Smell has a direct effect on regulating your mood, cognition, social preferences, and even your partner selection (1). When smell has such a close connection with our minds and emotions, bad odors are something we want to avoid.
If your clothes smell bad, whether, from sweat, dampness, or a previous detergent, we can help. When you choose a detergent that is made for tackling odors, your clothes will smell fresh once again.
We’ve put together a list of the seven best detergents for odors. Based on real customer reviews, expert advice, and science, you’re sure to find a detergent from our list that suits your laundry routine.
- Fresh scent for six weeks
- Uses Febreze to tackle odors
- Easy to use
- Safe for children & pets
- Highly concentrated
- Three scent options
- Up to 64 washes
- Plant-based stain removers
- Compatible with HE washers
- Well known brand
- Compatible with HE
- Works in cold & warm wash
- Great for sportswear
- Restores stretched fabrics
- Fragrance and dye free
- Eliminates bacteria & mold
- Nontoxic & biodegradable
- Compatible with HE
To choose the top seven detergents, we looked at each brand’s effectiveness, cleaning ability, and the ingredients it uses to kill odors. We also considered whether the detergent would leave behind a new fresh scent. We completed our comprehensive list based on hours of research into real customer reviews and expert advice.
Are you ready to uncover seven excellent laundry detergents for tackling odors? Let’s go!
1. Gain Flings Liquid Laundry Detergent Pacs
Best Smelling Laundry Detergent
A well-known brand by Procter and Gamble, Gain Flings come as a solid pod that easily dissolves in both hot and cold water. They feature a combination of Oxi-Boost and Febreze technologies. Plus, they have an extra scent to make your clothes smell suitable for up to six weeks.
It’s safe for use in all colors and fabrics as it does not contain bleach. It is also compatible with both standard and HE systems. That means you don’t have to worry about ruining your clothes or washing machine.
Due to the nature of this product, it’s important to keep it away from children. This is to prevent kids from swallowing them. The pacs should be handled by dry hands and shouldn’t be cut, punctured, or separated if they are stuck to each other.
- Provides a sustained fresh scent for six weeks.
- Compatible with HE washing machines.
- Easy to use in your laundry routine.
- Uses detergent, Oxi Boost, and Febreze to tackle odors.
- Works in hot and cold water.
- Brightens colors and whitens whites.
- Not safe to keep around children.
- Customers found it didn’t always dissolve fully.
- Some pods break open in the box.
|Odor Tackling Ingredient||Oxi Boost and Febreze|
|Number of Loads||81|
|Ingredients||Water, surfactants, enzymes|
|Safety||Use with caution|
2. Puracy Natural Liquid Laundry Detergent
Best Eco-Friendly Detergent
Puracy detergent is designed for skin-sensitive skin, as well as for the environment. It relies on a plant-based enzymatic formula capable of removing odors and leaving you with fresh clothes afterward.
The product comes with a pump top that prevents spilling and eliminates the need for measurement. It also comes in a high concentration, allowing a large number of washes. Caution isn’t required using this product, as it’s safe for children and pets.
- Environmentally friendly and plant-based.
- Safe for children and pets.
- No need to measure.
- Highly concentrated for up to 96 loads per bottle.
- Free of harsh chemicals.
- Tackles bad odors well.
- The bottle leaks sometimes.
- The scent is quite strong.
- Not the best for removing stains.
|Odor Tackling Ingredient||Zinc Ricinoleate|
|Scent||Unscented, but the natural scent is still quite strong|
|Number of Loads||Up to 96|
|Ingredients||Plant-based enzymes, cleansers, softeners, and natural minerals|
3. Mrs. Meyer's Laundry Detergent Lavender
Best for Pet Odor
Hate sterile smells? This one’s for you. Mrs. Meyer’s product comes with a mix of plant-based ingredients and essential oils. It’s a good pick for pet odors.
Additionally, it comes in various scents, not just lavender, that you would find naturally in a garden. These include basil and honeysuckle. However, it does not compromise its ability to eliminate stains and their odors.
The detergent is also environmentally friendly as it comes in recyclable packaging and is biodegradable.
The formula is concentrated and allows for 64 washes. It’s compatible with both regular and high-efficiency washing systems. The product is bleach-free and can be used on all of your attires.
