How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Clothes

January 25, 2024 • Jamie Dorman

Does your laundry have a nose-pinching odor that just won't go away? If your clothes and towels smell musty even after a wash and dry, the guilty suspect is probably mildew. But when there is a will, there is a fresher way.

Before you give up and live with the odors or throw them away, listen up. Take a look at some tried and true effective and eco-friendly tips on how to get rid of mildew smell. You’ll be surprised at what everyday pantry essentials can double as miracle mildew magnets are return your clothes to as fresh as new.

Getting To Know Where Mildew Smell Lingers and Winning The Battle

Mildew is an invisible type of mold that thrives in warm, moist areas. Yuck! Basements are commonly affected by this problem thanks to their dark, damp environment. It is very common to grow on fabrics like clothing, bedding, towels, and others that are left damp for a long time.

Clothes, curtains, furniture, and almost everything in your home can be affected by musty, miserable mildew. We’ve all been there. Either leaving the load in the washer for days or taking a load of laundry out of the washer and leaving it piled up before putting it in the dryer. Or leaving damp towels in the hamper for days before washing them.

Now is the time to stop this mildew-loving behavior and win the battle. The key is to treat the mildew, address the moisture issues, and then provide a clean, dry space for them. Let's take a look at how to get the musty smell out of clothes.

Clean your Washer If It Smells Like Mildew

What! My washer is the problem? Yes, it might be! Before doing one more load of laundry, make sure your washing machine is sparkling clean. Take a look and smell to evaluate if the odor lingers in there. This could be the source of your mildew smell problem.

Using too much laundry detergent and fabric softeners can leave a residue inside your machine. Most washers have a cleaning cycle where bleach or branded cleaning products are added to kill any bacteria-causing mildew. If your washing machine has this feature, use it regularly. If your washing machine doesn't, add one-half cup of bleach or white vinegar into an empty washing machine and run through a regular cycle.

You might consider leaving the door of your washer open after each cycle to allow fresh air to dry things out. This is particularly ideal for front-load models that are known to retain moisture. Always refer to your owner's manual for specific details because every manufacturer is different.

Common Pantry Items You Already Have In Your Kitchen are Super Mildew Removers

White Vinegar Vanishes Odors

White vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer and one of the top ways to remove mildew and odors from your laundry. Simply mix a cup of white vinegar to your wash cycle. No detergent is needed. You can also soak the smelly item in a mixture of white vinegar and water before washing it for a double dose of power.

Sprinkle On Baking Soda To Take Down Mildew

Baking soda is an effective natural odor absorber. Sprinkle directly onto the mildew-smelling areas and leave them alone for a few hours. Then, pop them into the laundry with your laundry detergent. They will come out smelling and looking brand new. Adding a half cup of baking soda to your laundry will add a pleasant layer of freshness.

Lemon Juice Removes Mildew And Adds A Fresh, Citrus Scent

Lemon juice is much more than making lemonade and giving recipes a tasty touch. Freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with equal parts water will take out the mildew odor and replace it with a fresh, clean citrus aroma. Soak mildew-smelling clothing in this lively solution for an hour and then throw it into your next load of laundry. Always completely dry to prevent mildew from returning.

Let The Sun Shine Down To Air Dry Your Clothing

Sunlight is Mother Nature's original mold killer and deodorizer. After washing your mildew-affected clothing, hang them on a line outside on a bright sunny day. The ultraviolet rays will kill any mildew spores and remove the musty smell with a clean, fresh scent. A breezy bonus is the fresh air, which will also provide a natural scent.

Essential Oils Double as Mildew Removers

If you use natural essential oils to add fragrance to your home, you know how wonderful they are. They also have a secret weapon for how to et rid of mildew smell. Add a few drops of your favorites like lavender, tea tree, or spearmint oils to your laundry and thanks to the antibacterial properties, these mighty oils will not only kill the mildew but leave a pleasant, light fragrance to your clothing.

Enzyme Odor Remover Scores Big For Workout Wear

If you are an athlete or do laundry for one, a gym bag is a common mildew-growing haven. The combination of body sweat and mildew creates a stink like no other. Simply use a special detergent that includes enzymes, or add an enzyme odor remover and your regular detergent for cleaner, healthier workout wear.

Switch To Eco-friendly, Easier Laundry Detergent Sheets

Discover a simple solution on how to get mildew smell out of clothes: switch your detergent. Here at Sheets Laundry Club, we offer a modern approach to laundry that's both user and eco-friendly. Our laundry sheets and dryer sheets are revolutionizing the way you do laundry. No more hassle with messy liquids or oversized plastic bottles. Just toss in one of our laundry sheets and watch your clothes come out fresh and clean. For an extra burst of reassurance, explore our In-Wash Scent Boosters, ensuring your clothes look clean and smell wonderfully fresh. Subscribe and save today and enjoy the convenience of eco-conscious cleaning products delivered right to your doorstep.