How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Clothes: Easy Ways

Dealing with the unpleasant odor of mildew on your clothes can be a frustrating experience. Whether it’s due to dampness, improper storage, or a forgotten load of laundry, that musty smell can be persistent and difficult to eliminate.

How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Clothes

However, there are effective methods you can employ to get rid of the mildew smell and restore freshness to your garments.

By combining the power of proper washing techniques, natural remedies, and preventative measures, you can banish mildew odors and enjoy clean, pleasant-smelling clothes once again.

In this guide, we will explore several techniques to help you conquer the mildew smell and keep your wardrobe smelling fresh.

What Does Mildew Smell Like?

Mildew typically has a distinct and unpleasant odor that can be described as musty, earthy, or damp. It is often likened to the smell of wet, decaying leaves or a damp basement. The odor can be quite pungent and can easily permeate fabrics, causing them to retain the smell even after washing.

Mildew develops in moist and humid environments and is commonly found on fabrics that have been left damp for extended periods, such as towels, clothing, or curtains.

If you encounter a musty, moldy scent coming from your belongings, it is likely the smell of mildew.

Is It Ok To Wear Clothes That Smell Like Mildew?

It is generally not recommended to wear clothes that smell like mildew. The odor itself can be unpleasant and may cause discomfort to you and those around you. Additionally, the presence of mildew indicates the growth of mold or fungus, which can pose health risks. Mold spores can trigger allergies, respiratory issues, and other adverse reactions in sensitive individuals.

Therefore, it is important to address the mildew smell promptly and eliminate it from your clothes. Follow proper cleaning and deodorizing techniques to ensure your garments are fresh, clean, and free from any mildew-related odors before wearing them.

What Causes Mildew Smell On Clothes?

The mildew smell on clothes is primarily caused by the growth of mold or mildew on the fabric. Several factors can contribute to the development of this odor:

  1. Dampness: Clothes that remain damp for an extended period, either due to improper drying or being stored in a humid environment, provide an ideal breeding ground for mold and mildew.
  2. Poor ventilation: Clothes stored in closed, poorly ventilated spaces, such as closets or storage bins, are more prone to developing mildew smells as air circulation is limited.
  3. Improper washing and drying: Insufficient rinsing or using a washing machine with mold or mildew buildup can transfer the odor to your clothes. Similarly, if clothes are not dried thoroughly, they can retain moisture and develop mildew smells.
  4. Storing wet or damp clothes: Putting wet or damp clothes in a hamper or leaving them crumpled together without allowing them to dry completely can promote mildew growth and the accompanying odor.
  5. Humid climate: Living in a humid environment can increase the likelihood of clothes absorbing moisture from the air, making them more susceptible to mildew growth and smell.

To prevent mildew smell on clothes, it’s important to ensure proper drying, store clothes in well-ventilated areas, and promptly address any dampness or moisture issues.

Can Mildew Smell Be Washed Out Of Clothes?

Yes, the mildew smell can be washed out of clothes. Proper washing techniques can help eliminate the odor and restore freshness to your garments. Start by washing the affected clothes with a strong detergent specifically designed to remove odors.

Use the hottest water setting recommended for the fabric. Adding vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice to the wash can also help neutralize the smell. Ensure a thorough rinse and dry the clothes completely, preferably in sunlight or with proper air circulation.

In some cases, multiple wash cycles may be necessary. By following these steps, you can effectively wash out the mildew smell and enjoy clean, odor-free clothes again.

How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Clothes: Different Ways

Here are five different methods you can use to get rid of the mildew smell from your clothes, along with step-by-step instructions for each method:

1: Vinegar Soak

  • Step 1: Fill a large bucket or sink with equal parts water and white vinegar.
  • Step 2: Submerge the affected clothes in the vinegar solution.
  • Step 3: Allow the clothes to soak for 1-2 hours.
  • Step 4: After soaking, wash the clothes as usual with detergent in the washing machine.
  • Step 5: Dry the clothes thoroughly.

2: Baking Soda Pre-Wash

  • Step 1: Create a paste by mixing baking soda with a small amount of water.
  • Step 2: Apply the paste directly to the areas of the clothes that smell of mildew.
  • Step 3: Let the paste sit on the clothes for 15-30 minutes.
  • Step 4: Wash the clothes in the washing machine with detergent and an additional half cup of baking soda.
  • Step 5: Dry the clothes thoroughly.

3: Lemon Juice and Sunlight

  • Step 1: Squeeze fresh lemon juice onto the mildew-affected areas of the clothes.
  • Step 2: Hang the clothes outside in direct sunlight.
  • Step 3: Leave the clothes to air out and dry in the sun for several hours.
  • Step 4: Wash the clothes in the washing machine as usual.
  • Step 5: Dry the clothes completely.

