should clothes smell like detergent

Should Clothes Smell Like Detergent?

Have you ever found yourself wondering whether your clothes should smell like detergent?

Many of us have different opinions on what a clean smell should be, but in this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons why clothes may or may not have a noticeable scent after being washed.

Is It Possible to Have Clothes That Smell Too Clean?

While cleanliness is generally desirable when it comes to laundry, it is possible for clothes to smell “too clean” or have an overpowering scent. This can occur when excessive amounts of detergent or fabric softener are used, leaving behind a strong, artificial fragrance.

Additionally, using scented dryer sheets or using a high heat setting in the dryer can contribute to an overwhelming scent.

Are You Overloading Your Laundry with Detergent?

Overloading your laundry with detergent can lead to several issues.

Firstly, using more detergent than necessary does not necessarily result in cleaner clothes; instead, it can leave behind residue that clings to the fabric. This residue can make clothes feel stiff, affect their absorbency, and trap odors.

Secondly, excess detergent can be difficult to rinse out completely, particularly in high-efficiency (HE) washers. This can lead to build-up over time, causing musty or mildew-like smells in your laundry.

Understanding Detergent Residue on Clothes and How to Avoid It

Detergent residue occurs when detergent is not rinsed out thoroughly during the washing process. This residue can build up over time and contribute to issues such as dull-looking clothes, stiffness, and unpleasant odors.

To avoid detergent residue, it’s important to use the appropriate amount of detergent for your load size and water hardness. Following the recommended dosage on the detergent packaging is a good starting point.

Additionally, using a higher water level or an extra rinse cycle can help ensure thorough rinsing.

How To Get Rid of Detergent Smell on Clothes

If your clothes have a lingering detergent smell, there are several steps you can take to eliminate it:

  1. Re-wash the clothes: Wash the affected garments again, using the appropriate amount of detergent and an extra rinse cycle. This will help to remove any remaining residue.
  2. Vinegar rinse: Add half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Vinegar helps to break down detergent residue and neutralize odors. Be sure to avoid using vinegar on delicate fabrics or those that are sensitive to acidic substances.
  3. Baking soda: Another option is to add half a cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. Baking soda acts as a natural deodorizer and can help neutralize any lingering detergent smells.
  4. Sun drying: Hang your clothes outside to dry in the sunlight. Sunlight has a natural deodorizing effect and can help freshen up your laundry.

Natural Alternatives to Synthetic Detergents for Clothes

If you prefer to avoid synthetic detergents, there are natural alternatives available:

  1. Soap nuts: Soap nuts are the dried shells of berries that contain a natural soap called saponin. They can be used as an alternative to traditional laundry detergent.
  2. Castile soap: Castile soap, made from vegetable oils, is a gentle and natural option for laundry. It is available in liquid form and can be used as a detergent substitute.
  3. DIY laundry detergent: You can make your own laundry detergent using natural ingredients such as baking soda, washing soda, and grated castile soap. There are many recipes available online that you can customize to suit your preferences.

It’s important to note that natural alternatives may have different cleaning efficacy compared to synthetic detergents. Experimentation may be required to find the solution that works best for your specific needs and preferences.


While it’s important to wash clothes with detergent to remove dirt and bacteria, clothes should not have an overwhelming smell of detergent after washing.

This can be a sign of overuse of detergent or not rinsing clothes properly, which can irritate the skin and cause allergies. Clothes should be properly washed and rinsed to remove detergent residue.