After moving to a new home a while back, I realized that the closets in all my bedrooms had a strong, musty odor that hit me every time I pulled the doors open. I ignored the smell hoping that it would dissipate after a few days. However, the smell lingered on, prompting me to seek ways of getting rid of moistness and the resulting foul odor.
If you’re like me and can’t stand that mustiness emanating from your wardrobe, you’ll find the following techniques to be very useful:
Cleaning the Closet
You guessed right; the first step towards riding my closet of foul odor involves cleaning. I always begin by removing everything from my closet, including dresses, shirts, jackets, shoes, socks, and everything else comprising fabric. Subsequently, I place the attires in my washing machine and hang them in the open air to achieve that refreshing scent.
This is followed by intense vacuuming. All the while, I ensure that my device touches every inch of the closet floor, walls, and ceiling. After removing every bit of dust and debris, I fill my bucket with warm water and half a cup of vinegar and thoroughly scrub my closet. I then leave the wardrobe to dry for a day before reinstating my clothes. To prevent a recurrence of that repelling mugginess, I repeat the cleanup process every few months.
Tip: I discovered that placing an air circulating fan in the closet expedites the drying process significantly.
Allowing Sufficient Air Circulation
Just like the case with most households, the closets in my homes used to be filled to the brim, often with hardly used clothes and shoes. We also stored items like seasonal clothes and skiing gear in the wardrobes, making them all the more congested. While the closet provides an excellent storage area for these items, jamming them in there leads to poor air circulation, stuffiness, and a stale, unpleasant odor.
If your wardrobes are always overcrowded, consider these simple solutions that work for me consistently:
- Organize a family home-cleaning day and urge your household members to select and pack clothes they no longer need and donate or dispose of them
- Consider storing out-of-season clothing in the garage or any other room you hardly frequent
- If your budget allows, replace the closet doors with louvered ones to allow sufficient air circulation even when they’re shut
- Ensure that everything that doesn’t consist of fabric or leather goes to the garage, including tools and toys
- Purchase some storage boxes and closet organizers, especially the type that allows adequate air circulation, and store any clothing that can’t be hanged
- When it comes to dirty laundry, you may want to place them in woven baskets; these have enough air circulation openings
Reducing the number of items in your wardrobe will go a long way in preserving the pleasant fragrance of freshly washed clothes.
While searching for ways to end my odor problem, I discovered that dampness is often the culprit for smelly closets.
Causes of dampness in the closet include:
- Failure to ensure that your clothes are completely dry before placing them in the wardrobe
- Tossing sweaty clothes or shoes into the closet. This habit also leads to unpleasant odors.
- Condensation of steam from nearby bathrooms or kitchen
- Moisture from leaky walls or floors often occurring when there’s a leaky pipe in your home. This problem is also experienced by those residing in overly wet regions.
Regardless of the cause of dampness in your closet, you will want to address the issue immediately lest it creates a breeding ground for mold, which, in turn, causes unpleasant smells.
- To prevent dampness, I always ensure that my clothes are completely dry before placing them in the closet. As a point plus, I sun-dry my clothes whenever the weather allows
- I also discourage my kids from placing dirty laundry in their closets
- To deal with the moisture problem, I utilize closet dehumidifiers. I have three dehumidifiers: An electric one for my large closet and two desiccant ones for the smaller wardrobes. I found these from through Veranda Interiors.
- I also place desiccant dehumidifiers in my storage boxes, especially those loaded with out-of-season clothes and shoes. These units keep my clothes dry and fresh till the next season.
Deodorizing and Providing Continuous Odor Absorption Protection
Even after working so hard to eliminate closet odor, some smells are resilient, and they keep creeping back after a few weeks.
This compels me to utilize the following odor absorption methods:
- Baking Soda
While baking soda is mostly used to remove stains from carpets, it’s an excellent odor absorber.
How does this work? You wonder:
Put about five tablespoons of baking soda into a container and place it inside the closet. After a few days, empty the container and place fresh baking soda. Also, pour a few spoons of the same onto the closet’s carpet and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming. Try this idea, and thank me later.
- Soap Bar
While scented soap doesn’t necessarily absorb foul odors, it provides your closet with a pleasant fragrance that might well mask any traces of unpleasant smells. For this method to work optimally, place small soaps wrapped with a thin fabric in your closets and drawers. You’ll want to keep the soaps in there for at least a month before replacing them with a new set.
- Using Activated Charcoal
Charcoal has a high ability to absorb odors, among other air impurities. Therefore, I place charcoal in solid form in my closet for six hours before introducing fresh clothes. This ensures that all odors are absorbed beforehand, allowing my clothes to preserve their freshness longer. I also leave some charcoal to lie in my closet for a few more days after placing my garments in there, hoping to absorb odors as they come.
- Add Some Scents
My daughter fancies pleasant aromas, and hence I’ve taken the habit of adding fragrances into her closet. Sometimes, I spray the wooden hangers with her perfume. Consequently, the hangers absorb the aroma from which it leaks slowly for a few days, giving her closet an exquisite scent. Other times, I spray a few drops of essential oils into her closet and shut the doors for the fragrance to settle.
That musty smell in your closet that you’ve been ignoring will soon spread to your clothes, regardless of washing your laundry with high-quality detergents or scented fabric softeners. As such, it’s best to devise ways of ridding your closet of that lingering staleness to ensure that your clothes remain fresh longer. Cleaning, deodorizing, and providing sufficient air circulation will go a long way in eliminating the stale air from your closet. You may also use dehumidifiers to extract excess moisture, which is the leading cause of smelly wardrobes.