Removing Musty Smell from Clothing

Basket of musty smelling clothing.

Allowing clothes to be damp for too long can result in a funky smell. This guide is about removing musty smell from clothing.



Here are questions related to Removing Musty Smell from Clothing.

Question: Removing Dusty Smell from a Crocheted Robe

There is a dusty smell in a recycled sweater-like robe I bought at the thrift store. I have washed it, but let it air dry. It is like a crocheted sweater type material that probably would not do well in the dryer.

It is white so it could be bleached. It just smells so dusty you cannot wear it. I do have allergies. Thank you so much.

By Dianne D.

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Best Answer

By jean leiner [15] 02/06/2014

Try soaking the robe in enough warm water to cover it with 2 cups of white vinegar mixed into it. Soak at least overnight, 2 days is even better. Then wash and air dry. I have had this work on smelly thrift store items. Hope it helps with yours.

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Question: Musty Smell on Clothing

I've been hanging my clothes inside to dry. Lately they've been having a musky smell. How can I get rid of the odor?

By Kathy

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Most Recent Answer

By beatlebabe 08/04/2011

Well, the results are in! It worked! I think I might have to do it again with the worst of the lot, but the stale, musty odor is gone. Thank you all for your advice!

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Question: Musty Smell on Clothing

I have some cotton shirts that were stored in the basement for 18 years. How do I get that smell out of them? I did soak them in borax and then in a lemon/water mix, but they still smell.


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Most Recent Answer

By Louise B. [6] 09/09/2011

Do a wash load with a cup or even two of baking soda. If that doesn't work, try vinegar, a cup or two, in the rinse. If that isn't working, mix up a more concentrated solution of one or the other (don't mix them - if you do, you have salt water!) and try soaking them. Neither of these will affect the color.

If these items are white you can try bleach or ammonia. Again, not together. Both bleach and ammonia can fade out the color, so you want to use this as a last resort.

I also agree that hanging them out in the sun is a very good idea. Doesn't hurt them to get rained on either - sometimes freshens them up.

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Question: Musty Smell on Stored Clothing

All of our clothes have been stored for a year. Last night I washed them in All detergent and baking soda. The musty, oily odor is still there. What else can I use?

By Diane from Iowa Park, TX

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Most Recent Answer

By Cajun [59] 06/03/2011

Just put them in the Washer; No soap and add 2-3 cups of the clear vinegar in the rinse cycle. Don't worry, the clothes will have a 5 minute scent of vinegar, but they will be void of any odors and feel better than new within the half-hour. Vinegar will retard the action of any soaps, excellent to add to your rinse every time.

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Question: Leather Jacket Has a Musty Smell

I have an expensive leather motorcycle jacket that has been stored for years and it smells very musty. Is there something I can do to get the smell out?

By MaryJane

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Most Recent Answer

By englishcamille2 03/14/2015

I have two methods
If the jacket is clean (except for the smell) put the jacket in a good box and unwrap a load if Irish Spring soap bars (dozen). Lay the soap around the jacket. Box size needs some air space. Use a box the size you would use to give the jacket away as a gift). Place unwrapped bars around jacket. Add some inside the lining. Replace lid.
Put the jacket away for a month and when you remove it from the box the smell will be gone. If not completely, replace lid and wait a little longer.
You can still use the Irish Spring in the shower.

I had a vintage car that had been leaking water into the trunk. Strong smell. My brother claimed (the sports car restorer) my method would never work in the trunk of this car.. Needless to say I had to get the car into a dry garage, out of the rain (Seattle). Boy was he surprised when the Irish Spring worked beautifully.
If your jacket is soiled as well as musty I'd suggest you might try washing a dirty leather jacket from the thrift store first, using this method.
Measure the length of sleeves and perhaps length of back.

Use cold water, soap and wash jacket in washing machine. If jacket is soiled on cuffs, neck, etc, I always use Zout(laundry spot remover on soiled areas first). (I have washed dirty leathers by the dozen). I have not had to deal with mildew but by adding vinear at the end of the wash, and letting it soak over night, it will be the secret to killing the musty smell. Add vinegar if you can still smell the jacket when jacket is washed and you are ready to add the softener to the rinse..
Hold off on the softener and add vinegar first.

