How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Clothes: Tips and Tricks

AGOTEE understand the frustration and disappointment that comes with discovering a mildew smell in your clothes. Whether it’s due to improper storage, damp conditions, or prolonged exposure to moisture, that unpleasant odor can be stubborn and difficult to eliminate. But fear not! We are here to provide you with effective how to get mildew smell out of clothes and restore freshness to your garments.

1. Why does mildew smell out of clothes?

The mildew smell in clothes is typically caused by the growth of mold or mildew on the fabric. Mold and mildew thrive in damp, dark, and poorly ventilated environments, which can include closets, basements, or areas where clothes are stored without proper airflow. When clothes are left damp or wet for an extended period, such as after washing and not drying them thoroughly, it creates a favorable environment for mold and mildew to grow.

Mold and mildew release musty-smelling compounds called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which give off the characteristic mildew odor. These compounds can easily penetrate and become trapped in fabrics, resulting in the persistent smell even after the clothes have been dried.

Why does mildew smell out of clothes?

2. Preventing Mildew Growth in Clothes

Prevention is always better than cure, and taking proactive measures to avoid mildew growth in your clothes is essential. Here are some preventive steps you can follow:

Proper Storage: Ensure that your clothes are completely dry before storing them. Damp or wet garments should never be packed away, as this creates an ideal environment for mildew to thrive.

Good Ventilation: Provide adequate airflow in your closets and storage areas. Using dehumidifiers or fans can help reduce moisture levels and discourage mildew growth.

Avoiding Overpacking: Overstuffing your closets or drawers restricts air circulation, promoting moisture retention. Allow enough space for your clothes to breathe and minimize the chances of mildew formation.

Regular Cleaning: Wash your clothes regularly to prevent any lingering moisture or dirt from becoming a breeding ground for mildew. Make sure your laundry area is clean and dry as well.

Preventing Mildew Growth in Clothes

3. How to get mildew smell out of clothes?

Now that we’ve covered preventive measures, let’s focus on eliminating that stubborn mildew smell from your clothes. Here are some tried-and-tested methods that can work wonders:

3.1. Vinegar Soak

Here’s how you can use a vinegar soak to remove mildew smell from clothes:

Fill a basin, sink, or a large container with a mixture of one part white vinegar and four parts water. Make sure there’s enough solution to fully submerge the affected clothes.

Place the clothes into the vinegar solution, ensuring that they are completely submerged. If needed, you can weigh them down with a clean object to keep them underwater.

Allow the clothes to soak in the vinegar solution for 1-2 hours. This will give the vinegar enough time to break down the mildew and eliminate the odor.

After the soaking time, remove the clothes from the vinegar solution and wring out any excess liquid.

Proceed to wash the clothes as you normally would using laundry detergent. Use the appropriate water temperature and cycle recommended for the fabric.

Once the washing cycle is complete, check if the mildew smell has been completely eliminated. If the smell persists, you may need to repeat the vinegar soak and wash the clothes again.

Finally, dry the clothes thoroughly. You can either use a dryer or hang them outside in direct sunlight to benefit from the natural disinfecting properties of the sun.

How to get mildew smell out of clothes?

3.2. Baking Soda Power

Baking soda is another effective option for removing mildew smell from clothes. Here’s how you can use baking soda:

Create a paste: In a small bowl, mix baking soda with a small amount of water to form a paste. The consistency should be thick enough to spread easily but not too runny.

Apply the paste: Apply the baking soda paste directly onto the areas of the clothes that have the mildew smell. Focus on the affected spots, such as collars, cuffs, or any visible stains.

Let it sit: Allow the baking soda paste to sit on the clothes for about 30 minutes. This will give it time to absorb and neutralize the odors.

Wash the clothes: After the 30 minutes have passed, proceed to wash the clothes as usual in the washing machine. Add the appropriate amount of laundry detergent according to the garment care instructions.

Dry the clothes: Once the washing cycle is complete, make sure to dry the clothes thoroughly. You can use a dryer on the appropriate heat setting or hang them outside in direct sunlight.

