Shopping at a thrift store, digging through old, seasonal clothes, or unwittingly exposing clothes to wet weather can lead to a musty smell in clothes. The smell can range from the stale odor of being stored for long to the moldy scent of damp-associated 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 yourself of musty smell from your clothes:
Remove the smell from the clothes themselves
There are times when the smell is due to too much detergent on clothes that haven’t been rinsed 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 under the sun so that the ultraviolet rays can kill any mildew or mold. Another natural solution is to add a cup of baking soda to the water with the clothes then run a normal cycle. Bleach can also be used, provided that the clothes being washed are white. A half-cup of borax has been helpful to some. Borax is commonly available in the cleaning aisle of the supermarket, next to the laundry soap. Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves when using bleach or borax.
Unscented and unused cat litter is wonderful 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 unsavoury smell will be gone. Baking soda, fresh coffee grounds, and even newspaper can help remove smells too.
If the mold or mildew has spread and spot treatments are not enough, you can try mildicides, which are sold in stores. These are specially formulated to fight mold and mildew. Fog the room, box, or wardrobe with mildicide, and close for ten minutes or more to allow the chemical to work. Subsequently, dry the area, and wash the clothes.
Clean the washer if it is the root cause
Sometimes the machine is responsible for a musty smell in newly-washed clothes. Front-loading washers are easy living spaces for mildew because they are always kept closed and rarely dried out. 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. This should get rid of bacteria and other bad-odor-causing germs. After that, leave the door open from time to time to air the machine out. Wipe with bleach if needed.
Change odor-causing habits
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 before tossing them into the hamper. Use a towel bar instead of a hook so that the towel dries faster. When storing, add a moisture-absorbent, scented liner or potpourri to keep the clothes smelling fresh. Any time you spot mold or mildew on things, deal with it immediately or it will thrive.
If these steps on how to get musty smell out of clothes are not successful with repeated tries, or if the fabric is weak, the mold has probably caused it to rot. It is time to throw it away.