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Why do clothes in drawers smell musty?

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Answer # 1 #

There are a few ways to prevent odors from finding your items in the off season. Read our article to find out how to keep your clothes smelling fresh in storage.

It’s always exciting to put away clothes from last season, and bring out some of your treasured favorites for the new season. But it will likely dull your enthusiasm if your clothes smell musty from being in storage.What you hoped to wear right away now has to be laundered. Fortunately, you can prevent odors from finding your items in the off season with a few tips and tricks.

There are many reasons for clothes to smell after being in storage. The location itself is a factor. Do you store your off-season items in a storage unit, in an attic or basement, or in a seldom-used closet? Climate is another factor. Is your storage space climate controlled, temperature controlled, or neither?Climate even plays a role when storing clothing in your home. For example, if you live in a humid area such as Palm Beach or Beverly Hills, your closet might lack airflow, which can cause mold growth and lead to musty-scented clothing.Also, if you store your clothing in containers, drawers, or boxes, be aware that small, cramped spaces tend to hold on to odors, both pleasant and unpleasant.

Regardless of why your clothes tend to smell musty, there are ways to prevent it from happening. Here are 10 ways to keep clothes fresh in storage bins, closets, drawers, and storage units:

Circulation and temperature are critical. When you add airflow to a sealed unit, such as a storage container or attic, you inhibit mold growth and keep clothing fresh. Also, some items might be more susceptible to certain temperatures; wool and cashmere are sensitive to heat. To best protect clothing in storage, rent a climate-controlled storage unit.

If a climate-controlled unit is unavailable, the second best option is a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers prevent bad odors in three ways: they remove humidity, keep mold and mildew from growing, and make the environment less hospitable to moths. A dehumidifier requires electricity to run, which may be problematic in a storage unit, and they only work in temperatures above 70℉. If you live in a cold climate, opt for a climate-controlled storage unit instead.

To stop clothes from smelling musty in drawers, deodorize the container first. Start by cleaning the airtight container, box, closet, or attic from top to bottom. Make sure you remove items already in the container. Then, use a vacuum to remove the dust and dirt, and wipe down the container with an odor-neutralizer. For a more natural solution, use a vinegar and water mixture. Once the solution dries, any unpleasant smells should be gone.

Dryer sheets are ideal for keeping your stored clothing smelling fresh. Old or new, a single dryer sheet among your packed clothing will give them a pleasant fragrance for several months.

If you want to repel moths and other insects while keeping your clothes fresh, consider using essential oils. A few drops of lavender or cedarwood oil on a wool dryer ball will diffuse a pleasant scent while protecting your clothing from damage. You can also put some essential oil on a paper towel or dryer sheet.

Baking soda has many benefits, including absorbing odors. Simply place a box of baking soda in your closet or storage space. Over time, the baking soda will absorb moisture and odors that could affect your clothing. Replace the box of baking soda every couple of months.

If you have a signature scent, use your perfume to keep your clothing fresh. This method is also easy—just grab some acid-free tissue paper and spray it with the perfume. Let the tissue paper dry (wet paper could stain clothing), and place it underneath your stored clothing.

Like baking soda, activated charcoal can absorb odors swiftly. Add bags of bamboo charcoal to your closet, and eliminate odors within 30-60 minutes.

Cedarwood hangers repel moths similar to lavender, and they also have moisture-absorbing properties. As a bonus, they have an earthy scent that will freshen your clothing. Another option is to place cedarwood blocks in your closet or inside airtight storage bins.

Whether you are using a storage unit, large storage bag, or an unused closet, it is vital to store your items properly. Laundering items before storing removes any remnants of sweat, dirt, or food that may damage your clothing and attract pests. Place clothing in an airtight container to protect it from light, dust, and moths.Add your preferred odor-absorbing items, such as cedarwood, baking soda, or activated charcoal, and use as described above.

Follow these recommendations, and your clothing should smell good while in storage. But it’s likely you will still want to freshen up everything when you take items out of storage. Here are some tips:

Clothing odors can come from a variety of sources. Unpleasant smells can be caused by mold and moisture. Unremoved sweat, dirt, or food that remained on the clothes may also cause foul odors. Storing clothes in a place that lacks airflow can lead to mustiness as well.

