Bring Back Freshness & Ditch Those Musty Smells

Are things smelling musty or “off” after being freshly laundered? It could be happening for a few reasons:

Just A Few Simple Supplies Are Needed

Just A Few Simple Supplies Are All You Need To Help Remove Odors

  • You left wet garments in the washing machine for too long (overnight) before moving the load to the dryer.
  • You packed items away before they were fully dry. If you do laundry at a laundromat, that’s likely the reason. The items feel hot and dry when fresh from the dryer yet there still is some moisture in them. When you pack them in baskets or bags to take home and then don’t unpack right away (leaving them in the bags), the moisture is trapped and mildew and musty odors are the result. Hang garments overnight (with room for airflow between garments) if possible before folding and storing away.
  • There’s a problem with the machine, especially front end loaders. How to clean it up: Run an empty cycle with hot water and 2 cups of bleach. Look up (inside the tub) and see if there is any crud buildup, wipe clean with bleach and water if there is. For front end loaders, check the rubber door seal and if it’s nasty, scrub clean with bleach water (use rubber gloves). Leave the door open after doing a load so the surface has a chance to air dry.
  • Wet items (especially towels & dishcloths) are being tossed in the hamper and left too long before laundering. Hang items to dry before storing in the hamper.

Towels are more susceptible to this since they are thicker and hold more moisture than other items do. The key to preventing smelly laundry is ensuring items are fully dry before folding and storing away.

How To Get Rid Of The Smell: If caught right away, washing items again is usually all that’s needed to clear the odors. If that doesn’t work and you still have problems, try one of these methods:

  • In the next load add 1 cup of vinegar (along with the detergent). Use bleach instead of vinegar if doing a load of whites.
  • Presoak: Fill sink or large tub with the smelly towels/garments, cover with water and add about 1 cup of vinegar per gallon of water used. Soak for a few hours before washing as usual. Bleach can be used instead of vinegar if working with whites (use 1/2 cup per gallon water).
  • Wash the load again and let hang outdoors on the line, the sun will take care of the mold spores (works only on hot sunny days).

Did mildew spots & stains develop? Here are a few ways that I’ve collected (some are vintage tips) to remove them:

  • Squeeze fresh lemon juice on the spots then sprinkle with salt. Let dry in the sun. Launder as usual.
  • Dampen the marks, rubbing soap on them, and covering them with chalk scraped into a powder. Work this well in and then wash the linen in the ordinary way.
  • Rub with a paste made by mixing two teaspoonfuls of water, one of powdered chalk, and two of soap powder. The spots should afterwards be well rinsed and dried out of doors in the sunlight. This has a bleaching effect on them.
  • Use a mixture of soft soap, powdered starch, half as much salt and the juice of a lemon. Apply to both sides of the fabric and expose to the sun.
  • To remove mildew from clothing, soak in buttermilk over night and wash as usual.

Print Print    Email Email

What Readers Are Saying: 6 Comments
  1. Darlene in North GA says:

    Make paste of baking soda and peroxide. Rub into stains and let sit for an hour to overnight (depending on how badly stained the article is). Launder as usual.
    This works on a myriad of stains.

  2. D Smith says:

    Peroxide is like a bleach and is used for whitening things such as hair and teeth. Wouldn’t this discolor colored fabrics?

  3. Andrea says:

    No, I’ve used peroxide on many different colored clothes and it didn’t bleach the dye out. It removes protein stains… Think blood. Works great! I don’t know about soaking it overnight though, I’d keep an eye on it.

  4. Lisa says:

    is the Mixture safe for front loaders, HE, machines?

  5. Bibi says:

    Hi!! All my work outfits – all in black – Were accidently left in a bucket for 2days.. Its now 3weeks and the smell is….just awfull!! Will the method with vinegar also help my “smelly”-problem? eg. soak with vinegar over night and then give a (viinegar added) macjien-wash the next day?
    I sooooo hope so… caus im also scared that the black will end up fading?

    Thankyou, Bibi

*Comments Are Moderated