How to remove body odors from polyester fabric

Updated February 21, 2017

Polyester fabrics tend to hold onto body odours, even after cleaning in a washing machine. If you’ve already washed your polyester but it still has a bad odour, you will need to take some extra steps. The longer you wait to wash the clothing, the longer it will take to get the odour out. Wash polyester clothing as soon as you can after wearing it.

Purchase activated charcoal for deodorising from a home improvement store or cleaning supply store. You’ll find it sold usually in mesh bags or discs. If you can’t find activated charcoal, go to the pet supply area and look for a bag of cat litter that states it contains activated charcoal.

Place the activated charcoal in a plastic container. Put the clothing in the same container. Make sure the clothing is dry first; if it is not, hang it to dry beforehand.

Close the lid and leave it overnight. Check on the clothing the next morning. If it still has some odour, leave it until the following day.

Remove the polyester clothing from the container. Put the clothing in your washing machine. Start filling it with warm water. Add detergent and a cup of baking soda to the wash and let the machine run through a full wash and rinse cycle.

Take the clothing out of the washing machine and check to make sure no more odour is present. If it is, run it through a wash and rinse cycle again, using the detergent and baking soda. Hang to dry or tumble dry low (or according to instructions on the garment label).


You can use baking soda every time you wash to prevent odours from returning. Borax is also a very good odour fighter and is safe for most fabrics.

Things You'll Need

  • Activated charcoal
  • Plastic container with lid
  • Baking soda
  • Washing powder
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