Have you stored clothes in the closet for too long? Or have you left them in the washing machine for many hours? There is a chance that these clothes will have a musty smell. The good news is you can learn how to remove musty smell from clothes without washing.
Method #1: Applying essential oils
Essential oils help in removing the musty smell of clothes. Since they are natural oils, they don’t cause harmful effects on the fabric. Each kind of essential oil has different benefits. For clothes, the best essential oil to use is tea tree oil. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal elements. That’s why it can get rid of the smell caused by molds.
Other options are eucalyptus, lavender, lemon, and orange.
Step 1: Put a small amount of tea tree oil in a spray bottle and apply it to the clothes
In a spray bottle, pour 1 cup of water. Once done, add ten drops of tea tree oil. Avoid adding too much essential oil since it could result in a putrid and irritating smell. Since you already have the mixture, start spraying it into your clothes.
Step 2: Leave the clothes for an hour
After spraying the tea tree oil on the clothes, leave the garments for a while. After an hour, check if the musty smell disappeared. If not, let the clothes rest a little longer, then check again.
[How To Make Your Clothes Smell Good]
Method #2: Putting the clothes in the freezer
Surprisingly, freezing the clothes can remove the musty smell. Extreme temperature helps in killing the odor-causing bacteria in your clothes. This method works best for workout clothes. Instead of doing your laundry and having a tiresome day, use your freezer. Follow the steps below to save your time and energy.
Step 1: Secure the clothes in an airtight bag and put them inside the freezer
First, make sure that the clothes are completely dry. Next, roll your training clothes and secure them in a Ziploc bag. After that, put the airtight bag inside the freezer. As much as possible, place it in the drawer where there is no stored food.
Step 2: Leave the clothes for a couple of hours or a week
If you need to wear the clothes immediately, you can leave them in the freezer for only a couple of hours. However, you can leave them there for a week to ensure that all odor-killing bacteria are killed. Once you take them out of the freezer, don’t forget to hang them up first and let them dry.
Method #3: Using coffee grounds
Rich in nitrogen and potassium, coffee grounds remove the musty smell from clothes. They have a strong odor that can bring freshness, not only to your garments but also to the wardrobe. To eliminate the unwanted smell of your clothes, here are the things that you must do.
Step 1: Put freshly ground coffee in a bag.
Put an open bag of freshly ground coffee in a closed garment bag. Make sure that you have placed it properly so that it won’t spill. The next step is to put your clothes beside the freshly ground coffee. Leave your clothes there for a day or a week.
Step 2: Remove your clothes from the bag and hang them.
Check the smell of the clothes. If they still smell like mold, you can add activated charcoal to eliminate the odor. But if they smell like coffee, remove them from the closed garment bag. Hang them where there is fresh air. You can also use this method if your wardrobe has a musty smell. Ensure that you change the coffee grounds regularly.
Method #4: Combining Alcohol and Water
If you have stored an alcoholic drink in your kitchen, you can use it to remove the musty smell in your clothes. You should only choose red wine or vodka. The benefit of using vodka is that it kills bacteria and eliminates the foul odor of the clothes.
Step 1: Pour water and red wine or vodka into a spray bottle
Mix ½ cup of water and ½ cup of vodka or red wine in the spray bottle. After making the mixture, spray it on the clothes with a musty smell. It is more effective if you pour it outside and inside the clothes.
Step 2: Let the clothes dry
After you have sprayed on all areas where there is a musty smell, let the clothes dry. You can hang them outside of your house or on your balcony. As the clothes dry up, the smell of alcohol will disappear together with the musty scent of the clothes.
You can check this video if you want to remove the musty smell on your vintage clothes using alcohol and water
Method #5: Spraying vinegar on clothes
White vinegar is effective in eliminating the musty odor from clothes. It is not only an odor remover but also a stain remover. If you are in a rush, you don’t have to do your laundry and use a laundry detergent. Follow the steps provided.
Step 1: Make a mixture.
You need to make a mixture by combining an equal amount of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. After mixing the water and the vinegar, locate the spot where you can smell the musty odor.
Step 2: Spray the mixture on the smelly area of the clothes
Now, spray the mixture on the smelly area of the clothes. At first, the clothes will smell like vinegar. But as the solution dissipates, the unwanted odor is also eliminated. Make sure to dry the clothes by hanging them.
Method #6: Steaming your clothes
Aside from making your clothes look fresh, steaming your clothes can also result in a fresh odor. When exposed to high heat like steam, the odor-causing bacteria eventually die. This method is also used to unwrinkle clothes.
Step 1: Hang your clothes, then prepare your steamer
Before you steam your clothes, hang them first using plain hard plastic or metal hanger. Once you are done, prepare your steamer by filling its water tank and heating it. Don’t forget to attach the accessories if they are needed.
Step 2: Start steaming the garments
If it is a blouse, tank top, or shirt, pull and hold it straight. After that, run the steamer from the top to the bottom of the garment. For long sleeves, you have to hold the cuffs while steaming them.
For pants, you have to fold them lengthwise and hang them first before steaming them. It would help if you started first at the bottom of the slacks going to the top. Don’t forget to switch sides and steam the other side of your pants.
3 Tips to Prevent Musty Smell on Clothes
Many factors can make your clothes have a musty odor. It may be because of a moldy washing machine or an unclean detergent while doing the laundry. Not enough air circulation when drying your clothes can also be one of the causes. If you want to keep your clothes smelling fresh, try to follow these simple tips.
Tip #1 Clean your washing machine regularly
To avoid your clothes having a foul odor, clean your washing machine at least once a month. There are instances that molds form on the washing machine unnoticeably. These molds cause a musty smell to the clothes. [9 Things You Can Use To Get Mold Out Of Your Clothes]
In cleaning it, pour hot water into the washing, then pour two cups of bleach. Once you are done, start wiping the inside of the washer. Also, make sure that you clean its door, including its rubber seal. If you have a stinky washer, you can check this video to know how to get rid of its smell.
Tip #2: Maintain a clean detergent while doing the laundry
Washing your clothes on an unclean detergent will eventually result in a musty smell. While doing your laundry, check if the water rinsing your clothes is still foaming. If not, it is time to throw your old laundry detergent and put a new one.
Also, don’t soak your clothes in diluted laundry detergent for a long time. After you are done washing them, rinse and dry them immediately. It would be best if you hung them in a place with enough sunlight and a light breeze.
Tip #3: Use cedarwood hangers
Hanging your clothes with cedarwood hangers helps in preventing a musty smell. You must have them inside your closet. These hangers may be expensive. However, they are beneficial because of their fresh odor. Aside from that, they also contain antioxidants. They will also bring a new vibe inside your closet.
Knowing how to remove musty smell from clothes without washing will help you. It will save you from doing your laundry. Instead of washing your clothes, there are easy solutions that you can do right away. Also, follow the tips mentioned to prevent your clothes from having a musty smell.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.