How to Get Musty Smell Out of Clothes Without Washing

From prevention to cure, we have all the ways to get musty smells out of clothes without having to toss them in the washer.

Published May 3, 2024
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You can be dressed to the nines and look ah-mazing... but if your clothes smell dank or musty,  you won't be serving the lewk you think you are. Clothes that have been stored away — or that you just don't wear very often — can start to smell a little mildewy. But we're here to preserve your status as a fashion icon by teaching you how to remove musty smells from clothes without washing so you can strut your style with 100% confidence that your clothes smell just as great as you look. 

Keep Your Closet Smelling Fresh

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It's true with your health, and it's totally true with your clothes. So before you ever need to get musty smells out of clothes without washing, make sure your closet is on-point in the smell game. Try our 10 hacks to keep your closet smelling fresh and thus, your clothes. 

Keep Your Washer Clean

Did you know your washer can make your clothes smell musty? It's true! So one trick is to keep your washer super clean with regular cleanings. I love these Affresh washing machine cleaning tablets because they're super easy to use once a month, and my washer (and thus my laundry) is no longer home to musty smells. 

Be sure to move clothes straight from washer to the dryer, too. Because letting them linger in the wash can push dank smells into the fabric that are hard to get out.

Toss Clothes in the Dryer on Fluff With a Dryer Sheet

Clothes still smell a bit... off? Remove musty smells from clothes without washing by tossing them into the dryer on a "fluff" cycle with a dryer sheet. I love Arm & Hammer Odor Blasters dryer sheets because they do exactly what they claim... get rid of odors in your clothes.  

Helpful Hack

These are great for people with pets, too. They'll get rid of pet odors right away.

Use a Fabric Refresher Spray

We love a multipurpose solution, and Faultless ReWear fabric refresher spray not only gets rid of musty smells, but it removes wrinkles. It's like a dry shampoo for your clothes, leaving them refreshed and looking and smelling better between washings or whenever you pull musty-smelling clothes out of your closet. 

Related: 8 Ways to Keep Your Clothes Smelling Fresh Between Washes

Give Them Some UV & Fresh Air

UV is a great natural odor eliminator, so hanging your clothes out on the line in the sunlight can refresh them and remove musty smells without washing.  They'll need about 8-10 hours in the sun, so this isn't an in-the-moment solution, but it's great to keep clothes smelling fresh between washings. 

Put Them in a Sealed Container With Baking Soda

You'll need a pretty big sealable container (like this plastic tub with lid). Add a box of fridge and freezer baking soda and seal it up for a day or two. You can reuse the baking soda box multiple times. 

Use Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is great for removing odors. You'll use the same method as the baking soda (above), but seal the charcoal packs in with clothes in a large plastic tub. It'll take a day or two for all the odor to absorb.

Put Them in the Freezer

It's amazing how well your freezer can remove odors from your clothes. It's because cold can kill the bacteria that causes the funk. Seal your clothes in a large zipper bag and freeze them for 3-4 hours. 

Spritz With Diluted Lemon Juice or Vinegar

Add a tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar to an 8-ounce spray bottle of water. Shake it well and spritz your clothes. Allow them to air dry, and the smells should be gone. 

Spritz It With Vodka & Water

I make my own Febreeze because I like the scents I can come up with better than the premade ones. And it works super well to get musty odors out of clothes and other fabrics without washing them. All you need is some bottom-shelf vodka (get unflavored), some water, and a drop or two of essential oils (if you want). 

In an 8-ounce bottle, mix 5 ounces of vodka and 2-3 drops of essential oil. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Shake well before spraying. Spritz on your clothes and allow them to hang dry.

Helpful Hack

My favorite essential oil scent for this is grapefruit. You can add up to five drops for a stronger aroma. 

Remove Musty Smells From Clothes Without Washing

Even if your clothes smell musty, you don't always need to toss them in the wash to banish the funk. Our ideas can help keep your clothes smelling fresh between washings. 

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How to Get Musty Smell Out of Clothes Without Washing