4: Oxygen Bleach

  • Step 1: Fill a sink or bucket with warm water.
  • Step 2: Add the recommended amount of oxygen bleach to the water according to the product instructions.
  • Step 3: Submerge the clothes in the solution and let them soak for several hours or overnight.
  • Step 4: After soaking, wash the clothes in the washing machine with detergent.
  • Step 5: Dry the clothes thoroughly.

5: Enzyme-based Odor Remover

  • Step 1: Follow the instructions provided on the enzyme-based odor remover product.
  • Step 2: Apply the odor remover directly to the mildew-affected areas of the clothes.
  • Step 3: Allow the odor remover to penetrate the fabric for the recommended amount of time.
  • Step 4: Wash the clothes in the washing machine with detergent.
  • Step 5: Dry the clothes completely.

Note: Always check the care labels on your clothes for specific washing instructions and any limitations

How To Take Smell Out Of Clothes Without Wash?

Taking the smell out of clothes without washing them can be a bit challenging, as washing is usually the most effective method. However, if you’re unable to wash the clothes immediately or looking for a temporary solution, you can try the following methods:

  1. Hang the clothes outside: Hanging the clothes outside in fresh air and sunlight can help remove some odors. Choose a well-ventilated area and leave the clothes to air out for a few hours.
  2. Use fabric fresheners: Spray fabric fresheners or odor-neutralizing sprays onto the clothes. Be sure to follow the instructions on the product and allow the clothes to dry completely before wearing them.
  3. Use odor-absorbing materials: Place odor-absorbing materials like baking soda, activated charcoal, or dryer sheets in a sealed bag with the clothes. Let them sit for a few hours or overnight to help absorb the odor.
  4. Freeze the clothes: If the odor is due to bacteria or mildew, you can try freezing the clothes. Please place them in a plastic bag and freeze them for several hours. Freezing can kill bacteria and reduce odors. Allow the clothes to thaw before wearing them.
  5. Steam the clothes: Hang the clothes in the bathroom while taking a hot shower. The steam can help freshen the fabric and minimize odors. Be careful not to let the clothes get wet.

Remember, these methods provide temporary solutions and are not as effective as washing. It’s best to wash the clothes as soon as possible to altogether remove the odor.

How To Prevent Mildew Smell On Clothes?

Preventing the mildew smell on clothes involves taking proactive measures to avoid conditions that promote mildew growth. Here are some tips to help prevent mildew smell on clothes:

  1. Ensure clothes are completely dry: Make sure your clothes are thoroughly dried before storing them. This includes air-drying them outside or using a dryer until they are fully dry. Avoid folding or storing damp clothes, as this creates a breeding ground for mildew.
  2. Proper ventilation: Allow proper air circulation in your closet or storage area. Use closet organizers or hangers that allow air to flow between clothes, preventing moisture buildup.
  3. Store in a dry environment: Choose a clean, dry storage area for your clothes. Avoid storing them in humid areas like basements or poorly ventilated spaces. If possible, use dehumidifiers to reduce excess moisture.
  4. Clean your washing machine: Regularly clean and maintain your washing machine to prevent mold and mildew buildup. Run empty machine cycles with hot water and a cleaning agent specifically designed for removing mold and mildew.
  5. Use moisture-absorbing products: Place moisture-absorbing products like silica gel packets or moisture absorbers in your storage areas to reduce humidity.
  6. Avoid prolonged storage: If you’re storing clothes for an extended period, ensure they are clean, completely dry, and stored in breathable garment bags or containers.
  7. Wash with vinegar or baking soda: Occasionally add white vinegar or baking soda to your wash cycle. These natural remedies can help eliminate any mildew-causing bacteria and odors.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can reduce the chances of mildew growth and keep your clothes fresh and odor-free.

Final Words

Eliminating the mildew smell from your clothes is entirely possible with the right approach. Remember to start by thoroughly washing your garments with a strong detergent and hot water.

Additionally, incorporating natural remedies like vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice into your laundry routine can be highly effective.

Don’t forget to dry your clothes thoroughly and store them in a clean, dry place to prevent future mildew growth.

Finally, practicing proper laundry habits such as not leaving wet clothes sitting for too long and ensuring your washing machine is clean can help maintain fresh-smelling clothes.

With these strategies, you can bid farewell to the unpleasant mildew odor and enjoy clean, revitalized garments.

Hi, I'm Robert Jameson. I'm a textile engineer. As a textile engineer, I design & create fabric. When I'm not busy with my family members, I research, write, and edit content for Fabric Fits.

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