There can be many reasons for a musty smell in your clothes.
Maybe you left them in the washing machine for too long, or they were stored in a damp place.
Whatever the reason, there are a few ways you can remove that musty smell and make your clothes smell fresh again.
In this article, you will learn the causes and the solutions to musty smells in clothes.
Here’s what this article covers.
- What Causes Mildew Smells OR Musty Odors in Clothes?
- What is the difference between mildew and mold?
- Why do clothes smell damp after washing?
- 7 Ways to remove musty smell out of clothes
- How to Get Musty Smell Eliminated from the Closet?
- Can you prevent mildew smell on clothes?
- Tips to prevent Mildew from forming and keep the odors away
- Can Vinegar alone get rid of musty smell from your clothes?
- Final Thoughts
What Causes Mildew Smells OR Musty Odors in Clothes?
Mildew smells in clothes are caused by a build-up of mold and mildew in the fabric.
When clothes are left in the washing machine for too long, the moisture in the air can cause mold and mildew to grow on the fabric.
This can cause a musty smell that is difficult to remove.
If you notice a mildew smell in your clothes, it is important to wash them as soon as possible to prevent the problem from getting worse.
What is the difference between mildew and mold? (mildew vs mold)
Mildew is a type of mold that can often be found in damp or humid areas. It can often be recognized by its musty smell.
Mold is a type of fungi that can grow on various surfaces, and it can vary in color i.e. it can either be black to green.
Unlike mildew, mold is not always easy to spot and may not have a noticeable odor.
If you suspect you have mold in your washer, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible.
Why do clothes smell damp after washing?
The main reason why clothes smell damp after washing is because of the presence of moisture.
When clothes are washed, the water used can cause the fabric to become damp.
This dampness can then lead to the development of musty odors due to odor-causing bacteria.
This generally happens when your washer is unclean and hosts mold and mildew.
In some cases, these odors may be due to the growth of mold or mildew on the fabric itself.
To prevent this from happening, it is important to ensure that clothes are completely dry before storing them away.
7 Ways To Remove Musty Smell Out Of Clothes
Getting rid of the foul odor from your clothes is not as overwhelming as it sounds.
In fact, it’s easy, let’s look into 7 methods to eliminate odor from clothes.
Remove musty smell from clothes using Baking soda
Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can be used to remove smells from clothes.
To use, simply add 1 cup of baking soda to the washing machine and let it complete the wash cycle.
If you are using a front load washer, you can either pre-treat your clothes with baking soda before putting them in the washer OR you can add diluted baking soda in the bleach compartment.
And if your front loader does not have a bleach compartment, you may use the detergent compartment.
Wash your clothes with Vinegar
Vinegar is another natural deodorizer that can be used to remove odors from clothes.
Using vinegar helps to break down any mold or mildew that may be causing the smell.
Simply add one cup of white vinegar to the washing machine before starting the rinse cycle to remove mold and bad odors.
If your washer has a dedicated compartment for fabric softener OR bleach, you may pour some diluted vinegar so that it gets dispensed in a staggered manner automatically.
Lastly, the Smell of vinegar should not be an issue as it subsides in a few minutes.
Note: If you are using Vinegar as a deodorizer and fabric softener, you don’t need to use dryer sheets. It works just as well without them.
Remove Musty Smell Out Of Clothes With Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is also a natural deodorizer that can be used to remove smells from clothes.
To use Lemon juice, simply add one cup of lemon juice to the washing machine along with your normal detergent.
The lemon juice will help to neutralize any bad odors and eliminate mold and mildew, thereby leaving your clothes smelling fresh and clean.
Remove foul smells out of your clothes by Sun Drying
Hanging your clothes open under the sun is a great way to remove bad odors from fabrics naturally.
To sun your clothes, hang them outside in direct sunlight by using a clothesline.
Eliminate Moldy Smell Using Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to remove musty smells from clothes.
To use, add one cup of hydrogen peroxide to the washing machine along with your normal detergent.
The hydrogen peroxide will help to break down any mold or mildew that may be causing the smell.
Remove the musty smell out of clothes with Febreze
Febreze is a fabric freshener that can be used to remove bad odors from clothes and other garments.
It comes in spray form as well, so simply spray the Febreze refresher on your clothes and let them dry.
Remove mold using Borax
Borax is a natural disinfectant that can be used to remove musty smells from clothes.
Simply pre-treat your clothes using borax before you put the clothes in washing machine and you should be all set.
Use Hot Water Wash
Hot water wash can be a great way to get rid of the mold, mildew, and odor-causing bacteria from your clothes.
Selecting this wash type can be a little tricky though, as it depends on the type of fabric you are washing.
Not all fabrics are going to be able to withstand the heat of a hot water wash.
But if you are able to, a hot water wash will help to kill mold kill or mildew that may be causing the problem.
So, if your clothes are extremely moldy and you want to throw them away, as a last resort you can try treating them using boiled water instead of washing your clothes in cold water.
