How To Remove Odors From Wigs (Easy Step-By-Step Guide)

Wigs are a great way to change your look without drastically changing your hair. But, over time, they can become smelly and dirty with wear. How do you remove odors from wigs?

How To Remove Odors From Wigs

The first step to removing odors from wigs is to clean them thoroughly. If the wig still smells, you can use a baking soda or apple cider vinegar solution to deodorize it.

Ultimately, keeping your wig clean will help keep it smelling fresh. But what’s the proper way to clean a wig? What if it still smells? Read on to find out four ways to remove odor from wigs.

Cleaning Your Wig Starts With The Wig Type

Before you can start cleaning your wig, you need to identify what type of wig it is. 

Whether it’s a synthetic or natural wig will change the proper way to remove odors. If you don’t identify it correctly, you could damage the hair, so this step is crucial.

Once you’ve identified the type of wig you have, you can go down to its respective category.

The steps will be similar but will have some differences.

How to remove odors from wigs

Cleaning Synthetic Wigs

a long brown wig standing on a mannequin on a table

One of the reasons synthetic wigs are so popular is they are very forgiving.

Because they are made out of plastic materials, they are also very affordable. 

Still, you should be sure to wash your wig after wearing it 6-8 times or when it starts to smell.

When washing your synthetic wig, you need to make sure you use cool water. Hot water can stretch and distort the shape of the wig. 

Once you have your water ready, you can start cleaning.


  1. Start by soaking the wig in cool water along with wig shampoo. DO NOT twist, wring, or rub it. That will tangle and distort the hair fibers. 
  2. If this is a general cleaning, soak for five minutes. If your wig is very dirty or smelling, you can soak it longer. 
  3. After soaking your wig, gently dip it up and down in the soapy water to further loosen the dirt. If there are some stubborn stains or dirt on the lace or cap, you can clean it with a small, soft brush.
  4. Then rinse your wig under cool water. Remember, don’t twist or wring it. 
  5. While your wig is still wet, you need to add conditioner. This helps keep your wig nice and shiny. Add more cool water to your basin, mix in conditioner, and dip your wig in the mixture. Then use your fingers to work in the conditioner gently.
  6. Rinse the wig again.
  7. Pat the wig dry. Don’t brush or blow dry it. That can damage the wig’s shape. Then put on a wig stand to dry.

Cleaning Natural Wigs

a number of wigs placed on mannequins on a table

Because natural wigs are made from human or animal hair, their care is very similar to natural hair. 

But, just like the hair on our heads, the hair fibers in a natural wig can get smelly and dirty. Just like synthetic wigs, you should be washing them every 6-8 times you wear them or when it gets stinky.


  1. Start by using your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to remove any tangles. That will make it easier to clean.
  2. Do not soak a natural hair wig like a synthetic wig. Rinse the wig under cool water from roots to ends.
  3. Place a small amount of shampoo in your hand. If your wig is dyed, be sure to use shampoo for color-treated hair. Gently stroke the shampoo through the wig from roots to ends.
  4. Rinse under cool water. You can gently squeeze or press the wig to remove excess water, but do not wring it.
  5. Repeat similar steps for conditioner, but avoid the roots of the wig when applying. That will help your wig stay clean and retain its body.
  6. Follow the conditioner’s instructions on how long to leave it in. Then rinse like before.
  7. Pat out excess water, then put on a wig stand to dry.

What If The Wig Still Smells?

mannequins on a row with wigs on them

It’s no big deal if the wig still smells after cleaning. Some odors are tough and you may need to deodorize your wigs.

Here’s how to do it:

Deodorizing Synthetic Wigs

For synthetic wigs, you have three options: fabric softener, apple cider vinegar, and baking soda.

Fabric Softener – Mix equal parts of fabric softener with water. Then you can use it in two ways. You can either dip your wig in the mixture or put it in a spray bottle. 

Apple Cider Vinegar – This mixture is good for new wigs with a chemical smell. Mix apple cider vinegar with water in a 4:1 ratio. Then let your wig soak for 20-30 minutes, depending on how smelly it is. Then pat the wig dry as you would when washing.

Baking Soda – Fill a tub with ¾ of a cup of water with ¼ cup of baking soda. Let the baking soda dissolve before letting your wig soak for up to 4 hours. Then wash and dry the wig normally.

Deodorizing Natural Wigs

Usually, washing a natural hair wig is enough to remove the smell. But, some scents can be stubborn. 

To remove the odor, you can use baking soda and white or apple cider vinegar. 

Baking Soda – Add 3-4 teaspoons of baking soda to your sink full of water. Allow the wig to soak in the solution for 10-30 minutes. Then wash and dry the wig to remove any excess baking soda.

White or Apple Cider Vinegar – Mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water. Soak your wig in the mixture for 2-5 minutes. Then wash and dry the wig as usual.

For both of these methods, you may need to repeat the washing process 2-3 times to make sure the baking soda or vinegar is entirely removed. 

You will also want to use a deep conditioning treatment on the wig to help it stay shiny and healthy.


Keeping your wig clean is the best way to keep it smelling fresh. Just like human hair, your wig will absorb smells and dirt from the environment. Washing your wig should remove the dirt and smells. 

With proper care and maintenance, you should be able to rock that wig for a long time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

How Do I Keep A Wig From Smelling?

Regular washing and maintenance should help keep odors out of both natural and synthetic wigs. Just be sure that you are correctly conditioning afterward. Also, ensure your wig is completely dry before putting it on. Otherwise, that trapped moisture will make it smell musty.

What If The Wig Still Smells?

You may need to repeat this process several times if the wig still smells after both deodorizing and washing. You could also try a different method than the one you used before. For example, if you used apple cider vinegar first, then using baking soda might work better next time.

Will Using Laundry Detergent Get The Smell Out?

Whatever you do, do NOT use laundry detergent or put your wig in the washing machine. The cleaner is too harsh for both natural and synthetic wigs. The washing machine will also tangle and rip the wig. You can use fabric softener as a deodorizer but in small amounts.

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