How to get the smell of fish out of clothes

The smell of fish, fish oil is very persistent, specific and for many people unpleasant. But there are ways to get it and the stains out quickly.

We have prepared a set of recommendations, following which you will be able to quickly clean clothes after contact with fish, whether it is periodic trips to fishing or close contact with fish products due to professional activities.

Ways to eliminate fish odor at home

How to remove the smell of fish from clothes

If you need to get rid of the smell urgently, because you need to go somewhere smelly fish clothes, you can temporarily mask it. To do this, it is enough to use perfume, deodorant, air freshener. However, this method is short-lived – in the future you will have to carry out a full treatment of the clothes.

Washing normally

Machine wash your smelly garment, adding a refreshing fabric conditioner to the wash. Hand washing will also do the trick. You can use any of the standard detergents – Tide, Losk, Ears Nanny. Other powders are also acceptable – in such a situation it is better to add fresh lemon juice.

We recommend soaking clothes in vinegar before washing, which is an excellent way to deal with unwanted odors.


  1. Pour 3 liters of warm water into a basin;

  2. Add 2 tbsp of bleach to the water. l. Vinegar (4 tbsp). l. for a strong, pungent fishy smell);

  3. Place the garment in a basin and let it soak for 45 minutes;

  4. Rinse the garment several times, otherwise it may stain or streak;

  5. Wash by hand or in a machine.

You can also soak clothes in warm water for 15 minutes with a bit of dishwashing detergent (preferably citrus-scented). After that, it is necessary to rinse it thoroughly, and then you can wash – manually or in a machine. Adding dishwashing detergent to the dishwasher is not allowed: it is too foamy, so it may cause an emergency stop and damage to the equipment. In addition, after a strong foaming you will have to clean the foam all over the room.

Another option is to soak in water with 20 grams of laundry soap. When using soap, the water must be heated, and the soaking time is increased to 20 minutes.

Baking soda is also helpful. First you need to soak clothes in a baking soda solution for 15-20 minutes, and then wash with ordinary powder and fabric conditioner.

And lastly, hydrogen peroxide is helpful. Spread the stain concentrated on the fish stain or prepare a water based soaking solution. The method is suitable for white or dark clothes – we don’t recommend experimenting this way with colored clothes.

Using ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid solution should be added to the rinse aid compartment of the washing machine. It will act as a home conditioner and effectively get rid of the fishy smell.

Use bleach

Soak the garment in a bleach solution for 45 minutes. The manufacturer’s instructions indicate a specific procedure. Rinse your clothes thoroughly afterward to get rid of any bleach residue.

The bleach must match the color of the clothes. So, there are bleach products for white laundry and bleach products for colored laundry. If you soak colored clothes with bleach for white laundry, there is a risk of ruining their appearance.

Chlorine bleach has its own specific smell. It usually goes away after 2-3 washes. Dry clothes in the fresh air after using bleach.

If the thing is thin, oxygen bleach is suitable. It removes the odor effectively but gently, without destroying the color.

Bleach is not suitable for cleaning silk and wool. Such things after treatment with aggressive substances can become deformed and lose their original appearance. In this case a saline solution is suitable, which removes the fishy smell and does not harm the fibers of the fabric.

Procedure with the use of the saline solution:

  1. Pour warm water into a basin and add table salt (1 tbsp. l. per 200 ml of water), stir;

  2. Place clothes in a basin and leave them to soak for 15 minutes;

  3. Wash the clothes by hand or in a machine with laundry conditioner.

How to get fish smell out of clothes - boiling


Boiling can help with the strong smell of rotten fish.


  1. Boil a large pot of water;

  2. Add soap shavings and mix well;

  3. Place the clothes in a pot and boil for over 1 hour.

Then rinse clothes thoroughly.

Attention! If the fishy smell appeared on your outer clothing, we do not recommend trying to remove it yourself. The smell can penetrate the filler, and then the thing will be hopelessly ruined. In such a situation it is better to immediately contact a dry cleaner.

Using stain removers

There are special stain removers like “Udalix” that not only remove stains, but also get rid of many unpleasant odors. This product has a pleasant fragrance and is able to eliminate any unpleasant odor by acting on its source. After using “Udaliks” is enough to wash clothes by hand or in the machine.

What to do in case of regular contact with fish

If your profession involves fish and fish products, use the following recommendations:

  1. Wrap all odor-soaked clothes in newspaper. Paper absorbs external odors well. After 2-3 days, you can do stain removal;

  2. To avoid wasting too much time, water and detergent, it is better to remove odors and stains from several items of clothing at once. This is useful if you have to come into contact with fish on a regular basis.

The wind and frost will help you to get rid of that fishy smell. We recommend that you pat dry your clothes outdoors or at the very least in a well-ventilated room. The main thing is not to leave the clothes under direct sunlight: if the smell of fish is left on it, the exposure to ultraviolet light will only harden, and in the future it will not be able to remove it anymore.

If none of these methods work for you, contact a dry cleaner. The staff will remove not only the fish stench, but also stubborn grease stains. It is a long and expensive, but effective way to cope with the problem.

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