New Jeans Smell: 10 Different Ways They Do

If you have ever wondered why new jeans smell or you’re curious about why certain types of jeans, when bought new, smell the way they do, then this article is for you.

There are different ways new jeans smell, and as long as your olfactory sensory neurons are working, you’re sure to perceive this.

In this article, we shall give an in-depth explanation on 10 different ways new jeans smell and the causation factor behind their respective smells.

The distinct smell of each variant of the new jeans is dependent on the compounds formed in their production process, their storage areas, or the reaction of the chemicals used in making them. It’s all simple chemistry.

Here Are 10 Different Ways New Jeans Smell

  1. Pungent formaldehyde smell
  2. The iron smell
  3. The earthy or smoky smell
  4. Rotten egg smell
  5. Musty smell
  6. Cold and damp smell
  7. Distinct smell
  8. Mothballs
  9. Raspberry candy smell
  10. Mint smell

1. Pungent Formaldehyde Smell

Formaldehyde smells terribly like the practical smell of annoyance. This is because formaldehyde is used in the production of jeans as a stain-resistant and wrinkle-free feature. The chemical is colorless, albeit has a concentrated pickle-like odor.

Although most times, the concentration of this chemical is regulated to not pose a health threat to final consumers, however, the smell is not toned down regardless of the freshener sprays that are used afterward.

An effective and safe way to get the smell of formaldehyde out of jeans is to use vinegar.

This is because vinegar is acidic and is a good base neutralizer. When mixed with baking soda, the result is heightened as they take away other chemical residues as well.

However, you should also note that this formaldehyde is used to prevent bacterial growth, mildew, mold, and other bacteria that can cause the jeans to wear out earlier than they should.

2. Some Jeans Smell Like Iron

Some jeans smell like iron because of the dyes used in their production process. This is especially common with black jeans.

Black jeans take a lot of chemicals to acquire the black color. And most times, this smell lingers. What happens is that the chemicals used have their respective smells.

Understand that “cacophony of smells” is a thing and is real. While in some cases, it is intentional, some are accidental. It is the latter for the iron smell that comes from the multiple dye types used in black jeans.

There is another case that shouldn’t be mistaken for the smell of dyes on jeans. It is a rare health condition called phantosmia that can make you perceive the faux smell of iron when it’s not exactly there. This is an olfactory hallucination.

3. Earthy Or Smoky Smell

The Indigo dye is responsible for the popular blue color that comes with many denim jeans – It is used in different concentrations and densities that determine the varying brightness and darkness of the blue color.

Naturally occurring indigo dye has this unique smell that falls between earthy and smoky. So you don’t have to panic when you perceive this smell on your new jeans. This is because when used in jeans, this smell sometimes lingers.

The earthy smell, otherwise called petrichor, smells like early times of rain on dry ground after a long rain pause.

The perfumery smoky smell just has a subtle smell, yet strong. Sometimes the smell comes off like a dry burning bush.

What happens is, after the jeans are dyed, they are rinsed in citric acid which is supposed to completely water down the smell. But this is not always the case.

4. Rotten Egg Smell

The rotten egg smell in new jeans is because of the presence of Hydrogen Sulfide.

This happens to some of the jeans that stay for quite a while in the production house before they get into the market. This goes on to cause the release of Hydrogen Sulfide gas (H2S).

The gas is commonly referred to as stink damn, sewer gas, or manure gas. It is formed by the decomposition of certain matters.

Other times, your jeans smell of hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg) because this is the smell that comes from some chemical activities involved in the production process of jeans and not necessarily from the growth of mildew which resulted in Hydrogen Sulphide gas.

The common effective and safe way of removing this offensive smell from new jeans and other clothes is with white vinegar.

This is because vinegar contains acetic acid that neutralizes odor without posing threat to the surface of the object on which it is used.

5. Musty (Sour) Smell

If after getting a new pair of jeans and you perceived the sour smell, you probably would have wondered where the smell was coming from as new jeans aren’t supposed to smell exactly like that. This is a fouled-up air that smells so bad. Mildew is responsible for this too.

Understand that mildew, under different temperatures and other conditions, results in different smells.

This means, at a certain temperature, its growth, when not properly attended to, can also result in a terrible sour smell.

Although mildew isn’t as lethal as other types of mold, it releases this offensive musty odor and causes allergic reactions and other respiratory issues.

You can, however, allow the jeans to have good air accessibility and some heat (sun-dry the jeans).

6. Cold Or Dampness Smell

The damp smell you get to perceive from new jeans is not the same as the musty, earthy, or hydrogen sulfide gas. It is simply the smell of wetness with a lack of good air accessibility to the jeans.

This smell is common with new jeans and happens as a result of poor storage methods, this usually happens when jeans in the production house are exposed to moist surfaces or directly to moisture. A simple sun-dry or good access to ventilation solves this problem.

Other times, this happens to jeans while in the custody of the wholesalers and not necessarily from the manufacturers.

7. Jeans Can Take The Smell Of Other Clothes – Distinct Smell

Smell transfer is very possible. It is a thing. This happens through the diffusion of odorant molecules where they move in the air, from the region where they are highly concentrated to a neutral body or a body that exudes a different smell. When this happens in clothes, it leads to smell transfers.

This is common in the textile industry where finished clothing shares the same storehouse before hitting the market.

This means, Jeans, when stored with other clothes whose production methods involve the use of aromatic chemicals, can take up their fragrances and give off the same smell, albeit in lesser intensity.

This is the reason some clothes do not have a specific smell — or rather, they exude a distinct indescribable smell that is formed from the accumulation of the smell of chemicals, dyes, transferred smell (some have multiple smell transfer), and the smell of other materials used in their production process.

8. The Smell Of Mothballs

Originally, mothballs were used as insecticides until a recent study showed that their usefulness spans that horizon.

Currently, mothballs have found relevance in jeans manufacturing companies. One of which is to give clothes a long-lasting fresh smell.

It stops the growth of mildew thereby extending the shelf life of clothes before they hit the market. Mothballs also prevent clothes from being eaten by moths.

The fact that camphor oil is included in the composition of mothballs makes it act as a dehumidifier, this way it prevents jeans from wrinkling. So it is common to have your new jeans smell of mothballs as it is used for jeans preservation.

9. The Smell Of Raspberry Candy

Yes, the smell of raspberry candy on new jeans is a thing. If you’ve bought a new pair of jeans and have experienced the fruity smell, then you can attest to this fact. This effect is created on new jeans using microcapsules contained in a special coating.

The idea behind this was the fact that hardcore denim lovers wear them every day, and this may not exactly get the jeans dirty instantly, however, they develop a sweat smell that is not too nice to perceive. Hence, the birth of scented jeans.

10. Mint Smell

The mint smell on new jeans is also a result of the evolution of scented jeans which didn’t initially come in this fragrance.

In the long run, scented jeans are usually produced in other fragrances like grapefruit, banana, apple, eucalyptus, etc.

Although subsequent washing and drying of the jeans reduce the concentration of the smells, however, the smells are a delight on the jeans as when newly bought, and as long as they last.

Final Thoughts

The jeans’ manufacturing process is one of the pivotal sectors in the textile industry. This is because jeans and denim products are part of the most highly used section of the textile industry owing to consumers’ preference and their continuous fashion choice.

While denim looks glamorous in the fashion industry, it threatens health and causes tons of pollution in reality.

In the grand scheme of jeans production, preservative chemicals, dyes, fragrances, and storage methods affect the smell thereafter.


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