How to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothing

How to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothing

It is evitable that when you go fishing you are going to get the smell of fish on your clothing but how do you get it out? Can you just get it out by washing in hot water and soap or do you need to use another method? Fish smell is one of the most repugnant smells you can ever smell and you sure do not want your other clothes to smell fishy. One thing you can use is baking soda but it is not the only thing. Read on to find out what methods you can use to get the fish smell out of clothes.

Methods to Use to Get Fish Smell Out of Clothing

When you get back from your fishing trip, the first thing that you should do is throw your clothes into the washing machine and wash them in hot water. Sometimes if the smell remains after washing it the first time you may have to wash them again, sometimes even a third time. Instead of using the dryer, you can try hanging them outside in the sun to air dry. The wind and natural solar rays can help to neutralize the smell and carry it off into the wind.

Other things you can try include:

  • Baking Soda: This is one of the best things that you can use to remove fish odors from your clothes. All you need to do is add at least a half cup of baking soda to your wash water and wash as normal.
  • Dish Detergent: the unique compounds in dish detergent help to break down the organic fish residue that is hanging on to your clothes. This may take a little extra time but you will have to wash your clothes in the sink with the dish detergent. If you want you can even let them soak before you put them in the washer and wash as you normally would. 
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: This compound works by breaking down the organics and bacteria from the fish residue in your clothes and can help to eliminate the odors. Just add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the water before you wash your clothes along with the detergent to help get out the odor.
  • Borax: This is a household cleaning ingredient that is used within many different products. Just add a half-cup to your normal wash.
  • Vodka Spray: This is a popular drink that has been used for many generations as a remedy to reduce odors. The vodka works by neutralizing and then carrying off the odor as the solution evaporates. You will need to find a container large enough for your clothes to fit in. For every two parts of water, you need to add one part vodka. Dunk your clothes into the mixture until your clothes are saturated. Let sit for approximately ten minutes, ring them out, and hang them outside to air dry. Once they are dried, then you can wash them as you would normally.
  • Baking Soda and Vinegar: Lay your clothes out in the sun and sprinkle with baking soda. Leave them out for two hours. The baking soda will help to neutralize the odors. The rays of the sun will help to disinfect the material. After two hours, put the clothes into a sink of cool water to which you add one cup of white vinegar. Move the clothes around so that the vinegar gets into them and let sit for 20-30 minutes. While sitting in the vinegar water, the vinegar will break down any remaining fish odor. Wash the clothes in hot water with your regular detergent. Once done check to see if the smell is still there and if so, wash it again. If the smell is gone, it is okay to dry them in the dryer. If the smell is still there and you dry them in the clothes dryer, the smell may be harder to get out, if it comes out at all. If you do not have time to wash them right away, instead of putting them in the sun with the baking soda, you can also put them in a paper bag and sprinkle baking soda on the clothes and let them sit until you can wash them. It will not hurt your clothes to sit with baking soda on them.
  • Dishwashing Liquid and Vinegar: When you are ready to wash your fishy smelling clothes, instead of using laundry detergent, use an eighth cup of dishwashing liquid. Let it agitate just before it goes into the rinse cycle and stop it. Let it soak for three hours or more and then add a cup of white vinegar, let agitate and then let the clothes rinse. The smell should be gone.
  • Lemon Juice and Tide Laundry Detergent: Add a cup of Tide laundry detergent to a bucket of water along with some lemon juice and let the clothes soak for 24 hours. Take time to move the clothes around several times and then wash them normally with bleach alternative laundry soap.

Also, please sure to check out our other article: How to Get the Fish Smell Off Your Hands


It is one of the hardest smells to get out of clothes and it may take several washings to get all of the smell out. This is why many fishermen have certain clothes that they wear fishing so even if it has a slight fishy smell after washing they are okay with that. You may have to try several of these methods to find the right one or combinations to get the fishy smell out of your clothes. The detergent you are using should have enzymes in them to help get rid of all the fishy smell.

If you are still having trouble with the smell you can soak the clothes overnight in a bucket of water to which you have added some fabric-safe bleach and then wash them the next day. If the smell just will not come out, or the clothes just have a faint fishy smell, they may become your new fishing clothes because sometimes, no matter what you do, the fishy smell may just not come completely out.

More To Explore