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, try to 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.
Vinegar and Baking Soda
Wash your clothing with 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar in the wash water and then hang the clean clothing outside, if possible. Or try adding a cup of vinegar and a cup of baking soda to the wash.
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.
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.
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.