How To Remove A Damp Smell From Your Clothes

Tuesday 21st November 2023

Ellen Warren

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Clothes drying on a clothes horse


If you have recently pulled out a winter jumper from the wardrobe to get a hint of a musty smell, this could be an accumulation of damp odour in clothes. This could indicate bigger issues like mould growth in your wardrobe.

Our mould remediation services at ICE Cleaning are paving the way for mould removal in the UK. Our solutions utilise leading technology and cleaning chemicals that efficiently eradicate mould at the source and prevent its return.

Read on to learn special laundry techniques, strategies to prevent damp, and how to keep your wardrobe damp-free all year round.

Understanding the damp smell in clothes

When clothes sometimes develop a damp smell, this could indicate moisture and mould. When your clothes get wet and are not dried properly, they become breeding grounds for mould.

Mould produces musty odours due to compounds called microbial volatile organic compounds (mVOCs). These are gases released by mould as it grows, which we detect as 'damp' or 'musty'. These mVOCs can also trigger allergies in some people or cause chronic illnesses.

The impact of mould on clothing

Mould does not just leave an unpleasant damp smell, but it also damages the fabric itself and could pose health risks. Mould thrives in humid conditions and latches onto organic material - including clothing. This means that garments stored in a damp wardrobe are prime targets. 

Over time, mould can weaken fibres, causing discolouration or even holes. If you have ever noticed respiratory irritation when wearing musty clothes, that is usually due to inhaling mould spores. Breathing these spores might lead to asthma attacks or other breathing problems over time. 

Specialised laundry techniques for eliminating musty odours

The first step to tackle damp smells is washing your clothes properly. Using warm water can help as it aids in breaking down the oils that hold onto odour-causing bacteria.

Baking soda is a well-known deodoriser, and adding half a cup into your wash cycle will alleviate the smell. Another trick is using white vinegar during the rinse cycle - an effective natural fabric softener and smell remover.

If regular detergents are not doing enough, scent boosters are available on the market designed specifically to combat stubborn odours. For clothes with persistent odours, soaking them overnight in cool water and enzyme-based detergent can break down mould spores.

If these solutions do not help, you should take your clothes to a professional dry cleaner to have the odours removed efficiently. They may also be able to repair any holes or loose seams.

Strategies to prevent damp smells in clothes

Keeping your clothes smelling fresh starts with how you handle them after washing. Avoid leaving wet clothes in the washing machine for too long, as this encourages mould growth and damp smells.

Ensure your wardrobe is well-ventilated. This helps to keep air circulating and reduce humidity levels, which can contribute to musty odours. For added protection against moisture, consider using damp absorbers or moisture catchers.

The way you store clothing matters too. Use cedar balls or lavender sachets, as they deter pests and provide a pleasant scent that masks potential dampness.

Tackling mould in wardrobes

Mould can thrive in damp, dark corners like your wardrobe. This can lead to an unpleasant musty odour and harm your clothes and health.

One way to keep mould at bay is regular cleaning of the wardrobe's interior using anti-mould cleaning solutions. If mould has not started to grow in the wardrobe, you can prevent it with these solutions.

Adequate ventilation reduces humidity levels, making it difficult for mould spores to grow. Leave the doors open when possible, or consider installing vents if needed.

Moisture absorbers are helpful if your wardrobe is still humid despite ventilation efforts. These work by pulling excess moisture out of the air and keep clothes fresh and dry.

What to do if you spot mould in your home

If you notice any indication that mould may be present in your wardrobe or other areas of your home, immediate action is necessary. Contrary to popular belief, removing mould is not as simple as scrubbing away with bleach. 

Attempting to clean large areas of mould yourself can make things worse by releasing more spores into the air. Homeowners must enlist professional help from mould removal companies when dealing with extensive or persistent mould infestations.

If clothing has been affected by damp, leading to the growth of mildew and producing a musty smell, there are two main options available: dry cleaning or disposal. 

When dealing with valuable items such as suits or evening gowns which cannot easily be replaced, taking them for professional dry-cleaning services should remove all traces of fungal infection whilst preserving their quality.

When it comes to things of little worth or objects overrun with mould, disposing of them could be the most practical course of action. Health should always come before sentimentality when dealing with potentially hazardous substances like mould.

Revitalising clothes after mould removal

If your clothes have remained untouched by mould but still suffer from a musty smell, you must attend to them immediately. Start by airing them out, ideally outdoors if weather permits. This helps to refresh the fabric and lets any lingering odours disperse naturally.

You can also use fabric sprays designed to eliminate smells and add freshness. Febreze, for instance, is a popular choice.

But remember not to go overboard with these products as they complement cleanliness, not replace washing. Lastly, consider using scented drawer liners or sachets in your wardrobe. 

Frequently asked questions

Why do my clothes smell like damp?

Clothes often smell damp when they are left wet for too long, allowing mould and mildew to develop. This might happen if laundry is not dried properly or stored in a moist area.

Is it safe to wear clothes that smell like mildew?

Wearing musty clothes can trigger allergies and respiratory issues due to the mould spores. It is best to wash them thoroughly until the scent is gone before donning them again.

How do I get rid of the damp smell in my laundry room?

To ditch this odour, air out your laundry room regularly and clean any machines with specialised solutions. Absorbent materials like baking soda can also help capture lingering smells.

Does the damp smell ever go away?

With proper cleaning techniques using appropriate products and good ventilation habits, you can eliminate the odours from your wardrobe permanently.

Get in touch

At ICE Cleaning, we can assist you in eliminating mould from your property if you detect a musty odour. Our mould cleaning services can effectively discover the root of the smell, and our mould removal experts can advise you on future prevention strategies.

Our team of mould cleaners are available 24/7 and can be on-site within a few hours of your first call. We operate nationwide, 365 days a year to deliver the best services and ensure your home is safe to inhabit once again.

Zoe Dunning

Zoe Dunning

Sales Representative

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