Mildew Smell from Clothing : How to Remove it Completely

Mildew smell from clothing starts coming when damp clothes sit for too long. The clothes can develop an unpleasant, musty smell due to the presence of mildew. The similar effect can be seen in washing machines also. Mildew in washing machine can leave the same smell in the clothes. you dry them immediately after you wash them.

Luckily, there are some simple tricks you can try that should leave the clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Method 1 : Getting Rid of Mildew Smell in the Wash

Replace laundry detergent with 1 cup or 240 mL of vinegar. Plain white vinegar is a safe and natural way for removing bad odors from the laundry, including the smell of mildew. It kills bacteria that cause odor, vinegar strips away product buildup that traps odor in the clothes. You can also use half the detergent, generally used by you in combination with the vinegar, until and unless detergent is not made from a natural soap. Vinegar breaks down the fats in natural soaps, like castile soap, rendering it ineffective.

Wash the clothes with 1⁄2 cup or 120 mLof baking soda. Vinegar and baking soda both act on mold and mildew, but they attack various strains of odor-causing bacteria. In case you have already tried vinegar and clothes are still smelling moldy, it is advisable to add 1⁄2 cup or 120 mL of baking soda into the wash, and run the wash cycle with the hottest water possible. It can too help add a little vinegar into the rinse cycle after washing with baking soda.

Use oxygen bleach or borax in case you prefer a commercial detergent. Regular detergent may not be effective on mildew. Prefer to use a stronger, store-bought detergent. Try to opt for one having oxygen bleach, or dissolve borax in hot water and add it to the wash cycle. You can use oxygen bleach instead of regular detergent, but borax is generally used in addition to detergent.

You can use oxygen bleach like pre-treatment for better cleaning. Put a little amount of bleach directly onto the clothes. Give it a a few minutes to sit. Scrub it with a brush or sponge before washing it with the help of a washing machine.

Use an enzyme odor remover for any sort of mildew caused by sweat. In case of accidentally leaving a damp gym or workout clothes in the laundry or gym bag, there is going to be a smelly cocktail. The combination of mildew and body odor makes it difficult to get the smell out of the fabrics. Choose a product that has enzymes for destroying odor, then add it to the wash. Some commercial laundry detergents consist of de-odoring enzymes. You can even buy a bottle of laundry booster that you may use in addition to the regular detergent.

Method 2 : Trying Other Methods

Dry the clothes outside in case you have the option. After machine washing the clothes, use clothespins to clip them to a line outside. The fresh air and sunlight must be utilized to dry the clothes naturally. Sunlight can kill bacteria that make unpleasant odors on your clothes, that is why line-drying leaves clothes smelling so fresh. This method works better on natural fibers such as cotton and wool than it does for synthetic fabrics like spandex or nylon. Exposing the fabrics to sunlight will bleach their color over time.

Put the clothes in the freezer if you don’t wish to wash. Exposing odor-causing bacteria to extremely cold temperatures may kill them, helping to reduce the smell of mildew in your clothes. It is as simple as putting the garment in a resealable plastic bag and placing the bag in the freezer overnight. It might seem unusual to some, but freezing clothes is a long-time secret weapon for denim lovers who wish to extend the life of their favourite jeans.

Spritz item with white vinegar or vodka and let it dry. Both white vinegar and vodka can be used to kill the bacteria that causes mildew odors, and since they are odorless after they evaporate, you can spray them directly onto your garment. Just pour the liquid into a spray bottle, saturate the item, and let it air-dry for the freshest result. If you’re in a hurry, place the item in the dryer instead of air drying.

Seal the item in a bag with activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has a powerful filtration effect, that is why it is used in water and air filters, treatments for poisoning, beauty products, and more. Place the item into a sealable plastic bag containing several tablets of activated charcoal, and leave it in there at least overnight. For really tough odors, you may need to leave the item in the bag for up to a week. You can buy activated charcoal at pet supply stores, vitamin and nutrition shops, and some big-box retail centers.

Method 3 : Preventing Mildew from Returning

Hang damp clothes up to dry right away. Whether it’s the towel you used after your shower or your workout gear after an hour at the gym, don’t just throw your damp clothes on the floor or into the laundry basket. Instead, drape your wet clothes on the side of the laundry basket or hang them over the shower rod to dry out before they go into the laundry. Don’t ball up wet clothes as it will cause them to stay wet longer which in turn will give them mildew a better chance to grow.

Use the recommended amount of detergent. Overusing laundry detergent can lead to a buildup of soap suds that never get completely rinsed out in the wash. This residue feeds the odor-causing bacteria, leaving even the cleanest clothes with a funky smell. Each time you wash the clothes, measure the detergent carefully to ensure you do not add too much. Follow the guidelines on the detergent packaging to know how much to add. Add a little less detergent than you think you require, when in doubt.

Don’t use fabric softener on the workout clothes. Fabric softener leaves the clothes feeling soft and smelling good. But when it is used for stretchy, synthetic workout clothes, it generally leaves a slick residue which is mostly impossible to remove. This residue keeps water from penetrating the fabric, meaning your clothes will smell bad even when they are thoroughly clean. Fabric softener residue will also promote the growth of bacteria in the similar way as using too much detergent.

Dry the clothes immediately after you wash them. Leaving the clean clothes in the washing machine will leave them with a mildew development after just a few hours. It may happen even sooner when the weather is really hot and humid. Try to move them over to the dryer or line-dry them as soon as possible after you wash them. If you do accidentally leave the laundry in the washing machine for too long, you must run them through another cycle with some vinegar to get rid of the smell before you take and dry them.

Don’t store clothes in damp rooms like bathroom or basement. Whether you keep the clothing in a damp basement or in a humid environment such as bathroom, the moisture from the environment will be absorbed by the fabric which leads to the growth of mildew. Keep the clothes in a well-ventilated closet or a dresser. Plastic dry-cleaner bags can trap moisture and can also lead to mildew on the clothing. Place a desiccant like silica gel packets into your dresser drawers or the bottom of the closet if the air in the room is extremely humid. You can buy these gel packets from craft or home improvement stores.

Clean the washing machine if the clothes smell worse after washing. At times washing machines can develop mildew, which can then be transferred to the clothes. It is especially found in case of front-loading models. If you encounter this kind of situation where washing machine is a problem, dip a rag in hot, soapy water and clean the gasket around the door and detergent dispensers, then pour in 1 cup or 240 mL of bleach and 1 cup or 240 mL of baking soda and then run a regular cleaning cycle. You can add 1⁄2 cup or 120 mL of an enzymatic detergent for any extra odor-killing power. Leave the door cracked after each cycle so the machine will dry out to prevent mildew from forming in the washing machine. Make it a practice to always remove wet clothes right away after washing.

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