How to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothes?

To remove fish smell from clothes, you can wash them in a mixture of vinegar and water or use baking soda in your laundry detergent. When you accidentally end up with clothes that smell like fish, whether it’s from a fishing trip or a seafood meal gone wrong, it can be quite unpleasant.

The pungent odor tends to cling to fabrics, making it challenging to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a few simple and effective methods you can try to eliminate the fish smell from your clothes. We will explore some tried and tested techniques that can help you restore freshness to your garments.

By following these tips, you can ensure your clothes smell clean and fish-free.

Understanding Fish Smell On Clothes

Remove stubborn fishy odors from your clothes with these simple tips. Discover effective methods to get rid of that unpleasant smell and keep your clothes fresh and clean.

Dealing with fishy odors on your clothes can be an unpleasant experience. Whether you’ve been fishing, preparing seafood, or simply handling fish, that lingering fish smell seems to find its way onto your clothes, making them less than pleasant to wear.

Understanding the causes and challenges of removing fish smell from clothes is the first step towards freshening them up. So, let’s dive in and discover how to tackle this stinky problem.


What Causes Fish Smell On Clothes?

Before we can effectively eliminate the unwanted fish odor from our clothes, it’s important to understand what causes it in the first place. Fishy smells are a result of a naturally occurring compound called trimethylamine, which is present in fish and other seafood.

This compound releases its distinct scent when it interacts with the air, and while it may be appetizing when coming from a delicious dish, it’s far from pleasant when it saturates your clothes.

So, how does this smelly compound end up on your clothes? Well, whether you’ve been cooking up a seafood feast, gutting and scaling fish, or even just handling fresh catch, there’s a high chance that the trimethylamine molecules have transferred from the fish to your clothing.

These molecules are volatile and can easily cling to fabric fibers, making their presence known long after you’ve finished your fishy activities.


The Challenges Of Removing Fish Smell

Getting rid of fish smell from clothes can be quite challenging. Unlike other odors, fishy scents tend to be persistent and can withstand regular washing. This is mainly due to the potency of trimethylamine, which becomes deeply embedded in the fabric.

Additionally, fish smell can also seep into the stitching and seams of your clothing, making it even more challenging to eliminate.

If not properly addressed, the fishy odor can intensify over time, especially when exposed to heat or humidity. This can lead to embarrassment and discomfort, making it essential to tackle the problem head-on before it becomes even more problematic.

Fish Smell Out of Clothes

Tips For Removing Fish Smell From Clothes

In this section, we will share some effective tips on how to remove fish smell from clothes. It can be quite challenging to get rid of this stubborn odor, but with the right approach and a little patience, you can restore your clothes to their fresh and odor-free state. Here are some tips to help you tackle the fish smell and ensure your clothes come out smelling clean and fresh.

Pre-treating The Clothes

Pre-treating your clothes before washing can significantly help in removing the fish smell. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Scrape off Excess Residue: Start by gently scraping off any visible fish residue on your clothes using a blunt knife or spoon. Be careful not to spread it or push it further into the fabric.
  2. Rinse with Cold Water: Rinse the affected area under cold running water for a few minutes to get rid of any remaining residue and minimize the odor.
  3. Pretreat with Vinegar: Create a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Apply this mixture directly to the fish-soiled area, gently rubbing it in with your fingers or a soft brush. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
  4. Wash as Usual: Once you’ve pre-treated the clothes, continue with the regular washing process.

Washing The Clothes

Properly washing your clothes is crucial to eliminate the fish smell. Follow these steps to effectively wash your fish-soiled clothes:

  1. Sort by Fabric and Color: Separate your clothes based on their fabric type and color to avoid color bleeding or damage.
  2. Select the Right Detergent: Choose a detergent with strong odor-eliminating properties, preferably one that is enzyme-based or contains baking soda.
  3. Use Cold Water: Wash your fish-soiled clothes in cold water, as hot water can set the odor and make it more difficult to remove.
  4. Extra Rinse Cycle: Add an extra rinse cycle to ensure all traces of fish odor are thoroughly washed away.
  5. Sun-dry: After washing, hang your clothes outside in direct sunlight. The natural sunlight and fresh air will help eliminate any lingering odors.

Removing Lingering Smells

In case you notice any lingering fish smell even after washing, try these additional odor removal methods:

  • Activated Charcoal: Place a bowl of activated charcoal near the affected clothes. Charcoal has absorbent properties that can help trap and eliminate odors.
  • Baking Soda: Sprinkle baking soda on the affected clothes and let it sit overnight. The baking soda will absorb the odor, leaving your clothes smelling fresh.
  • Vinegar Soak: Soak your clothes in a mixture of vinegar and water for 30 minutes before washing them again. Vinegar’s acidic properties can neutralize and eradicate odors effectively.
  • Professional Odor Removers: If all else fails, consider using specialized odor removers or taking your clothes to a professional cleaner with expertise in removing stubborn smells.

