How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Clothes Quickly | Full Guide

mildew in clothes

Summer is the time for camping trips and outdoor adventures, but it's also the time for dreaded mildew smells. If your clothes have picked up a musty smell, don't worry - there are a few ways to get rid of it quickly. Try one of these methods and you'll be able to enjoy your summer vacation without any unpleasant odors.

What is mildew?

You can find mildew growing on a variety of surfaces, but it becomes a problem when you find the musty smell on your clothes. Mildew is a fungus that feeds off decaying matter and thrives in moist environments. Warmth and humidity cause the yeast cells to grow rapidly, which ultimately causes an unpleasant odor.

If you've noticed a musty smell after washing your clothes or if you have sweat stains from working out, chances are that some mildew has taken hold on your threads. In order to get rid of the pesky fungus, try one of these methods below:

How to Remove Mildew Smell from Clothes

  • Salt Spray
  • Salt spray is easy to make by mixing table salt with water until there is no more granules left in the solution. Next, spray the salt spay onto the clothes and let it dry for an hour. Afterward, wash the clothes normally to remove any left over dirt or residue.

  • Vinegar Spray
  • Another simple solution that will help kill mildew spores is mixing 1/2 cup of distilled vinegar with 1 gallon of water. To do this, place the mixture into a spray bottle and. You can also spray your clothes with clean water, then soak it in salt water. Next, Soak the clothes for about 30 minutes. Comb through them with a lint brush to get rid of any excess salt, and then dry it normally. Your mildew should be completely gone.

  • Baking Soda
  • Baking soda is a very versatile chemical that can help kill mildew spores. To use it, wet the clothes and sprinkle some baking soda onto it. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then shake your clothes off over the sink to remove any stubborn pieces. Finally, wash them normally in cold water with laundry detergent to rid them off the smell once and for all.

  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent way to kill mildew because it has antibacterial properties that will ensure you get results quickly without standing by. Simply mix 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide into warm water in a large basin or bucket, soak your cloths for 30 minutes, then scrub them well in the water before washing them in cold water with laundry detergent.

  • Bleach
  • Bleach is also effective in killing mildew spores. Follow the steps below to remove mildew from your clothes with bleach:

    1. Check the clothes care tag to see if it is safe to use bleach.
    2. Mix one part bleach with four parts water in a spray bottle.
    3. Spray the mixture onto the mildewed areas of the clothes and let them soak for about 15 minutes.
    4. Rinse the clothes thoroughly in cold water and hang them to dry.
    5. If the smell persists, repeat the process until it's gone.
  • Vinegar
  • A great liquid to use is Vinegar to remove musty smell from clothes. Vinegar has anti-fungal properties that will kill any remaining mildew spores, leaving your clothes smelling really fresh! Many people do not know that vinegar is great at breaking down odors, making it the perfect solution for getting rid of mildew smells.

    1. Start by separating the clothes that can be washed and those that need to be dry-cleaned.
    2. Add one cup of white vinegar to the washing machine and run a full cycle.
    3. If the smell is still there, add half a cup of baking soda to the wash cycle.
    4. Hang clothes outside on a sunny day to air them out and remove any remaining mildew smell. If clothes are left damp for too long, mold and mildew will form, no matter how much baking soda or vinegar you use. The sun is a natural enzyme that will be good at breaking down odors, making it the perfect solution for getting rid of mildew smells.

If clothes can't be washed or hung outside, place them in a plastic garbage bag and leave them closed up for at least 24 hours. The smell will transfer to the bag and should become much less noticeable once it's opened up again.

For delicates that need dry cleaning, take them to your cleaners as soon as possible so you can prevent mildew from forming on these items as well. Leathers and wool might also want special attention before storing as they are both sensitive materials that shouldn't be stored when damp with sweat or any moisture present. In this case not only is taking proper care important but storing clothes correctly will help.

What is the best laundry detergent to remove mildew smell?

You can find many different type of detergent at the store these days. They are supposed to be great at removing smells, dirt, and stains. However, sometimes they don't do enough to remove mildew odors. Luckily there are another laundry solutions that can help.

  1. You can use OxiClean Odor Blasters Stain & Odor Remover
  2. This odor remover is perfect for tough odors, even mildew. If you compare this to a normal laundry detergent, you will find out that it is much more useful when removing odors. It will help eliminate the smell in your clothes and make them smell great again.

  3. The best laundry additive to remove mildew smell is hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Hydrogen peroxide is a natural enzyme that will attack and break down the odors at their source. This makes it good at removing mildew smells, smoke smells, and pet odor smells. With this laundry solution you simply need to put 1/2 cup of hydrogen peroxide into your washer along with your clothes, then wash as usual. It can be added along with commercial detergents or by itself if you don't mind adding one more step to your laundering process.


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Is it possible to prevent mildew smell on clothes?

Yes, it is possible to prevent mildew smell on clothes. The easiest way to avoid or prevent mildew is to make sure that your clothes is properly dry before you store them. There is also another way. To do this, you can either use an anti-mildew additive every time you wash your clothes, or something as simple as vinegar will help to keep mildew smells at bay. All you need is one cup of white distilled vinegar added to the rinse cycle in place of commercial fabric softener. This will help boost the pH balance of your laundry water so that any mildew which might have grown within your clothing will have no where to take hold.


Mildew can be a pesky problem to get rid of, but with these tips, you should be able to remove the smell from your clothes in no time. Be sure to try all of these methods until you find one that works for you, and keep in mind that prevention is always the best solution. By following these steps, you can make sure mildew doesn’t become an issue for you again. Have any other tips for getting rid of mildew smell? Share them in the comments below.

About Author:

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Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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