If you are looking for How To Freshen Clothes That Have Been In Storage, then you are on the right page. It contains how to get smoke out of clothes without washing and how to get musty smell out of clothes. Suppose you want to learn how to get mildew smell out of clothes quickly instead. Then this article is what you need.
Love shopping thrift stores and Goodwill for second hand clothes? Me, too. What I DON’T like, though, is that the clothes from thrift stores and consignment stores often have a smell. So I was determined to find out how to get the smell out of thrift store and consignment clothes (and also hand-me down clothing).
Shopping second hand is a great way to find clothing and fabrics that can be used in your sewing room or to grow your own wardrobe without adding to waste stream. In addition to discovering unique items you are also helping to keep money in our local economy & support the green living movement. But what options do you have when you realize your latest treasure comes with an added surprise? It has a weird smell.
Over the years I’ve found a few trusty ways to remove any vintage musk or unwanted smell from thrift store items- and I can’t wait to share how easy it really is to deodorize any wet basement, old lady like, moth ball, dust encrusted smelling fabrics without harsh chemicals or scented sprays.
how to get mildew smell out of clothes quickly
How To Freshen Clothes That Have Been In Storage
Always prewash your fabrics and clothing before using them.
1. Vinegar & Water mixture there’s a good chance you already knew this- but this is without a doubt the most suggested option for removing pesky smells from fabrics. This is best for items you know you can hand wash like a cotton dress or bedsheet. Use 5 parts water to 1 part white vinegar in a spray bottle. If you’re washing fabrics in a sink, add a few tablespoons into the water and let the fabric sit for 15 minutes. Rinse in cool water and hang outside to dry letting the sunshine and fresh air do their magic. Don’t worry about walking around smelling like kimchi, the vinegar scent will quickly dissipate. As vinegar is acidic, there are some fabrics that cannot handle the intensity due to age or delicacy and will dissolve in a vinegar wash, so be sure to use with caution.
2. Oxiclean Odor Blasters just like in the infomercials- OxiClean does the job. This specialty formulated mix was designed with odors in mind and works as both a deodorizer and stain remover in one. You can add it to the laundry or handwash in a bucket. Soak for up to 8 hours depending on the severity of stain or smell. Follow directions provided on product site/packaging.
3. Vodka, and you don’t even need to use the good stuff. The cheapest hair curling rot you’ve got on the bottom shelf will do just fine. Add straight vodka to a spray bottle and lightly mist to dampen your fabrics/clothing. Do not over saturate. Let air dry.
4. Dawn Dish Soap know for its grease-cutting power when it comes to the kitchen sink, Dawn can be used to tackle some of your laundry issues as well. Learn how to make homemade laundry soap using this liquid blue magic right here.
5. Newspaper Perhaps the cheapest and most readily available choice on this list, a newspaper is incredibly useful. Many know that if your shoes become soaked after a sudden downpour, stuffing them to the brim with balled-up newspaper helps draw the moisture out of the leather, suede, etc. In the same way, stuffing the pockets and sleeves of a wool overcoat and then throwing it in a sealed plastic bag for a few days will help remove any moisture associated with mildew.
Bonus: Fels Naptha Soap, it’s been used for 100’s of years to spot remove stains. I included this in the list today because it can be used to treat all types of fabrics including delicate lace. It has a light fresh scent that does not linger in clothing. It
Before I scare you off entirely, I have to be honest… the majority of materials I come across don’t smell funky. There are many options to help de-funk any type or size of fabric you may find while thrift store hunting or yard saling. Even with years of “experiments” my best advice is to exercise caution and test a garment in as inconspicuous a place as possible.
SOAK YOUR CLOTHES
Easily remove smell from vintage clothes by allowing them to soak for a few hours before washing them. You can soak small items in a small tub (this is what I use to soak and hand wash my items) or fill a washing machine with water and detergent and allow to pre-soak for an hour or more.
Baking soda is a brilliant solution to get rid of smells everywhere. Sprinkle it on your mattress or your rugs to absorb odor and then vacuum off. So you can definitely use it on clothing, too.
The easy way to use baking soda to remove smells on clothes is to sprinkle baking soda evenly all over the clothing (This is obviously okay for cotton and polyester, but you should consider doing a patch test with other fabrics, such as rayon or cashmere sweaters).
Coat the clothing with baking soda by either:
- Laying the clothes on a towel or sheet, then sprinkling baking soda all over the clothing.
- Add the piece of clothing to a large zip top plastic bag. Add baking soda to the bag, seal and shake to coat the clothes.
