4 Ways to Remove Musty Smells from Clothes

There can be a lot going on within the days and these things can contribute to how clothes smell. Thus, having weird smells on clothes can be quite normal and, at the same time, very annoying. Having a musty smell on your clothes is a problem, and it’s important to know how to remove musty smell from clothes.

Where Do Musty Smells Come From?

how to get musty smell out of clothes

Having icky smells on your clothes is always caused by something. Having a musty smell on your clothes can’t possibly be because of “nothing.” There’s always a cause for these situations.

After washing your clothes, it’s important to dry them by hanging them out in the sun or indoors with the right amount of air and heat on them. Leaving your clothes in a dark and humid place for a long time can cause mold and mildew to grow on them and cause  musty smell.

In shorter and easier terms, excess moisture that does not have an avenue or chance to escape can cause the musty smell. Here are some reasons for your clothes to exude a bit of a musty smell.


There are a lot of activities that contribute to the body’s sweating. Jogging, dancing, trying to catch the bus, all of these are activities that may cause the body to excrete sweat. Sweat is one of the causes of smelly clothes.

how to remove musty smell from clothes

Leaving clothes in the washing machine or dryer

Leaving your clothes inside the machine or even in the dryer can result in musty smells. The process is usually sped up by the lack of air coming in and out of the enclosed space, so the clothes cannot “breathe.” Thus, after washing your clothes, make sure to hang them to let them dry within 8–12 hours, or else they may accumulate a musty smell.

Smelly washing machine

Yes, a smelly machine can also contribute to the musty smell. When washing, your clothes will be mingling with the machine, and this can lead to your clothes acquiring some of the machine’s smell.

Storing damp clothes in enclosed spaces

When you get your clothes out of the hanger or after you hang them outside, be sure that they are completely dry. Bringing in and storing damp clothes inside your cabinet or clothing space that is enclosed can cause your clothes to smell.

Getting Rid of the Musty Smell from Clothes

Nobody’s perfect, and so people can make simple mistakes that may cause their clothes to smell a bit musty or full on musty. In times like these, there are a couple of choices and solutions available.

1. Hot water

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High temperatures are known to disinfect and clean things. This method requires you to check your clothes’ care instructions and see what the maximum temperature they can take is. Once you are done checking, wash the clothes at the hottest temperature they can handle. This will work to eliminate the odors on your clothes.


2. White Vinegar Method

clothes smell after washing

This way of getting rid of the musty smell requires white vinegar. Vinegar has been a handy ingredient not only in the kitchen but in cleaning as well. It has been a huge help in getting rid of stains and odors from surfaces, including clothes.

The most basic step of this method is that, during the rinse cycle, you replace your fabric softener with vinegar. You can follow this ratio chart:

  • 1 cup – Topload washers
  • ¼ to ½ – Front loaders

Another way of using vinegar is to wash the musty-smelling clothes in hot water mixed with a cup of vinegar.


3. Baking Soda

clothes smell musty after washing

Baking soda has also made a name for itself not only in baking but also in the cleaning department. When using baking soda to remove musty odors, simply sprinkle the baking soda directly into the washing machine. You can put in ¼ or ½ of the baking soda per load.


4. Borax

Borax has been used as a cleaning product for a long time now. This mineral is also recommended as a pretreatment by many experts. When using this method, you need to prepare hot water and mix in ½ cup of borax. After preparing everything, soak the clothes in the solution and let them sit for an hour before washing them.

Getting Musty Smell Out of the Closet

The closet is also a place to look out for, especially when trying to control musty smells. You may have solved the smell problem with your clothes by washing them or applying musty smell removal methods, but they are at risk of getting smelly again if their closet is the root or cause of their smell.

This is why it is important to take care of the closet as they have the capability to affect your clothes’ smell.

Open the door

Air is important in clothing storage. Ventilation is a must. This is why the recommended designs for closets are those that allow air to pass through, thus giving the clothes and the inner part of the closet better and ample ventilation.

If you happen to have a closet that has a hard time allowing air to pass through, you can rely on a fan to help you with the job. Get your fan and let it face directly into your closet so air can get in and out and help prevent mold and odor.

clothes smell musty

Corner check

It’s also essential for you to check the corners of your closet. These are the parts that are usually most susceptible to moist mold and mildew. It is recommended that you use an all-purpose spray cleaner to help clean the area.

Call a laundry service

If the worst comes to worst and the mold is uncontrollable, it would be best to just contact laundry professionals. Mold spores not only affect your clothes, but they can also cause health problems.

[9 Things You Can Use To Get Mold Out Of Your Clothes]

How to Keep Your Clothes From Smelling Musty

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Of course, prevention is better than cure. Not only does it save you time, it also saves you from the extra hassle and work.

Locate where the problem is located

If you have been experiencing a musty smell on your clothes or in your house as a whole, you will need to take time and look around the house for possible mold and mildew buildup. This way, you can get rid of them and start over-clean.

Hang your clothes right away

After washing your clothes, hang them immediately and avoid leaving them inside of the machine or dryer for more than 8 hours. If possible, hang them right after your wash process.

Clean your machine

It’s important that you clean your machines regularly to prevent mold and mildew from building up. You can clean your machine by having hot water inside the machine, spinning and sanitizing and getting rid of early signs of mold and mildew. A dirty machine will affect your clothes.

closet smells musty

Do not leave damp clothes for too long

Just like how you should not leave your damp and washed clothes inside an enclosed space like the machine or the dryer, dirty and damp clothes should also be washed immediately. Perhaps you have been out and the sweat or rain may have dampened your clothes. Make sure to take care of them as soon as possible. When you leave wet or damp laundry for a long time, mold will build up.

Allow for ventilation, Encourage air circulation

To avoid having mold and mildew buildup inside your homes, cabinets or on your clothes, make sure that your house or a certain area is well-ventilated. Open doors, windows, and cabinets, and opt for those that have areas for your clothes to breathe.

Add nice scents

You can add and simmer your spaces with scents that you like. This can be done in a lot of ways, like lighting a scented candle, using diffuser sticks, essential oil diffusers, air fresheners, etc.

The Battle Against Unpleasant Smells

musty smell in clothes after washing

People encounter a lot of odor problems during their lifespan. One of them could be the musty smell that may be more common than most. There are less tough smells, and there are also strong ones.

Mold and mildew can be very bothersome, especially if the smell grows and becomes more noticeable. However, the plus side of battling with musty smells is that they do not require complicated steps. Getting rid of them only requires minimal effort, and preventing them is even easier.

Another tip is consistency and diligence. When preventing mold and mildew buildup and, in a far more severe case, the musty smell on your clothes, it’s important that you are committed and willing to work on them every now and then.

Set dates within the week as to when you would go hunting and cleaning areas that are vulnerable to mold and musty smell. This way, they have no chance of building up. Do not let them win.


There are a number of ways in which you can pick up a musty smell, and most of the time, they are a problem in your daily life. And so, having knowledge about the concept of mold and mildew can make a positive difference in your life. Keeping knowledge about how to remove musty smells from clothes is good information to keep.


how to get musty smell out of clothes

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