Effective Ways to Get Rid of Mildew Smell from Clothes

If you’ve ever pulled out a piece of clothing from storage only to be met with the pungent smell of mildew, you know how difficult it can be to get rid of. The musty odor can cling to fabric, making it challenging to wear or use the item without feeling self-conscious. Fortunately, there are some effective ways to remove mildew smell from clothes and other fabrics, whether they are stored or have been affected by water damage.

What causes mildew smell?

Mildew is a type of fungus that thrives in warm, humid environments. Clothes and other fabrics are often susceptible to mildew growth, especially if they are stored in a damp basement or garage or have been exposed to moisture. Mildew growth can also occur on clothes that have been left in the washing machine for too long or that have not dried properly. Regardless of the cause, the result is the same: an unpleasant, musty odor that can linger for weeks or even months.

Tips for removing mildew smell from clothes

If you have clothes that smell like mildew, there are several steps you can take to get rid of the odor and restore the garment to its former freshness. Here are some tips to help you remove mildew smell from clothes:

  • Wash with vinegar: Add one cup of white vinegar to your washing machine along with your regular laundry detergent. Wash the clothes on the hottest temperature setting allowed by the care label. The vinegar helps to kill the mildew spores and neutralize the odor. Repeat this step if necessary.
  • Add baking soda: If the vinegar alone doesn’t do the trick, try adding a half cup of baking soda to your washing machine along with the vinegar and detergent. The baking soda helps to further neutralize the odor.
  • Dry in the sun: After washing, hang the clothes outside in direct sunlight to dry. The sun’s UV rays can help to kill any remaining mildew spores and freshen up the garment.
  • Use an odor-eliminating spray: If the mildew smell is still present after washing and drying, try using an odor-eliminating spray designed specifically for fabrics. Simply spray the affected areas and allow to dry completely.

How to remove mildew smell from stored clothes

If you are dealing with clothes that have been in long-term storage and have developed a mildew smell, there are some additional steps you can take to get rid of the odor:

  • Freeze the clothes: Place the clothes in a plastic bag and put them in the freezer for 24-48 hours. The cold temperatures will help to kill any mildew spores that may be present.
  • Wash with enzyme cleaner: Enzyme cleaners, such as those designed for pet stains, can be effective at removing mildew odor from clothes. Follow the instructions on the cleaner’s label for best results.
  • Use a dehumidifier: If you live in a humid environment, consider using a dehumidifier to reduce moisture levels and prevent mildew growth in the future.

Dealing with mildew smell after water damage

If your clothes have been affected by water damage, such as from a flood or leak, the mildew smell may be more difficult to remove. In this case, you may need to take the following steps:

  • Wash with bleach: Add a half cup of chlorine bleach to your washing machine along with your regular detergent. Wash the clothes on the hottest temperature setting allowed by the care label. Note that this method should only be used on white or colorfast garments, as bleach can damage some fabrics and cause color loss.
  • Dry in the sun: After washing, hang the clothes outside in direct sunlight to dry. The sun’s UV rays can help to kill any remaining mildew spores and freshen up the garment.
  • Consult a professional: If the mildew smell persists after multiple attempts to remove it, it may be time to consult a professional cleaning service. They can use specialized cleaning techniques and equipment to effectively remove the odor.

Preventing mildew growth in the future

The best way to deal with mildew smell is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips to help you prevent mildew growth on your clothes and other fabrics:

  • Avoid storing damp clothes: Make sure clothes are completely dry before storing them in a closet or other storage area.
  • Use airtight containers: If you must store clothes in a damp area, use airtight containers or bags to prevent moisture from getting in.
  • Use a dehumidifier: Keep the humidity levels in your home at or below 50% to prevent mildew growth.
  • Clean your washing machine: Periodically run an empty cycle with hot water and bleach or vinegar to clean your washing machine and prevent mildew growth.

By following these tips, you can effectively remove mildew smell from clothes and other fabrics, as well as prevent it from occurring in the future.

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