Preventing Fish Smell On Clothes

Catching fish is an exciting and fulfilling outdoor activity, but dealing with the lingering odor on your clothes afterward can be quite a challenge. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to prevent fish smell from permeating your clothing.

By following proper storage techniques, using protective layers, and cleaning up after fishing, you can ensure that your clothes remain odor-free and ready for your next adventure.


Proper Storage Of Fish

One of the key steps to prevent fish smell on clothes starts right at the moment you catch your prize. Properly storing the fish can significantly reduce the chances of odor transfer. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Immediately after catching the fish, rinse it thoroughly with cold water to remove any slime or residue that could contribute to the smell.
  2. Wrap the fish tightly in a plastic bag or sealable container to ensure the scent remains contained.
  3. If possible, store the fish on ice in a cooler or refrigerator. The cold temperature will deter the growth of bacteria, minimizing odors.


Using Protective Layers

Protecting your clothes while handling fish is crucial in preventing unpleasant smells. Consider the following tips:

  1. Wear gloves made of rubber or latex to keep fish oils and odors from getting on your hands and transferring onto your clothes.
  2. Put on a designated fishing apron or smock that covers your clothing completely, serving as a barrier between you and any potential odor-causing substances.
  3. If you’re using a fish-cleaning station, lay down a disposable plastic or rubber mat to catch any fish scales, blood, or fluids. This will prevent direct contact with your clothes.

Cleaning Up After Fishing

Once you’ve wrapped up your fishing trip, it’s essential to take the right steps to eliminate any fish smell from your clothes. Follow these guidelines:

  1. Remove your fishing clothes as soon as possible and separate them from your other laundry.
  2. Rinse your fishing clothes with cold water to remove any visible fish scales, blood, or residues that may have accumulated.
  3. Pre-treat any visible stains with a mild detergent or stain remover designed to target protein-based stains like fish odor.
  4. Wash your fishing clothes in the washing machine, using a heavy-duty detergent and adding an odor-eliminating product or a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle.
  5. Finally, air-dry your clothes outdoors, if possible, as the fresh air will help eliminate any remaining odors.

By following these preventative measures, you can enjoy your fishing adventures without worrying about lingering fishy smells on your clothes. Incorporate these tips into your routine, and you’ll be able to embrace an odor-free fishing experience every time.

How to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothes?

Fish Smell Out of Clothes

Getting rid of fish smell from clothes can be a bit challenging, but here are some methods you can try:

  1. Vinegar Soak:
    • Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in a basin or sink.
    • Soak the fish-smelling clothes in this solution for at least 30 minutes.
    • After soaking, wash the clothes as you normally would.
  2. Baking Soda:
    • Sprinkle baking soda directly onto the fish-smelling clothes.
    • Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to absorb odors.
    • Shake or brush off the baking soda and then wash the clothes.
  3. Lemon Juice:
    • Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the affected areas of the clothes.
    • Allow it to sit for a few minutes.
    • Wash the clothes using regular laundry detergent.
  4. Coffee Grounds:
    • Place unused coffee grounds in a bowl or sock, and put it in the same bag or drawer as the smelly clothes.
    • Leave it for a day or overnight to absorb the odor.
  5. Activated Charcoal:
    • Place activated charcoal in a breathable bag or container along with the clothes.
    • Leave it for a day or more to absorb the smell.
  6. Freeze the Clothes:
    • Put the smelly clothes in a plastic bag and place them in the freezer overnight.
    • The cold can help neutralize odors.
  7. Sun and Fresh Air:
    • Hang the clothes outside in direct sunlight and fresh air.
    • Sunlight has natural deodorizing properties.
  8. Odor-Neutralizing Sprays:
    • Use commercial odor-neutralizing sprays designed for fabrics.
    • Follow the product instructions for best results.

Remember to check the care labels on your clothes before trying any of these methods to ensure that the fabrics can withstand the chosen treatment. Additionally, avoid using hot water, as it can set the odor in the fabric. If the smell persists after trying these methods, you may need to repeat the process or consider professional dry cleaning.


These simple yet effective tips will help you eliminate the stubborn fish smell from your clothes. Whether you choose to use vinegar, baking soda, or activated charcoal, these natural remedies will neutralize the odor and leave your laundry smelling fresh and clean.

Remember to promptly treat the affected items and follow the proper washing instructions to achieve the best results. Now you can say goodbye to that fishy smell and embrace a scent-free wardrobe once again.