A laundry triumph

I did one of those "I should know better" things the other week. I bought a wool Margiela cardigan at the good used clothing store, took it home, and realized it was perfumed just enough to be unwearable. 

I may have mentioned that I'm very sensitive to most fragrances (headaches and upset stomach). Well, unsurprisingly, a lot of used items have a strong perfume scent. I don't always notice in the store, surrounded by competing scents, but it hits once I'm home. I can't count how many times I've tried to wear a thrifted item and changed my outfit within minutes. Even when I think I can just ignore it... no. And this is after I've washed it, or even dry cleaned. It doesn't help.

I was sad about my lovely Margiela sweater so I hit the internet looking for a solution. Everywhere I searched seemed to recommend the same product: Atsko Sport Wash. It's marketed for hunters who need to be scentless to avoid deer noticing them though as far as I can tell they also sell the exact same product as Sensi Clean laundry detergent and a few other re-labelings.

So I bought some off Amazon and it was miraculous. I wore the Margiela sweater today and I can't smell even the tiniest whiff of perfume.

They claim it's safe for wool and silk and all sorts of delicates, though I'm a little nervous, given how strong it seems to be. But I did a whole load of delicates with this stuff instead of my usual detergent and everything smells so much cleaner now. My delicate-wash silks were building up a bit of human odor from overly-gentle washing.

The funniest thing is that I also washed a heavily perfumed Madewell top I got for a few dollars... and now that the perfume is gone, I can tell that the wool is completely permeated with sweat smell. Ew. No wonder it was perfumed! I suppose that's why humans started using the stuff to begin with...

Speaking of consignment stores, I sold a stack of nice things I don't wear anymore and got $275 for them! Good laundering helped there, too -- they'd passed on buying a white Everlane shirt that was just a bit yellowed. I threw it in the wash with my other whites and some Oxyclean until it was shining white, and they bought it on the second try.

This post is also published in the youlookfab forum. You can read and reply to it in either place. All replies will appear in both places.


  • Emily K replied 6 years ago

    Congrats on finding (and saving) the Margiela sweater--your story makes me want to go out and scour the local consignment stores and thrift shops!  And thanks for the detergent recommendation.  I think it's a good idea to have a lot of laundry products on hand and to switch them up semi-regularly in order to get the widest spectrum of cleansing.

  • rachylou replied 6 years ago

    Ohmigosh. Best tip ever. I'm really sensitive to scent too. TMI, it irritates my lungs and makes cough til I gag. I threw out secretly the bathroom fragrance at the bakery, lol. And once, when I was working at my boss's house, I put all his soaps and plug in room fragrances out on his balcony. I'm terrible!

  • skylurker replied 6 years ago

    Thanks for the tip, wish I knew this when I shopped vintage!

    Yes, you always have to remember to look for stains, holes, look hard at underarms and collars and smell the item when you buy second hand.
    I don't have the patience anymore, I don't enjoy the hunt of one good thing in a sea of duds like I used to, so I only go to the upper scale consignement stores now, where I know the owner is super picky and check for all this beforehand. More expensive, but at least the clothes are like new, not on the last leg of their journey.

  • elpgal replied 6 years ago

    Great tip, I should get some. I totally get what you mean about the human odor from gently washed silks.

  • Stagiaire Fash replied 6 years ago

    I've never heard of that. Thanks for posting about it!

  • replied 6 years ago

    Thanks for posting that! My DH and I are very sensitive to fragrance, so everything we use has to be fragrance free. I don't buy from thrift shops, but I've browsed through a few and know about the smells. If I ever do buy something that has a smell, it's great to know there's a product on the market that will eradicate it.

  • Scarlet replied 6 years ago

    I love a good laundry story! Interesting to know about this product. I wonder why it removes the perfume scent but not the BO. Vinegar can be effective against BO, but you probably know that. I actually bought a scarf from Nordstrom recently that smelled of perfume, presumably from someone who tried it on. It didn't trouble me physically, but I had to wash it because otherwise it felt like wearing someone else's clothing.

  • Angie replied 6 years ago

    YAY. Great save, and thanks for sharing. 

  • Diana replied 6 years ago

    Thanks for the recommendation! I'm going to have to check out that detergent. I'm also super sensitive to smells (although I think not as badly as you) and have been burned by perfumed clothing before. Even sometimes new things! I think some boutiques (and also yarn stores) use too much perfume/potpourri/scented candles and it ends up permeating everything.

  • JAileen replied 6 years ago

    I had to read your post based on the title alone. I've had the same problem with thrifted items, so this is great to learn. Thanks!

  • Kate replied 6 years ago

    Great tip, Greyscale; many thanks. I'm super sensitive to odors, especially perfumes, scented candles, potpourri and the like, and I often have to wash even new clothes that come bearing a scent as Diana mentioned. I'm getting some of that Atsko sport wash today.