- Comes in three scent options.
- Concentrated product for 64 washes.
- Environmentally friendly and biodegradable.
- Compatible with HE.
- Stain-fighting enzymes included.
- Naturally scented with essential oils.
- Can cause an allergic reaction.
- Scent does not linger.
- Not strong enough for stubborn stains.
|Odor Tackling Ingredient||Not specified|
|Scent||Lavender, basil, or honeysuckle|
|Number of Loads||64|
|Ingredients||Water, essential oils, surfactants, plant-based enzymes, fragrances|
4. Method Laundry Detergent Ginger Mango
Best for Fruitiness
Driven by the need to provide solutions for social and environmental problems, Method’s products combine a naturally derived mix of plant-based and mineral-based ingredients effective at stain and odor removal.
It comes in a zesty blend of ginger and mango. It works well in both standard and high-efficiency washers.
Its high concentration gives you up to 84 washes. No bleach is present in this product, so it does not mess with your white or colored attire.
- Plant-based stain removers.
- Cruelty-free testing procedures.
- Compatible with HE and standard washers.
- Hypoallergenic formula is kind on sensitive skin.
- Brightens colors and whites.
- Safety lock zipped on the bag.
- The scent isn’t super strong or lingering.
- Not the best for heavy-duty laundry needs.
|Odor Tackling Ingredient||Propylene glycol|
|Scent||Mango and ginger|
|Number of loads||84|
|Ingredients||Water, surfactants, plant-based enzymes, fragrances|
5. Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent ProClean Intense Fresh
Best for Odor and Stain Removal
From the well-known brand of Persil comes this product. It can penetrate deeply into the fabric and remove even the toughest stains. And it leaves a vibrant scent on your clothes in the end.
Additionally, the product comes in a higher-than-usual concentration, so you don’t need to use as much for every wash. It’s compatible with all kinds of washing systems over various temperatures. It contains no bleach and is safe to use for all types of clothes, white and colored.
- Well-known and reliable brand.
- Compatible with HE washing machines.
- Can be used in cold and warm temperatures.
- Removes heavy, stubborn stains.
- Twice as concentrated for up to 110 loads.
- Removes visible and invisible dirt.
- Not hypoallergenic, so it may cause a reaction.
- Bottle is prone to leaking.
- You might need more detergent per load, causing fewer loads per bottle.
|Odor Tackling Ingredient||Odor elimination technology|
|Number of Loads||Up to 110|
|Ingredients||Water, surfactants, enzymes, and fragrance|
|Safety||Use with caution|
6. Win Sports Detergent - Free & Clear
Best for Sweat Odors
This brand is motivated by a love for sports and athletic activity. Win has grown steadily since its introduction over 20 years ago.
The product specializes in cleaning sportswear. Its unique mixture of surfactants works efficiently at removing any oily substances from synthetic fibers. Say goodbye to those musty, body odor, sweat stenches.
Additionally, it’s compatible with HE washing systems and does not seem to cause allergic reactions.
Besides its ability to remove odors, it can also brighten colors and restore stretched-out fabrics. It’s designed especially for sports apparel. Think brands like Lululemon, Nike, Fabletics, Beyond Yoga, and more.
- Works great with sportswear.
- Compatible with HE washing machines.
- Restores stretched fabrics and brightens colors.
- Removes odor from microfiber, synthetic and technical garments.
- Fragrance and dye free.
- Less effective on cotton clothes.
- Not as effective in cold water.
- Works out to be very expensive.
|Odor Tackling Ingredient||Hydrogen peroxide|
|Scent||Unscented or Active Fresh|
|Number of Loads||Up to 32|
|Ingredients||Water, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hydroxide, and surfactants|
|Safety||Not safe; use with caution|
7. No Sweat All Natural Laundry Detergent
Best for Athletics
An innovation motivated by a love of athleticism and exploration, No Sweat focuses on cleaning sports gear. This makes it a very suitable choice for those who frequently practice sports and all kinds of physical activities.
While this product stands out in that it can be used on its own as a laundry detergent, its prime focus is the elimination of odors. Sometimes you might need to use it as an additive to your main detergent if the clothes are muddled up. HE compatibility is not an issue since it also works well with their systems.
