How Do You Get Formaldehyde Smell Out Of Clothes

When it comes to clothing, dealing with unpleasant odors is an all-too-familiar challenge. One of the most stubborn smells is that of formaldehyde. Whether it’s from newly purchased clothes, dry cleaning, or exposure to certain environments, formaldehyde odor can be both bothersome and concerning. 

In this guide, we will delve into effective methods to remove formaldehyde smells from your clothes, ensuring they not only smell fresh but are also safe to wear. 

Let’s explore how you can bid farewell to that unwanted scent and enjoy your wardrobe once again.

How Do You Get Formaldehyde Smell Out Of Clothes

How Do You Get Formaldehyde Smell Out Of Clothes

Besides the obvious discomfort of wearing clothes with a strong formaldehyde smell, there are health concerns associated with prolonged exposure to this chemical. 

Formaldehyde can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, leading to potential health issues over time. Removing the smell is not just about comfort; it’s about ensuring your well-being.

Gathering Your Supplies

Before embarking on the journey to eliminate formaldehyde odor from your clothes, make sure you have the necessary supplies ready. You’ll need:

Distilled White Vinegar: A natural deodorizer that neutralizes odors and breaks down residues.

Baking Soda: A versatile household item that helps absorb and neutralize odors.

Activated Charcoal: Known for its excellent odor-absorbing properties.

A Steamer: Useful for releasing odors from clothes using steam.

Gentle Detergent: Choose a fragrance-free, mild detergent to avoid exacerbating the odor problem.

Access to Sunlight: Natural UV rays and fresh air help eliminate odors effectively.

Pre-Washing Preparations

Before you start the odor removal process, there are a few preparatory steps to ensure successful results:

Sort Your Clothes: To prevent color bleeding and fabric damage, group clothes by color and fabric type before washing.

Read Care Labels: Always check the care labels on your clothes for washing instructions and any temperature limitations. Following these guidelines will help preserve the integrity of your garments.

Ventilation: Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any residual fumes from the formaldehyde.

Washing Techniques

The way you wash your clothes can significantly impact the effectiveness of odor removal. Follow these techniques:

Use Lukewarm Water: High temperatures can actually set in odors, so it’s best to opt for lukewarm water during washing.

Proper Rinsing: Ensure you rinse your clothes thoroughly to eliminate all detergent residue, which can contribute to lingering odors.

Avoid Overloading: Don’t overcrowd the washing machine. Clothes need space to agitate and rinse properly, allowing the water to carry away the odor-causing particles.

Natural Remedies for Formaldehyde Odor

Now, let’s dive into the natural remedies you can use to effectively remove the formaldehyde smell from your clothes:

Vinegar and Water Solution: Create a mixture of equal parts distilled white vinegar and water. Soak your clothes in this solution for approximately 30 minutes before proceeding with the regular wash cycle. Vinegar works as a powerful odor neutralizer and helps break down any residual chemicals.

Baking Soda Paste Application: Make a paste by mixing baking soda with water. Gently rub this paste onto areas of your clothes that have strong odors. Allow the paste to sit for about 15-20 minutes before washing. Baking soda’s absorbent properties will help lift and eliminate the odor.

Activated Charcoal Deodorizing: Place activated charcoal near your clothes or in a breathable pouch within your wardrobe. Activated charcoal excels at absorbing a wide range of odors, including formaldehyde.

Sunlight and Fresh Air Treatment: Hanging your clothes outside in direct sunlight provides a natural and effective way to eliminate odors. UV rays and fresh air work together to break down and dissipate the formaldehyde smell. Remember to turn the clothes inside out to protect their colors from fading.

Steam Your Clothes: Utilize a steamer to gently steam your clothes. The heat from the steam helps release odors, and the steam itself can penetrate the fabric fibers effectively, providing a thorough cleanse.

Choosing the Right Detergent

When selecting a detergent for washing clothes with formaldehyde odor, opt for a gentle, fragrance-free option. Harsh chemicals in scented detergents can exacerbate the odor problem rather than solving it.

Additional Tips to Prevent and Eliminate Odors

Air Out New Clothes: Before wearing newly purchased clothes, hang them outside for a day. This allows any trapped odors to dissipate naturally.