Leave the baking soda on at least an hour. If you want to leave it on for a few hours, that will be great, too.
Wash the clothes afterwards.
The power of the sun not only kills germs and dust mites, but it can help bake out odors and VOCs.
Not all clothing is appropriate to put out in the sun. If your clothing can handle fresh air and sunlight, though, hang it on a clothesline all day in the hot sun. The smell will diminish, if not totally disappear.
You might want to consider turning your clothing inside out if you worry about the sunlight bleaching out colors.
Fresh Air to Get the Smells Out
While fresh air outdoors is best, there have been many times when I can’t put clothing outside because it has been raining or too cloudy. In those cases, I hang clothing on an outside porch, in my garage, on the front porch or anywhere else I can have fresh air from open windows or doors. I always make sure to put the clothing in a place where I won’t need to go for a day or two so that I don’t smell that thrift store smell. Sometimes I let it air out for a week if the smell is bad.
If you are not chemically sensitive to the smells on the thrift store clothes, but you just don’t like them, consider a scented detergent to mask the smell until it disappears.
Lots of natural detergents and fabric softeners are scented with plant-based aromas, and could hide the smell.
The power of charcoal is unprecedented in naturally removing odor from clothing. Charcoal closet deodorizers are awesome at keeping your clothes fresh. Check out my favorite charcoal closet deodorizers for some ideas.
For clothes from the thrift store or consignment store, put the piece of clothing in a bag with a charcoal deodorizer for it to absorb the smell. Large pieces of clothing, such as a wool coat, might benefit from stuffing the pockets with charcoal deodorizers. Also, put the clothing on a hanger and hang a charcoal deodorizer from it to absorb nearby smells.
how to get smoke out of clothes without washing
How to Remove Smoke Smell from a Home
- To remove the smell permanently, one must remove the source of the problem. This means cleaning all surfaces in your home.
- Burning scented candles and perfumed aerosols only mask the odor temporarily.
- Ventilation can help to remove some of the smell, but it actually only dilutes the odor and does not remove the smell permanently.
During times of severe drought, Texas is often plagued by wildfires from far West Texas, to central Texas, to the High Plains, the Hill Country, and even East Texas. Many homes are completely destroyed, yet many additional homes suffer smoke damage. The odors from smoke can leave you feeling nauseous or with headaches, as well as an overall sense of annoyance at the constant smoke irritation. The smoke infiltrates homes, and the lingering odor persists due to tiny microscopic particles that cling to walls, furniture, floors, clothing, etc. inside your home. Removing the smell of smoke can be a difficult job involving time, effort, and money.
Burning scented candles and perfumed aerosols are often used to remove smoke odor from a house. These remedies most often only mask the odor temporarily. Ventilation can help to remove some of the smell, but it actually only dilutes the odor and does not remove the smell permanently. To remove the smell permanently, one must remove the source of the problem. The smoke particles must be removed by cleaning since smoke particles tend to get into the smallest cracks and areas. This means that you may be left with lingering odors even after cleaning your house from top to bottom. Removing all sources of odors is the only way to ensure the scent will not linger. You may need to rent an ozone generator or hire a professional to use an ozone generator to destroy the smoke molecules that are left behind and are causing the odor. The use of an ozone generator requires a temporary evacuation from the home, and the cost of rental can range in the low hundreds. If you elect to operate the machine yourself, be sure to follow the safety precautions that accompany the rental machine.
Helpful Cleaning Tips
The following helpful tips come from the FEMA website:
- Wash, and scrub all exterior surfaces including walls, walks, drives, decks, windows, and deck screens, etc.
- Wash and disinfect all interior walls and hard surfaces with mild soap or other appropriate cleaning solutions or products, and rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget inside cabinets, drawers, and closets.
- Launder or dry clean all clothing.
- Wash, dust, or otherwise clean all household items, including knick-knacks.
- Disinfect and deodorize all carpets, window coverings, upholstered furniture, and mattresses with steam or other appropriate equipment.
- Upholstery, fabric window treatments, etc. can be spray-treated with deodorizing products available at most supermarkets, but do not use odor-masking sprays.
- Have heating, ventilating, and air- conditioning units and all duct work professionally cleaned to remove soot, ash, and smoke residue. Change filters when you first return to the premises and at least once a month for the first year.
- If aerial fire retardant or firefighting foam residue is present on the house and/or automobiles, use a mild detergent and brushes to scrub and dilute the dried residue and flush it from the surfaces; rinse with clean water. A follow-up with pressure washing may be beneficial but will not replace scrubbing to remove the residue.