While you should always launder clothing before storing it, there are ways to keep clothes smelling fresh while in storage. Use activated charcoal or baking soda to absorb moisture and odors in the space. Afterwards, consider essential oils, dryer sheets, cedar blocks, or lavender sachets to maintain a good smell.

You don’t have to wash clothing that has been in storage under the following conditions: 1) if it was washed prior to storing, 2) if it was stored in an airtight container, and 3) if it still smells fresh. However, if you’re concerned about the way the garment feels or smells, you can certainly have it laundered.

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Answer # 2 #

Possible reasons why clothes smell after being stored in a drawer:

Often maintain your drawer to avoid unnecessary dampness and wash your clothes properly. Do it ahead so you can eliminate it right away. Please, keep reading as we list down the other factors that cause our clothes to smell in our drawers.

It is really hard for us to dry our laundry, especially during rainy or humid seasons. This causes our clothes to smell. Due to the extreme seasonal humidity, clothing begins to smell rapidly. Additionally, during rainy seasons, we frequently miss the chance to hang our garments out to dry, which causes moisture to build up in them. The end consequence is laundry that smells musty.

The musty smell comes from moisture due to the absence of sunlight and will get worse right after you put it in your drawer. Even if the mildew spores are not visible, their odor will alert us to their presence. Mildew grows in damp, dark places. A wet item of clothing, a spill, or even humidity can introduce moisture into drawers, causing musty odors.

Although we use the right amount of laundry detergent on our laundry, it is still smelly if your washing machine has mold inside. Most likely, your washing machine appears to be rather clean inside. But take a closer look.

You might discover concealed mold, nevertheless, particularly in the front loading door's gasket area. Consumer Reports claims that at least 17% of front-loader owners experience this issue, and some top-loading washers might also experience it.

Your drawers worsen your moldy clothes from the washing machine.

You overload your washing machine to finish the job quickly, but your laundry will suffer. Your clothes tend to get washed improperly, even in a clean machine, since there’s no space for everything to move and get washed accordingly.

To be able to get your job done ahead of time does not necessarily mean it will have a clean outcome.

Your old clothes that are still in the drawers haven't been worn for a long time, affecting the smell of the other clothes. The unpleasant smell is trapped in the drawer where there is nowhere else to go and is absorbed by the other clothes.

Clothes that are in the process of drying are vulnerable to absorbing smoke, most likely the smoke coming from burning wood, dried leaves, or even cigarettes. Smoke is maybe one of the worst things that the laundry can absorb. It literally wastes your detergent because it is difficult to clean.

Adding more water won’t make your laundry any cleaner. The additional water dilutes the concentrated detergent. In addition, it lessens the mechanical action of the agitator or garments rubbing against one another inside the basin, aiding in the removal of stains and grime.

Unclean clothes cause your clothes to smell in the drawer.

Your clothes could even begin to smell unpleasant if you use too much detergent. Why? It allows the dirt and germs you’re trying to wash away to, instead, stick to the fabric. In actuality, the excess detergent will result in a foamy film on the fabric, preventing it from being washed completely away.

Since we have identified the causes of bad smell, We have listed down all the possible questions you have on your mind. Read on as we move on to some tips and tricks you can try at home.

Whatever the cause, there are ways to stop your clothing from smelling musty. The following are some ideas for preserving stored clothing:

Although you already knew that a steamer could remove wrinkles and make your clothing seem fresh, it turns out that it can also make your clothes smell nice. Bacteria that cause odors are killed by the intense heat of the steaming water.

No steamer, don't worry, it's no issue! A common trick that can sometimes work is to hang wrinkled clothing in the bathroom while taking a hot shower, but you must recognize that this method rarely works as effectively as a steamer.

The smell of mold is typically described as musty, stale, and earthy, much like the scent of wet socks or rotting wood.

Fill a lunchbox-sized container with baking soda, freshly ground coffee, or cat litter. Place the container, without affixing a lid, into the draw or drawers. Close drawers for a couple of days, leaving the odor absorber of your choice inside. Then remove the container and allow the area to air out once more. By doing so, the stench will be neutralized and help to absorb it.