Baking soda is known for its odor-absorbing properties and can help eliminate the mildew smell from clothes. It’s a natural and non-toxic option that is safe to use on various fabrics.

How to get mildew smell out of clothes?

3.3. Lemon Juice Magic

Lemon juice can work wonders in removing mildew smell from clothes. Here’s how you can use lemon juice:

Squeeze fresh lemon juice: Start by squeezing fresh lemon juice from a lemon or using pre-packaged lemon juice. You will need enough juice to cover the affected areas of the clothes.

Apply lemon juice to the clothes: Pour the lemon juice directly onto the areas of the clothes that have the mildew smell. Use a sponge or a clean cloth to gently rub the lemon juice into the fabric.

Let it sit: Allow the lemon juice to sit on the clothes for about 30 minutes. The natural acidity of the lemon helps to break down and eliminate the mildew odor.

Wash the clothes: After the 30-minute period, proceed to wash the clothes in the washing machine using regular laundry detergent. Follow the instructions on the care label of the garment.

Dry the clothes: Once the washing cycle is complete, make sure to dry the clothes thoroughly. You can use a dryer on the appropriate heat setting or hang them outside in direct sunlight.

Lemon juice not only has a pleasant citrus scent but also possesses natural antibacterial properties. These properties can help neutralize odors and kill bacteria, effectively removing the mildew smell from clothes.

How to get mildew smell out of clothes?

3.4. Sunlight Therapy

Sunlight therapy, also known as sun drying or sunning, can be a helpful method for removing mildew smell from clothes. Here’s how you can use sunlight therapy:

Check the weather: Choose a sunny day with low humidity for this method. It’s important to ensure that the weather conditions are suitable for drying clothes outside.

Hang the clothes: Take the mildew-smelling clothes and hang them outside on a clothesline or a drying rack. Make sure the clothes are spread out and not tightly packed to allow maximum exposure to sunlight and airflow.

Position in direct sunlight: Place the clothes in a location where they will receive direct sunlight. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays have natural disinfecting properties that can help kill bacteria and eliminate odors.

Leave the clothes to sun dry: Allow the clothes to hang outside for several hours, ideally until they are completely dry. The duration may vary depending on the weather conditions and the thickness of the fabric.

Inspect and check for odors: After the clothes have dried, check for any remaining mildew smell. If the odor persists, you may need to repeat the sunlight therapy or combine it with other odor-removing methods.

It’s important to note that while sunlight therapy can be effective in removing mildew smell, it may not be suitable for all fabrics or delicate items. Certain fabrics, dyes, or prints may be sensitive to prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, which can lead to fading or discoloration. Always check the care instructions of your clothes before sun drying them.

How to get mildew smell out of clothes?

3.5. Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

Hydrogen peroxide can be another effective solution for removing mildew smell from clothes. Here’s how you can use it:

Dilute the hydrogen peroxide: Start by diluting the hydrogen peroxide with water. Create a solution by mixing equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and water in a basin or sink. For example, you can use one cup of hydrogen peroxide and one cup of water.

Submerge the clothes: Place the mildew-smelling clothes into the hydrogen peroxide solution, ensuring that they are fully submerged. Allow the clothes to soak in the solution for about 30 minutes to an hour. This allows the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate the fabric and break down the mildew odor.

Rinse the clothes: After the soaking period, remove the clothes from the solution and rinse them thoroughly with clean water. This step is important to remove any residual hydrogen peroxide from the fabric.

Wash the clothes: Proceed to wash the clothes as usual using laundry detergent in the washing machine. Follow the care instructions provided on the garment label.

Dry the clothes: Once the washing cycle is complete, make sure to dry the clothes thoroughly. You can use a dryer or hang them outside in direct sunlight.

Hydrogen peroxide is a mild bleach and disinfectant that can help kill bacteria and remove odors, including mildew smells. However, it’s important to note that hydrogen peroxide can have a bleaching effect on some fabrics, especially colored or delicate materials. Perform a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment before using hydrogen peroxide on the entire item.

How to get mildew smell out of clothes?