- Ash and soot on the ground and vegetation in the vicinity will continue to generate smoke odors and airborne particles when disturbed by air movement. Until the ash and soot are diluted and absorbed by the environment, indoor mechanical air filtration may help minimize the uncomfortable and potentially health-threatening impact of these pollutants.
Additional Tips on How to Clean Smoke Damage
Smoke odors can be quite stubborn. Depending upon how strong the smoke odors are, one or more of the following methods of cleaning may prove helpful. Keep in mind, though, that if the smoke odor has permeated into your carpets, draperies, furnishings, etc., there may be little that can be done to eliminate the smoke odor unless these items are removed or replaced.
- Vinegar. White vinegar cuts through odors naturally. Try wiping down furniture, washable walls, floors, etc. with white vinegar. Also, try placing several bowls of vinegar around the room with the smoke damage, leaving them there for several days. If you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, try mixing a bit of lavender oil into the bowls to help cut the odor of the vinegar.
- Baking Soda. Baking soda is another natural odor-absorber. Try sprinkling liberal amounts of baking soda over furniture, floors, etc. Leave a few bowls of baking soda around the room for several days to help absorb the odors.
- Febreeze. Febreeze, a popular odor- reducing product sold in many stores, uses a chemical compound called cyclodextrin, a sugar-like substance that absorbs odors. Spraying the area down with Febreeze may help to reduce the smoke odor.
- Activated Charcoal. This product, often used as a detoxifying agent, is also a natural odor absorbent. Placing bowls of activated charcoal (powdered form) around your room may help to absorb the smoke odors.
- Fresh Air. In the warmer weather, leave your windows and doors open as much as possible. Fresh air will eventually dissipate the smell of smoke.
- Ozone Generators. There are products on the market known as ozone generators that may help in reducing or even eliminating smoke odor from your house. Remember, though, that these expensive products, while effective in reducing the odor, will not eliminate it completely if the odor has permeated the carpets, draperies, furnishings, etc.
Getting the Smoke Smell Out of Clothing
Getting the smoke smell out of clothing can be difficult. Some suggest using 1 cup of vinegar in the wash cycle, along with the usual detergent. One wash may not remove the smoke odor, so check for smoke odor. If the odor is still present, wash again using the same process. Smell the items each time after they are washed. If they still smell like smoke, wash them until the odor is gone. If you dry them in a dryer when they smell like smoke, you may set the odor in the clothing.
Why does my home smell musty?
If your home or clothing smells musty, chances are you have mold or mildew hiding out. While other things — like a lack of ventilation or high levels of humidity — can make a musty odor more noticeable, they typically are not the primary cause of the smell.
While the term “musty” often brings to mind an old library or your grandma’s attic, mold and mildew can grow practically anywhere—even your modern home or apartment. Essentially, all mold needs to grow is the presence of mold spores, a surface to grow on, warmth, darkness, oxygen, and moisture.
The last ingredient — moisture — is the biggest problem. When all of the other environmental elements combine with condensation, moisture from humidity, or leaking water, mold begins to grow. As mold forms, grows, and spreads, it emits gasses known as microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs). So that musty odor you are smelling is not “just” mold but is a result of the chemical compounds released at different stages of the mold’s growth.
While volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are categorized as man-made or industrial chemicals, MVOCs are naturally occurring. They have a very low odor threshold, which means you may smell them easily and, when you do, the odor is strong. There are hundreds of different MVOCs formed by mold and mildew and many of them may pose health risks. Though more research is needed, some common symptoms of exposure to microbial volatile organic compounds may include:
- Nasal irritation
Mold vs. mildew: identification and treatment
Mold and mildew — and the chemicals produced by them — are not great for your personal health or the air quality in your home. Though often used interchangeably, the EPA describes that mold and mildew are not quite the same things.
In a nutshell, the term mildew describes certain types of mold or fungus, and generically refers to mold that grows flat and remains on a material’s surface. Mildew likes to grow where moisture levels are high, like shower walls and windowsills. Thankfully, mildew can be treated easily and does not usually require hiring a professional. There are several ways to clean and remove mildew (we will go into more detail below) but no matter which you choose, it is best to wear a face mask and keep the area you are cleaning well-ventilated.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mold are fungi that are found indoors and outside. No one is sure how many species of mold exist, but estimates range from the tens of thousands to maybe three hundred thousand or more.
You can find mold in many different places throughout your home — from the tiles in your shower to the crawl space in your basement. The majority of mold favor dark, damp, and warm environments, and anywhere that possesses those characteristics should be at the top of your list when you begin to look for the source of the musty smell in your home.
