How to stop clothes smelling musty in wardrobe

How to Stop Clothes Smelling Musty in Wardrobe – Step-by-Step Guide ( January – 2024 )

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Have you ever opened your wardrobe to be hit by a musty smell? The one that will make you hold your breath and run out of the room? Trust me when I say this, it’s not a pleasant experience and problem to have, but the good news is that it’s a fixable problem.

In this in-depth article, I will be taking you through the causes of clothes smelling musty in the wardrobe and providing some simple and effective tips and tricks that helped me get rid of the musty smell in the wardrobe.

By following these simple tricks, you’ll have a wardrobe that smells like a bouquet of roses in no time. So let’s get started!

Related Article: How to Stop Clothes Smelling Musty in Drawers

Why do Clothes Smell Musty in the Wardrobe?

Clothes can smell musty in the wardrobe due to a variety of factors. The most common offenders causing the less pleasant aroma in wardrobes are the following:

Humidity and Moisture

Humidity and moisture in your wardrobe can be an absolute nightmare because these two are the main reason why clothes smell musty in the wardrobe. When the air inside your wardrobe is as humid as the rainforest and the wardrobe is also thick with moisture, it will provide the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow.

Excess growth of mold and mildew, in turn, will take over the clothes and surfaces. I mean, who would like to wear clothes that are covered with green fur? Not me, for sure. So if you are unlucky to have a wardrobe in such a humid environment, worry not, as you will be able to cope with such a situation at the end of this article.

Lack of Ventilation

Regarding my wardrobe, the lack of ventilation has been quite troublesome. You know what they say, “out of sight out of mind”; that’s very true in the case of wardrobe ventilation. We often do not pay attention to air circulation, but it is as essential for the wardrobes as humans and animals to breathe.

Lack of airflow will result in stagnant air and trap odors. Stagnant air is most likely to cause humidity and moisture in the wardrobe, which is a significant cause of mold and mildew. And the presence of all these factors will result in a musty smell in the wardrobe.

Also Read Our Guide On: How to Freshen Clothes that have been in Storage

Storing Damp Clothes

Clothes, if not dried thoroughly before being stored, can create an environment connducive to the growth of mold and mildew; consequently, the wardrobe will stink.

Damp clothes also attract bugs, which can further damage clothes and the wardrobe. So if you are storing damp clothes, you will have to deal with a huge mess later.

Storing Clothes in Plastic Bags or Containers

Now that you know, the main offender is mold and mildew caused by moisture and humidity; this brings us to plastic bags or containers. Plastic is not breathable and prone to catching up to moisture and humidity; therefore, storing clothes in plastic bags or containers is like trapping these offenders inside those bags or containers.

Additionally, the moisture will also attract mites, moths, and other insects. Their secretions also cause a musty smell inside the wardrobe.

How To Stop Clothes Smelling Musty In Wardrobe

Now that we know why clothes smell musty in the wardrobe, it’s time to address the issue: “how to stop clothes from smelling musty in the wardrobe.” Let’s dive into the process of making the wardrobe smell as fresh as a daisy with some simple techniques:

Use Dehumidifier

As humidity is the underlying cause of musty-smelling wardrobe, to eliminate this cause, it is very beneficial to use a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove excess moisture from the air and reduce the humidity level in the air.

It is effective in places rich in humidity, such as basements and bathrooms. While using dehumidifiers, it is important to take into consideration the instructions mentioned on it. Additionally, keep a check on the level of humidity; if it is low, then turn off the dehumidifier.

Use Moisture Absorber

Other than humidity another underlying cause of the musty smell in the wardrobe is moisture. To eliminate this cause we can use a moisture absorber which absorbs the excess moisture from the air and purifies it. Moisture removal will help prevent mold and mildew growth that causes the musty smell in the wardrobe.

Additionally, it will keep the wardrobe dry and consequently odorless. Several moisture absorbers, including silica gel packets, moisture-absorbing crystals, and moisture-absorbing beads, are available in the market. These moisture absorbers can be placed inside or hung with a hanger inside the wardrobe.

Silica gel for absorbing moisture

Avoid Storing Damp Clothes

If you want to eliminate the musty smell from your wardrobe, checking your clothes while you store them is crucial. Storing your clothes damp is a big no.

