Fixit: Tips on how to remove odors from just bought clothing.

Share story

Q: I bought some clothing this week at two well-known retailers, and all the items I bought smell like some cheap perfume. I know it’s possible that one item smelled, and I contaminated the others by mixing the bags, but I don’t think so. I am wondering if these crazy folks spray the clothing made elsewhere?

I bought off the racks, so I suppose it’s possible someone with perfume tried on one or some of the items, but most seems unlikely. I even tried hanging things outdoors, to no avail. To further complicate matters, one of the people I bought for is allergic to perfume and gets wheezy very quickly.

A: Often, fumigants, disinfectants, insecticides and anti-mildew sprays are applied to new clothing and textiles. Formaldehyde, for one, has a rather pungent odor that’s often associated with new clothing and textiles. To cover these odors, some retailers will spray their clothing with perfumes, often using scents they sell, to cover these odors.

Wash all clothing before you wear it; sheets and towels, too. Often manufactured abroad, these items have traveled a long way and have been handled by many people before they end up at your home. It may take several washings to remove odors, just be sure to use a fragrance-free detergent.

Fixit by Karen Youso is an occasional feature. Send questions to fixit@startribune.com. Sorry, no personal replies.