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How to Remove Musty Odors from Clothes

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By Cyberia

My Laundry Question

How to eradicate a sweet sickly musty smell from clothes that spreads? The whole closet, room and carpet now stink. I won't use the room and afraid of it spreading to rest of apt. Pretty sure it's very unhealthy. Afraid this may become widespread problem from all the catastrophic weather events throughout the country.

Share a Little Background Info

Husband refused to toss his scented soaps when it got musty - kept it in his wardrobe - a fine wood piece that also became musty/moldy smelling after a hurricane (no H2O damage, but high humidity and "dirty" air and owned this furniture for 30 years - but no more!) We've moved but his clothes are infecting everything. Lost his sense of smell in an accident - reluctant to toss it. Decent housekeeping, except for airborne microbes from hurricane and weeks of high humidity till got power back on.

Lessons Learned

  • Tried laundering with Borax, Pinesol, Vinegar with no success. Investigated high Ozone treatment but understand the fabrics will breakdown and fade.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

Entire wardrobe

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

I am sorry you have had so many issues with high humidity. Since you have an entire room that has been affected, perhaps a dehumidifier should be purchased and added to the room. If that doesn't help, a mold and mildew inspector can help you determine if additional work should be done.

Now, for the clothes. Since you have said they are washable, fill your washer with cool water. Add 1 cup of baking soda. Submerge a load of clothes - don't overstuff the washer. Allow them to soak overnight then wash as usual. If at all possible, air dry the clothes in the sun. Repeat with all clothes.

There are commercial laundry odor removers that can also help: OdorKlenz, Febreze Odor Eliminator(in wash), Fresh Wave. Good luck and all the best!

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