7 Reasons Why Clothes Smell in Drawers

Have you asked yourself, “why do the clothes in my drawers smell?” Luckily, we have the right answers to your question. One way to solve your problem is to know why your clothes smell even if they are freshly washed. Keep on reading to find out some of the causes!

Reason #1: Poor air circulation

dresser making clothes smell

The unwanted odor of your clothes may be caused by the poor air circulation in your drawer. Molds grow in places that have excessive humidity.

The wet area serves as their breeding grounds. The poor ventilation may be one of the reasons why the clothes inside your drawers have a moldy smell.

Best Solution:

The best way to prevent the smell in your drawers is to place them in a well-ventilated room. Large windows ensure air exchange. Once you have opened the windows, don’t forget to open your drawers.

If the room has no windows, you can install a separate ventilation duct in the room. It will force air exchange to keep the place well-ventilated.


Reason #2: Spills on Your Drawer

dresser makes clothes smell

Another reason is spillage on your drawers. You may have spilled some sauces accidentally on your drawer. These spills can cause your clothes to have a pungent smell.

It is essential to check your drawers for any spills immediately. They can also attract rodents and insects that can damage your garments.

Best Solution:

Prepare the drawers for disinfecting and deodorizing. Remove every garment in the drawer.

If you notice any food crumbs, remove them using a vacuum. Get a damp cloth and wipe it on your empty drawers. Some of the disinfectants that you can use are borax and vinegar.

As for deodorizing, these are some home products that you can use. These products are borax, baking soda, charcoal, and kitty litter. You can also create your drawer deodorizer if you want to experiment a little.


Reason #3: Dirty Clothes Inside the Drawers

If you have placed dirty garments in the drawers, you have provided a home for molds and mildews. The smell could also come from the sweat or body odors on the used clothes.

This undesirable smell can transfer to your freshly-washed garments. It is because the air on your drawers cannot circulate freely.

Best Solution:

Remove your used and smelly clothes from your drawers. After that, get rid of the smell by placing a container of baking soda, cat litter, or fresh coffee grounds.

Leave them inside for a couple of days. Ensure that the drawers are closed for the best result. These home products effectively neutralize the smell and eliminate the foul odor.


Reason #4: Moldy Washing Machine

clothes in drawer smell musty

The smell of a moldy washing machine can transfer into your clothes after you have washed them.

Drying the clothes does not guarantee that the stale smell could be eliminated. If you have failed to clean your washing machine after using it, molds will appear. The bacteria from the clothes combined with warm temperature and residues grow molds.

Best Solution:

The solution that you can employ is to clean the moldy washing machine. If there are any clothes in the washer, remove them first. After that, set the washer settings to a normal wash cycle with a warm temperature.

Add chlorine bleach, then start running the washer. Don’t forget to clean the following: washer drum and door, dispenser system, and lint filter.


Reason #5: Mildew

Mildew is a kind of fungi that can grow in dark and moist places, like your drawers. It can also stay in your clothes if you have left them in the washer for too long.

Although mildew looks like a mold, they differ in color. Mildew is white, while molds have different colors like black and blue.

These fungi usually grow in window sills, shower walls, and other damp places. They cause a strong, musty smell, especially on fabrics. They have harmful effects like throat irritation and nasal issues.

Best Solution:

If the mildew is in your clothes, you can get rid of it by soaking the garments in vinegar. After you have soaked your clothes for a few hours, wash them as you usually would.

To remove mildews in your drawers, combine distilled white vinegar and baking soda. Place them in a spray bottle. Spray the solution to the mildews and rub them off with a sponge. Don’t forget to wear a pair of gloves.


Reason #6: Insects

clothes in drawers smell musty

If left unchecked for a long time, insects can infest your clothes-leaving a smell on your clothes. Dead cockroaches or even alive ones can leave their feces on the drawers.

They can cause stains on your clothes or bring diseases. Aside from cockroaches, you must also beware of insects like silverfish and moths. They feed on fabrics, especially the expensive ones.

Best Solution:

Before putting clothes in your drawers, make sure that all of them have been washed. Insects like silverfish are attracted to fabrics that smell like sweat and body oils.

It is also advisable that you keep the drawers all the time. Check and fix if there are any holes where the insects can enter. Also, clean your drawers regularly to get rid of the dirt that insects can feed.


Reason #7: Rodents

Rodents make Clothes Smell in Drawers

Another pesky animal that you must watch for are rodents like rats. These rodents love to feed on clothes. Also, they leave a pungent smell on drawers because of their urine and feces.

There are also instances when rats hide their food in drawers or give birth inside. Damaged and smelly clothes will surely frustrate you.

Best Solution:

To prevent rodents from damaging your clothes, check if your drawers have any holes. Also, vacuum all the debris and crumbs inside. As much as possible, never hide any food inside your drawers.

The smell of food will surely attract the rats. Clean the drawers regularly and always keep them closed after use.


Tips to keep your clothes smell fresh in the drawers

why does my dresser make my clothes smell

Here are some ways to keep your clothes smelling fresh while you keep them inside your drawers. Following these reminders will also prevent musty and moldy smells on your garments.

  • Place fragrance beads on your folded clothes to help prevent a stale and moldy smell.
  • Put unused bar soap in your drawers.
  • In washing your clothes, use a fragrant fabric conditioner.
  • As much as possible, dry your clothes under the sun so they will smell fresh.
  • Spray your favorite cologne on a piece of tissue paper and put it between your folded clothes.
  • If there are foul odors in your drawers, put a bag of fresh coffee grounds. It will absorb the bad smell.
  • Keep your drawers well-ventilated.
  • Clean the drawers regularly.
  • Place essential oils inside the drawers.
  • Throw your used clothes straight into your laundry basket. Never combine your used clothes with clean ones.

Frequently Asked Questions

why do the clothes in my drawers smell musty

What odor-eliminating products can I use for my smelly drawers?

One of the products you can use to eliminate the foul odor in your drawers is baking soda. Make sure, though, that the baking soda is secured in an open container.

It could get messy if you have spilled it accidentally. Another effective product that you can try is charcoal. Put one piece of charcoal in every drawer.

How long does the scent of essential oils last inside the drawers?

The fragrance of essential oils does not last long compared to perfumes and colognes. It can only last for about one month. Once you have noticed that the scent is not there anymore, put new essential oils in your drawers.

How long can I store my clothes in the drawers?

As long as you clean your drawers regularly, you can store your clothes indefinitely. If you plan to keep clothes for a very long time, don’t put them inside the plastic bags.

Also, see to it that you are still washing them from time to time. You should get rid of old clothes to prevent overstacking on your drawers.

How will I remove the smell on my clothes during the rainy season?

You can use white vinegar or baking soda together with your favorite detergent. These home products will help neutralize the odors. Also, they can eliminate the musty smell from your clothes.

How will I know if molds are forming on my clothes?

One of the signs you must watch for is the musty odor coming from your clothes. Also, check if your clothes have any visible pigmentations or mold growth. Eliminate the mold immediately by soaking the affected clothes in distilled white vinegar.


Have you answered your question, “why do the clothes in my drawers smell?” There are many factors why clothes could have a pungent and musty smell.

You have to determine what are the reasons why your clothes smell. After finding the answer, solve it with the best solutions provided above.

why do the clothes in my drawers smell

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