How To Get Fish Smell Out Of Clothes Without Washing

Having your clothes smell like yesterday’s catch is no fun. The distinct odor can linger for days and makes your outfit unpleasant to wear. If you don’t have time for a full wash, don’t worry. We’ll share tips for getting fish smell out of clothes fast without throwing them in the washing machine.

If you need a quick solution, try spot cleaning problem areas with a mix of baking soda and lemon juice. The acids in lemon work to neutralize odors, while baking soda absorbs them. You can also hang clothes outside or bury them in kitty litter overnight to help dissipate the smell.

Identify Smelly Areas and Remove Debris

When trying to get fish smell out of clothes without washing, it’s important to first identify the smelly areas and remove any visible stains or residue. Fish odors can cling to fabrics, so it’s essential to target the affected areas directly.

Look for visible stains or residue

Begin by examining your clothes for any visible stains or residue that may be causing the fishy smell. Check for any remnants of fish scales, oils, or other debris that could be trapped in the fabric. If you spot any stains, it’s best to treat them before addressing the odor.

Check underarms, collars, cuffs, and hems

Fish odors tend to concentrate in areas where sweat and body oils accumulate, such as underarms, collars, cuffs, and hems. These areas are also prone to trapping debris and bacteria, which can exacerbate the smell.

Take a closer look at these spots and make note of any specific areas that require attention.

Brush off any dried material or flakes

If you notice any dried material or flakes on your clothes, take a soft brush or cloth and gently brush them off. This will help remove any loose debris that may be contributing to the fishy smell. Be careful not to rub or scrub too vigorously, as this could damage the fabric.

Remember, identifying the smelly areas and removing debris is the first step in eliminating fish smell from clothes without washing. By addressing these issues, you can effectively target the source of the odor and prepare your clothes for further treatment.

Use Absorbent Household Items

If you’ve ever been unfortunate enough to have your clothes smell like fish, you know how difficult it can be to get rid of that odor. But fear not, there are several household items that can help absorb the fish smell without having to go through the hassle of washing your clothes.

Here are some effective options:

Baking soda

Baking soda is a versatile ingredient that can be used for various purposes, including removing odors. Its absorbent properties make it an excellent choice for getting rid of fish smells. Simply sprinkle some baking soda on the affected area, leave it overnight, and then brush it off in the morning.

Your clothes will be fresh and odor-free.

Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is known for its ability to absorb odors and pollutants. You can find activated charcoal in various forms, such as powder or granules. Place a small amount of activated charcoal in a breathable cloth bag and place it in your closet or drawer with the fish-smelling clothes.

Leave it for a few days, and the charcoal will absorb the odor.

Coffee grounds

Not only do coffee grounds make a delicious cup of joe, but they can also help eliminate fish smells from your clothes. Place some used coffee grounds in a bowl or container and leave it near the smelly clothes. The coffee grounds will absorb the odor over time.

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets are not only useful for reducing static cling; they can also help remove unwanted odors. Place a few dryer sheets in a bag with the fish-smelling clothes and leave them overnight. The sheets will absorb the fish smell, leaving your clothes smelling fresh.

Kitty litter

Kitty litter may seem like an unusual choice, but it can be surprisingly effective in absorbing odors, including fish smells. Place some unused kitty litter in a breathable cloth bag and leave it near the smelly clothes for a few days.

The litter will absorb the odor, leaving your clothes smelling clean.

Remember, these household items are not a substitute for washing your clothes, but they can provide a temporary solution when you’re in a pinch. They are particularly useful for removing mild fish odors or when you don’t have access to a washing machine.

Give them a try, and you’ll be amazed at how well they can freshen up your clothes!

Spot Clean with Deodorizing Mixtures

If you find yourself dealing with the stubborn fish smell on your clothes but don’t have time for a full wash, spot cleaning with deodorizing mixtures can be a lifesaver. These mixtures can help neutralize the odor and freshen up your clothes without the need for a full wash.

Here are some effective options:

Lemon juice and baking soda paste

A mixture of lemon juice and baking soda can work wonders in removing fish smell from clothes. Simply create a paste by combining equal parts lemon juice and baking soda. Apply the paste directly onto the affected area and let it sit for about 15 minutes.

Then, rinse off the paste with cold water and allow the garment to air dry. Lemon juice is known for its natural deodorizing properties, while baking soda helps to absorb odors.

White vinegar and water solution

White vinegar is another excellent option for removing fish smell from clothes. Mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the affected area and let it sit for a few minutes. Then, blot the area with a clean cloth until the smell is gone.

Vinegar is known for its odor-neutralizing properties and can effectively eliminate fishy odors.

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda

A combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda can also help get rid of fish smell from clothes. Create a paste by mixing hydrogen peroxide and baking soda until you get a thick consistency. Apply the paste onto the affected area and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

Afterward, rinse the area with cold water and allow the garment to air dry. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a powerful odor remover, while baking soda helps absorb any remaining odors.

Vodka or rubbing alcohol

Believe it or not, vodka or rubbing alcohol can be used to eliminate fish smell from clothes. Simply dampen a clean cloth with vodka or rubbing alcohol and gently scrub the affected area. The alcohol in these substances helps to break down the fishy odor molecules.