  • replied 6 years ago

    My neighbor who always buys a ton of stuff from  consignment shops swears by Febreze  In Wash Odor Eliminator. I started using it a while ago and it gets rid of smell from dog bedding. 

  • Laura G replied 6 years ago

    Oh, I'm so going to buy some of that! I'm also sensitive to smells. The one that gets me the most, believe it or not, is the one that's added to laundry detergents! They all seem to use the same one, and I can smell it a mile off. It takes many washings in unscented detergent to get rid of it.

    rachylou, I have disappeared many, many nasty-smelling "room fresheners". And will continue to do so for the public good.

  • Gigi replied 6 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this useful tip! I am also very sensitive to perfumes. I'm so glad that you found something that worked for you. And congrats on selling so much at consignment! That always makes my day.

  • Joyce B replied 6 years ago

    Those are great laundry tips, thank you for sharing. Also, good that you rescued your sweater and that you sold your extra items! You gave me great ideas to follow.

  • Firecracker (Sharan) replied 6 years ago

    Good tip! I'm glad you saved the sweater--and some other items, too!

  • Jaime replied 6 years ago

    Great tip - now where's the picture?

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Rachy and Laura G, too funny! I've never been brave enough to "disappear" them.

    And Laura, laundry detergents (or really fabric softener) are the worst for me too. We have a no-perfume policy in our lab, but it's harder to tell people that their detergent is a problem for me.

    Gigi, I'm sure I've thrown away more money than I've ever made, with my consignment store habit, but it does feel nice to make some back on it. Especially nice to feel like my clothes pass the store's finicky preferences!

    Shevia, I am so behind on photos! I meant to take one but I've just been slammed at work recently.

  • Greyscale replied 6 years ago

    Oh, and Scarlet, I think the soap might be good for BO too. Plenty of people mentioned using it on stinky gym clothes and even shoes. I bet if I wash the top again, maybe soaking it for a while, it'll come out.

  • Sisi replied 6 years ago

    I am glad that you saved your cardigan!  I do not like strong smells either, especially if they are "synthetic". I use eau-de-colognes rather than fragrances and I have recently discovered a laundry detergent based on soapwort that I like very much. Delicate "clean" smell and very little foam. I never use fabric softeners and preach to everybody to avoid them. Apart the unpleasant synthetic smell, softeners are harmful to fabrics and to the environment. 

    Rachylou and Laura G. - hehe, well done!

  • Lisa replied 6 years ago

    What a great idea!

  • Laura G replied 6 years ago

    So Sisi, what is this product called?

    Veering off-topic, I know, but Greyscale, I'll bet you steer around the detergent aisle at the market like I do.

  • jennifer replied 6 years ago

    My technique for deoderizing is wash in All free and clear with a handful or two of borax thrown in . If the smell is very persistent , the same but hose down the offending item with Folex carpet cleaner.( I get it at Lowes for about $17 a gallon jug or $7 for a spray bottle , I'm mentioning because although Walmart has it online it's a LOT higher . We have pets and my nieces and nephew come over often. Folex works great on a ton of stains.)

    Personally , I love fragrances, and have a large collection . I am sensitive to dryer/ softener products ( even unscented ones! ) . Perfumed laundry soap and HORRORS! Unstoppables? Acckkk!!! It causes scent clashing!!!
    What if the laundry was done in a strong Rain Fresh Mountain Clean scent for all the whites and I'm feeling like wearing a white shirt and a cinnamony (Opium) scent? It's like being told you HAVE TO wear a accessory and how . I'm not in the military nor am I a flight attendant . I refuse to use scented laundry products for this reason.

  • Sisi replied 6 years ago

    Laura G , the product is Saponaria Lavatrice by Nuncas - see http://www.nuncas.it . The site is also in English.

  • Laura G replied 6 years ago

    Thanks, Sisi!

  • replied 6 years ago

    Great information.  

  • Janet replied 6 years ago

    Ooh, I have a pair of black jeans that I love, but I can't get that dye smell out of them. I wonder if this stuff would do the trick? Off to Amazon to look for it... Thanks for sharing! 

  • Marilyn replied 6 years ago

    That's fantastic, Greyscale!  Nice product find and a great tip. 
    Oxyclean is something that's always in my laundry room.

    My daughter has allergies and is very sensitive to perfume smells as well.  Stores that sell smelly things like scented candles make her feel sick.

  • wesleycomal replied 6 years ago

    I'm going to have to check out that detergent


  • DonnaF replied 6 years ago

    Another thread to *Favorite*!  I've made too many mistakes at thrift/consignment stores, but every so often I get tempted, so these products are good to know about.

  • gryffin replied 6 years ago

    Thank you.  I ordered this for my son's stinky gym laundry.  It's actually made for high efficiency machines.  Very excited.  Hoping this will save some of his pungent apparel!!

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