fret. Use dryer sheets with a strong, pleasant scent. Toss in an extra one for good measure. Set the machine to a low heat setting to gently dry your clothes without baking in any remaining odors. And here’s a quirky tip to impress your friends: Throw in a clean tennis ball to keep your clothes fluffier and help them dry more evenly.

Preventative Measures

Let’s face it, my friend, nobody wants their clothes smelling like they’ve been on a trip to the fish market! Here are a few smart and simple steps to prevent that fishy aroma from hugging your fabric.

Handling Fish Properly

First thing’s first, dear reader: handle your fish with care. When prepping your catch, do it on a non-porous surface like stainless steel or plastic rather than on fabric-friendly wooden surfaces that can absorb the smell. Wear gloves, my intrepid cook, so you’re not slathering fishy goodness all over your chunkiest knit sweater.

And don’t just toss those gloves when done—give ’em a good wash with some lemon juice or vinegar. Both work wonders at neutralizing odors, and you don’t want your glove-handling skills to rival the olfactory power of a three-day-old mackerel!

Maintaining Cleanliness During Cooking

When the stove heats up and the fish starts to sizzle, remember what I said earlier: cleanliness is next to fishlessness, or something like that! Keep a tight ship by frequently wiping down surfaces with a mixture of water and a few drops of your trusty vinegar. This way, any fishy drips don’t linger like an unwelcome guest.

Cooking in an airtight kitchen environment using an exhaust fan can also keep smells from travelling. And here’s a bonus tip: simmer a small pot of water with lemon slices and cinnamon sticks while you cook. Not only will it mask the fish smell, but it’ll also have friends thinking you moonlight as a pastry chef.


Greetings, fish-smelling-friends! I hope your clothes don’t smell like a seafood market on Labor Day, but if they do, fear not! Let’s troubleshoot those stubborn odors and tricky fabrics step by step.

Dealing with Persistent Odors

My dear reader, if your clothes still smell fishy after a vinegar bath and a baking soda scrub, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Here’s what I suggest:

  1. Activated Charcoal: This isn’t just for your neighbor’s weird “air-purifying” ritual. Place a few pieces of activated charcoal in a bag with said stinky clothes for a day or two. Charcoal absorbs smells like a sponge. No more fishy business.
  2. Borax: Add half a cup of Borax to 10 gallons of laundry water and let your clothes soak overnight. Borax is like that friend who takes a bad joke and fixes it. In this case, it’s fixing that stubborn fish stench.
  3. Extended Sun-Drying: I know I mentioned sun-drying before, but this time let’s go full beach bum. Hang those clothes outside for an entire day. The combination of UV rays and fresh air works wonders. Just don’t forget them, or you’ll have more bird droppings than fish smell to deal with.

Adjustments for Different Fabric Types

My friend, let’s talk fabric. Different strokes for different folks, right?

  1. Cotton: Simple and sweet. Cotton can handle the vinegar and baking soda combo without a hitch. For those extra stinky instances, add some lemon juice to the mix. Imagine it like you’re seasoning your clothes for a BBQ—except don’t throw them on the grill, please.
  2. Wool: Ah, wool. The fancy uncle of fabrics. Wool needs gentle care. Use mild detergent and cool water, avoid hot water like it’s a creepy ex. Add a splash of white vinegar. Let it soak for 15 minutes. Rinse and air dry flat. Treat it like the classy fabric it is.
  3. Synthetic Fabrics: Polyester and Nylon often hold onto odors like your dog’s favorite toy. Pour a half cup of vinegar directly into the washing machine with your regular detergent. Set to a normal cycle and repeat if necessary. Remember to air dry to prevent any new smells from trapping.


So there you have it folks! Getting that fishy smell out of your clothes might seem like a Herculean task but with a little bit of vinegar, some baking soda, and maybe a splash of vodka (for the clothes, not you!), it’s totally doable.

Remember to avoid the fishy fiasco in the first place by handling fish properly and keeping your kitchen clean. And if all else fails, there’s always the option of turning your fishy-smelling clothes into an avant-garde fashion statement. Who knows? Fish-scented fashion could be the next big thing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you remove fish smell from clothes after a fishing trip?

To remove fish smell from clothes, use white vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, or vodka. Wash the clothes with any of these ingredients added to the laundry cycle.

Can you prevent fish smell on clothes?

Yes, avoid fish smell on clothes by handling fish on non-porous surfaces, wearing gloves, and cleaning with lemon juice or vinegar.

What are the best drying techniques to eliminate fish odor from clothes?

Sun-drying and machine drying with dryer sheets and a tennis ball are effective. Sun-drying naturally removes odors, while dryer sheets add a fresh scent.

How do you keep your kitchen from smelling like fish while cooking?

Wipe surfaces with vinegar, cook in an airtight kitchen with an exhaust fan, and simmer water with lemon and cinnamon to mask the smell.

What should you do if fish smell persists on clothes?

Try using activated charcoal or Borax, and consider extended sun-drying. These methods help absorb and neutralize stubborn odors.

How do you prevent fish smell on specific fabrics like cotton, wool, and polyester?

For cotton and wool, wash with appropriate detergents and add vinegar or lemon juice. For synthetic fabrics like polyester, use a gentle cycle and add baking soda.

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