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How to Remove Petroleum Odors from Clothes

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By papadon03

My Laundry Question

I recently purchased some denim jeans that look nice and fit well, but the dye has a very strong petroleum odor. I've washed them several times - with no luck. My wife suggested soaking them in vinegar before the last wash and it MAY have helped a little, but they still have a strong smell. They also feel "oily" on the skin. The company I purchased them from wants me to return them (even after all the washings) for an exchange, but I don't want others that may have the same problem. Any ideas?

thanks, Don

Share a Little Background Info

Purchased new online. I have ordered clothes from this company before with no issues (although no denim jeans). The jeans were black and indigo denium. They came via mail in plastic bags, and I immediately noticed the smell and oily feel when I opened the plastic packages each one came in. I assumed this would be resolved after the first wash.

Lessons Learned

  • Multiple washings, dried in dryer with scented fabric sheets, even tried soaking in vinegar before last wash. Currently hanging in garage because the wife won't allow them in our closets because of smell.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)


Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

As you now know, petroleum-based products are often used in the manufacturing of clothes as a part of the finishing process. I'm not certain that you can ever get rid of the odor completely because of the high heat that is used to "fuse" the finish onto the fabric. However, here's what to try:

Wash the jeans with a heavy duty detergent - like Wisk - in hot water. I know that hot water is not the best for the jeans but I'm after the odor. Hang the jeans outside to dry. If the odor persists, put the jeans in a sealed container with a box of baking soda for a week.

If at that point the jeans aren't odor free, send them back!

Good luck!

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