Removing Odor From Clothing

— Written By Trudy Beirise and last updated by
en Español

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.

English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲

Thrift store purchases, old, packed-away seasonal clothes, clothing exposed to dampness can all carry musty smells. The smell can range from the stale odor of being stored to the moldy scent of damp-associated with mildew in the clothes. To save them, you need to know how to get musty smell out of clothes. Here are the steps to rid your clothing of these odors:

There are times when the smell is caused by using too much detergent on clothes and not rinsing properly. The smell sticks to the soap deposits. Another cause could be the accumulation of fabric softener on the clothes, making them less absorbent. The build-up of soap and fabric softener can be easily remedied using ordinary cleaning items in your home.

Add a quarter cup of white vinegar to water in the washing machine and soak the clothes for at least thirty minutes. Drain the water and wash as usual, or wash along with the vinegar solution. The vinegar smell will disappear from the clothes once they are dry. If possible, dry the clothes in the sun so that the ultraviolet rays can kill any mildew or mold that might be present on the clothing. Baking soda is another natural remedy for odor in clothing. Add a cup of baking soda to the water with the clothes and run them through a normal wash/rinse cycle.

Fresh, unscented cat litter can be used for removing odor from a lot of things, including musty clothes. Leave the litter in a box or wardrobe with the clothes for a week, and the musty smell will dissipate. Launder clothing after this treatment. Baking soda and newspaper can also be used to absorb smells.

If mold or mildew is present and and spot treatments are not enough, you can purchase a commercial mildewcide. These are specially formulated to fight mold and mildew on clothing, and are made with hypoallergenic ingredients. Follow manufacturer’s directions for use.

Sometimes the washing machine is responsible for a musty smell in freshly washed clothes. Front-loading washers are frequently home to mold and mildew because they are always kept closed and rarely dry completely. Clean the machine by running a short, normal cycle with hot water and a cup of bleach. Leave the machine empty of clothes. Drain after the cycle. Air dry completely. This should get rid of bacteria and other odor-causing germs. After that, leave the door open from time to time to air the machine out. Wipe with diluted bleach as needed to remove regrowth of mold and mildew.

Sometimes, preventing a musty smell in clothes is as simple as keeping them dry so mildew doesn’t form in them. Make sure the clothes are dry, even though they are dirty or soiled before tossing them into the hamper. For drying used bath towels and washcloths, use a towel bar instead of a hook so that the towel dries faster. Any time you spot mold or mildew on clothing, deal with it immediately or it will thrive.

If these steps on how to get musty smells out of clothes are not successful with repeated tries, the fabric probably cannot be renewed. Time to toss it!

Resource: NCSU Extension

North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T State University commit themselves to positive action to secure equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, or

disability. In addition, the two Universities welcome all persons without regard to sexual orientation, North Carolina State University, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.