How To Wash Farm Clothes: 12 Simple Tips

Whether you raise chickens, pigs, cows, sheep, or some other form of livestock, there’s no doubt about it – knowing how to wash farm clothes to remove the animal smell is important! 

While most people will likely appreciate all the hard work that you do to make sure tables are well-stocked with food, your washing machine is probably not so grateful for the extra work. Farm clothes get dirty – here are some tips on how to keep them stink-free and fresh. 

How to Get Farm Smell Out of Clothes?

how to get farm smell out of clothes

Can’t seem to shake that unpleasant smell of cow manure? You can always dab some Vicks Vapor Rub under your nose – you won’t be able to smell anything but the menthol!

That’s a joke, of course – but if you want to get that unbearable farm smell out of your clothes, there are a few simple tips you can follow. 

1. Use Household Ammonia

An easy way to get farm smells out of your clothes is to use a bit of household ammonia. Just add half a cup of the non-sudsing variety to your washer. Fill the rest of the washer with warm water, making sure the clothes are fully submerged. 

Let the clothes soak for half an hour, then wash with a heavy-duty detergent.

If there are still some lingering odors leftover afterward, you can always repeat the process. Whatever you do, don’t add chlorine bleach. When combined with ammonia, bleach can produce toxic fumes. 

2. Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide

If you’re looking for a more natural solution to eliminate odors, baking soda is a classic choice. It can be used on its own or you can combine it with hydrogen peroxide for a double punch.

If you use hydrogen peroxide, just be aware it can cause a bleaching effect.

Apply baking soda directly to clothes and let it sit – or if you’d rather use the combined method, fill your washer with warm water, a cup of hydrogen peroxide, and a cup of baking soda. Let it sit for an hour (or longer, if the clothes are super stinky). 

If you decide to use this solution, it’s best to mix it up as needed. Hydrogen peroxide won’t be as potent if it is allowed to sit. 

Once you’ve allowed the odors to be mostly dissolved in this soak, go ahead and wash with a heavy-duty detergent. 

3. Distilled White Vinegar

Although white vinegar may not be as effective as some of the other treatments, it can be a good way to get rid of certain smells.

Fill your washer and then add a couple of cups of vinegar to the warm water. Soak your work clothes for three hours, then wash as usual. 

4. Drying Clothes

Unfortunately, throwing your farm clothes in the dryer on your typical high heat cycle isn’t going to do much to get rid of any smells.

If you weren’t able to remove all the smells in the regular washing routine, the high heat setting might cause the odors to be pressed deeper into the fibers, making them difficult to remove.

Therefore, if you absolutely have to dry your clothes in a dryer, you should do so on the lowest setting possible. Remove the clothes while they’re still damp and let them air dry.

Line drying is the best way to dry farm clothes. The rays of the sun will help neutralize odors. 

5. Dry Clean Only?

When you’re shopping for farm clothes, it’s a good idea to steer clear of picks that are described as dry-clean only. 

However, if you wind up with a few garments that are in this category, don’t worry. Just make sure you air the clothing out of direct sunlight – and then get them to the dry cleaners as soon as possible. The longer you let them sit, the harder it is going to be to get rid of the smells.

In some cases, you may be able to handwash an item rather than bringing it to the cleaner’s. Check the garment label for more information, then consider this video for tips on how to hand wash your clothes the right way:

6. What About Other Non-Clothing Items? 

Sometimes, the stench seeps into items that aren’t clothing. Even though you can’t throw these items in the washing machine, you still need a way to get them clean.

Shed your work clothes in the garage or mudroom so the odors don’t get into the rest of the house.

If they do, you can use the same treatments above to get rid of the smell (baking soda, vinegar, and ammonia all work well when mixed with water individually). You can blot the stinky areas and then follow up with a simple water rinse to get rid of any residue. 

Taking off your clothes before you enter the house is especially important when you’ve been working with chemicals, such as pesticide-contaminated clothing

7. Wear a Few Layers

Consider wearing a few layers of clothes when you work in the barn. That way, you can shed the outer layer before you go inside so you don’t have to drag the barn smell into your living room with you (or go naked as you head across the house to the shower!). 

8. Put On Some Gloves

When you’re working in the barn, throw on a pair of gloves. Not only will this help protect your hands from any hazards, but it will keep odors off them, too. That means less scrubbing when you get inside! 