How mold affects your health and the health of your home
When left untreated for long periods of time, mold can cause structural damage to your home and the contents of it. Though moldy environments do not always cause health symptoms, the CDC says that exposure to moldy environments may cause nasal stuffiness, throat irritation, coughing and wheezing, or eye and skin irritation. Those with mold allergies may have more severe reactions, and the EPA reports that for people with asthma who are allergic to mold, it can cause asthma attacks.
How to remove a musty smell from your home
It is not always fun to read about how mold and mildew can be affecting your home and health, but it is essential information to have. Now that we have gone over the basics, it is time to take action so you can get that musty smell out of your home.
Find the source of the musty smell:
As we have seen, the most common reason for a musty smell in your home is the presence of mold or mildew. And because the microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs) emitted from mold and mildew have a low odor threshold, a musty smell does not necessarily mean that there is a lot of it. Before you try to cover up the odor, take some time to look around for patches of mildew or mold. Some places you may want to check for mold around your home include:
Your bathrooms — Moist and warm, bathrooms are like heaven to mold spores. You will want to check the most obvious places like the tiles in the shower but do not forget to check under the sink, around the toilet, and in the walls. Water leaks may not always be evident right away, but if you do a thorough inspection of your bathrooms, you should be able to tell if there is a moisture problem causing mold growth.
The kitchen — There are a lot of places in the kitchen for mold to hide out, so you will want to check thoroughly. Look inside of, underneath, and around your refrigerator, underneath your sink, and inside your microwave and stove. Oh, and do not forget to check your trash can — that is another dark place mold cannot resist.
In the bedrooms — True, your bedroom may not seem like a great place for mold to grow but it’s very possible. To keep your room smelling fresh, you will want to check for mold on your mattress, your bedroom windows and windowsills, and in any potted plants you have.
Your living room — Between your windows, your furniture, and your fireplace (if you have one), the living room is a pretty cozy place for your family and mold to hang out.
The attic, basement, and garage — Because you probably do not spend a ton of time in these rooms of your home, they are likely dark, warm, and damp. In other words, hello mold! You will need to look in quite a few spots in these rooms:
- In your insulation
- Around the water heater and furnace
- Near any vents coming off the laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom
- Around windows where condensation could gather
- Behind or under any storage areas that do not get a lot of traffic
- Other places you should check for mildew, mold, or moisture are in your air conditioning and heating ducts, inside and around your washer and dryer, and in the walls and ceiling around your home.
Fix any water leaks or moisture problems.
You can do all the cleaning you want, but if you do not take measures to fix any water leaks or other moisture problems, you will find yourself right back at square one. The CDC confirms this, saying, “Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding.” Once you have identified the source of the musty smell in your home, decide whether it requires maintenance that you can do yourself or if it makes more sense to hire a contractor to do the work for you. If you are renting, keep in mind that most leases require your landlord to pay for the repairs.
Clean the moldy or mildewy area thoroughly
If you did find places with mold or mildew, you would need to do a deep clean of the area (in addition to identifying what caused the growth and fixing that). Here are some tips for treating mold and mildew.
To clean mildew…
Though you can use bleach to kill and remove mildew, that level of cleaner is not usually necessary. If you do choose to use bleach, make sure you have adequate ventilation to the outside and wear protective equipment like rubber gloves and a face mask.
For a more natural (yet still highly effective) mildew treatment, you can:
- Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar
- Let sit for several hours
- Soak an abrasive sponge in hot water and dip it into baking soda
- Scrub the mildew off of the surface
You will still probably want to turn on a fan and open a window, just to be safe.
To clean mold…
Mold clean up can be more intensive than treating mildew but that largely depends on how much mold there is, the type of mold, and how big of space the mold is covering. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring a mold cleanup specialist if:
- The moldy area is more than 10 square feet
- If your HVAC system has mold in it
- If the mold growth is on the walls, floors, or ceiling
- If you have health issues that could be aggravated by more exposure to mold
In most other cases, you should be able to clean the mold up yourself. When cleaning mold, it is essential that the space you are in is well-ventilated and that you wear a respirator or face mask and cover your arms, legs, and hands to avoid exposure to mold spores that get stirred up from cleaning. The CDC recommends following these guidelines for cleaning up mold on your own:
- Wear personal protective equipment
- Toss out anything that cannot be cleaned within 48 hours
- Use proper ventilation
- Use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture
- Do not mix cleaning products (when mixed, some cleaning products can create toxic vapors)
- Scrub all surfaces that have mold
- Fix the leak or moisture problem and clean up the mold before you paint or caulk
- Dry everything as quickly as possible
To clean small areas of mold, you may be able to use the same process as you would clean up mildew. For larger areas, the CDC advises that you use a “solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach per 1 gallon of water.”