Have water in washing machine (pour a couple of gallons into wash with 2 cups of vinegar) if water is gone.. Swish jacket around by hand if necessary and let the jacket soak all night.
Let the vinegar water drain for the rinse cycle.
Add one to two cups of softener to rinse cycle.

I always add a load of fabric softener to the rinse. At least 1 cup, maybe two. Once the spin cycle is over following the rinse, have a strong hanger waiting. You may need a place for the jacket to drip dry. (Tub or concrete floor) Put jacket on hanger and let drip (some garments will almost run water and others not so much).

Once the jacket is finished dripping I make sure it it hanging well on the hanger. Check out the length of arms and legs with tape measure.
Drying time will take about three days. If your jacket dries stiff, do not panic.

When is it completely dry, crumple it in your hands and roll it around in towel. Wear it around the house and you will be amazed how it will restore itself.

If you do the trial run thrift garment first, select a dirty item from the thrift store and pre spot it with Zout or other pre spot removers.
I also pour on the liquid detergent onto the worst areas of garment.. You do risk a chance the item will shrink a bit. That is why you want to stretch it slightly before it dries.

Try taking measurements of the thrift store item before you place in wash. Measure length of sleeves or the leg of pants. That will giive you an ideas of how long the sleeves or legs should be before you leave it alone on the hanger to dry. Stretch it a little everywhere like you were shaping a sweater before letting it dry.

I decided to give this method a try when they came out with washable leathers. I thought, did they reinvent the cow? Not likely.

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Question: Removing Musty Smell in Clothes

After spraying a musty smelling jacket with vinegar can put it in a closed bag?

    By James S. [1]

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    Question: Removing Odor from a Sports Bag

    I recently bought an Under Armour sports bag from a used item store and it's very smelly. I washed it 2 times, but the smell remains. What can I do now?

    By Muhammad

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    Question: Removing Musty Smell from Stored Baby Clothes

    I just opened a trunk of old baby clothes and I wanted to give some to my daughter for her baby shower, but even after washing they still smell funky. What do I try next?

    By Marsha B

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    Question: Removing Mold Odor from Stored Clothes

    I recently came back from overseas to open stored away clothes in plastic boxes with soaps in b/w them. Some boxes were fine a wash was enough to get rid off any smells, but about half have a horrible deadly mold smell, but in perfect looking condition and are dear to me. So right now I'm on the quest to find the best solution to save them or else :( The load is mixed dark colors. Anyway, after washing twice I realized this wasn't the solution. I'm on to trying vinegar and I don't know, but I've tried carpet cleaner on few items and it seems to work well at reducing the smell considerably. Is it safe? I will later, as well, put all garments in a big hot tub with a large quantity of vinegar and lemon pieces and then next day put them all through wash. What do you think about this? Any other suggestions? I'll be open to any ideas. Thanks.

    By Ash

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    Question: Musty Smell on Clothing

    I can't seem to get a musty/mould/dust smell out of my clothes, it's horrid. It was affected my job and my confidence around my friends and it's making me feel like I've got a cold all the time. I've binned all my clothes, but tried to save a few favorites. However where I've washed them with my new clothes, they are affected. I've tried vinegar and bleach (not very good), but I'm scared to wear my newish clothes I've wash because the smell returned after wearing them a few hours (body heat must be causing it (bacteria).

    I need some advice how to dry them. I normally dry them on the washing line in my house, but I read to put them outside in the sunlight. Well this is England and there's no sun and it's constantly raining. I will try freezing some of them, but do I wash them straight after?

    Please help this is driving me mad and effecting everything - to the point where I smell everything because I'm so paranoid all the time. I've had to move out my place due to the smokers I lived with in a dusty flat which I think caused it.


    By Gemz391

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    Question: Removing Musty Odor from an Oilskin Duster

    I have a "duster" coat with oil in it and it cannot be dry cleaned or put in dryer. It has a musty smell to it after I washed in cold water and line dried. How can I get rid of this smell?

    By Judy from Brookville, IN

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    Solutions: Removing Musty Smell from Clothing

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