Remove Musty Smell from Clothing

Laundry Odors and How to Remove Them.

Removing Musty Smells from Clothing

When you wash your clothes and they come out of the dryer, they should smell fresh and clean right? Not musty smelling. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and the problem is very real.

There can be quite a few reasons why your clothes smell musty. Maybe it’s the washer, depending on the time of year, it’s possible the clothing item you were wearing did not dry thoroughly before hanging it back up or there is dampness in the closet.

Whatever the case, we can provide you with a few tips that should help remove those musty smells.

The Washing Machine Could Be the Cause of Musty Smelling Clothes

First let me say – don’t leave washed laundry in the washing machine to long. If you do, you run the risk of having smelly clothes. Regardless of fabric softeners being used.

Now, if your laundry is coming right out of the washer smelling musty, it can be the washing machine itself. Many newer model have a “tub clean” feature, read the manual on what to do. But this itself may not clean it well enough to thoroughly remove the musty smell.

Run Empty Wash Cycle

If this is the case or if you have an older washing machine you can easily run an empty cycle. Add four cups of bleach and use a hot water setting. If you’re washing machine is a front load, use two cups of bleach. Run a regular cycle after this to be sure all bleach is gone.

If the washing machine is the culprit and causing smells due to mold or mildew, bleach will liquefy those bad boys and get your machine smelling good again.

Clean the Washing Machine

Another option is to really get in there and clean the washing machine yourself. You’d be amazed at how much residue can really stick to the tub walls. Think about it, a build up of dirty residue left behind from washing dirty laundry, makes sense, yes?

Cleaning the Tubs (or Drum) Catch Basin

What about the little catch basin that runs along the top of the drum, do you ever think to clean that. You’d be amazed at how much gets left behind there

Mix together a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and warm water. Use a rag to clean inside the basin, moving the tub around as you go. If necessary you can also use a little scrub brush and Q-Tips.

Clean Out the Agitator

And then there is the agitator. If your machine has one and you’ve never taken it apart and cleaned out the fabric softener cup or underneath the agitator, get out the manual and clean it. It really isn’t that hard, you won’t believe how much gunk can be left behind under the agitator from dirty laundry, detergent residue, and fabric softeners.

You can use the white vinegar and water mixture and I’m pretty sure you’ll need a little scrub brush for cleaning under the agitator.

Leave the Washing Machine Lid Open

After washing a load of laundry, leave the lid open for a while. This will allow water to dry up in the washer and prevent mold and mildew from growing.

Too Much or Too Little Detergent?

Using a little too much or not enough detergent can leave laundry smelly as well. More is not always better (unless it’s chocolate), more detergent may not get thoroughly rinsed out. Whereas too little detergent won’t get your clothes completely clean. Don’t be too quick to fill and spill. Pour what is recommended. Same goes for liquid fabric softeners.

Wash in Hot Water

Wash your clothing, with correct amount of laundry detergent, in the hottest water it can stand. This may help remove the smell.

Only do this if the tag says the article can handle a hot wash, I usually do this with white bath towels and some other white clothing items I know can take the heat.

Hot water can shrink, fade and damage some fabrics, so be sure to read the label.

Add White Vinegar to the Wash Cycle

White vinegar is my favorite cleaning agents. It’s not harsh, it’s affordable, effective and multi-functional!

To help remove musty smells, simply add one cup white vinegar to your regular laundry detergent and wash as usual.

You can also wipe down the inside of the washer with white vinegar after each load to help remove any buildup on the drum surface.

If you’re clothes are going in the washer and they are already pretty smelly, fill the washing machine with warm water then add in two cups white vinegar. Put the clothes in and let soak for an hour or so. Then wash as usual with and add in the detergent.

Household Clear Non-Sudsing Ammonia

Ammonia is another great cleaning agent to have around the house. Fill the washer tub with warm to hot water then add one cup ammonia. Add the clothes and 1/2 the amount of detergent you would normally use.

Do not add bleach and ammonia together, ever. This creates toxic fumes you do not want to breathe.

Baking Soda, Washing Soda, or Borax

Baking soda, borax and washing soda are detergent boosters and make the Ph of the water more alkaline, so the detergent works better. They are natural deodorizers, so this is a one-two punch to bad odors.

Lysol Laundry Sanitizer or Disinfectant

Again, you may read some people saying you can remove laundry odors using either Lysol Disinfectant or Lysol Laundry Sanitizer. This is not so, it may mask smells but it will not remove odors. On the other hand:

Lysol Disinfectant Concentrate

Fill the washing machine with water then add 8 ounces Lysol Disinfectant Concentrate (full strength) to each load of laundry to remove odors.

Pine Sol Cleaner

There are so many people saying to use Pine Sol in the washer to remove odors. The reality though of that is it may mask the odor but it really won’t remove the odors. As it states on the Pine Sol website, you can use Pine Sol for stain removal and to brighten whites.

Listerine Mouthwash

Again, many people say use Listerine, it can remove odors. I think I’ll stick to using this in my mouth. Not to mention you’d have to use a cup per load, that’s half the bottle, that’s expensive. Plus it contains artificial colors that could possibly stain your clothes.

Dry your Clothes Outside

Many basements or laundry rooms smell musty and can cause your laundry to smell the same. If your clothing often smells musty, dry your clothing outside and see if that fixes the problem.

If you don’t have any space outside or the weather isn’t the best, try hanging the clothes on your shower rod making sure to leave plenty of space in between each article of clothing.

Enjoy Your Fresh Smelling Clothes

Whew! Who knew there were so many “cures” for musty clothing? If this problem is plaguing you, try one of the solutions above to see if you can remove the smell.

Alternatively, try one of the preventative measures such as cleaning your washer regularly and leaving the door to the washer open when not in use.

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