Inside: Learn how to get mildew smell out of clothes with simple household products. Five easy tricks to get rid old mold and must odors from laundry that really work! (We tried them!)
How to Remove Mildew Smell from Clothes
Tell me I’m not the only one who forgets that I put a load of laundry in the washing machine!
Usually it’s because I’m over-ambitious with my chores, and I get tired by the end of the day and forget about my laundry.
By the time I discover said laundry, it smells kind of funky. If you’ve done this too, then you likely know that it’s difficult to get that mildew smell out of clothes once it sets in.
And don’t even get me started on the kids’ laundry basket! When laundry day rolls around on the weekend and we dump out all the clothes in the utility room, let’s just say the smell is less than pleasant.
When it comes to those really tough odors, a normal wash doesn’t always do the trick.
What Causes that Mildew Smell in Clothes?
To learn how to get rid of mildew odors, we’ve got to first understand what causes the issue in the first place. Mildew and mold smells are symptoms of fungal growth, so you’ve got to treat the root cause or the odors will linger.
Mildew is a fungus a that grows in areas that are damp of where moisture is trapped.
Organic fibers, like clothing and towels, are a prime place for fungal growth under the right conditions. (source)
Does the Smell of Mildew Go Away?
Mildew, moldy, and musty odors are some of the toughest odors to get rid of once they’ve set. If left alone, the smells might fade over time, but likely won’t completely go away on their own.
To get rid of the smells, you’ve got to also get rid of the fungal growth that’s causing it.
How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Clothes — 5 Simple Tricks that WORK
With a big family, we go through a lot of laundry, and I’ve tried ALL the tricks to get mildew smell out of clothes. Here’s what actually works:
1. Make Sure Your Washing Machine is Clean
You’d think the opposite would be true, but over time your washing machine gets dirty. If you’re not cleaning your machine regularly, built up dirt and odors can transfer to clothes!
Some models have a cleaning cycle — if yours is one of them, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to keep your machine in tip-top shape and odor-free.
You can also clean your washing machine with vinegar and baking soda. The basic principle is the same, though there are slight variations for top loaders and front loaders.
Here’s how to clean a front-loading washing machine:
- Add a cup of vinegar to the detergent dispenser (distilled white vinegar).
- Run a wash cycle on the highest water level and with hot water.
- Add 1/4-1/2 cup baking soda to the drum itself.
- Run another wash cycle on the highest water level and hottest temperature.
- When bother cycles are done, wipe down the inside of the drum with a clean cloth.
Here’s how to clean a top-loading washing machine:
- Add a quart of white vinegar to the drum and set washer to highest water level and hottest cycle.
- Allow machine to fill with hot water and agitate for a few minutes.
- Pause cycle and allow water to sit for an hour.
- Resume cycle.
- Run another cycle with 1/2 – 1 cup baking soda.
- Wipe the inside of the machine with a clean cloth.
It’s recommended to clean your washing machine at least once a month, but ideally every other week.
2. Use the Right Amount of Detergent
Believe it or not, using more detergent than recommended does NOT help get odor out of clothes.
In fact, excess detergent can leave behind dulling residue because it doesn’t all get washed off your clothing.
TIP: A pre-measured laundry product ensures no over-pouring and no waste! I’ve included shop-able ad links to products I use and recommend; disclosure policy here.
That’s why I love new and improved Gain Flings — they take all the guesswork out of laundry, plus they have a 3-in-1 formula with extra stain AND odor-fighting power!
Here’s what’s inside each Gain Flings laundry detergent pack:
- Gain detergent for trusted cleaning
- Oxi boost for stains
- Febreze odor remover
Not only do Gain Flings clean and deodorize clothes, they leave your laundry smelling ahhh-mazing! That’s because each Gain Flings detergent pack has 50% more of that fabulous Gain fragrance you love!* In case you’re wondering, my personal favorite is brand new — Blissful Breeze!
Using the right laundry product AND the right amount ensures the best clean and gets odors out of clothes.
*vs. original Gain liquid detergent
3. Turn Clothes Inside Out Before Washing
Since the inside of your clothes is the part that touches skin, that’s where most of the sweat and odors are concentrated.
If you’ve been wondering how to remove body odors from clothes, this little tip makes a BIG difference!
Turning clothes inside out prior to washing allows Gain Flings to do their job even better because the soapy water comes in direct contact with the most soiled parts of your clothing.
4. Wash in Small Loads
It’s tempting to try to put as much laundry in your washing machine as possible, to get it done faster. However, cramming your washing machine full of clothes means they won’t get as clean.
When clothes in the washing machine are packed together, water and detergent can’t get between everything as well as it should. This means that mold and mildew may hide in the clothes and not get washed away!
Washing in smaller loads allows clothing to agitate freely, so they’re cleaner and odor-free.
5. Thoroughly Dry Your Clothes
When I’m in a hurry, I sometimes stop the dryer while the clothes inside are still slightly damp. I’ve also read that using lower heat settings is recommended to save energy.
However, when your laundry isn’t completely dry, that moisture can become a breeding ground for the fungus that causes mildew smell in clothes.
Be sure to check clothes before folding and putting them away to see if they are completely dry. It helps to let the clothes cool down first, because warm clothes sometimes seem dry when they’re not.
It’s also important to keep your lint trap and dryer vent clean and clear. Click here to see 10 household items you’re likely not cleaning often enough.
Following the above steps should keep your clothes smelling fresh all the time! Do you have any tips for getting odors out of clothes? Share them in the comments below!
This is a post was original part of a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Gain at Walmart. The opinions and text are all mine.
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