Do your clothes sometimes smell musty or dirty, even immediately after you wash them? Would you like your clothing to smell better in general? There are many things you can do when you’re washing, drying and storing your garments to avoid unpleasant odors from creeping into the fibers. If you are dealing with bad-smelling clothes right now and need a quick fix, don’t worry! There are ways you can freshen them up, even if you only have a few minutes to spare.

  • Method 1.

Washing Your Clothes

1. Wash your clothing often.
The more you wear something, the more it smells. If you’ve worn something several times, don’t store it with your clean clothes, because that dirty smell can transfer to them. Keep your dirty laundry completely separate from your clean clothes. While some items should only be worn once before washing them, other items can be worn several times before they start to smell. Try to wash sweaty or very dirty clothes as soon as possible after wearing them.
  • Leggings, shirts, socks, swimsuits, tights, camisoles, tank tops and underwear should be washed after each wearing.
  • Dresses, jeans, slacks, pajamas, shorts, and skirts can be worn three or times before washing.
  • You can wear a bra two to three times before it will need to be washed. Consider buying several bras, so that you never wear the same bra two times in a row.
  • You can wear a suit three to five times before it will need to be dry cleaned. Suits worn to clean environments, such as offices, can last longer between cleaning. Suits worn to smoky or smoggy environments will need to be cleaned more often.

2. Use scented laundry detergent or essential oils.

Most laundry detergents have a fresh scent, but some are more strongly scented than others. Look for brands that advertise a specific scent on their labels. Always use the recommended amount of detergent. It’s tempting to pour in a little extra, but this can leave a residue and actually cause clothes to smell bad. If you’d rather avoid commercial perfumes, try adding ten to twenty drops of essential oil to the washing machine during the final rinse cycle.

  • Make sure you like the smell before purchasing a scented detergent, since they tend to be a little pricier. Unscrew the cap and give it a quick sniff in the store.
  • Experiment with essential oils to find your favorites. Don’t be afraid to combine different oils to create a custom scent.

3. Remove items from the washing machine as soon as possible.

After running a load of laundry through a wash cycle, try to take out your clothing quickly. Hang the items up to dry or transfer them to the dryer immediately. Leaving wet clothes in the washer too long causes mildew to form, which can create a musty and unpleasant odor on your clothing. If you accidentally forget about clothes in the washing machine and they become mildewed, you can easily deodorize them with white vinegar.

  • Pour one cup of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser and wash the mildewed clothes again.
  • This will get rid of the bad smell, but if you want your clothes to smell good, you may want to follow that up with another cycle using detergent.
4. Deep clean your washing machine with vinegar every six months.
Over time, washing machines can develop unpleasant odors from mold and mildew, which then transfers to your clothes. Start with an empty washing machine. Add two to four cups of white vinegar to the detergent dispenser. Run a complete cycle on the highest and hottest setting. Add one cup of baking soda and run another cycle. Wipe down the inside and top of the washer with a microfiber cloth.
  • If you prefer, you can use bleach or a commercial washing machine cleaner instead of vinegar.
  • If you use bleach, wash white clothing in the first laundry load after cleaning.
  • Leave the lid or door open when you’re not using it. Closing it traps in moisture and allows mildew and odor-causing bacteria to grow.
          – Method 2. 

Drying Your Clothes

1. Make sure clothes are completely dry before putting them away.
If you fold and put away damp clothes, they can start to grow mildew and smell sour. If you remove an item from the dryer and it’s still damp, dry it for another fifteen minutes or so. You can also hang the item up to air-dry the rest of the way.
2. Use dryer sheets or essential oils.

Dryer sheets leave your clothes smell nice while also keeping them soft and static-free. Simply toss a dryer sheet into the dryer with a load of freshly washed laundry and proceed as you normally would. If you have a scented detergent that you prefer, check to see if the brand sells dryer sheets with the same scent.

  • You can also scent your clothing by putting a few drops of essential oil on a scrap of fabric, then tossing it into the dryer with the rest of your laundry.
  • Always discard dryer sheets after one use.
3. Maintain your dryer.
Always clean the lint trap after each drying cycle. Lingering lint can trap odors and transfer them to your clothes. Take out the lint trap and clean it at least once per year with mild detergent and warm water. Soak a microfiber cloth in a 1:1 hot water and white vinegar solution and wipe down the inside of the dryer drum at least once every month.
  • You can also soak a few towels with vinegar and run them through a drying cycle. The vinegar will kill any odor-causing bacteria.
4. Hang your clothes up to dry.
Some people prefer to skip the dryer and perfumes altogether by hanging clothes on a rack or a drying line outside. Air-drying outside can leave a fresh, clean smell on your clothes. If you are drying clothes outside, sunlight may cause some fabrics to fade. When drying inside, make sure the room is well-ventilated or hang them near an open window.
  • If you have white clothes, hang them out in the sun. Not only will the sun brighten them, but the open air will leave them smelling nice and fresh.
  • Keep in mind that air-dried clothes will not be as soft as clothes dried in a dryer.

