Clothes Develop a Musty Smell if They Get Wet or Damp While Worn

I never had this problem while I lived at my last house which was on city water. My current house is on a well. Anytime my shirts get damp from perspiration - exercise, yard work, etc. they begin to emanate a musty odor. It resembles the smell which occurs if clothes are left in the washer overnight, and not placed immediately in the dryer.


I've tried everything - cold water detergent, bleach, borax, fabric softeners and I place the clothes in the dryer immediately after washing. I'm sure there's something in the well water which is causing this, but I've had the water tested, and no abnormalities were discovered. Any ideas?



Clothes Develop a Musty Smell if They Get Wet or Damp While Worn

I have a couple of suggestions for you! First, I would use white vinegar in the rinse cycle of the washer to help eliminate any smells! 1/2 cup in the water works well or I use the downy ball half full and toss it in at the beginning of the wash. I also do this when I forget to switch the laundry into the dryer and it sits and gets that musty smell. It works every time and I promise you won't smell like a salad.


Secondly, you may want to look at the water inlet hoses connected to your machine. We have well water which is very hard and I couldn't find the source of a musty type smell and it turned out to be the water hoses. For about $15 in new hoses (and I could have cleaned them out but didn't want to deal with the odor anymore!) we got rid of the smell all together!

Hope that helps. Good Luck!
Rebekah (09/15/2005)

By Rebekah

Try a Different Detergent

It might also be due to the scent in your detergent. I was having a similar (but without the well water) problem. The detergent was liquid All. When I switched to another detergent, the smell disappeared. As this was years ago, I don't know what they are currently using for scent. I called All's customer service and was told that a panel of consumers chose this scent and to mind my own business. Guess they don't need my hard earned money! (09/16/2005)


By Holly

Baking Soda and Ammonia

Could it be that ONE TIME the clothes got that musty smell from staying in the washer too long? If that happens and you dry it, it is hard to get that smell out and you will ONLY notice it when it gets wet again, like perspiration.

That is what it sounds like to me. Try washing your clothes in baking soda and AMONNIA. NO BLEACH! Bleach has dangerous chemical reaction to ammonia. It will take any smell out.

MO<You may have to wash it several times.

<p class="art">There is a kid in my class that comes to school with sour clothes on. (I am a teacher). It smells SO STRONG! I don't know how they pull it over their head! It is a major asthma trigger for me! I had to go home last week because of it! (09/17/2005)


By Paula in GA


Have you tried vinegar? Add a 1/2 of vinegar to the wash and it should get that smell out! It works great for us! (09/17/2005)

By Cindy.

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December 26, 20160 found this helpful

The one common denominator seems to be the fabric softener. My sister who lives in another state just told me she is having the problem with her clothes and towels when sweat or water is introduced back to them. She mentioned she uses Downy and so we got to wondering if they've recently changed formulas or something. Guess it's time to use another fabric softener and see if it solves the problem.

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