3.6. Enzyme-based Laundry Additives

Enzyme-based laundry additives can be highly effective in removing mildew smell from clothes. Enzymes are naturally occurring proteins that can break down and eliminate organic substances, including the odor-causing bacteria and fungi responsible for the mildew smell. Here’s how you can use enzyme-based laundry additives:

Select an enzyme-based laundry additive: Look for laundry additives specifically designed to target odor removal and contain enzymes. These products can typically be found in the laundry aisle of most stores or online.

Pre-treat the clothes: Before washing, apply the enzyme-based laundry additive directly to the areas of the clothes that have the mildew smell. Make sure to follow the instructions provided on the product packaging regarding the amount to use and application method.

Let it soak: Allow the enzyme-based laundry additive to soak into the fabric for the recommended amount of time. This usually ranges from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the specific product.

Wash the clothes: After the pre-treatment period, proceed to wash the clothes in the washing machine using your regular laundry detergent. Add the recommended amount of detergent and follow the care instructions provided on the garment label.

Dry the clothes: Once the washing cycle is complete, ensure that the clothes are thoroughly dried. You can use a dryer or hang them outside in direct sunlight.

Enzyme-based laundry additives can be a valuable tool in eliminating mildew smells, as the enzymes help break down the organic compounds that cause the odor. However, it’s important to note that some enzyme-based products may not be suitable for all fabric types, so always check the instructions and compatibility with your specific garments.

How to get mildew smell out of clothes?

4. Additional Tips and Precautions

It’s essential to follow the care instructions on your garments when using any of the methods mentioned above. Some fabrics may require special attention or gentle handling.

Properly dry clothes before storage: Ensure that clothes are completely dry before storing them. Dampness can promote the growth of mold and mildew, leading to persistent odors. If necessary, use a dryer or allow clothes to air dry thoroughly.

Avoid overcrowding: When washing clothes, avoid overcrowding the washing machine. Overcrowding can prevent proper cleaning and drying, allowing odors to linger.

Follow garment care instructions: Always check the care label on your clothes for specific washing instructions. Some fabrics may require special care or have restrictions on certain cleaning methods.

Test on a small area: Before using any cleaning method or product, perform a patch test on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it does not cause damage or discoloration.

Ventilate storage areas: Ensure that storage areas, such as closets or wardrobes, have adequate ventilation to prevent a buildup of moisture. Use fans or dehumidifiers if necessary.

Use proper storage containers: Opt for breathable storage containers or garment bags that allow air circulation. Avoid using plastic bags or airtight containers that can trap moisture and promote mildew growth.

Regularly clean washing machine: Periodically clean your washing machine to prevent mold and mildew buildup. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or use specialized washing machine cleaners.

Hang clothes in the sun: Sunlight not only helps in drying clothes but also has natural disinfecting properties. Hanging clothes outside in direct sunlight can aid in eliminating odors.

Store with odor absorbers: Consider using natural odor absorbers like activated charcoal, baking soda, or silica gel packets in your storage areas to help absorb moisture and prevent odors.

Address underlying causes: If you frequently encounter mildew smells in your clothes, it may be necessary to address underlying issues such as excessive moisture or poor ventilation in your home.

Additional Tips and Precautions

By following these additional tips and precautions, you can effectively eliminate mildew smell from your clothes and prevent its recurrence.

5. Conclusion

Don’t let the lingering mildew smell ruin your favorite clothes. By understanding the source of the problem and taking preventive measures, you can keep mildew at bay. If you do encounter the unpleasant odor and want to know how to get mildew smell out of clothes, our tips and tricks, such as vinegar soaks, baking soda power, lemon juice magic, sunlight therapy, hydrogen peroxide solutions, and enzyme-based laundry additives, can help you eliminate the mildew smell effectively.

Remember, each fabric is unique, and it’s crucial to exercise caution when applying these methods. If you’re unsure or dealing with valuable or delicate garments, consult a professional to ensure the best possible outcome. With these techniques in your arsenal, you can confidently tackle the mildew smell and restore freshness to your clothes.

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