Storing Your Clothes

1. Put scented sachets and dryer sheets in your dresser and closet.
Freshen up your closet and dresser with sachets filled with your favorite dried herbs, flowers and spices. You can use store-bought sachets or make your own by filling cloth bags with potpourri or herbs and tying them shut with a piece of string. Tuck the sachets in your dresser drawers and hang them in your closet from a hanger.
  • You can use dryer sheets in a similar way to absorb odors and freshen cloths. Tuck them in your shoes and slip them into dresser drawers and closet shelves.
2. Use essential oils or perfumes.
Put two to five drops of your favorite essential oil/perfume on a scrap of fabric, paper towel or cotton balls. Place them in closets and dresser drawers. You can also put a few drops of essential oil on the inside walls of a dresser drawer. Let the oil dry before putting your clothes inside the drawer. Try using scented candles and soaps as fresheners, too.
  • Place an unlit candle or a bar of scented soap wrapped in cloth in your closet or in a dresser drawer.
  • You can even use a bath bomb as an air freshener in a closet.
3. Spray an air freshener or disinfectant in your closet.
Usually these will only mask bad smells, not remove them. The most effective kind would be an odor-neutralizing formula that also smells nice, like Febreze. You can also make your own air freshener by combining ½ cup white vinegar and ½ cup water in a spray bottle with ten drops of your favorite essential oil.
  • Spray this in your closet every few days.
  • The vinegar smell disappears after a few minutes, leaving only the scent behind.
4. Use a strongly scented wood as a natural freshener.
 Cedar and sandalwood are popular choices. Put a piece or two into your closet to infuse your clothing with the smell. Cedar is known to keep bugs away and it also absorbs moisture. Moisture is one of the main culprits behind that musty smell on your clothes.
5. Absorb bad odors with baking soda.

Place an open container of baking soda at the bottom of your closet or in the corner of a dresser drawer. If you like, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the baking soda for an additional scent. Make your own baking soda freshener by taking a small jar and filling it loosely with baking soda. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil and mix it with a fork. Poke a few holes into the lid using a nail and hammer, then put the lid onto the jar.

  • You can simply not use a lid, as well. This isn’t recommended if you have small children or curious pets, however.
  • Sprinkle baking soda inside your shoes to soak up bad odors. Be sure to dump it out of your shoes the next day!

Freshening Up Clothing and Preventing Odors

1. Fluff your clothes in the dryer.
If you’re in a hurry and need your clothes to smell nice fast, put them in the dryer for a fifteen minutes with a couple of scented dryer sheets. This won’t get your clothes clean, but it will refresh your clothes, make them smell better and get the wrinkles out.
2. Spray a white vinegar solution on them.
Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Turn your clothes inside out and spray the garment with it. Hang the clothes up and let them air-dry for a few minutes. The vinegar smell will go away after a few minutes and won’t be detectable when it dries.
  • Test the vinegar solution on a small area of the garment before spraying the whole thing with it. As long as the color doesn’t run and there’s no visible change to the item, it is safe for you to use.

3. Spritz perfume.

It is best to spray the perfume directly onto your body and then get dressed. You can spray perfume directly on your clothes if the item is made out of natural fibers, like cotton and linen. Avoid spraying synthetic fibers, such as polyester, with perfume. Be aware that some perfumes can stain light-colored items and damage silk.

4. Keep your house clean.

Clothes can absorb odors, so if your house doesn’t smell so great, neither will your clothes. Clean, dust and vacuum your home regularly, especially the rooms that contain clothing. Use air fresheners and avoid smoking inside the house.

5. Air out your clothes after wearing them.

When you get home from school or work, take off your clothes and hang them by an open window. This can help reduce odors and refresh your clothes. This is especially helpful if you wear a uniform and don’t want to wash it every day.

6. Keep dirty clothes and clean clothes separated.

Never leave your dirty clothes near or on top of your clean clothes, because the smell can transfer. Place dirty items in a hamper, preferably in another room. Avoid putting wet or damp items into the hamper. Let the damp item dry before putting it into the laundry basket. Putting damp items into your laundry basket will cause odor-causing bacteria and mildew to grow.

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