Regular Washing: Make a habit of washing your clothes regularly to prevent odors from becoming deeply ingrained.

Proper Storage: Store your clothes in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated space. This prevents odors from lingering and encourages better overall fabric health.

Storing Clothes to Prevent Odors

When storing clothes, follow these guidelines to ensure they remain odor-free:

Clean Clothes: Always make sure your clothes are clean before storing them. Any trapped odors can intensify over time.

Use Airtight Containers: For long-term storage, consider using airtight containers to prevent odors from permeating your clothes. This is especially important if you’re storing clothes in an area prone to moisture or strong odors.


Banishing formaldehyde smells from your clothes requires a combination of effective techniques and the right approach. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can enjoy fresh-smelling clothes that are safe for you to wear. 

Say goodbye to the stubborn formaldehyde odor and welcome a wardrobe that’s both comfortable and odor-free.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Will washing clothes remove formaldehyde?

Yes, washing clothes can help remove some of the formaldehyde present on the fabric. However, it might not completely eliminate all traces of formaldehyde, especially if the clothes were heavily treated with the chemical during manufacturing. Using water and detergent can help break down and remove some of the formaldehyde residues.

Does the smell of formaldehyde stick to clothes?

Yes, the smell of formaldehyde can stick to clothes, especially if the clothes were exposed to high levels of formaldehyde during production or if they were stored in an environment with formaldehyde fumes. The smell may fade over time or with washing, but in some cases, it might linger.

What happens if you get formaldehyde on your clothes?

If formaldehyde comes into contact with your clothes, it can lead to the chemical being absorbed by the fabric fibers. This can result in the fabric retaining the smell of formaldehyde and potentially causing skin irritation or allergic reactions when the clothes come into contact with your skin.

What kills the smell of formaldehyde?

Several methods can help eliminate or reduce the smell of formaldehyde:

Air Out: Allow the clothes to air out in a well-ventilated area. Fresh air can help dissipate the smell over time.
Washing: Washing the clothes with water and detergent can help remove some of the formaldehyde residues and associated smell.
Vinegar Solution: You can try soaking the clothes in a solution of water and vinegar, then washing them as usual. Vinegar can help neutralize odors, including formaldehyde.
Baking Soda: While baking soda may help absorb odors, it might not be as effective with formaldehyde as it is with other smells.

Does baking soda absorb formaldehyde?

Baking soda is commonly used to absorb odors, but its effectiveness in absorbing formaldehyde is limited. Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC), and its molecules are smaller and more complex than typical odors that baking soda is effective against.

How do you wash new clothes with formaldehyde?

To wash new clothes with formaldehyde, follow these steps:

Check Care Label: Read the care label on the clothes for washing instructions and any specific recommendations.
Separate Colors: Sort clothes by color to prevent color bleeding.
Use Mild Detergent: Choose a mild detergent that is suitable for the fabric type.
Wash Gently: Use a gentle cycle on your washing machine to minimize wear and tear.
Extra Rinse: Consider using an extra rinse cycle to ensure thorough removal of detergent and potential residues.
Air Dry: Whenever possible, air-dry the clothes to avoid exposing them to excessive heat from a dryer.

How long does formaldehyde last in clothes?

The duration for which formaldehyde lingers in clothes can vary. Generally, the initial strong smell of formaldehyde should dissipate within a few days to a couple of weeks, especially with proper ventilation and washing. However, trace amounts of formaldehyde might remain on the fabric for a longer time.

How do you get the formaldehyde smell out of jeans?

To remove the formaldehyde smell from jeans, you can try the following steps:

Air Out: Hang the jeans in a well-ventilated area for a few days to allow the smell to dissipate.
Wash: Wash the jeans using a mild detergent and the appropriate washing settings for the fabric type.
Vinegar Soak: You can soak the jeans in a solution of water and vinegar for a short period before washing.
Sunlight: Exposing the jeans to direct sunlight for a limited time might help reduce the smell.
Activated Charcoal: Placing activated charcoal near the jeans can help absorb odors over time.

Kristen Park - Specialised Content Writer for Caresh Fresh

My name is Kristen Park and I am a senior writer specialising in how-to guides and home cleaning information at Cares Fresh. As a researcher, I take pride in digging deep to find every small detail on a topic and explaining it in a way that is easy for the reader to understand.