The 6 Best Laundry Detergents for Odors in Clothes, Towels, and More

By Corrie Pelc


As any person who does laundry can attest to, removing stains from clothing and other fabrics is one thing. Removing odors is another.


No matter how many times you wash your son’s baseball uniform or your workout gear, some odors just magically seem to cling to their fibers. Although a laundry detergent may be great at removing stains, sometimes it’s not so great at removing tough smells.


If you find that your clothing, pet beds, towels, and other fabrics are not smelling any better after you wash them, you should consider switching your current detergent to a laundry detergent made for eliminating odors.


Not sure which detergent is best for you? We’ve got you covered with this guide. Let’s take a look at our top picks for the best laundry detergents for odors, so you can ensure that your laundry smells just as clean as it looks.

best laundry detergents for odors, glass jar of white laundry detergent next to towels photo via Reesa
glass jar of white laundry detergent next to towels / photo via Reesa

Top Picks

Test Factors We Considered When Picking the Best Laundry Detergents for Odors

Detergents will often advertise that they are “odor blasting” or “made of odor-eliminating technology,” but there’s a little more to it than that, and what you choose will depend on you and your family's needs. Let’s take a look at the test factors we used in determining our list of the best laundry detergents for removing odors:

  • Bottle Size: How much laundry detergent does the user get for their money?
  • Application: How is the laundry detergent added to the machine — is it a liquid or powder you have to pour into the machine or its detergent drawer or does it come in a pod?


Now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s a look at our list of the best laundry detergents for odors to use to make your laundry items smell fresh again.

Best Laundry Detergent Liquid for Odors: Tide Plus Febreze Sport Odor Defense Laundry Detergent

Bottle Size: 92 fluid ounces Application: Liquid

In our opinion, the best laundry detergent for odor removal in a liquid is Tide Plus Febreze Fresh Sport Odor Defense Liquid Laundry Detergent. Not only is this detergent able to remove week-old odors, but it also helps keep athleticwear fresher for up to three times longer than standard laundry detergent. This detergent uses a specially-designed scent-renewal technology that keeps releasing fresh smells as you move, so fabrics keep smelling great even when you're sweating hard. Tide Plus Febreze Fresh Sport Odor Defense Liquid Laundry Detergent can be used in all types of washing machines and also whitens and brightens your clothing and fabrics.

Pros

  • Able to remove week-old odors
  • Specially-designed scent-renewal technology keeps releasing fresh smells as you move
  • Also whitens and brightens

Cons

  • None that we can see!

Best Laundry Detergent Pods for Odors: Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean Odor Blasters Laundry Detergent

Bottle Size: 40 count Application: Pods

Hammer Plus OxiClean With Odor Blasters Laundry Detergent is our top pick for best laundry detergent pod for odors. Each pod contains five different elements that eliminate tough smells and stains, whiten whites, brighten colors, and provide a scent boost. This allows this detergent to remove some of the harshest odors from fabrics, including musty towels, body odors, and pet smells. No measuring is required as each pod is pre-measured for each laundry load. The Arm & Hammer Plus OxiClean With Odor Blasters Laundry Detergent formula is made with 100-percent renewable electricity and the pouch that the pods come in is recyclable with TerraCycle.

Pros

  • Features five cleaning elements in one pre-measured pod
  • Removes harsh odors including musty towels, body odors, and pet smells
  • Formula made with 100-percent renewable electricity

Cons

  • Pods may not work with all washing machines

Best Eco-Friendly Laundry Detergent for Odors: Biokleen Natural Sport Concentrated Laundry Detergent

Bottle Size: 150 fluid ounces Application: Liquid

Environmentally-conscious homeowners who need assistance removing harsh odors from their laundry will love Biokleen Natural Sport Concentrated Laundry Detergent. This plant-based detergent uses special enzymes to target and break down odors caused by sweat and leaves a fresh lavender eucalyptus scent in its place. The eco-friendly laundry detergent also effectively removes stains from dirt and grass and contains no artificial colors or fragrances. Biokleen Natural Sport Concentrated Laundry Detergent uses biodegradable ingredients and is designed in an eco-friendly bottle and offers three times the concentration as standard detergents, so you don't need to use as much.

Pros

  • Plant-based laundry detergent uses special enzymes to remove odors caused by sweat
  • Uses no artificial colors or fragrances
  • Detergent is three-times as concentrated as standard detergents so you can use less

Cons

  • Bit expensive

Best Laundry Detergent for Sweaty Clothes: HEX Performance Laundry Detergent

Bottle Size: 32 fluid ounces Application: Liquid

Activewear fabric is designed differently than normal T-shirt fabric as it's a technical fabric created to be both breathable and sweat-wicking. HEX Performance Laundry Detergent is designed specifically for cleaning the tight-knit, synthetic fabrics used in activewear. This laundry detergent penetrates these fabrics to remove odors and stains that traditional detergents may have trouble reaching. Additionally, the detergent helps ensure your activewear stays comfortable and works the way you need it to. HEX Performance Laundry Detergent is biodegradable and contains no dyes, phosphates, or parabens.

