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How to get poop smell out of clothes (easily)

You know it’s happened to the best of us. You’re out and about with your little one, who needs a change, but before you’ve got there, it’s all leaked out, and you have baby clothes that need a good clean.

Then, you give those clothes a wash, and instead of making them fresh, your while laundry load smells of poop.

Good news! There are a number of things you can do to get rid of those baby-related messes and their unpleasant smells. And, if you’ve already contaminated half your laundry, we can help you get rid of that smell too!

First thing to do if poop gets on clothes

If you have a baby or toddler who is potty training, and they have an accident, the number one thing to do is to get the poop and wee off of their clothes as quickly as possible. This will help to prevent the smell from setting in and will be much easier to remove (as well as helping remove the stains that poop and urine can make).

There are a few ways that you can do this:

  • Use a baby wipe, wet cloth, or a damp paper towel to scrub the affected area of the clothes, and then throw them in the wash right away (or use one of the methods listed later in this article).
  • If there is poop on the clothes and you can’t get it all off, put them in a plastic bag and put it in the freezer overnight. This will kill any of the bacteria that is causing the smell and will help to remove any stains.
  • Another option is to spray the clothes with a stain remover or enzymatic cleaner before putting them in the wash. This will help to break down any of the proteins in the poop.
  • Lastly, soak any clothes that have poop (or poop stains) on them in warm/ hot water with laundry detergent for a few hours. Using biological washing powder will work better *

*You will be washing your clothes again, so if you or your little one’s skin is sensitive to biological washing powder, this should be washed away after it’s been machined washed.

All the strategies for getting poop smells from clothes

Hydrogen peroxide and baking soda

If the clothes have been stained by poop, one way to remove the smell is to use baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to make an odor-busting paste and apply it to the stained area.

Don’t worry, the hydrogen peroxide won’t bleach your clothing and is safe to use on most colorfast fabrics. However, I wouldn’t use this method on delicate clothing.

Leave it for half an hour before rinsing off and putting it in the wash.

The baking soda will help to absorb any smells while the hydrogen peroxide will bleach any stains.

This is both an effective and natural way to remove stains and odors from baby poop and urine.

Vinegar (+ bicarb)

Another natural remedy that can be used to get rid of poop smells from clothes is vinegar. This is also a really good way to get rid of the smell of urine. Pour a half-cup to a cup of vinegar (apple cider vinegar is a good choice) into a bucket, then add hot/ warm water and then stir the soiled clothes into it. Leave the clothes to soak for a few hours (or overnight if the stain/ small is really bad), then wash as normal.

The vinegar will break down any proteins in the poop and will also help to remove any stains.

If your entire laundry load smells like poop or wee because it was washed with a contaminated piece of clothing, you can also soak your whole laundry load in vinegar overnight and rewash it to remove those horrible smells.

You can also add in bicarb soda if you want to boost the cleaning power of vinegar. This will help to absorb the smell of feces or urine.

fabric softener

One of the more common ways to remove smells from clothes, regardless of the source, is to use a fabric softener. Add one cup of fabric softener to your wash load, and it will help to eliminate any bad smells.

This method will also help to soften the fabric and make them more comfortable to wear.

Enzyme cleaner

Enzymes are another way of removing poop smells from clothes. Enzyme-based laundry detergents contain natural enzymes that break down the proteins in poop, urine, and other organic stains that cause unpleasant odors.

You can get these detergents from your local stores, and they are super easy to use. However, some people react to the enzymes in these detergents, causing itchiness on the skin.

Afterward, you can rewash the clothes in a more natural non-biological detergent to reduce this effect.

Essential oils

If you want to go the purely natural route, you can use essential oils to remove the smell of poop and urine from clothes. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the wash load, and it will help to get rid of any bad smells, leaving it with your preferred smell. Popular essential oils include lavender oil, tea tree oil, and lemon oil.

Using tea tree oil will help to kill any bacteria that might be causing the smell.

Whichever method you choose, test it out on a small area of the clothing first to check that there is no adverse reaction. And always follow the washing instructions on the clothes care label.


Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

One final way to remove bad smells from poop and urine from clothes is to sun them. This will work best for lighter-colored fabrics that can be easily dried in the sun but this is a perfect way to get rid of those poop and urine smells.

Hang the clothes outside in direct sunlight and let them dry.

Tips for machine/ or handwashing clothes that have a baby (or any) poop or urine on them:

  1. Always use a HOT wash above 60 degrees when washing clothes with urine or wee on them. This gets rid of any bacteria whilst helping remove poo stains and smells.
  2. Choose a long wash cycle for a thorough wash.
  3. Avoid cold water as this is not good for getting stains or smells out.
  4. If hand washing, use boiling hot water and plenty of soap for soaking
  5. If the stain or smell is really bad, then soak the clothes in one of the methods mentioned above before washing.
  6. You can use a combination of the methods above consecutively to get rid of stubborn smells from poop and urine in clothes.

How to prevent poop from getting on clothes in the first place

  1. Make sure your child is wearing the right-sized nappy. If it’s too big, the poop can easily move around and end up on their clothes.
  2. If they are potty training, make sure they are going to the toilet regularly and that you are cleaning them properly after each bowel movement.
  3. Teach them not to touch their poop, and if they do, to always wash their hands afterward.
  4. If you are using disposable nappies, make sure you are changing them regularly- every 2-3 hours if possible.
  5. If you are using cloth nappies, ensure you are washing them properly after each time, soaking them well, and using nappy liners.


Will these methods work for cloth nappies?

Some of the methods above can be used for cloth nappies, but others may not be as effective. Sunning and essential oils are perfect, as is using nappy san to sanitize them. You don’t want to use harsh chemicals as they will destroy the outer lining of the cloth nappy and stop them from being waterproof.

Can I use these methods for getting other kids of poop stains and smells out of clothes?

Yes, you can use these methods to get rid of any type of poop and wee smell, including dog poop (which can be really strong).

When normal washing fails there are actually a number of easy and effective ways to get poop smell out of clothes. However, prevention in the first place is the best way (if you can, though it’s not always possible). You can do this by teaching your child how to properly clean themselves after going to the bathroom and using the right-sized nappies. 

It’s also important not to wash contaminated clothes with the rest of your laundry, to prevent them from smelling too. 

Now that you know all ways to get rid of poop (and urine) stains and smells, it’s time to put them to the test! 

All that’s left to say is …

Good luck!

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