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Bosch FreshUp review: A handheld device that refreshes smelly clothes

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £250
inc VAT

The Bosch FreshUp successfully freshens stale-smelling clothes but struggles with strong odours on synthetic fabrics


  • Lightweight
  • Successfully reduces most unpleasant smells
  • Charges via USB


  • Pricey
  • Doesn’t completely kill off stronger odours

We’ve all been there: stuck wearing smoky or sweaty clothes but with no spares to change into. Maybe you’ve been at work all day and you’ve been invited to a restaurant at the last minute. Or perhaps you’ve just arrived at your destination after a long flight and your baggage is stuck en route.

A liberal application of deodorant or perfume might mask odious odours for a while, allowing you to venture into polite society without clearing the room, but eventually, the Lynx effect will fade and your dinner companions are going to catch an unpleasant whiff.

With the FreshUp, Bosch claims to have the answer to such dilemmas: a high-tech, handheld gadget that uses plasma to kill odour particles on clothes.

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Bosch FreshUp review: What do you get for the money?

If that sounds like something you’ve been waiting for your whole life, then be prepared to pay for the privilege. In fact, at £250, banishing nasty niffs with the swipe of a hand is going to cost you nearly as much as a budget washing machine.

To be fair to it, though, the FreshUp does offer some advantages. The biggest of which is that it’s portable. In fact, measuring a mere 160 x 65 x 37mm (WDH), it’s around the size of a glasses case, and its 200g weight means it’s light enough to sling into your carry-on or overnight bag.

It charges via USB, too, which means you don’t have to worry about lugging around an extra charger with you, although Bosch does include one (and a USB-A to Micro-USB cable) in the box.

Battery life is quoted at 60 minutes, so you should be able to treat several garments before it needs to be recharged, and it takes between three to four hours to charge from empty.

Bosch Freshup review: How does it work?

I must admit to a healthy degree of scepticism over the FreshUp’s efficacy, but there does seem to be a solid scientific basis behind Bosch’s claims. Plasma is sometimes used to tackle odour problems in factories; the FreshUp simply takes this approach and puts in a device you can fit in a bag.

According to Bosch, the FreshUp generates plasma “through a process called ionisation” within the device. This, in turn, breaks down “the connections of simple odour molecules it comes into contact with”.

If that sounds complicated, it’s certainly easy enough to use: simply turn it on and wipe the device over the offending article of clothing once or twice. You need to press down as you do this, so it helps if you can use the FreshUp on a firm surface such as a bed, table or ironing board. Failing that, you can also use it on clothes you’re currently wearing.

It’s easy to tell if the FreshUp is doing its job, too, since the ends glow purple to indicate that you’re doing it right. It also gives off a whiff of ozone as you go, which is another of the indications that it’s working. Ozone, along with a small amount of UV light, is a byproduct of the plasma generation process, says Bosch.

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If the smells are particularly fruity, then Bosch says you might need to treat both the inside and outside surfaces. My experience during testing suggests that two or three wipes are needed to get rid of smells completely.

However, it only takes a few minutes to treat each garment and you can use it on pretty much any type of dry clothing. The only exceptions are fur (either synthetic or real) and leather. Bosch also says it “might be less effective at treating waterproofed items”.

Bosch FreshUp review: Does it work?

The key question, of course, is does it work? The answer is a qualified yes. I started out testing it with some honking running gear, a cotton polo shirt and a musty school shirt I found mouldering in a dark corner of my teenage daughter’s bedroom.

First up, a sweaty synthetic running shirt and, yes, after a few wipes with the FreshUp, the lingering odour of three-day-old, dried-in BO had indeed reduced. It didn’t entirely vanish, although the shirt did smell noticeably fresher.

I repeated this a couple of times with other garments made from man-made materials with largely the same results. Smells were reduced and clothes did smell more pleasant after treatment, but the original background odour persisted.

With natural materials, however, I had more success. Treating a cotton polo shirt with the FreshUp saw armpit aromas completely cast out, and I had the same result with a well-worn and long-discarded cotton school shirt. After an all-over wipe, both garments were good to go.

I tried it out next with smoky clothing and, again, I found the results were positive, freshening up a cotton polo shirt to the point of wearability. I also found the FreshUp worked well on clothing that smelled a bit stale.

Bosch FreshUp review: Should you buy one?

Now this isn’t by any means what you could call an exhaustive test but, in general, I did find the Bosch FreshUp to be effective. It struggled a bit with ingrained smells on synthetic fabrics but it was up to less demanding tasks, making them smell more pleasant than before.

The bigger question is whether that capability is worth £250 to you. If you frequently find yourself short of spare clean clothes and no time to hand-wash and dry, it might prove an invaluable travel companion. If you’re a collector of vintage clothing, perhaps, and don’t want to damage delicate items by washing – again, it might be just what you’ve been looking for.

The price, however, is a little too high for a device I can envisage being used only occasionally.