Natural fibers like burlap are, without a doubt, some of the most economical, versatile, and charming options available to consumers. 

Burlap is particularly durable and very eco-friendly, but it also poses a bit of a problem: jute fibers are highly absorbent and bad odors tend to sink deep into the fabric.

Additionally, burlap cloth is sensitive to some of the most common cleaning solutions. For this reason, cleaning burlap and ridding it of bad smells requires a slightly different approach than you might be used to.

So, How Do You Get the Smell Out of Burlap?

Baking soda is the best way to get smells out of burlap. Combine some baking soda with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, then take the scented baking soda and sprinkle it thoroughly over the burlap, making sure to get every nook and cranny.

Leave the baking soda on the surface of the burlap for at least 48 hours, thus giving it enough time to absorb the bad odor and neutralize any wayward bacteria that has taken home inside the fibers of the cloth.

After a couple of days have passed, simply vacuum the coating of baking soda, and, voila, your burlap will smell clean and fresh.

Pro-Tip: You only need a few drops of oil. Using more than that will turn the baking soda into a sticky paste that will be much more difficult to clean up afterward.

I’m partial to using lavender oil since it gives your burlap a fresh scent.

The key to preventing bad smells and making sure your burlap stays clean for as long as possible is to clean it regularly. Here are some cleaning tips that might prove useful.

Getting Stains Out of Burlap

If your burlap becomes stained, don’t fret. Cleaning fresh stains from burlap is very simple.

Take a brush with soft bristles and gently brush the stain out of the fibers using a solution of clean water and a very mild soap.

It is important to note that this must be done before the stain has had time to dry and properly soak into the fibers. Stains that have had time to dry and penetrate the fabric’s fiber will take a bit more work to remove.

If you don’t have a mild soap on hand when the burlap gets stained, you can make a solution with water and salt. Rub the stain out using a brush that has been soaked in the salty solution. Again, the key is to do so as quickly as possible to prevent the staining substance from penetrating the burlap fibers.

Fungus And Mold On Your Burlap

Burlap is very prone to developing mold or mildew, especially in hot and humid climates. This is the reason why burlap is not often seen in kitchens and bathrooms. 

If you find mold or mildew growing on your burlap, you can easily remove it by applying a mixture of 6 parts water and 1 part bleach. The best method to apply this mixture is with a fine mist spray bottle, to ensure that as much surface area is covered as possible.

Old Stinky Burlap

The bleach will do its thing and quickly kill any bacterial or fungal growths that have taken residence on your burlap. 

Something to keep in mind is that a bleach-based solution can and will damage colored pigments in your burlap. So, I recommend that you keep the bleach in your cleaning solution on the low end.

Additionally, I suggest that you test your solution in a small patch of the burlap first, to check how it will react. If you detect even a tiny bit of discoloration, simply dilute the solution further.

Once you have found the correct balance, spray the surface of your burlap with the solution and use a soft brush to scrape away any black or green bits of mold/mildew.

Allow your burlap ample time to air dry before putting it back in place.

If you follow these tips, you will be able to remove foul smells from seeping into your burlap and significantly increase the lifetime of any delicate burlap item in your collection.