How to Get Body Odor Out of Kids’ Clothes

If you have teen or pre-teen kids who do sports, then you already know how high-maintenance their gym clothes can be. They go through one grueling practice or game, and yikes! You’re left with sports uniforms, shorts, tees, jerseys, socks, and sports bras that smell like the entire team just came strolling through your house. Often, it seems like figuring out how to get body odor out of kids’ clothes requires a miracle.

It can sometimes feel like, no matter how often you wash them, the body odor doesn’t come out of kids’ clothes. No. Matter. How. Many. Times. You. Wash. Argh!

The good news is you can get body odor out of kids’ clothes — you just have to play by the rules. Washing kids’ sports uniforms may be a little different than washing your own clothes, but the time is worth your while when your house doesn’t smell like a locker room anymore.

Keep reading for 10 easy tips to get body odor out of kids’ clothes and to make sure they’re odor free.

Get Body Odor Out of Kids' Clothes

1. Don’t leave kids’ clothes in a pile on the floor.

We all have busy schedules, and it’s unrealistic to do a load of laundry every time your kids have practice or a game. But adding damp clothes to the dirty laundry pile isn’t helping you at all. It will only make them stinkier. Research shows that bacteria grows on sweaty clothes when they sit for an extended period of time, making the smell linger and worse.

If the clothes are really sweaty, toss them in the wash immediately. Short on time? Hang them up or lay them on a drying rack to air out and dry before laundry day.

2. Don’t add more laundry detergent.

Stinkier loads call for more laundry detergent, right? Wrong! It sounds counterintuitive to limit the amount of laundry detergent when trying to get body odor out of kids’ clothes, but in this case it’s true. Washing machines use a fixed amount of laundry detergent based on load size. Excess detergent builds up on clothing, which leads to more smells and a lot of gross bacteria. Ick! For really stinky loads, use only half the usual amount.

3. Stay away from fabric softener.

Fabric softener damages stretchy materials that sports uniforms are often made of. Instead of making the clothes cleaner, it leaves behind a film that locks stinky smells in. For a natural softener that also gets rid of body odor in kids’ clothes, add half a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle.

4. Raid your kitchen.

As mentioned above, white vinegar, and also baking soda and lemon juice can all get rid of body odor in kids’ clothes. Before you toss them in the washing machine, soak the clothes in a sink or clean tub for about 15 to 30 minutes with 1 cup of white vinegar and some cold water. You can also add a little white vinegar to the wash too, if you think they need it — using bleach-free detergent***. The baking soda and lemon juice are added to the rinse cycle. Pour ½ cup of baking soda or squeeze the juice of 1 large lemon.

The white vinegar acts as both a natural fabric softener and bacteria killer while the baking soda gets rid of unpleasant odors. The citric acid in the lemon juice breaks down the oils in the clothing materials, leaving them bacteria and body odor free.

Another option is to look for detergents that have baking soda added.

***Do not mix vinegar with bleach as the combination can cause harmful fumes.

5. Hang them outside to dry.

Instead of drying your kids’ clothes in the dryer, hang them to dry in the fresh air under the sun. Sun and fresh air are the best natural ways to get rid of smells. However, do not leave colored garments out for too long, as direct sunlight can cause the colors to fade. Turning them inside out first helps prevent fading.

You can also hang kids’ stinky clothes outside when you don’t have time to wash them.

6. Consider natural fabrics.

Dress your kids in natural, breathable fabrics, such as cotton and wool. These fabrics absorb sweat more readily while allowing the skin to breathe. Research indicates that polyester clothes smell much worse and more intense after exercise as compared to cotton clothes, which tend to retain fewer odors.

7. Use our Antibacterial Body Sprays.

Angels n’ Dudes antibacterial body sprays are infused with African Wild Cucumber extract, an odor-blocking botanical that’s documented to have powerful antibacterial properties. Use a couple of sprays on your kids’ clothes. It’s not necessary to drench them. Hang them up to allow them to dry, repeating the process, if needed. Your kids’ clothes will be smelling fresh and odor free. You can also lavishly spray all over the body before exercise to prevent body odor from developing.

8. Spray clothes with vodka or rubbing alcohol.

Vodka and rubbing alcohol are strong deodorizers and disinfectants. They get body odor out of kids’ clothes by killing odor-causing bacteria completely. This will also help extend the life of your kids’ clothes, as you won’t need to launder them as often. Pour equal amounts of vodka or rubbing alcohol and water into a spray bottle. Shake it well, then lightly spray the clothes. Once again, it’s not necessary to drench them. Hang them up to allow the vodka/rubbing alcohol to evaporate, taking the odor with them. Repeat the process, if needed.

9. Soak them in hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is another great hack that can be used to get body odor out of kids’ clothes. It works by drying up the odor-causing bacteria. Because hydrogen peroxide is a strong bleaching agent, use the 3% concentration for this treatment. A higher concentration can ruin your kids’ clothes. Pour 2 cups of water into a small tub and add 2 cups of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Soak the clothes in the solution for 30 minutes. Rinse with water and run them through a normal wash cycle. Hang outside to air-dry in the sun.

10. Stick them in the freezer.

Placing your kids’ clothes in a plastic bag and putting them in the freezer is a relatively quick fix that doesn’t involve you doing laundry. The icy cold air will get body odor out of kids’ clothes. This shouldn’t take the place of laundry, but it’s a nice little hack you can use once in a while.

 Bonus Tips

  • Did you know that crushing an uncoated aspirin and rubbing it on the stinky areas of your kids’ clothing gets rid of body odor? Aspirin is an acid — acetylsalicylic acid — which breaks down oils in the clothes, killing the bacteria and leaving clothes body odor free.
  • Washing stinky clothes by themselves prevents the stank from spreading to other clothes.

The secret for how to get body odor out of kids’ clothes is to try different methods until you find one that works for your particular situation.  With kids in sports, it seems there are always some uniforms that are just never odor free.  If standard detergent doesn’t work for you or you’re having trouble getting rid of the stinky odors that kids seem to leave in their wake….give these tips a try!