Pros

  • Designed specifically for removing odors and stains from activewear fabrics
  • Keeps activewear comfortable and working the way you want it to
  • Biodegradable formula contains no dyes, phosphates, or parabens

Cons

  • Bit expensive

Best Laundry Detergent for Pet Odors: Defunkify Powder Laundry Detergent

Bottle Size: 55 ounces Application: Powder

As any pet owner knows, dogs and cats bring their own harsh odors that can be hard to remove from household fabrics. Defunkify Powder Laundry Detergent is powerful enough to crush any odors from fabrics, including pet vomit and urine smells. This powder laundry detergent for odors uses specialized enzymes to break down and remove bad fragrances from deep down between the fibers of clothing and fabrics. Defunkify Powder Laundry Detergent's ingredients are all approved by the EPA Safer Choice Program and contain no dyes, fragrances, or fillers, so you can rest easy when using the product on your pet beds and blankets.

Pros

  • Uses special enzymes to crush bad odors from fabrics
  • Ingredients all approved by EPA Safer Choice Program
  • Contains no dyes, fragrances, or fillers

Cons

  • Bit expensive

Best Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent for Odors: Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear

Bottle Size: 160.5 fluid ounces Application: Liquid

Sensitive skin needs a gentle laundry detergent that will cause no irritation. Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear is dermatologist-tested, hypoallergenic, and certified 100-percent SkinSAFE — a program developed in partnership with the Mayo Clinic. While this detergent is kind on skin, it's the direct opposite on severe odors, dirt, and stains. This detergent even contains special agents that trap soil in the water so they rinse away and do not redeposit on the rest of the laundry load. Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin Free & Clear contains no dyes, perfumes, or preservatives, and works in all washing machines at all temperatures.

Pros

  • Dermatologist-tested and certified 100-percent SkinSAFE
  • Contains no dyes, perfumes, or preservatives
  • Special agents trap dirt in the water so they rinse away and do not redeposit on laundry

Cons

  • None that we can see!

Best Laundry Booster for Odors: Tide Odor Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster Pacs

Bottle Size: 27 pods Application: Pods

If you really love your current laundry detergent and just need some extra help fighting odors, a laundry booster might be your best bet. Tide Odor Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster Pacs, which work like a laundry detergent pod, can be added to a laundry load alongside any detergent to help get rid of bad smells from clothing and other fabrics. The laundry booster gets deep down to the fiber level to remove odors and stains, and its special odor-defense technology breaks down layers of body soil and residue that can cause body odors to come back over time. Tide Odor Rescue In-Wash Laundry Booster Pacs can be used in conjunction with either powder or liquid laundry detergents, and can be used in both regular and HE (high-efficiency) washing machines.

Pros

  • Laundry booster pods designed for use with any powder or liquid laundry detergent
  • Gets deep down to the fiber level to remove odors and stains
  • Special odor defense technology removes body soil that can cause body odors to come back

Cons

  • Doesn’t replace an actual laundry detergent

Tips for Removing Odors From Clothing

Now that you’ve picked a great laundry detergent for odors to use, here are our best tips on how to help keep odors from clinging and other fabrics:


Air Out Your Sweaty Clothes

After your morning run or gym session, don't just dump your sweaty workout clothes into a hamper. Lay them out in a spot or on a clothing rack where they can get some air circulating around them. This can help dry the sweat clinging to the fabric so odors do not set in.


Pre-Soak Clothes

If the fabric has a very harsh smell, try pre-soaking it in some cool or warm water with a shot of baking soda or vinegar. Both of these natural ingredients can help neutralize the bacteria that cause bad odors on fabrics, helping prep them for the laundry detergent to work its magic.


Wash Clothes Properly

There are a few ways to make the most of every laundry load so fabrics get the best cleaning possible. Make sure you are setting yourself up for success by doing all you can to ensure your clothes and other fabrics are getting washed properly:

  • Turn your workout clothes inside-out before washing them.
  • Instead of throwing all your family's clothes into one load, break them down into smaller loads.
  • Whatever detergent you choose, don’t go overboard—too much detergent can leave a residue on your clothes, making them feel stiff and scratchy.
  • When it comes to soiled and sweaty clothing, hot water is usually your best bet. Save cold water loads for delicate fabrics and colored items that might bleed.
  • Be sure to read the tags before running your athleticwear through the dryer. A lot of high-performance activewear is made of fabric that pills easily, and the dryer will expedite the problem.


In your opinion, what is the best laundry detergent to remove odors? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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