Naturally Freshen Stinky Laundry

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Does your laundry smell sour or musty, even after you’ve washed it? Here’s an easy, natural way to get the bad smells out of your clean laundry.

wicker basket of clean linen in front of a clothesline

Thanks to Little Peanut, we’ve been doing a lot of laundry these days.

toddler waving from crib with flowers painted on the wall in background

Between the spit up and the other [ahem] biological weaponry she wields, the towels and baby clothes just smell funny.

They’re clean but they have a sour smell that doesn’t come out–and we use unscented laundry detergent, so it’s pretty obvious.

Want more tested and trusted natural cleaning recipes? You deserve to have a clean house without sacrificing your health. Check out Natural Cleaning for Your Entire Home and start cleaning safely!

fresh flowers in a clean farmhouse kitchen

By the way–there are lots of recipes out there for homemade laundry soap. They usually involve grating a bar of soap, adding a few ingredients, and using it to wash your clothes. However, there’s a big difference between soap and detergent, and laundry needs detergent.

I did a bit of research and found the secret to fresh-smelling laundry was already in my natural cleaning supplies. Here’s how easy it is.

wicker laundry basket and towels outside

wicker basket of clean linen in front of a clothesline

Freshen Your Laundry Naturally

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Additional Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes



  1. Wash half the amount of clothes you would normally put in a load. This ensures everything has plenty of room to swish around, get clean and then get rinsed well.
  2. Use the hottest water the garments can handle. For me, this is hot water with a cold rinse.
  3. Fill the fabric softener dispenser with plain white vinegar. If you don't have a dispenser, pour 1 cup in the washer during the rinse cycle.
  4. Add 1 cup baking soda along with the laundry soap while the washer is filling.
  5. After the clothes have agitated for a minute or two, turn the washer off and let the clothes soak for about 30 minutes.
  6. After the soak, turn the washer on and let it finish as normal.
  7. Get the clothes in the dryer right away (or line-dry them for extra credit and freshness). Enjoy your fresh, fluffy laundry!


This tip works best with top-loading washing machines.
If you have a front-load machine or a water-saving machine, soak the clothes in the bathtub with the baking soda. Squeeze them out and put them in the washer with the vinegar to complete the process.

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Hi, Im Pam!

I created Brown Thumb Mama to share my natural living journey, and help you live a greener life. Thanks for being here!

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