How to Get Musty Smell Eliminated from the Closet?
Clothes often absorb the musty smell from the surrounding environment.
The closet is one such place where clothes are stored for a long time and hence, they might develop a musty smell over time.
Here are a few ways to get rid of this musty smell from clothes.
Place activated charcoal packets or baking soda boxes inside the closet
Placing activated charcoal packets OR mothballs is a great option to get rid of the musty smell from closet.
Cedar balls or cedar oil can also be used to keep the closet smelling fresh and free of any musty smells.
Open up the closet doors
Open up the closet doors and windows to let in the fresh air. This will help to get rid of any musty smells that might have developed over time.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to clean the closet
A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment can be used to clean the closet and get rid of the odor.
Make sure to vacuum the corners and crevices of the closet to remove any dust or dirt that might be present.
Wash clothes regularly
Another great way to keep the musty smell at bay is by washing clothes regularly.
This will help to remove any sweat or body odor that might be present on the clothes.
Hang a sachet of lavender or any other fragrant herb
A sachet of lavender or any other fragrant herb can help to keep the closet smelling fresh and free of any musty smells.
The sachet can be placed inside a closet or hung from the door knob.
Spray Vinegar OR Baking Soda Solution
You can use homemade solutions like vinegar and baking soda to get rid of the musty smell.
To make this solution, mix equal parts of water and vinegar and put it in a spray bottle.
Spray this solution on the closet and wipe the areas with a dry microfiber cloth OR Wipes.
Alternatively, add some dry baking soda powder to a bowl of water and dip a dry cloth in that solution. Next, start wiping the areas with the same damp cloth.
Can you prevent mildew smell on clothes?
The best way to prevent mildew smell on clothes is to keep them clean and dry. If your clothes start to smell musty, you can try washing them with vinegar or laundry detergent.
You can also try sprinkling baking soda on the affected area. If the smells persist, you may need to have your clothes professionally cleaned.
Tips to Prevent Mildew From Forming And Keep The Odors Away
Follow these tips to prevent mildew and keep your clothes smelling fresh.
Presoak OR Pre-Wash your sweaty clothes alone
Before you put your clothes in the washing machine pre-treat OR pre-wash them.
If you have sweaty clothes, make sure to presoak or pre-wash them alone. This will help to remove any sweat or body odor that might be present on the clothes.
You can either use a suitable detergent to pre-soak OR use a disinfectant sanitizer like Lysol to kill germs and bacteria.
Just pour some water into a sink or a tub and add capsful or Lysol Sanitizer OR appropriate quantity of detergent and soak the clothes for approx. 16 to 20 minutes.
Once the clothes are soaked properly, you can proceed with the rinsing process, followed by the wash cycle.
Use baking soda or borax
Another quick tip is to use baking soda or borax while washing your clothes.
This will help to keep the musty smell at bay and also prevent mildew from forming.
You can either add some baking soda powder OR borax powder directly into the washing machine OR dissolve it in water and then add the clothes.
Wash sweaty clothes immediately
If you have been sweating a lot, make sure to wash your clothes as soon as possible.
This will help to remove any sweat or body odor that might be present on the clothes and stop the bacteria from settling in.
If you cannot wash the clothes immediately, make sure to at least rinse them off with some water.
Store Clothes in Well Ventilated Areas
In order to prevent mold from growing, always keep your clothes in well-ventilated areas. This will help to keep the musty smell at bay and also prevent mildew from forming.
You can either keep your clothes in an open closet OR hang them outside in the sun to air out.
Make sure to also keep the laundry room well ventilated by opening the windows and doors.
Discourage mold growth in your washer
To get rid of mustiness, you must discourage mold growth inside your washer in the first place.
This can be done by leaving the washing machine open after each use so that it can air dry completely.
In a lot of cases, the source of the musty smell in your washer is hidden and you may not be able to see it.
You can use a disinfectant like Lysol OR baking soda to clean your washer to get rid of that musty smell.
Can Vinegar alone get rid of musty smell from your clothes?
The acidic nature of vinegar helps to break down the musty smell and also kills any mold or mildew present on the clothes.
Simply solution made out of vinegar and water can do wonders to your laundry.
So, Yes a cleaning solution made out of vinegar and water will not only help to keep the bad odor away but also act as a natural fabric softener.
So, just add a cup of vinegar to your washing machine along with your regular detergent and let the rinse cycle complete.
Vinegar can also be used for spot cleaning of mildew from your clothes.
To do this, simply soak a clean cloth in equal parts vinegar and water solution and start dabbing it on the affected areas.
Once the spots are gone, rinse the clothes with cold water and let them air dry.
There are a number of ways to get rid of bad odor from your clothes.
We have discussed seven different methods in this article.
Some of these tips may be more effective than others, but it is important to try a few until you find the one that works best for you.
If all else fails, consider taking your clothes to a professional cleaner.
Lastly, before trying any of the solutions, always read the care label thoroughly so that the cleaning approach that you take is relatively safe.
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