Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why do my clean clothes and closet smell stale and musty?

How can clean clothes hanging in a closet have a smell? The answer may surprise you – the problem is dirty air. Just imagine what would happen if you forgot to dust your bedside table for several weeks? It would quickly develop a coating of dust, microscopic bacteria and even mold spores. Clothes hanging in your closet are no different. In fact, fabric is an easy target for airborne particles, chemicals, and household odors.  

So what’s the solution?
Unlike dusting furniture, cleaning your entire closet of clothes every few days is just not practical. The use of sprays and air fresheners is also not recommended. These products tend to contain chemical scents that only mask the stale smell temporarily and have been shown to trigger allergic reactions, aggravate asthma and potentially cause long term health issues. Here are some safe and proven tips to help remove that stale closet smell:

  • Increase air circulation and bring in more fresh air. Open the windows often or use a high quality air purifier with an odor controlling carbon filter like the AllerAir AirTube. This type of air cleaner removes 99.97% of airborne dust, hair, bacteria and other particles like mold spores. The carbon filter uses the same material found in military gas mask to remove odors and chemicals. Your entire room will smell fresher and so will your clothes. A great products for allergy suffers!
  • Use a HEPA vacuum. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter actually traps dust as you clean. Old style vacuums will send dust right back into the air and onto your clothes.
  • If it stinks, don’t put it in your closet.You’ve just worn your favorite dress out for dinner and its "dry clean only". Avoid the temptation to hang it back in your closet! It has likely absorbed food smells and perhaps even cigarette smoke. If you’re determined not to clean it, try hanging it in outside overnight or leave it closed up in your bathroom with the window open. This will help dissipate some of the odors. 
  • Never hang damp clothes in your closet.You’ve done your laundry and you hang your damp top on the back of your closet door for tomorrow. You may feel like the pillar of efficiency, but that damp top is a magnet for mold and mildew. Make sure clothes are 100% dry before putting them away.
By taking these few simple steps you will not only help keep your clothes smelling clean and fresh, but you'll be improving the overall air quality in your home....clean air is your best accessory!


  1. Anonymous8:51 PM

    My basement closet has a musty smell. I suspect that the opening to the outside block is the cause--the sheet rock stops short of the ceiling. There's no air circulation which also causes the smell. Would adding insulation and closing the opening with sheet rock help with this problem?

  2. That might be a good place to start. It definitely sounds like a moisture problem. From an air quality perspective a musty, stale smell hints at mold. Increasing ventilation in the basement in general could also help and a room air purifier would at least provide some air cleaning if you can't improve the ventilation.

  3. It is best to get some Hangers direct you like and instead of folded clothes, hang them to air out