How To Get Rid Of Musty Smell On Clothing

Different people have differing levels of success when discovering how to get rid of musty smell on clothing. It may take experimenting with several types of cleaning agents to fully remove any mold or mildew present that creates that musty smell. Because of the varying types of fabrics and the differing degrees of mustiness, it is unlikely to find one solution for all. However, there are some techniques that are certainly worth the time and effort to try to get the musty smell out.

Items you'll need:

  • Washing machine
  • White distilled vinegar
  • Laundry detergent


  1. Air dry the clothing item in the sun.  Frequently, musty smells occur when a garment has been left wet in a confined area. Air drying the musty clothing allows the sun to naturally bleach any stain, mold or mildew on the fabric.
  2. Add 3/4 cup white vinegar to washing machine.  White vinegar is an inexpensive household product that does double duty as an effective cleaning agent. 3/4 of a cup added to a hot water wash (no detergent) may be all that is required to reduce or eliminate the musty smell on clothing.
  3. Allow item to dry.  After air or machine drying the item, smell it to see if the musty odor is still present. If the smell is gone, move on to step 4. If it's still there, run the clothing through another vinegar wash cycle.
  4. Machine wash with detergent.  Add the manufacturer recommended amount of laundry detergent to the load and wash in hot water if that is appropriate for the type of clothing being cleaned.
  5. Dry as usual.  Air or machine dry articles of clothing.

For extreme cases of musty odor, mold and mildew, there are effective mildewcides that may be required. Always consult the clothing and mildewcides manufacturers' instructions to find out if the use of mildewcides are appropriate for fabrics. To help prevent musty odor from developing, always dry clothing immediately after washing (especially in humid climates), and run a de-humidifying unit in any areas where moisture tends to accumulate.

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