If the job feels too much, you may want to call a mold specialist.
Get the fresh air flowing
Now that you have gotten rid of the mold or mildew and have made all necessary repairs, you need to ventilate your home as much as possible. You can do this by opening windows, turning on fans, or both. The more you can get the air moving in your home, the better. Ventilation will help remove the musty smell from your house and make your home less attractive to mold and mildew.
Use an odor absorber
To get the last of the musty smell out of your house, use a natural odor absorber like activated charcoal or baking soda. These products will absorb the smell, so you’ll want to throw them away and replace them every two weeks or so.
If you follow all of these steps, your house will no longer smell like an old library or your grandma’s attic (whew!). All that’s left to do after this is keep mold and mildew at bay, so your house stays fresh and your family stays healthy.
How to remove a musty smell from your clothes
Now that you have removed the musty smell from your home, it is time to tackle your clothes (and any other fabrics, for that matter). No one wants to walk around with a moldy, stale smell clinging to them. Thankfully, getting the musty smell out of clothes is a pretty straightforward process.
- Inspect your washing machine
First things first, check that your washing machine does not have any mold or mildew growing inside it. This can happen, especially when you use a front-load washer. Even if you do not see any visible signs of mold or mildew, you can be proactive and clean your washer with a mix of white vinegar and baking soda. Once that’s done, wipe down all the inner surfaces of your washer with a towel and let it sit open so it can air out.
Even if there is no mold or mildew growing in your washer, letting your clothes sit could be a problem on its own. The City of Milwaukee shares that “washed laundry that smells musty or earthy is caused by leaving wet laundry in a closed washing machine. Molds and mildew grow quickly in dark, moist environments, particularly during warm, humid weather. Remove laundry immediately after washing. To remove the musty odor, wash the laundry again.”
- Time to clean the musty smell out of your clothes
If you have clothes that smell mildewy, stale, or otherwise just bad, there are a few different options you can use to remove the smell.
- Add a cup of white vinegar to the washer when you wash the musty clothes
- Wash your clothes with a cup of baking soda on the hottest setting your washer offers
- Mix 1 parts Borax, a natural mold-killer, with 2 parts hot water and add it to the washing machine with your smelly clothes in it after it has filled with water
- Let your clothes air out on a clothesline outside (weather permitting)
More tips for keeping your laundry fresh and must-free:
- Do not leave wet laundry in the washing machine
- Make sure all of your laundry is fully dried before putting in your dresser or closet
- Toss sweaty clothes directly into the washer so they don’t make the rest of your dirty clothes smell bad
- Clean your washer out every few months to prevent mold growth
Keep it fresh: banishing musty odors for good
Your home and your clothes are natural magnets for a musty smell. To keep them fresh and in good condition, you may want to take preventive measures. Preventing mold and mildew is always easier than cleaning it up. Eliminating musty smells for good also means you will be improving your home’s indoor air quality — it is a win-win!
- Use a dehumidifier — Keeping your home at an ideal humidity level (between 40-50%) will go a long way in preventing mold and mildew and, of course, that musty smell.
- Keep all surfaces dry — Your bathroom and kitchen, especially, should be kept as dry as possible. Taking a few minutes to wipe down hard surfaces after a shower or after cooking will help keep mold and mildew from forming. Do not forget to wipe away condensation that forms on your windows and leave your washing machine open between uses so it can air out!
- Change your air filters regularly — Your HVAC filters can easily become filled with mold. By changing them often, you can avoid this and make sure your home’s air quality stays high.
- Inspect for mold often — Mold happens. The earlier you catch it, the easier it will be to treat.
- Do maintenance as needed — Water leaks can be prevented by performing (or hiring a contractor to do) regular maintenance in your home. This can include roof and plumbing inspections, as well as HVAC inspections.
- Keep your home ventilated — Fresh air from the outside can help keep mold at bay. When air gets stagnant, humidity levels rise and mold thrives. Getting the air flowing in and through your home will help reduce condensation and will improve your air quality.
Prevention is key to a fresh home and fresh clothes
While musty smells sometimes just happen, your best bet is to take proactive measures that keep your home and clothes fresh. Though it may seem like many steps — regular maintenance, using a dehumidifier, cleaning out your washing machine, and wiping down damp surfaces — doing these things upfront takes far less time and (frustration) that trying to remove musty smells.