How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Clothes

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I cannot COUNT how many times I have accidentally left clothes in the washer for too long! I really need to break that habit--or maybe I won't worry about it any more and just use this super simple {and cheap!} trick to get rid of that mildew smell. I want to try this on my towels first! #laundryhacks #mildewprevention #stinkyclothes #householdhacks

For weeks, my very favorite sweatshirt smelled of mildew.

I had no idea why, except that it might have been the two or three or ten times I accidentally left clothes in the washer too long before remembering to switch it over to the dryer. Please tell me I’m not alone?

I thought everything was a lost cause until some friends in the Creative Savings community gave me a few ideas to try….and when one of them worked, I knew I just had to share it on the blog. It was so so easy!

You will love this super simple {and thrifty} trick to get mildew smell out of clothes, and I hope you enjoy the video format — I know it’s been a while since I’ve done one, but I felt like switching it up today!

Oh, and if you have stinky towels, this totally does the job too.

If you’re interested in trying out the Mrs. Meyer’s detergent that I mentioned in the video, you can get $10 to spend on your first order with Grove. And if you enjoyed the video and want to see more, make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel. I hope to get it up and running in the coming months with some more fun tips!

Thanks for watching!

If you liked this post, I have even more cleaning and organizing goodies for you:

Have you ever tried this odor-reducing trick before?

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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  1. This is a true life hack. My son’s polyester basketball shorts were smelling like my old hockey gear, r a n k. It only took one load of laundry to prove how great this works. Vinegar is an inexpensive household item making this a no- to low-cost solution.

    Thank you for taking the time to share this great information! πŸ˜‰

  2. Thanks for this. I bought a beautiful silk and cotton sweater at a rummage sale that has taken on a mildew smell. Now I know how to make it wearable again.

  3. I just read a lengthy description of why I should watch a video with the answer in it.

    You could have saved us both some time and written about how to get the mold smell away rather than watch a video.

  4. I put 1/4 cup of oxyclean and a detergent pod in with every load…. i can leave clothes in for 3-4 days before switching and NEVER have the mildew smell. if i forget for longer…. or make the mistake i made recently in that i did laundry right before vacation…. I just run the load again with borax, dry it. and rewash with the oxyclean/pod and it is fresh as ever.

  5. I put the vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. All my clothes comes out of the dryer soft and fresh.

  6. i add a 1/2 cup of vinegar to all my loads of laundry instead of fabric softener… it also softens all my clothing.
    also if having a front loader always dry rubber gasket after real good and leave door open or ajar. this will stop a lot of the moldy smell…. and once a month in empty machine wash with hot water and 1 cup of bleach.. then another with just hot water… be sure to dry gasket and door after and leave door open…

  7. I have experienced stinky towels as well. I have a front loader washer and I recently cleaned the rubber around the door and clean a lot of mold, Yuk! I read somewhere out on cyber space that using bleach once a week helps mold from building in the machine. So when I our bed sheets, which are all white, I add some bleach and I do have to say that I haven’t had any stinky towel since. I also add vinegar from time-to-time.

    1. Great tip, Jen! I have heard that front load washing machines can be tough to keep clean, sounds like you’ve made a great solution.

  8. I have always used hydrogen peroxide in the brown bottle to remove mildew odors. I use about a 1/2 cup in the wash cycle. It’s color safe and is very inexpensive. I get it at Costco in the Pharmacy. It will also get rid of the stink in front loading washers.

  9. I have some tablecloths that have a rancid oil smell to them and have done the vinegar wash several time and has not worked. Any other suggestions?

  10. I was re-acquainted with this tip when I was taking care of my mum that had Alzheimer’s. There was just never enough hours in the day to do or remember everything. Did you also know that Vinegar takes the urine smell out of bed linens and clothes? Again, don’t forget to use the hot water setting on your washing machine for this too. Most of your followers are probably younger and didn’t use diapers for their children. I remember being asked by my Mum to take my brother’s dirty diapers and put them into the diaper pail that was full of hot water and vinegar and there they would sit until Mum had a chance to do the laundry.

  11. I didn’t know about the vinegar thanks. I do know that hot water and a half cup of baking soda makes towels fresher since it helps get all the detergent rinsed out and of course I never use fabric softener on towels.

  12. I was wondering if you could just add the vinegar directly to the load of laundry that has been sitting in the washer for too long and rewash?

  13. Another tip is to make sure your towels are COMPLETELY dry before you fold them & put them away. Even if they comne out of the dryer smelling nice & fresh smelling. If they are just the slights bit damp they will begin to smell all over again as they sit!

    1. I’m so glad you mentioned this! Towels take forever to dry, and you’re right, they get really smelly if they are even just a little wet!

  14. I’m definitely going to give this a try! My washcloths, in particular, tend to get that icky, mildew smell…

  15. So…I always leave the clothes in the washer and they get that smell. GREAT video! You can add a SUBSCRIBE annotation directly on your YOU TUBE video so people can click your video and subscribe too!

    1. Thanks, Kristen! I really appreciate that tip — Yay for YouTube making it so easy to subscribe!

  16. When my son comes home with his duffle bag full of laundry, I always add vinegar to his loads. He has had them in his duffle bag for GOD only knows how long, plus he smokes so the vinegar removes both smoke and mildewy odors.

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