How to Get Musty Smell Out of Clothes Without Washing

Have you ever encountered that unpleasant musty smell in your clothes? It can be frustrating when you want to wear a favorite outfit but find it emitting a less-than-pleasant odor. While washing your clothes is typically the go-to solution, there are times when you might need an alternative method. In this article, we will explore effective ways to get rid of the musty smell in your clothes without washing them. With these simple techniques, you can enjoy fresh-smelling garments once again.

Get Musty Smell Out of Clothes Without Washing

Before we delve into the remedies, it’s essential to understand what causes the musty smell in clothes. Mustiness is often a result of mildew or mold growth, which occurs due to moisture accumulation in the fabric. This can happen if clothes are stored in damp environments or left wet for an extended period.

Common Causes of Musty Odor

There are several common causes of musty odors in clothes. These include:

  • Storing clothes in humid spaces like basements or closets with poor ventilation.
  • Leaving wet or damp clothes in the laundry basket or hamper for too long.
  • Not allowing clothes to dry properly before storing them.
  • Washing clothes with hard water or using too much detergent, leading to a buildup of residues.

Preparing Clothes for Odor Removal

Before attempting to remove the musty smell from your clothes, it’s essential to prepare them adequately. Start by ensuring the clothes are dry and free from visible stains. Remove any loose dirt or debris by gently brushing or shaking the garments. This prepares the fabric for better absorption of odor-fighting agents.

Natural Methods to Remove Musty Smell from Clothes

Sunlight and Fresh Air

One of the simplest and most effective ways to eliminate musty odors is by harnessing the power of sunlight and fresh air. Find a well-ventilated outdoor space and hang the clothes in direct sunlight. The sun’s UV rays help kill odor-causing bacteria, while the fresh air aids in removing any lingering smells.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile household ingredient that can help absorb unpleasant odors. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the musty clothes, ensuring it covers the fabric evenly. Leave the clothes for a few hours or overnight, allowing the baking soda to absorb the odor. Then, shake off the excess baking soda and give the garments a good shake or gentle brush to remove any residue.


Vinegar is known for its natural odor-fighting properties. Fill a basin or sink with a mixture of water and vinegar (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water) and let the clothes soak for about 30 minutes. Afterward, remove the clothes from the solution, wring out the excess liquid, and hang them to dry in a well-ventilated area. The vinegar will neutralize the musty smell, leaving your clothes fresh and odor-free.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice acts as a natural deodorizer and can help eliminate musty odors. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into a spray bottle and mist it onto the affected clothes. Ensure the clothes are evenly dampened but not soaking wet. Hang them outside to dry in the sunlight, allowing the lemon juice to work its magic. Once dry, the musty smell should be significantly reduced.

Essential Oils

Essential oils not only provide a pleasant fragrance but also possess antimicrobial properties that can combat musty odors. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender or tea tree oil, to a spray bottle filled with water. Shake well and spritz the mixture onto the clothes. Hang them to dry, and you’ll enjoy the refreshing scent left behind by the essential oils.

Using Household Products for Odor Removal

In addition to natural methods, several household products can help eliminate the musty smell from clothes. These include:

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a highly porous substance known for its ability to absorb odors. Place a few pieces of activated charcoal in a breathable container or fabric bag, and then add the musty clothes. Seal the container and leave it undisturbed for a couple of days to allow the charcoal to absorb the odor.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds can be an effective odor neutralizer. Fill a bowl with coffee grounds and place it near the clothes, ensuring they are not in direct contact. Leave the clothes and coffee grounds together for a few days. The coffee grounds will absorb the musty smell, leaving your clothes fresh.

Kitty Litter

Unscented kitty litter can act as a deodorizer for musty clothes. Take a breathable fabric bag or sock, fill it with kitty litter, and tie it securely. Place the bag near the clothes and let them sit together for a few days. The kitty litter will help absorb the musty odor, making your clothes smell clean and fresh.

Commercial Products for Removing Musty Smell

If natural and household methods don’t yield the desired results, you can turn to commercial products specifically designed for odor removal. These include:

Odor Eliminating Sprays

There are various odor eliminating sprays available in the market that can effectively neutralize musty smells. Follow the instructions provided on the spray bottle and apply the product to the affected clothes. Allow the clothes to air dry, and the spray will eliminate the unwanted odor.

Odor Absorbing Packets

Odor absorbing packets, such as silica gel or activated carbon packets, are designed to absorb moisture and odors. Place one or two packets in a breathable container or fabric bag along with the clothes. Seal the container and leave it undisturbed for a few days. The packets will absorb the musty smell, leaving your clothes fresh and ready to wear.

Preventing Musty Smell in Clothes

Taking preventive measures can help keep your clothes smelling fresh and free from musty odors. Here are a few tips:

  • Store clothes in well-ventilated areas with proper air circulation.
  • Avoid storing clothes in damp or humid spaces like basements or attics.
  • Ensure clothes are completely dry before folding or hanging them.
  • Wash clothes regularly and follow proper drying techniques.
  • Use a dehumidifier or moisture absorber in areas prone to high humidity.


Getting rid of the musty smell in clothes without washing them is possible with the help of natural remedies and household products. By understanding the causes of the odor and utilizing these effective methods, you can restore freshness to your garments and enjoy wearing them again. Remember to follow the preventive tips to keep your clothes odor-free in the long run.


1. Can I use these methods for all types of fabrics? Yes, most of these methods are safe to use on a wide range of fabrics. However, it’s always recommended to spot test a small inconspicuous area before treating the entire garment.

2. How long does it take for the musty smell to disappear? The time required to eliminate the musty smell depends on the severity of the odor and the chosen method. It may take a few hours to a couple of days for the smell to completely disappear.

3. Are there any alternative methods for odor removal? Yes, some alternatives include using fabric fresheners, steamers, or even freezing the clothes to kill odor-causing bacteria. However, the methods mentioned in this article are effective and accessible for most people.

4. Can I combine multiple methods for better results? Yes, you can experiment with combining different methods, such as using baking soda and sunlight or vinegar and essential oils. However, be cautious and follow the instructions to avoid damaging the fabric.

5. What if the musty smell persists after trying these methods? If the odor persists, despite your best efforts, it may be best to consider washing the clothes using appropriate cleaning methods to ensure complete odor removal.

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Camilo Kawas is a seasoned entrepreneur and expert in the field of commercial cleaning, with a specific focus on clothes, carpet cleaning and floor care. With a profound understanding of the importance of selecting the right products for effective stain removal from clothes, Camilo has established himself as a trusted authority in the industry.

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