How to Get Rid of Storage Odors from Clothing

Woman emptying her laundry basket.

So, you’ve taken your old or seasonal clothes out of storage to be used again and have noticed that they don’t smell as fresh as they used to when first packing them. This issue can be annoying and time-consuming, depending on the volume of clothes you have stored away. Don’t worry – this problem won’t last long as there are many easy and fast ways to get rid of storage odors from clothing.

Wash clothing with laundry detergent

The most common and effective way to remove odor from your clothing is to wash them in a washing machine with detergent and fabric softener. You can wash the items before and after placing them in storage. This technique is suitable for large amounts of clothing, but it can take a bit more effort and time than other methods listed here, especially if you need to iron your clothes afterward. However, it will make your clothes feel as good as new even though you’ve just taken them out of storage.

Baking soda

The go-to cleaner and odor remover is, of course, baking soda. It is a fantastic tool for fighting musky odor and bacteria that may be present on your clothes. Baking soda is the most affordable solution and is suitable for a large amount of clothing needing to be tackled at once. You can mix it with clothes directly in the laundry machine or use it for prewashing by soaking clothes in water mixed with it. Baking soda also works well in preventing moisture from coming into your clothes while storing them. Before moving your items back into storage, put some baking soda together with your clothing. With this and other advice from experts such as City Movers, you can relocate your seasonal clothing quickly and safely. You won’t have to worry about mold or moisture getting to your stored pieces of clothing.


White vinegar might seem unusual initially, as it has a strong smell, but it works wonders, especially if we’re talking about powerful and persistent odors. It deodorizes clothing fast and effectively. You can use it for prewashing by mixing it with water or washing clothes with a bit of vinegar in the laundry machine. The smell of the storage room will no longer be there once you clean your clothing with white vinegar. It works just as well as many chemical solutions while being eco-friendly at the same time.

Use lemon to get rid of storage odors from clothing

An excellent alternative to white vinegar is lemon, which is also acidic and works just as well but can be more expensive depending on the number of items you want to remove odors from. There are many ways to use it, such as squeezing out the juice and mixing it with water to use as a spray. Alternatively, mix it with salt and make a paste to spread on the smaller items of clothing you wish to tackle. Applying some lemon on your clothes works wonders for mold spots and removing bacteria that may have accumulated.

Sunlight and air drying work well

In most cases, the smell of storage left on your clothes isn’t strong, and you can remove it by leaving the clothes outside to air out. Take advantage of warm weather to use this technique. Warm sunlight and fresh air will help you freshen up your clothes in a short amount of time. However, this isn’t recommended as a regular solution to this problem. Leaving clothes outside in the sun for a prolonged time can make them look bleached and worn out. This technique works best for clothes made of natural fibers, such as cotton.

Fabric sprays

Fabric sprays are cheap, easy to find, and an excellent solution to removing nasty smells from your clothes. You spray the clothes you wish to refresh with it, and the odors will go away quickly. You can even buy an enzyme odor remover, which makes odor control simple. Enzymes can make the storage odors from clothing go away, but they also work wonders in preventing them from reoccurring.

Dryers and dryer sheets

Besides sun drying your clothes, the easiest way to remove odors is to put them in a dryer on a refresh cycle. This is a fast, efficient, and easy way to get rid of storage odors from clothing. Make sure to follow the instructions for your dryer carefully before proceeding. Dryer sheets can be of great help in removing storage odors from clothing and can be used to further prevent these odors from reappearing just by simply putting them on hangers or in between the clothes you stored away.

Insect-repellent sachets for added protection

When dealing with storage odors from clothing, it’s also essential to consider protecting your garments from potential insect damage. Insect-repellent sachets are a fantastic addition to your storage routine as they not only help to prevent odors but also act as a deterrent against unwanted pests like moths and silverfish. These pests can cause significant damage to your clothes, especially if they are stored for long periods.

Insect-repellent sachets are readily available in stores or online, and you can even make your own using natural repellents such as dried lavender, cedar chips, or cinnamon sticks. These sachets not only emit a pleasant fragrance that keeps your clothes smelling fresh, but they also release natural oils that insects find repulsive, effectively safeguarding your clothing.

To use insect-repellent sachets, simply place them strategically throughout your storage containers, closets, or drawers, ensuring they are in direct contact with your clothes. The scent will permeate the enclosed space and create a protective barrier, preventing any unwelcome pests from making a meal out of your favorite garments.

Additionally, periodically checking and airing out your stored clothing throughout the year will help maintain its freshness and discourage musty odors from settling in. By incorporating insect-repellent sachets into your clothing storage routine, you not only eliminate odors but also ensure that your clothing remains in pristine condition and is safeguarded against potential insect infestations. It’s a simple and cost-effective solution to enhance your storage efforts and extend the life of your cherished wardrobe.

What to do next?

Use some of the following tricks and tips to prevent odors from returning to your seasonal clothing items. Put dryer sheets in between clothes to keep them fresh longer. Just a single dryer sheet will make a difference you wouldn’t expect. Put baking soda with your clothes to have it absorb the moisture instead of your clothes. Investing in a proper storage unit that is kept clean is the key to storing your seasonal clothes in a way that is safe from moisture and damage. Remember to clean the storage boxes before putting clothing back inside, and wash your clothes well in the laundry machine before putting them back.

These days, there are so many different closet fresheners and fragrances to choose from, which you can add to your stored clothes and keep them smelling nice. You can even put old perfumes, potpourri, or soap bars on shelves to keep the odor away. Cedarwood hangers and oil can also make a big difference when storing clothing items.

In conclusion

As we can see, it is easy to get rid of storage odors from clothing with the right tools. Whether you wash them with vinegar or put them in a dryer, you will achieve a positive outcome quickly. Your clothes will feel brand new and smell fresh and clean, and you’ll forget you had this problem.

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