How to Get Musty Mildew Smell Out of Clothes – (Guide)

Last Updated on September 19, 2023

Get musty mildew smell out of clothes and say goodbye to stubborn musty odors on your clothes with our effective step-by-step guide. Discover expert tips for removing mildew smells today!

Musty odors on laundry can be a seriously stinky problem, especially when those strong musty mildew odors latch on to your clothes and towels. Well, that musty smell is usually caused by mildew, a fungus, and mold.

How to Get Musty Mildew Smell Out of Clothes


  • Musty odors on clothes are caused by mildew, a type of fungus that releases stinky by-products into the air.
  • Avoid leaving damp laundry in unventilated areas, manage dirty hampers, and maintain your washing machine to prevent musty odors.
  • Vinegar is not recommended for removing mildew smells as its acetic acid is similar to the compounds produced by mildew.
  • Wash clothes with warm water and OdoBan, then dry them thoroughly to eliminate musty odors for good.

And this fungus isn’t just smelly—it can be hazardous to your health. Here, we’ll cover why musty smells happen and how to get mildew smell out of clothes once and for all.

What can cause a musty smell?

So, why does your laundry sometimes smell musty? Musty smells on fabrics are typically the result of stinky mildew byproducts.

These byproducts include spores and other microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs). While the exact health effects of exposure to MVOCs are still largely unknown, they have been linked to serious symptoms like headaches and nausea.

Why does mildew smell?

As mildew grows on fabric, these stinky organic compounds are released into the air, resulting in the tangy, earthy aroma we know as a musty smell.

You’ve probably encountered that musty mildew smell on a damp swimsuit or towel left out after a day at the pool or on a laundry load that sat for too long in the washer.

Preventing Musty Odors

Before diving into how to remove musty odors, it’s essential to know how to prevent them in the first place.

Here are some tips to prevent mildew smell out of clothes:

  • Properly Dry Clothes: Never leave damp clothes or towels out in warm, unventilated areas. Heated spaces with little airflow are ideal places for mold and mildew growth. That’s why laundry left in the washer can turn stinky. Always dry clothes as soon as you’re done washing them.
  • Manage Dirty Clothes Hampers: Dirty clothes hampers are another place where mildew loves to grow. If it will be a few days before you get to the laundry, spray your clothes or towels with a product like OdoBan before you toss them in the hamper.
  • Maintain Your Washing Machine: A stinky washing machine can contribute to stinky laundry. Regularly clean the exterior rubber gaskets on your washing machine, especially on a front-loading machine, as they can be breeding grounds for mold and mildew.
OdoBan Ready-to-Use Disinfectant and Odor Eliminator
OdoBan Disinfectant and Odor Eliminator

Should You Use Vinegar?

Before we delve into how to remove mildew odors, let’s address a common misconception. Vinegar is often suggested as a solution for getting rid of the mildew smell, but there are better choices.

Why? Because the acetic acid in vinegar is very similar to the smelly MVOCs that mildew produces in the first place.

How to Get musty mildew smell out of clothes

How to Get musty mildew smell out of clothes

To get rid of stubborn, musty odors on clothes, you must remove the mildew on your fabric’s surface. Washing clothes and towels can typically remove those lingering mold particles.

To remove the musty mildew smell from clothes, follow these steps: Wash with warm water and detergent, avoid fabric softener, add OdoBan to the final rinse, and thoroughly dry immediately.

Here’s what you should do in step by step to get the musty mildew smell out of clothes:

Step 1

Wash those musty clothes in your washing machine on an extended cycle using warm or hot water, depending on the color and type of fabric. Use your regular laundry detergent, but don’t use too much to avoid leaving residue that can trap in musty odors. Avoid using fabric softener for the same reason. Also, fabric softeners can trap bad odors in your washing machine.

Step 2

cup of OdoBan

Let the load run normally, but add one cup of OdoBan concentrate to the final rinse. If your washing machine has a fabric softener dispenser, simply fill it with OdoBan, and the machine will handle it for you.

OdoBan Disinfectant Concentrate and Odor Eliminator
OdoBan Concentrate

Step 3

dry them thoroughly

Transfer the washed clothes to the dryer immediately and dry them thoroughly. Alternatively, you can hang them outside on a line on sunny, dry days. Either way, don’t let damp clothes sit. When they’re completely dry, the smell should be gone for good!


So, Hoppe by following these preventive measures and the steps to remove musty odors, you can enjoy fresh-smelling clothes and towels every time. Say goodbye to the musty mildew smell and hello to clean, odor-free laundry!

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