The formulation is also capable of sanitizing your clothes from bacteria and mold. It uses a unique enzyme formula capable of penetrating deep into the cloth and then neutralizing any bacteria or fungus found inside.
- Eliminates both bacteria and mold.
- Nontoxic and biodegradable formula.
- Compatible with HE washers.
- Tackles stubborn musty odors.
- Removes sweat, body oils, and yellow stains.
- Up to 95 loads per bottle.
- You need to use it alongside another detergent.
- You must dry clothes immediately after washing.
|Odor Tackling Ingredient||Enzymes|
|Number of Loads||Between 30 and 95|
|Ingredients||Water, surfactants, chloride, enzymes.|
|Product||Best||Odor Tackling Ingredient||Scent||Number of Loads||Safety|
|Gain Flings Laundry Detergent||Smelling Laundry Detergent||Oxi Boost and Febreze||Original||81||Use with caution|
|Puracy Natural Laundry Detergent||Eco-Friendly Detergent||Zinc Ricinoleate||Unscented||Up to 96||Very safe|
|Mrs. Meyer’s Laundry Detergent||For Pet Odor||Not specified||Lavender, basil, or honeysuckle||64||Relatively safe|
|Method Laundry Detergent||For Fruitiness||Propylene glycol||Mango and ginger||84||Relatively safe|
|Persil Liquid Laundry Detergent||For Odor and Stain Removal||Odor elimination technology||Intense Fresh||Up to 110||Use with caution|
|Win Sports Detergent||For Sweat Odors||Hydrogen Peroxide||Unscented or Active Fresh||Up to 32||Use with caution|
|No Sweat Laundry Detergent||For Athletics||Enzymes||Unscented||Between 30 and 95||Relatively safe|
What Is the Source of Odor?
Odor is a property of certain gaseous chemical compounds experienced when interacting with receptors in your nose. They are usually called volatile organic compounds (VOC) (2).
The source of odor can be from many things. This includes coming in contact with animals, food stains, drink stains, dirt, and sweating.
Sweat is a big one. At first, it is odorless, but then the protein content of this sweat is consumed by bacteria that live on your skin.
Its enzymes then produce metabolites that become the source of that foul odor. This happens in cloth too, when it comes into contact with the sweat and bacteria on your skin.
How Can We Get Rid of Bad Odor?
The most efficient way to eliminate odors is to go straight to the source. Since odors result from chemical compounds, breaking down these compounds or modifying them is a simple solution.
Sanitizing clothes and killing bacteria is very effective. You can also kill bacteria on clothes by drying them using hot, dry air, the sun, or both. Most bacteria don’t usually survive the removal of moisture or ultraviolet light.
Unfortunately, not all bacteria are highly vulnerable to the loss of moisture and exposure to the sun. And not all places get frequent periods of sunshine and dry weather.
Thankfully, it’s still possible to simultaneously remove bacteria and bad odors during the washing process.
Washing clothes using the proper laundry detergent is your best bet to eliminate problematic odors. This can be later supplemented by dry hanging your clothes in the sun.
How to Choose the Right Detergent
When looking out for the right detergent for washing your clothes, there are several things to be on the lookout for:
- Compatibility with high-efficiency (HE) washing systems: If you have an HE washer, make sure you use an HE detergent. If you don’t, the detergent residue will cling to the clothes and further perpetuate the stinky issue.
- Odor source: Knowing what kind of odors you must deal with is also something to consider. Some detergents are specialized in dealing with specific categories of odors, e.g., sweat, pet odors, smoke, etc.
- Bleach or non-bleach: Bleach can be detrimental to certain types of fabric. It can also cause colors to fade.
- Bactericidal activity: Bacteria are the active agents behind the production of bad odors. Therefore, it is vital to determine whether the detergent you choose can kill them.
No More Smelly Clothes
With all of these options available to you, it should not be too difficult for you to find the best laundry detergent for odors to wash your clothes with. They’re all effective at removing odors, but there are other things you should consider.
You have to consider if they’re allergen-free or might pose an attractive danger to pets and children: e.g., small pods.
Some are environmentally friendly, while others are not. Wherever the bad odors are, there’s a way to get rid of them that will suit you the best.