How to get clothes to smell good in the dryer

Updated February 21, 2017

Bad odours from stains and body oils can linger beyond the normal wash cycle. Dryers that are not clean and odour free can even compound the problem by imparting new smells on the clothes. And while adding chemical scents can help, they may not completely mask foul smells. Happily, there are numerous and simple ways to make sure that your clothes smell fresh and clean when you remove them from your dryer.

Remove the dryer's lint trap and clean it thoroughly. Use a bottle brush to pull out any built up lint that is stuck in the trap cavity.

Sprinkle the baking soda into a small bowl and add enough water to create a thin paste.

Dip a sponge in the baking soda and rub down the interior of the empty dryer. Don't forget to clean the inward facing section of the door.

Rinse the sponge completely and wipe away the residual baking soda inside the dryer with the sponge.

Run the dryer on a normal cycle while it is empty. After about 10 minutes, stop the machine and investigate for smells---the heat will amplify any odours that are being generated by the machine. Contact an appliance service professional if you smell foul odours coming from the machine.

Add the remaining baking soda paste to the rinse cycle when washing clothes in the machine, which will absorb odours in the clothes.

Remove the clean clothes from the washer and load them into the dryer. Be careful not to overfill the dryer, which will prevent the machine from being able to properly tumble the clothes, resulting in damp, sour-smelling clothes.

Add one or two dryer sheets to the dryer and run it at the highest heat cycle that is appropriate for the type of clothes that you are drying.


Hard plastic dryer balls soften clothes as they dry them. They also help clothes separate and tumble while reducing static build-up. Avoid adding chemicals to your fabrics by employing reusable dryer balls.

Things You'll Need

  • Bottle brush
  • 4 Tbsp baking soda
  • Small bowl
  • Running water
  • Sponge
  • Dryer sheet
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About the Author

Jeffrey Brian Airman is a writer, musician and food blogger. A 15-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Airman has used his experience to cover food, restaurants, cooking and do-it-yourself projects. Airman also studied nursing at San Diego State University.