House Cleaning Tips > Clothing > Remove Musty Smell from Clothing



Removing Musty Smells from Clothing

Removing Musty Smells from Clothing

Let’s face it, musty smelling clothing is not attractive. It’s never attractive.

It smells dirty and – horrors! – it always reminds me of how little old ladies in books are described.

If any Little Old Ladies are reading this, you undoubtedly smell lovely. But a musty smell is not good. So what to do?

An ounce of prevention…

Check the Washer And Dryer

Keep the top of your washer open when not in use. This will allow water to dry up in the washer and prevent mold and mildew from growing.

If your laundry starts to smell musty right out of the washer (and I don’t mean after you’ve left it in the washer for a week in the summer), clean the machine by running it through a cycle empty. Put a cup of bleach or dishwasher detergent in the empty machine, fill and run through a cycle on hot water.

As a last resort, pull the washer apart and see if there’s any mold inside the machine that is not visible. Clean well before putting it back together. If your laundry doesn’t smell bad going into the washer, and you don’t leave it in more than a short while after washing, it shouldn’t come out of the washer smelling musty.

Dry your Clothes Outside

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

Wash your Clothing in Hot Water

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

White Vinegar

Along with your regular laundry detergent, add 1 cup of vinegar in the wash water and then hang the clean clothing outside, if possible.

Fabric Softener

Add a cup or so of fabric softener to warm water and the usual amount of detergent. Let the laundry agitate for a while and then let it sit, in the wash water, overnight. Finish the laundry in the morning.

Fabric Deodorizer

Pour a whole bottle of fabric deodorizer (like Febreze) into the washer, fill with cold water, and add the musty clothing. When done washing, dry it out on the clothes line if possible.


A cup of ammonia in the rinse cycle will do the trick. Do not add bleach to ammonia, ever. It creates a toxic gas and you'll seriously damage your lungs if you breath it.

Pine Cleaner

Add a half cup of pine scented cleaner in the washer. This will kill the musty smell and the clothing won’t smell like pine after it’s been through the dryer.


Put some Lysol in the washer with the detergent.

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 work better. They are natural deodorizers, so this is a one-two punch to bad odors.

Listerine or Alcohol

Spray original Listerine – the tan stuff – onto the dry, musty clothing. Rubbing alcohol works the same, but with out the smell of Listerine.


Put the dry, musty clothing in the freezer for a couple of hours.

Whew! There are a lot of cures for musty clothing! So if this problem is plaguing you, try one of the cures above.

Or even better, try one of the preventative measures and you may never have to try the cures.

Connect with Mrs Clean!

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Mrs Clean (Corina Wilson) is not only the owner of the company, but a very busy mother of 3 children.

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Mrs Clean realized long ago, that a clean home is a necessity, not a luxury when we are struggling to find the time in our day to cover the very basic levels of work and/or family obligations. The battle seems to never end... (but that's why we're here to help!)

When Mrs Clean is not busy managing her house cleaning company or running her kids back and forth to their events, she enjoys experimenting with natural and non-toxic cleaners and learning new techniques to remove stains.

She thoroughly enjoys sharing her valuable information with the readers of her blogs and various social media sites.

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