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  • Writer's pictureLaundry Care

Remove Musty Mold And Mildew Odors From Your Clothing

Woman holding her nose with one hand and a smelly shirt with the other hand

Have you been at the office and thought, “Wow, what is that smell?” Only to realize that it is YOU! Yep, the kids did the laundry again and most likely left it in the wash for some brewing up mildew time. Oh, my. And, try as you might to cover it, nope, it’s only going to smell like mildew fragrance. There is just no getting around it you, my friend, are the smelly employee of the day!

As you enter your home, you approach these children, who swear they didn’t leave anything in the laundry. You go to the washroom to find an odor that would make most gag and say “Do you NOT smell that?” They shake their heads in disbelief. But, how you ask? Remember they are used to the smelly locker room and school. That place always has some funky odor that you can’t quite put your finger on. Well, you're in luck mama, because we can smell it too!! (Along with most of your co-workers, maybe not Frank, but he has his own issues.) Get ready to tackle that Horrible, Awful smell at the root, your laundry and your Laundry tub!!

Now go tear up that closet, because you know as well as we, that wasn’t the only shirt in the wash that day. We know it, you are going to be the hound dog on a scent. We have all been there at one time or another. You may want to check everywhere you store your clothing! One bad load can filter into all parts of the home. Bath Towels can be the worse! Getting into their deep fibers, after a nice long hot shower with live you up scents to, gah, what the heck is that? A towel from the depths of the basement?

Machine Washing Instructions:

If the affected clothes are washable, you can go through the following procedure:

1. Choose the a Cleaning Product

The product to use must be able to kill the mold spores since that is the underlying problem. The following cleaning items can be used in completing this task:

White vinegar

White vinegar does a good job in removing the hard water and detergent residues from the cloth. These provide a fertile ground for the trapping of moisture that in turn promotes the growth of mold. The vinegar should be mixed with water in the ratio 1:1 for optimum results.


Borax is composed of boron, sodium, water, and oxygen, and is a mineral that is good at riding off clothes of mildew. It works best when mixed with water.

Baking soda

Baking soda comes in handy in cases whereby even after multiple attempts of using vinegar, the smell does not simply go away.

2. Put Clothing into the Washing Machine

The clothes should be put into the washing machine after which you add your common detergent. The washer should be completely filled with water (preferably hot to kill the spores, unless the clothes can only be cold washed). Run your normal cycle and check if the smell is still present. If using a cold wash, you may have to repeat the cycle more than once to get a satisfactory result.

3. Add Your Preferred Laundry Product

Whether it is borax or white vinegar, add it to the clothes in the washing machine, add some water and then run a wash cycle. These products will kill any remaining mold that was not eliminated in the first wash. If the clothes are too musty, then you can combine two detergents in one wash to guarantee some freshness.

4. Hang Clothes to Dry

After the thorough washing, the clothes should be taken outside and air-dried in the sun. The ultraviolet rays of the sun aid in killing any remaining spores that had escaped washing and the flow of fresh air greatly helps in freshening the clothes further. In case it is winter and there is hardly any sun, you can use the drier, although it is not the ideal. Add some layer of fabric softener to the clothes and then set them in the drier. You can take them out in the sun again if this is possible.

Non-Machine Wash Instructions:

Check cleaning instructions on clothing care tag. Be sure to test any product on a small area of the fabric before continuing to treat the garment.

1. Use a No-Rinse Cleaner

You can find rinse-less fabric cleaners in most retail stores and through online retailers. This type of product rinses the surface of the fabric without saturating it. Mix the no-rinse cleaner with some water and the spray it on the stained area damp, and then let it air dry. The cleaner lifts off the smell as it evaporates. In case this does not work in the first round, make some repeat cycles.

2. Use Baking Soda

Sprinkle baking soda on the effected area and let sit for at least 30 minutes. The powder lifts and absorbs the odor as it sits.

3. Use Vodka

Alcohol is a strong odor remover and mold killer, you can still spray the item with some vodka and let it air dry in the sun. As the vodka evaporates, it carries away the smell.


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