What Is The Reason For A Musty Closet?

Closets or storage areas are designed in such a way that they are prone to humidity. This eventually leads to mold and a foul smell.

Why Do Clothes Smell After Being Stored?

Dampness and the resulting mildew are a common cause of foul closet odors because it emits a distinct odor. Closets are typically overflowing with clothing and shoes and are frequently used as extra storage space for miscellaneous items.

The odors that come into contact with the fabric affect its smell and because of the accumulation of body oils, grime, and dirt, your clothes have a foul odor.

When you haven’t worn your clothes in a while, they can begin to smell stale. To give them a new life, hang them outside in a line for a couple of hours.

Often, the combination of sunlight and breeze is enough to remove the odor of mildew. Even if it isn’t sunny, some fresh air can do wonders.

If that doesn’t work, run them through the washing machine for a quick rinse with fabric conditioner.

Place a small-scented lavender bag in with your clothes the next time you store them for an extended period of time (for example, because you’re storing winter clothes in the loft over the summer).

Why Do Clothes Smell After Storage For A Season?

Mildew, not mold, is one of the most common causes of odor in stored clothing.

Mildew, like mold, is a fungus that grows in a flat pattern on the surface of organic material. Mold, on the other hand, is frequently fuzzy or slimy, grows beneath surfaces, and frequently affects the food in our refrigerators or the walls of our homes.

Mildew, like most fungi, thrives in a dark, moist environment, so drawers, closets, under the sink, and around pipes are all fair game. When we open a neglected closet or a storage bin in the attic, the musty odor is often caused by mildew, and it can be especially bad during the hot, humid months.

The lack of fresh air and ventilation in dark closets can provide the ideal environment for mildew to grow all year.

How To Get Rid Of Musty Closet Odors?

It is important to freshen clothes that have been in storage to remove any bad odors, allowing mildew to grow for an extended period of time can also cause health problems.

Following are the steps to get rid of musty closet odors:

Completely Empty The Musty Closet

Set aside any clothes or footwear that haven’t been thoroughly washed and dried, and wash and dry them before putting them back in the closet.

Clean The Closet From Top To Bottom

Sweep the floor thoroughly and wipe down any shelves and walls. White vinegar is a great natural deodorizer. You can wipe down the walls and other parts of your closet with a mixture of 1/2 cup of vinegar in a bucket of warm-to-hot water. If you spot mold or mildew, remove it with a spray bottle 3/4 full of hot water and two capfuls of bleach). 

Before replacing any items, ensure that the surfaces in the closet have completely dried by leaving the door open and airing out the closet.

Restock Your Closet

After it has been cleaned, aired out, and deodorized, restock the closet and only store clean, dry items.

The best way to keep musty odors from returning to clothes or closets is to launder and dry clothes thoroughly, avoid storing damp footwear in closets, and keep pets out of storage areas. If the musty odor returns at any point, repeat the process of emptying, purging, cleaning, and re-stocking.

What Are The Best Ways To Keep Your Custom Closets Smelling Fresh?

Bad odors accumulate in closets over time because they are small, compact spaces with no air circulation.

You can take steps to eliminate bad odors and keep your closets (and clothes) smelling fresh.

Clean Your Custom Closets On A Regular Basis

To keep your closets smelling fresh, give them a thorough cleaning on a regular basis. Take everything out of your closets. To remove dirt and dust from your closet floors, vacuum them.

Consider steam cleaning if you have a carpeted floor. Check that all surfaces are completely dry before returning your clothes and other items. To speed up the drying process, air out your closet and use a fan.

Items Should Be Cleaned And Dried Before Storing

Even if you only wore something once, wash it with scented detergent to get rid of any odors on your clothes. Before putting clothes back in the closet, make sure they are completely dry.

If your clothes aren’t completely dry, the dampness will cause other issues. If you keep a hamper in your closet, avoid putting wet towels or damp clothing in it.

Use Vinegar Spray

Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that can be used to refresh a variety of spaces, including your closet.

It is recommended to combine equal parts white vinegar and equal parts water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to your clothing (turn items inside out before using).

Related Questions

Why do some new clothes smell after they’ve been washed?

Unwanted odors can sometimes be caused by your washer. Fabric softener and detergent can accumulate and clog filters, as well as harbor bacteria. As a result, as you wash your clothes, again and again, they are exposed to bacteria in the water.

How can I keep my clothes from smelling stale in my closet?

Place some lavender or potpourri bags strategically among your clothes. It’s a tried-and-true method for making your clothes smell nice. If you prefer no scent from lavender, simply leave a small open bowl of baking soda in your closet to absorb odors.


In short, wherever you store your clothes, if that place has humidity and bacteria then a musty smell must appear from your clothes. Therefore, make sure to completely dry your clothes before storing them.

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