How to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothes? 8 Ways

how to get fish smell out of clothes

Continue reading to find out more about the typical causes of fish smell on clothing and how to permanently get rid of them.

A fishy smell is one of the worst odors that can ruin your clothes. For you to miss it right away, it seems to be lurking just below the surface.

Most fishy odors respond favorably to cleaning with acidic substances like vinegar or lemon juice. The alkaline particles that produce many fishy odors are neutralized by acidity, which also removes their odors from your clothing. Warm water is ideal for these products because it causes cloth fibers to expand and release trapped particles.

Removing fishy odors and stains from your clothes after a fun day of fishing on the water is inevitable. Fortunately, it only takes a few simple steps to successfully restore the fresh scent of your clothing.

Read More: How to Get the Fish Smell Out of the Fridge? Simple Tips

Before You Begin

The waiting period can be used to your advantage if you won’t be laundering your clothes right away. Then, liberally sprinkle baking soda over the clothes in a paper bag. When you have a full load of laundry to wash or want to soak a number of items, put the bag aside. Throughout the entire time, the clothing is in the paper bag, the baking soda will be absorbing odors.

Just toss the items of clothing into the washer when it’s time to wash them. The baking soda powder does not need to be shaken off. It’s a secure cleaner that will rinse out immediately.

A clothesline in full sunlight is an additional option for hanging the clothing. By doing this, the fabric is exposed to ultraviolet rays, which have a strong ability to degrade odor-causing substances that stick to the fabric.

Before trying pretreatment and washing, leave them out for a day or more to help the odor fade.

How to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothes?

You can easily get rid of the smell of fish from your clothes, but first, you must determine whether the smell is present. Naturally, this smell should be detected by your senses. You might have to rely on someone else to tell you if they don’t, though. Here are a few methods for getting rid of a fishy smell from your clothes.

Wrap the Clothes With Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Get a paper bag and fill it with baking soda after you’ve located the damaged clothing. Along with placing the clothing in the bag, you can also sprinkle some baking soda on the garments. The unpleasant odor can be eliminated with baking soda.

Depending on how quickly the fishy smell disappears, you might need to store the clothes in the bag for longer than one day.

Wash With Vinegar


Your clothes can also be washed in vinegar to get rid of the fishy smell. Anywhere you use it, vinegar aids in absorbing smelly smells. As a result, it is a frequent component of household cleaning products.

Just a little bit should be added to the soapy water before soaking the clothes for a few hours. You can leave it overnight if the odor doesn’t go away after that.

Line-Dry the Clothes in the Sunlight

Line-Dry the Clothes in the Sunlight

One of the most traditional and efficient methods for eliminating odors from clothing is sunlight. Unless otherwise stated, you should spread your clothes out in the sunlight as much as possible.

It helps to kill germs on the clothes in addition to getting rid of offensive odors. To prevent color fading, etc., don’t expose your clothing to excessive sunlight. Spread out any smelly clothing in the sunlight until the odor disappears.

Wash With Cleaning Detergents

Cleaning Detergents

To get rid of the fishy smell from clothes, use high-quality cleaning detergents. For instance, borax works well as a cleaning agent. You can also wash the impacted clothing by hand or machine using dishwashing liquids.

Whatever method you choose, make sure it complies with the instructions on the clothing. For instance, washing clothing that should be hand-washed in a machine can cause the clothing to become ruined. Spread out in the sun or a dry, open area after washing.



A typical laundry additive called borax increases the cleaning power of regular detergent. Due to its strong alkaline nature and ability to react with any acidic molecules stuck to your clothing, it is especially effective at eliminating lingering odors.

To use Borax on fishy smells:

  • Before placing your clothing and regular detergent in the washing machine, add ½ cup of borax to the bottom of the basin.
  • Use the settings you usually use to put your laundry through a typical wash cycle.
  • Hang the damp clothing outside to dry in the sun once the cycle is complete.

Borax is primarily used to increase the power of your regular laundry soaps because it is less effective when used alone.

Vodka Spray

Vodka Spray

Vodka, or any alcohol for that matter, kills bacteria that linger and cause fishy odors on your clothing, making it a classic remedy for odors that just won’t go away. Vodka is the only alcohol you should use for this because it is clear and, unlike many other alcoholic beverages, loses its smell when it dries.

To use this popular drink on your fishy smells:

  • Fill a tidy spray bottle or mister with pure vodka.
  • Spray the odorous clothing with the vodka, paying close attention to the places where you are aware the odors are the strongest. Although the alcohol itself has a strong initial odor, it completely vanishes as it evaporates.

Alternatively, you could perform a vodka soak if the obstinate smell persists after you use the spray method. Be warned—you won’t want to use your pricey items for this! To make the soak:

  • A sink or basin should be filled with a 2:1 mixture of vodka and cold water. One quart (32 oz) of vodka and ½ gallon (64 oz) of water would be a suitable measurement for this.
  • The clothing should be added to the mixture and left to soak for up to an hour. To receive the full treatment, make sure the clothing is completely submerged.

After using either technique, you must hang your clothes outside in the sun to dry naturally. This will aid in the complete odor and evaporation of the alcohol. You can wash and dry the clothing as usual after it has dried.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide works well because it degrades any organic material on your clothing that might be contributing to the fishy odors. This might include lingering oils or fragments from any fish you’ve handled, as well as mold, mildew, or bacteria. The smell ought to vanish as the organic matter decomposes.