Trust me, I have been there, and nothing is worse than storing your clothes damp. Wet clothes are like a playground for mold and mildew as these little offenders thrive in a damp environment and make it a spot for them to set up a shop.

Before you notice, they will grow on the surface of your clothes and the wardrobe, making them musty. So make sure that you let your clothes dry in sunlight, and in case you are in a hurry, use a dryer to dry your clothes before storage.

Avoid Using Plastic Bags or Containers

Using plastic bags or containers to store clothes is another contributor to the musty smell in the wardrobe. To eliminate the musty smell, avoiding plastic bags or containers is important because plastic is not breathable and does not allow air circulation.

These bags or containers trap moisture, and we all know how much mold and mildew love moisture. So when you store clothes in plastic bags and containers, you invite mold and mildew to create that musty environment inside your cupboard.

Use Breathable Fabric Bags or Containers

It is not recommended to use plastic bags or containers, so to make your wardrobe smell pleasant, you can use a breathable fabric bag or container to store your clothes that will allow air circulation and release the trapped moisture, making the clothes fresh and the wardrobe odorless.

Some breathable fabric bags include cotton bags, muslin bags, and canvas bags that are light weighted, durable, and breathable, making them perfect for storing clothes in the wardrobe.

Clean the Wardrobe Regularly

Regular cleaning is essential to keep your wardrobe odorless and your clothes fresh. This is important to keep the interior safe, sound, and clean.

For cleaning your wardrobe you can use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attached to it to remove dust, dirt, or debris. While cleaning, pay close attention to the corners as they are more likely to have mold and mildew.

You can also use a damp cloth to wipe the wardrobe’s interior. While wiping the wardrobe, consider those little guys (mold and mildew) and use a mild detergent or water and vinegar solution to withdraw those offenders.

Another option for removing mold and mildew present inside the wardrobe is wiping it with a solution that has one part bleach to three parts clean water. Dip a piece of cloth in the solution and wipe away the wardrobe.

Use Detergents or Odor Eliminators

To stop clothes from smelling musty in the wardrobe and make them smell sweet, another great technique is to use detergents and odor eliminators while washing clothes and linens.

Odor eliminators can be sprays or sachets like charcoal-based odor eliminators, essential oil sachets, baking soda, or white vinegar-based odor eliminators.

Also, consider using high-quality detergents specially formulated to remove odors when doing your laundry. If you want great results at the end, you can add a booster like I do, which is baking soda, and believe me, it works like magic in keeping clothes fresh and odorless.

Storing neat, clean, fresh, and odorless clothes in the wardrobe will, in turn, make the wardrobe smell fresh and clean.

Scented sachet hanging in wardrobe for getting rid of smell

Use Fabric Fresheners and Essential Oils

I’m telling you these two i-e fabrics fresheners and essential oils are like magic in a bottle. If you want to make the mustiest of your wardrobes smell fresh, opt for fabric fresheners and essential oils.

Fabric fresheners can be in the form of dryer sheets tucked between clothes in the wardrobe. You can also get a fabric freshener in the form of a spray that you can spray on the clothes before storing them in the wardrobe. 

Essential oils are also great odor eliminators. All you have to do is to add water to a spray bottle and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. Shake it well and spray it on the clothes before storing them in the wardrobe.

You can choose lemon, lavender, or eucalyptus oils according to your preference. So next time you are looking for something to make your clothes fresh and sweet-smelling, go for fabric freshener and essential oils, and you will be on your way to a fresh-smelling wardrobe.

Final Thoughts

Eliminating musty odors from your wardrobe is a simple task that can be accomplished with minimal effort. I’ve found that using a combination of these methods works best.

To start, place a dehumidifier in your wardrobe to reduce moisture levels. Additionally, store your clothes in fabric containers and spray them with a fabric freshener before placing them in the wardrobe.

These steps will not only eliminate the musty smell in your wardrobe but also keep your clothes fresh and smelling great. Don’t let musty odors linger in your wardrobe, give these tips a try, and you’ll be pleased with the results and if you want to keep you clothes fresh in storage check out our article on “How To Keep Clothes Fresh In Storage