9. Avoid Harsh Chemicals on Your Skin

For all of the potential treatments for stinky farm clothes described above, be careful about getting harsh chemicals directly on your skin.

Ammonia can be irritating, as can things like bleach – even though these are safe to use, you’ll want to avoid direct contact.

Plus, if you get chemicals on your skin, it’s going to be harder to wash away the cow smell the next time! 

10. Fabric Refresher to the Rescue!

For a quick fix, a simple fabric refresher can be a lifesaver. It is especially helpful for things like cloth seats and car interiors, which you can’t typically throw in the washing machine to get rid of lingering smells. 

11. Invest in Heavy Canvas Fabrics 

Heavy canvas, particularly canvas outerwear, helps protect the clothes beneath from being infused with unpleasant farm aromas. Consider wearing canvas whenever possible and shed the outerwear before you go inside. 

12. Clean Up ASAP

When you come in from your chores, head to the shower ASAP. If you have stinky clothes, put them in the washer and wash them immediately.

Avoid mixing them with non-smelly clothing, as the smells might spread to the rest of the uncontaminated load. 

How to Wash Farm Clothes – Without Damaging Them

how do you get goat smell out of clothes

The good news about washing farm clothes is that they tend to be made of very sturdy, durable materials. For the most part, you shouldn’t have to worry about damaging them in the wash.

As long as there aren’t any loose buckles or zippers that can snag or pull, your clothes shouldn’t tear or become otherwise damaged in the wash.

To be on the safe side, flip your clothes inside out. This will prevent any snags. You may want to use mesh laundry bags for more delicate items or shoes. When in doubt about how to best launder an item, wash it in cold water and let it air dry.

Reading the labels on your clothing and detergents is important, but if these aren’t available, the tips above should help you wash your farm clothes without doing any damage. 

To prevent your clothes from getting so dirty next time, consider throwing on a pair of bibs or coveralls. These will need to be washed, too – but at least it will mean fewer overall loads of laundry, right? 


how to wash farm clothes FAQ

How Do You Remove Stains from Farm Clothing?

Different types of stains may require different stain removal methods. For example, soaking clothing in cold water with enzyme-based laundry products, or dabbing on some white vinegar and rinsing by hand, may work for blood stains. Grease and dirt stains can be removed by soaking the stain with a mixture of baking soda and water, then allowing it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes.

Older stains may be harder to remove. Allow the stained clothing to soak in warm water, then treat according to the methods mentioned above. Grass stains can generally be removed by scrubbing with cold water and then washing normally.  

Can You Dry Farm Clothes in a Dryer?

It’s always a good idea to check clothing labels and follow the washing and drying instructions provided. Some farm clothes may be able to handle going through the dryer, while others will do best if they are line-dried.

When using a dryer, you may want to dry your farm clothing on the lowest cycle to prevent damage. Again, follow the instructions on the tag, and avoid machine-drying any articles of clothing that are meant to be dry-cleaned, line-dried, or laid flat to dry. 

How Do You Care For Winter Farm Clothing?

Caring for winter farm clothing is much the same as caring for other types of farm clothing. Follow the instructions printed on the tag for how to wash, dry, and remove stains from your farm clothing.

Avoid using bleach or fabric softeners, which may weaken the materials in your clothing. If you have delicate items made of fleece, wool, or similar materials, always air-dry or use the lowest setting on your dryer to keep the clothes from shrinking. 

Can You Iron Farm Clothes?

You can iron your farm clothes as long as the care instructions on the tag don’t tell you to avoid ironing. In fact, most tags will even tell you which iron setting is safe to use with each particular article of clothing.

In most cases, you’ll want to use a lower iron setting to avoid damaging your farm clothes. Gently and quickly move the iron back and forth across each item, going with the fabric’s grain, until the wrinkles are gone and the fabric is smooth. Avoid leaving the iron in one spot for more than a couple of seconds, as the iron may create a burn stain.

What’s the Best Way to Store Farm Clothing?

Before storing your farm clothes, make sure they are clean and free of all farm smells. You’ll also want to ensure they’re completely dry so they don’t mildew.

You can store your farm clothes in a clean, dry closet or dresser. If you aren’t going to be using them again for a long time, you may want to pack them away in waterproof tubs. Keep them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

1 thought on “How To Wash Farm Clothes: 12 Simple Tips”

  1. If you have a front loader washing machine, you can’t fill the machine with water first and add the ammonia, or baking soda, or vinegar. So how do you do that with a front loader washing machine?


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