Does Steaming Clothes Really Remove Odors? Guidance

Last updated on May 15th, 2024 at 06:03 pm

When it comes to keeping our clothes fresh and clean, removing odors is a top priority. We all want to smell good and feel confident in our appearance. While washing clothes is an effective way to remove dirt and grime, it doesn’t always get rid of stubborn odors. This is where steaming clothes comes in. Steaming is a popular alternative to washing, as it’s gentle on fabrics and can remove wrinkles without the use of an iron. But the question remains: does steaming clothes actually remove odors?

In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at the science behind odors and the effectiveness of steaming in removing them. Whether you’re a busy professional who wants to freshen up your clothes quickly or someone who wants to avoid harsh chemicals, this post will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Understanding Odors

Before we can determine whether steaming clothes can remove odors, it’s important to understand what odors are and how they develop.

Odors are caused by the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. These compounds are produced by bacteria and other microorganisms that thrive in warm, moist environments. When we sweat or wear clothes for an extended period of time, these microorganisms break down the organic matter in our clothes, releasing VOCs into the air.

There are several types of odors that can develop in clothes, including:

  1. Body odor – This is the most common type of odor and is caused by the breakdown of sweat and bacteria on the skin.
  2. Smoke odor – This can be caused by cigarette smoke, cooking smoke, or other sources of smoke that can cling to fabrics.
  3. Mildew/mold odor – This is caused by the growth of mold or mildew on fabrics, often in damp environments.
  4. Chemical odor – This can be caused by exposure to cleaning products, pesticides, or other chemicals that can stick to fabrics.

These different types of odors can be difficult to remove with traditional washing methods, which is where steaming comes in as a potential solution.

How Does Steaming Work?

Steaming clothes is a process that uses high-temperature steam to remove wrinkles and freshen fabrics. It works by heating up water to produce steam, which is then directed onto the clothes through a nozzle. The steam penetrates the fabric, relaxing the fibers and removing wrinkles.

Benefits of steaming clothes

There are several benefits to steaming clothes over traditional ironing or washing:

  • Gentle on fabrics – Steaming is a gentle way to freshen up clothes without subjecting them to harsh chemicals or high heat. This makes it ideal for delicate fabrics like silk, wool, or cashmere.
  • Faster than ironing – Steaming is much faster than ironing and can be done in a fraction of the time. This makes it a great option for busy people who don’t have time for traditional ironing.
  • More efficient than washing – Steaming is a more efficient way to freshen up clothes than washing, as it uses less water and energy. This is better for the environment.
  • Removes wrinkles and creases – Steaming can remove wrinkles and creases from clothes, leaving them looking fresh and pressed.

Overall, steaming clothes is a convenient and effective way to freshen up clothes and remove wrinkles.

Does Steaming Clothes Really Remove Odors

Can Steaming Remove Odors?

Yes, steaming can help remove some types of odors from clothes. The high-temperature steam can kill bacteria and other microorganisms that cause odors by breaking down the organic matter in fabrics.

However, it’s important to note that steaming may not be effective in removing all types of odors, especially those that are deeply embedded in the fabric. For example, smoke odors or chemical odors may require additional treatment to be completely eliminated.

Additionally, the effectiveness of steaming in removing odors can depend on several factors, such as the type of fabric, the intensity of the odor, and the length of time the odor has been present. For example, fabrics like wool or cashmere may require a lower temperature to prevent damage, which may affect the effectiveness of the steaming process.

Overall, steaming can be a useful tool in removing odors from clothes, but it may not be a guaranteed solution for all types of odors. In some cases, it may be necessary to use additional methods such as washing or specialized odor-removing products to completely eliminate stubborn odors.

The Best Practices for Steaming Clothes

To get the most out of steaming clothes and ensure the best results, there are a few best practices to keep in mind:

Choose the right fabric:

Steaming is safe for most fabrics, but it’s important to check the care label of your clothes before steaming. Delicate fabrics like silk or cashmere may require a lower temperature to avoid damage.

Prepare the clothes:

Before steaming, make sure the clothes are clean and free of any loose dirt or debris. This will help prevent any particles from getting trapped in the fabric during the steaming process.

Use distilled water:

Using distilled water in your steamer can help prevent mineral buildup and extend the life of your steamer.

Hold the steamer correctly:

Hold the steamer about 6-8 inches away from the fabric, and move it in a steady, continuous motion to prevent any water droplets from forming on the fabric.

Steam in sections:

To ensure thorough steaming, work in sections and steam one section at a time. This will help ensure that all areas of the fabric are evenly steamed.

Hang the clothes to dry:

After steaming, hang the clothes to dry for a few minutes before wearing or storing them. This will allow any excess moisture to evaporate and prevent the fabric from becoming damp.

By following these best practices, you can get the most out of your steamer and achieve the best results when steaming your clothes.


Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about steaming clothes to remove odors:

Does steam help get rid of the smoke smell?

No, steam does not completely eliminate the smoke smell. While it may temporarily reduce the odor by dispersing the smoke particles, it does not remove them completely. Proper ventilation and thorough cleaning are necessary to effectively remove smoke odors.

What is the most powerful odor eliminator?

The most powerful odor eliminator depends on the specific odor and its source. Some effective options include activated charcoal, baking soda, pronators, hydrogen peroxide, and enzymatic cleaners.

What kills the smell of body odor?

The best way to kill the smell of body odor is by taking a shower with soap and water to remove sweat and bacteria from the skin. Using an antibacterial soap and wearing clean clothes and antiperspirant can also help control odor.


Steaming clothes can be a useful tool in removing wrinkles and some types of odors from clothes. By using high-temperature steam, the process can kill bacteria and other microorganisms that cause odors, leaving your clothes feeling and smelling fresher.

Steaming may not be effective in removing all odors, and it’s not suitable for all fabrics. Follow best practices when steaming clothes, such as using distilled water and working in sections.

Ultimately, steaming clothes can be a convenient and effective way to freshen up your clothes and extend their lifespan. By steaming your clothes, you can achieve odor- and wrinkle-free wash without harsh chemicals or high heat.