Q: How to Get the Smell of Mildew Out of Clothes

Do often find yourself taking a deep breath before putting on your favorite shirt, only to be greeted by the musty smell of mildew? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Mildew smells can be stubborn and difficult to remove from clothes, leaving you feeling frustrated and unsure of what to do. But fear not, because we’ve got the solution for you!

We’ll share some effective tips on how to banish the unpleasant odor of mildew from your clothes and get them smelling fresh and clean once again.

Step 1

One of the quickest and most effective ways to get rid of mildew smells from clothes is by soaking them in vinegar. White vinegar is a household staple that acts as a natural disinfectant and deodorizer. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by filling your washing machine with hot water.
  2. Add 2 cups of white vinegar to the water and let it mix evenly.
  3. Turn off the washing machine and pause it for an hour to allow the solution to soak into the clothes.
  4. After an hour, resume the cycle and let it complete its wash cycle.

Vinegar has a strong odor of its own, but it quickly goes away when the clothes are dried. The acetic acid in vinegar helps to break down and eliminate the mildew odors, while also removing any lingering stains or build-up on the clothes. The acidity of the vinegar helps release the odor-causing bacteria and mildew and freshen your clothing.

Don’t worry, the vinegar won’t damage your clothes or washing machine. In fact, it can help prevent the growth of mildew in the future by balancing the pH level in the machine. 

Step 2

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for years as a laundry booster. It is a great option to get rid of the musty smell in clothes and towels. When added to a washing machine, borax can help eliminate the odor while also improving the cleanliness of the garments. Here are some tips on how to use borax to treat musty clothing:

Information provided by blackmoldoff.com.
  1. Soak the clothes in water and borax: Soak the musty clothes in water and a solution of one cup of borax per gallon of water for an hour to tackle tough odors.
  2. Add borax to the washing machine: Add ½ cup of borax to your regular laundry detergent and wash it in hot water.
  3. Pre-treat heavily soiled garments: If your clothes are heavily soiled, you can pre-treat them with borax before washing them as normal. Simply dissolve the borax in hot water and soak the clothes for an hour before washing.

It is important to note that borax is not suitable for certain fabrics such as silk, leather, and some types of wool. Always remember to read the care instructions on your garments. 

Step 3

If vinegar and baking soda did not do the trick, there is still hope. Borax or washing soda can be used to eliminate mildew odors from your clothes. Borax is a naturally occurring mineral, and washing soda is a chemical compound that is similar to baking soda. They work by neutralizing the odor and breaking down the alkaline nature of the mildew.

To use borax or washing soda, add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of either product along with your regular detergent to the washing machine. If you can’t find them in your local store, they can easily be ordered online. Soaking the clothes for a few hours before washing will give even better results.

Make a borax/water solution and soak the clothes prior to washing. Use the hottest water possible when washing and drying to further sanitize the clothing.

Using these products are a great option if you want an alternative to vinegar and baking soda. They are also significantly less expensive than commercial mildew-removing products. However, as with all cleaning products, it is important to handle them with care and follow the instructions on the label. 

Conclusion: How to avoid the smell of mildew on clothes

Mildew smells in clothes are not only unpleasant but also harmful to our health. Here are some tips to avoid the smell of mildew on clothes:

  1. Proper Storage: Store clothes in a well-ventilated area with sufficient air circulation. Use breathable garment bags or containers to protect clothes from dust and insects while allowing air circulation.
  2. Clean Clothes Before Storing: Ensure clothes are washed and completely dried before storing them. Wet or damp clothes provide a conducive environment for mildew growth.
  3. Avoid Overcrowding the Closet: Overcrowding the closet reduces air circulation, leading to a damp environment. Closet organizers help maximize space and reduce overcrowding.
  4. Clean the Washing Machine Regularly: Clean the washing machine to prevent mildew buildup. Run a cycle with vinegar or bleach to kill any mildew or bacteria.
  5. Use Proper Detergent: Use laundry detergents designed to remove mildew smells from clothes. Such detergents contain ingredients to trap dirt and oil.

Incorporating these tips into your laundry routine can help prevent the smell of mildew on clothes and promote healthy living. Remember to always ensure clothes are clean and thoroughly dried before storing them, and use proper storage techniques to promote air circulation and prevent mildew growth.


I enjoy acquiring knowledge and sharing it. I am a long-time health advisor and blogger for over 12 years. Understanding the dangers of black mold to people, I felt it necessary to share with readers the basics of fighting and preventing black mold in homes and other living spaces.

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