To use hydrogen peroxide on your fish odors:

  • In addition to the regular detergent, add 1 cup of peroxide to the washing machine.
  • Use your machine’s regular wash settings to wash your clothes.

As concentrated peroxide can bleach your dry clothes, be careful not to pour it directly on them. When diluted in a washing machine basin full of water, peroxide is safe for colored clothing.

Boiling Method (For White Clothes)


Boiling water is among the simplest methods for eradicating tenacious fish odors from clothing. Before the washing machine became a standard in homes, many families actually boiled their clothes in a pot of water to get odors and dirt out of the fabric. Any remaining germs and bacteria that contribute to odor development would be killed by boiling the clothes.

To use this method:

  • On your stovetop, put a big pot full of water to a boil.
  • [[Optional] To increase the mixture’s ability to fight odors, add a tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
  • When the stovetop is off, add the clothes and water. Up to an hour may be given for the clothes to soak in the water.

This technique is only secure for white clothing made of heat-resistant materials. When using synthetic fabrics, such as rayon or polyester, exercise caution because the heat can easily damage them. Wear only clothing made of cotton, linen, and other natural fibers.

Dish Detergent

dish detergent

Using dish detergent for purposes other than washing silverware is beneficial. Since most dishwashing liquids are designed to dissolve food grease, they are excellent for cleaning up any oily stains that fish might leave behind.

Instead of using laundry soap, you can substitute dish detergent; just use it sparingly to prevent your washing machine from becoming overrun with bubbles.

To do this:

  • While your machine is running its normal cycle, add 1/8 cup of dish detergent.
  • Stop your washing machine and let the laundry soak for 3 to 4 hours before starting the rinse cycle.
  • To finish the wash cycle, let the machine rinse and spin the clothes as usual.

Any odors from leftover fish oils or residues should be eliminated by this action alone. But if additional assistance is required, you can also add 1 cup of white vinegar to the soaking mixture.

Additional Tips for Handling a Fishy Smell

You may need to try a longer, more thorough soak if the clothing still has a fishy odor.

  • Add baking soda, laundry detergent, or a commercial laundry odor-eliminator product to a large bucket of very warm water.
  • To keep the clothes submerged, place them in the bucket and cover them with a fresh, white towel.
  • Spend 30 to 60 minutes soaking.
  • As usual, wash the clothing, then hang it to dry in the sun.

People who fish frequently tend to have specific items of clothing they only wear for fishing because some fish odors can be difficult to completely get rid of. Put them in the category of your special fishing attire if you still detect a faint fishy smell.

Why Does My Clothing Smell Like Fish?

The solution might not always be obvious if you detest the smell of fish and are wondering how it got into your clothes. Each of the techniques we cover in this article removes odors in a different way, and some will be more effective than others on particular kinds of odors. You will be able to select the approach that best suits your needs if you can identify what is causing the fishy smell.

Contact With Fish

The presence of fish, the water they inhabit, or products containing fish oil are common causes of your clothes smelling like fish. You might have recently gone fishing, prepared a nice meal for your family, or even cleaned out a fish tank you have at home. Any direct interaction with fish or their surroundings may produce a fishy odor.

These odors typically originate organically, such as the oily residue that fish are known to leave behind. Additionally, their nature is frequently alkaline. Because of this, treatments for these odors may be more effective if they break down organic material or use an acid to neutralize odors.

Chemicals on the Fabric

how to get fish smell out of clothes

Formaldehyde resin is frequently used to treat clothing to help dyes penetrate deeper during production or to prevent wrinkles. Due to the chemical treatment done on many of the garments before shipping, they frequently arrive at their destination smelling musty.

All-purpose odor eliminators that combat both acidic and alkaline odors are beneficial for smells like this. The chemical and its smell can be removed from the fabric by washing the clothing several times.


In rare instances, the fishy smell in your clothes might actually be genetic! Trimethylaminuria also referred to as the “fish odor syndrome,” is a rare genetic disorder that causes people to constantly smell like fish, no matter how clean they are or what they are wearing.

This odor will invariably get on the clothes themselves and can be challenging to get rid of. Another organic smell that could be improved by washing techniques that degrade organic material is this one.

Mold and Mildew

Clothing that has been allowed to remain wet until mold or mildew has developed can also give off fishy odors. Additionally, these odors might linger inside your washing machine as a result of damp clothes remaining in the basin for an excessively long time or as a result of water getting sucked into the seals or other components of the appliance.

In either case, mold and mildew are also organic odors that are typically treated using a technique that decomposes organic material or that aids in the eradication of bacteria and germs. Regarding suggestions on how to handle these smells, see the methods listed below.


Bacteria from improper washing are another factor in the odor of fish. To prevent bacteria from growing and keep odors from sticking to you, try washing your clothes and yourself frequently. Methods that can kill off this bacteria will respond best to smells brought on by poor hygiene.

Summary: Get Fish Smell Out of Clothes

If you follow the above instructions, it won’t be difficult to get rid of the fishy smell from clothes. If the smell of fish is still a problem, you can soak the clothing in a bucket of fabric-safe bleach-infused water overnight before washing it the following day.

Keep this reference handy so you can handle any odors that may arise in the future!

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