In many major aspects of a person's everyday life, including interpersonal interactions, social events, and the workplace, the clothes we wear frequently play a crucial role. They have a significant impact on how someone feels, command respect, and frequently also impact initial impressions.

We've got other great tips to keep your clothes fresh and organized, ready to wear -you can dress to impress! Check out our related posts:

Varsha Korde
Answer # 3 #

Beware though, as you cast open cupboards, drawers or wardrobes that you haven’t used in a while, you might be met with a telltale mustiness. This is common in enclosed spaces that don’t get aired out frequently – for example that drawer full of spare bedsheets, or the chest of drawers left behind in a house you’ve recently moved into.

At worst, the smell can be an alarm bell for problems like damp or mildew. At best, it can simply linger on, unwanted, and even transfer to your clothes or kitchenware.

So, how do you get rid of the smell when a lavender sachet just won’t cut it?

1. First, find the source of the problem

First things first, empty everything out of the storage space to look for a source of the odour. If you spot any mould or mildew, then this will be the culprit, and should be carefully treated with a suitable mould cleaner. If there’s no apparent mould, then the smell is most likely due to a lack of air circulation and a build-up of dust. Discard old paper liners if you have been using them, wash any plastic or cloth linings, and vacuum clean the whole space. Lastly, give all the surfaces a good wipe down with a cloth that’s lightly dampened with warm soapy water.

2. Air out drawers, cupboards and wardrobes

Once freshly cleaned, leave cupboards or drawers open to air out and dry for two to three days. If you’re dealing with a free-standing piece of furniture, consider moving it outdoors for a few hours in dry weather for maximum airflow.

Musty smell still strong? Place a lunchbox-sized container of baking soda, fresh coffee grounds, or cat litter inside for a couple of days with the doors/drawers closed, then remove the container and air the space again. This will help to absorb and neutralise the smell. You could also sprinkle the whole area with baking soda and let it sit on the surfaces while you’re airing, then hoover or wipe it up with a damp cloth.

Shutterstock / v74 Shutterstock / v74 / v74

3. Next, try a deep clean

If the mustiness still persists, there are some deep cleaning methods you can try to shift the problem. The old reliable distilled white vinegar (diluted 50/50 with warm water) may help; simply wipe down all the surfaces with your vinegar/water solution and leave to dry.

For another natural alternative, wipe the insides down with a clear spirit like vodka before letting it thoroughly dry. Murphy Oil Soap can be effective for cleaning and deodorising wood and other porous materials, but you should always check that the cleaner you intend to use is suitable for the surface you’re cleaning.

4. If all else fails then sand, prime and paint

If none of these efforts have made any difference, then drastic action is called for. Sometimes surfaces can absorb stale mustiness (you’ll often notice this with antique or vintage furniture) and the only way to clear it completely is to replace the finish. If the surfaces inside the storage unit are natural wood, varnish, or paint, then gently sand it all back, prime the surface, and finish with a fresh coat of paint or varnish. If the surface is laminate, then your local hardware store or paint supplier will be able to recommend a suitable primer so that you can repaint it. It’s a lot of work, but is the most effective method to eliminate mustiness once and for all.

5. Stop mustiness from coming back

You can keep your cupboards and drawers smelling fresh by sprinkling a little essential oil in them every few months – if you fancy trying something other than lavender, then experiment with sandalwood (woody and sweet), ylang ylang (floral), and bergamot (citrus).

You could also place a small bowl of coffee beans, vanilla pods, or cinnamon sticks in a corner for a fresh burst of scent every time you open cupboard or drawer, or hang a small cotton sachet of dried sprigs of lavender or herbs inside the space. If neutral is more your thing, then a small container of baking soda should do the trick.

Follow Gráinne @parsekus on Instagram for more home hacks and décor inspiration.

Atom Burnquist
Track Inspector
Answer # 4 #

Musty smells are a result of mildew in your clothing or in your dresser. Mildew develops spores that accumulate in dark and damp environments, and even if we aren't able to visibly see them, the smell will give it away.

Perumal Sajjan
Answer # 5 #
  • Tuck dryer sheets into your clothes drawers.
  • Keep a small mesh bag of potpourri among your folded clothes.
  • Store unused bar soap in your clothes drawers.
Emad Hary