When damp clothes are left alone for too long and they don't dry, they usually start to smell like mildew.
This can be incredibly stressful because this isn’t a pleasant smell and if it happens to your favorite clothes, it can be really upsetting.
However, if you find that some of your clothes are starting to smell like mildew, this doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it.
In this article, we’ll be going over some methods that can help you get rid of that mildew smell from your clothes, so you can carry on wearing them without being paranoid of the smell.
So let’s get started!
How To Get The Mildew Smell Out Of Clothes
These methods all require you to wash your clothes in the washing machine, so all you have to do is use the right ingredients beforehand.
If these washing machine methods don’t work for whatever reason, there are more methods we can look at.
1. Replace Your Laundry Detergent With Vinegar
For this method, you are going to want to replace your laundry detergent with 1 cup of vinegar.
The safest vinegar you can use is white vinegar and it is a well-known way of getting rid of odors in clothes.
If you do want to use some laundry detergent, you can use half the normal amount you would in combination with the vinegar, you just need to make sure the detergent isn’t made of natural soap.
2. Wash Your Clothes With Baking Soda If The Smell Lingers
If you have tried to wash your clothes with vinegar to get rid of the smell but it hasn’t completely worked, the next thing you can do is wash your clothes with 1⁄2 cup (120 mL) of baking soda.
Baking soda targets a completely different part of the mildew bacteria than vinegar, so the vinegar probably did work, but the baking soda will get rid of what’s left.
If you do the baking soda method, make sure you wash the clothes on the hottest water setting that your washing machine will allow.
3. Use Oxygen Bleach Or Borax As An Alternative
Some regular detergent cant actually kill mildew off, so if you’re concerned about that, you can use a stronger detergent that is store-bought.
If you do choose to use this method, make sure the detergent contains oxygen bleach or dissolve borax in hot water and then add it to the wash.
Oxygen bleach can be used instead of detergent, but borax is used with detergent, so keep that in mind when you are using this method.
4. Use Enzyme Odor Remover
This method is especially targeted for clothes that are damp due to sweat.
It’s quite normal to take off sweaty clothes after a workout and forget about them, but unfortunately, sweat can also cause mildew.
For this method, you will need to use a product that has the right enzymes for destroying this mildew odor that is caused by sweat.
There are quite a few commercial and store-bought detergents that contain odor-fighting enzymes, so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one.
Laundry booster also works, but if you use this, you need to add it in combination with your regular laundry detergent.
Once you have added the enzyme odor remover to your clothes, you simply have to place it in your washing machine, and you are done.
Other Methods For Removing The Mildew Smell From Clothes
If the washing machine methods don't work for you then don’t worry, you aren’t out of options just yet.
We have put together some other things you can try that can get rid of the mildew smell, so give these methods a try for yourself and see what works for you.
1. Dry Your Clothes Outside
The first alternative method you can try is drying your clothes outside.
After you have machine-washed your clothes, remove them immediately and put them on your clothesline outside.
Sunlight actually helps to kill some of the bacteria that are in the mildew, and the fresh air will help dim the smell a bit too.
Clothes that are dried outside always smell fresher than clothes that are dried inside, so this method does work more often than not.
2. Try Putting Your Clothes In The Freezer
This might seem like a strange idea, but it does surprisingly work quite well. This method works better if you don’t wash the clothes first.
All you need to do is put your clothes in a resealable bag and place them in the freezer.
Make sure you leave the clothes in the freezer overnight to give the bacteria a chance to freeze and die off.
3. Use White Vinegar & Vodka
This method will require you to mix white vinegar and vodka together, so if you don’t have these ingredients, you will need to get hold of them first.
Simply pour this mixture into a spray bottle and completely spritz your clothes with it. Once you have sprayed this solution onto your garments, leave them out to dry.
Air-drying will have the best results, so if you can put the clothes outside, make sure to take advantage of that.
4. Use Activated Charcoal
Finally, have a go at using activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has a very clever and powerful filtration ability that can help get rid of the smell of mildew.
All you need to do for this method is put the item of clothing into a sealed bag and also make sure that you put plenty of activated charcoal tablets in with it.
Make sure you set it aside and leave it overnight for the best results.
When clothes smell like mildew, it can be incredibly stressful to deal with, especially when it seems like no methods are actually working.
Luckily, there are quite a few methods you can try before you give up.
Try these methods out for yourself and see which ones work for you.
If the mildew smell is still there, have a look at consulting a professional.