Once you’ve treated the area, allow the clothing to air dry. It’s important to note that you should perform a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment before applying alcohol to the entire affected area.

Remember, these spot cleaning methods are best used for minor fish odors or as a temporary solution until you can properly wash your clothes. If the smell persists or is particularly strong, it’s recommended to launder the garment according to the care instructions.

Let Fresh Air Circulate

If you’re trying to get rid of fish smell from your clothes without washing them, one of the simplest and most effective methods is to let fresh air circulate. Fresh air can help to neutralize odors and eliminate any lingering fishy smell. Here are a few ways you can let fresh air do its magic:

Hang clothing outside

One option is to hang your fishy clothes outside on a clothesline. The breeze and sunlight can help to freshen up the fabric and remove any unwanted odors. Just make sure to hang the clothes in a shaded area to prevent them from fading in the sun.

Place near open window

If you don’t have access to a clothesline or outdoor space, you can place your clothes near an open window. The fresh air from outside will help to circulate and ventilate the fabric, reducing the fishy smell. You can also place a fan near the window to increase airflow.

Use a fan to blow air through fabric

Another option is to use a fan to blow air directly through the fabric of your clothes. Set up a fan in a well-ventilated room and hang or lay your clothes in front of it. The airflow from the fan will help to remove odors and leave your clothes smelling fresh.

Remember, while these methods can help to reduce the fishy smell, they may not completely eliminate it. If the odor persists, you may need to consider washing your clothes with an odor-eliminating detergent.

Steam the Garment

If you’ve ever had the unpleasant experience of getting fish smell on your clothes, you know how stubborn it can be. Washing the garment may seem like the obvious solution, but what if you don’t have access to a washing machine or simply don’t have the time?

Don’t worry, there are alternative methods to remove that fishy odor, and one of them is steaming the garment.

Why Steam Works

Steam is a powerful tool when it comes to removing odors from clothes. The high temperature of the steam helps to break down the odor-causing compounds, while the moisture helps to loosen and lift them from the fabric.

By steaming the garment, you can effectively neutralize the fish smell without the need for washing.

One way to steam your clothes is by using a handheld steamer. Simply hang the garment, hold the steamer a few inches away, and let the steam penetrate the fabric. Move the steamer slowly across the entire garment to ensure that every area is treated.

The heat and moisture from the steam will help to eliminate the fish smell, leaving your clothes fresh and odor-free.

Other Benefits of Steaming

In addition to removing fish smell, steaming your clothes has other advantages. It helps to eliminate wrinkles and refresh the fabric, giving your clothes a polished and professional look. Moreover, steaming is a gentle method that is suitable for delicate fabrics that may be damaged by washing.

It also saves water and energy compared to traditional washing methods, making it an eco-friendly option.


While steaming is generally safe for most fabrics, it’s important to check the care label of your garment before proceeding. Some fabrics may be sensitive to heat or moisture, and steaming could cause damage.

If you’re unsure, it’s best to test the steamer on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first.

It’s worth noting that steaming may not completely remove strong fish odors from heavily soiled garments. In such cases, it’s recommended to combine steaming with other odor-eliminating methods, such as using baking soda or vinegar.

Additionally, if the fish smell persists even after steaming, it may be necessary to wash the garment as soon as possible to fully remove the odor.

Use Odor Eliminating Products

Getting rid of fish smell from clothes can be challenging, especially if you don’t have access to a washing machine. However, there are several odor eliminating products that can help you tackle the problem effectively.

Odor eliminating sprays

Odor eliminating sprays are a great option to remove fish smell from clothes without washing. These sprays contain special ingredients that neutralize and eliminate odors, leaving your clothes smelling fresh. Simply spray the affected areas of your clothes and let the spray work its magic.

You can find odor eliminating sprays at your local grocery store or online.

Scent booster sprays

If you want to not only eliminate the fish smell but also add a pleasant scent to your clothes, scent booster sprays are a fantastic choice. These sprays not only eliminate odors but also leave a refreshing fragrance behind.

Just spray the affected areas of your clothes and let the scent booster do its job. You can find a variety of scent booster sprays in different fragrances at stores or online.

Scented dryer sheets

Another effective way to get fish smell out of clothes without washing is to use scented dryer sheets. These sheets are infused with pleasant fragrances that can help mask and eliminate unwanted odors.

Simply toss a scented dryer sheet into your dryer along with the fish-smelling clothes and run a short cycle. Your clothes will come out smelling fresh and clean. You can find scented dryer sheets in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores or online.

Remember, while these odor eliminating products can help get rid of fish smell from your clothes without washing, it’s always best to wash your clothes as soon as possible to ensure complete removal of the odor.


Fish smells can quickly ruin the clean scent of clothing. Instead of immediately throwing smelly garments in the wash, try some of these handy odor removal tips first. Spot clean stained areas, let fresh air circulate through the fabric, and use household staples like baking soda and lemon to naturally neutralize unpleasant aromas.

With a little time and effort, you can get rid of that fishy odor and keep your clothes fresh.

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