Several ways to get rid of musty smells in clothing:
- The washing machine and dryer should be checked for mould. If the clothes smell musty right after a wash, mould may be present in the washer. The mould can be cleaned by running an empty cycle with hot water and bleach or detergent.
- If that doesn’t work, the washer should be carefully disassembled and any traces of mould should be removed with hot water and a cleaning product. If the task is too difficult, the washer has to be serviced.
- In case the clothes smell musty because they are infested with mould, they need to be washed. A mould inhibiting product, such as bleach, vinegar, baking soda, ammonia or borax, should be added to the washing cycle.
- When using bleach, the “do not bleach” warnings on clothes must be taken into consideration. After starting a normal cycle with the musty laundry and detergent, it should be paused when the washer has filled with water in order to add a cup of bleach, after which it can be resumed. Alternatively, the clothes can be soaked in a solution of 1 cup bleach and 8 liters hot water for at least one hour.
- Vinegar, baking soda, borax or ammonia can be used to achieve the same result. A cup of the preferred product is added at the start of the wash cycle. The cycle should be stopped when the clothes have become soaked. After at least one hour, it can be resumed.
- WARNING: ammonia and bleach must never be mixed. The resulting solution creates toxic fumes that can harm the lungs.
To prevent clothes from smelling musty, they should be dried out immediately after washing. Another good tip is to dry them outside, in the sun, as heat and light inhibit mould growth.