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How to Keep Clothes Smelling Fresh in Drawers and Closets

9 Simple Tips on How to Keep Your Clothes Smelling Fresh in a Closet or Drawers

Learn how to keep your clothes smelling fresh in drawers and closets.

Even after thoroughly washing and drying your clothes, your favorite garments can sometimes come out of the closet smelling somewhat musty.

There are a few reasons clothes can smell not-so-fresh when stored in drawers and closets, but luckily, we have the solutions you need to keep them smelling good.

To keep your clothes smelling lovely and fresh in drawers and closets, ensure they are dry. Use dryer sheets, baking soda, potpourri, essential oils, cedar wood hangers, soap bars and fabric softener. Keep your clothes hamper and shoes elsewhere to avoid introducing bad smells. 

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Closets are typically small, enclosed spaces that seldom, if ever, get much air circulation. For that reason, they sometimes become home to bad smells. Unfortunately, since our clothes are stored in closets and drawers, our precious garments can become tainted by foul odors.

Let us look into the causes of bad smells in these small spaces and how to keep your clothes smelling fresh in drawers and closets.

Why Do Closets Smell Bad?

Clothes are often squashed into every corner of closets and drawers. Since these tight spaces are seldom aired out, they can become home to some foul odors.

Knowing what you are dealing with will give you a better understanding of how to eliminate the foul odors.

Closets smell bad for several reasons. Our top four causes include the following:

  • Mold and mildew
  • Damp clothes
  • Smelly shoes
  • Smelly clothes

Let us look at these in some detail:

Mold and Mildew

Mold and mildew are the most prominent causes of bad smells in closets and drawers. The main reason is damp clothes placed in the closet or drawers.

If you have a hamper in your closet, ensure you do not place wet towels or clothes in the hamper. Store your hamper in the bathroom or elsewhere. Damp clothes or towels stored in your closet can cause mold or mildew to grow inside your closet.

You have mold or mildew in your closet if you notice any of the following signs:

  • Green stains on your clothes
  • Brown stains on your clothes
  • Yellow stains on your clothes
  • Bubbling or uneven texture on the wall of your closet
  • Black or brown spots on the wall of your closet
  • A chemical smell in the closet
  • A dank, musty smell on your clothes or in the closet

Damp Clothes

Clothes should be completely dry before placing them in the closet or storage drawer. And consider air-drying them in the sun if possible.  

Do not hang damp clothes in the closet or fold damp clothes in your drawers. Storing damp clothes will result in musty smelly clothes and lead to mold and mildew growth.

Smelly Shoes

If you store your shoes in your closet, they will likely add to the overall smell of the closet. Consider spraying your shoes with a disinfectant or deodorizing spray after each wear before placing them in the closet.

Wash or clean your shoes regularly to avoid emanating a sweaty or stale smell. The smell from your shoes likely attaches to your clothes, giving them an odor that is not fresh.

Smelly Clothes

 Your clothes may be coming out of the washer smelly. If this is the case, it could mean that your washing machine needs some attention.

To deodorize your washing machine, run your machine empty with the following:

  • ¼ cup baking soda mixed with ¼ cup water in the detergent drawer
  • Pour 2 cups of white wine vinegar into the drum of the machine
  • Run a complete cycle on the warm setting

How to Keep Clothes Smelling Fresh in Drawers and Closets – 9 Easy Hacks

Now that we know the main culprits behind foul odors in closets and drawers let’s delve into how you can keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean while stored.

#1. Ensure that There is No Mold or Mildew

The first step is to make sure that there is no mold or mildew in your closet or drawers. If there is, simply mix two caps of household bleach with hot water in a spray bottle.

Take out all the clothes. Spray the carpets, walls, and ceiling of the closet and all around the drawers. Wipe away any mold or mildew that lifts after the spraying.

#2. Vacuum and Clean

At least twice a year, take all the clothes out of your closet and drawers. Vacuum and clean every surface. Wipe rods, dust shelves, polish wooden surfaces, and wash any dusty shoes, bags, and extra items.

You will be amazed by how much better the closet smells after a good clean.

#3. Declutter

If your closet is over-full, it may be time to declutter your clothes (you can donate some that are still in good shape, but you haven’t worn in a while). Your wardrobe needs space for air to circulate. Find out how to declutter your closet fast.

To avoid having stale air stagnate and begin to smell bad, minimize the number of items hanging and sitting in your closet and in your drawers. Allow enough room for air to circulate between items. Leave your closet and drawers open occasionally to help with air circulation.

#4. Use Cedar wood Hangers or Blocks

Cedar wood hangers are an excellent investment for anyone serious about keeping their closet smelling fresh. Not only do they give off a fresh, woody scent, but they also deter moths from eating and destroying your clothes.

Consider swapping out your plastic and wire hangers for cedar wood ones to bring a lasting fresh smell to your closet.

Alternatively, you can use cedar wood blocks. Put a couple of blocks in your closet and drawers.

#5. Use Dryer Sheets

New or used scented dryer sheets work exceptionally well in closets. Even after one use in the dryer, dryer sheets absorb bad smells in your closet.

Lay them flat on the floor of your drawers or fold them in the pockets of coats or trousers in your closet. Dryer sheets work until you can no longer smell the scent. At that point, you can replace them.

#6. Baking Soda or Activated Charcoal

Baking soda is one of those wonder ingredients we love to mention repeatedly. In this case, you can place a small bowl or box of baking soda in your closet to eliminate bad smells and keep your clothes smelling fresh for longer. Be sure to put it out of the way to avoid having it knocked over.

Activated charcoal works great too. Place it in your closet or drawer to absorb the bad smells and make your clothes smell great. An added bonus of activated charcoal is that it absorbs mold spores, so you may kill two birds with one stone by using it.

When you feel your activated charcoal is weakening, place it in the sun for a few hours, and it will recharge.

Some people also suggest using coffee grounds. I gave it a try, but didn’t like this option because it gave my clothes a slight coffee scent. To use coffee grounds, place them in a jar and cover them with a lid. Poke holes in the top, allowing the grounds to soak up the bad smells.

#7. Vinegar

Vinegar is another household item that can be used for many purposes. Would you believe that you can also use it to keep your clothes smelling fresh?

Add a tablespoon of vinegar to your clothes softener as part of your washing cycle to keep your clothes smelling fresh from the washing phase.

#8. Unused Scented Soap or Fabric Softener

If you have a new scented soap at home, consider placing it in your closet or in your drawer to keep your clothes smelling fresh. Wrap the soap in tissue paper or thin fabric.

Similarly, a re-fil bag of fabric softener can be placed in your closet or drawer to give off a lovely scent. This also works as a car air freshener when placed under the seat.

#9. Essential Oils

Essential oils have their place in many areas of our lives, and our closets are another place they are helpful. Drop ten to twenty drops of your favorite scent, like lavender, lemon, peppermint, or another, onto cotton balls and place them into a glass jar.

Cover the jar with thin fabric and put it in a safe spot in your closet or drawer. Your clothes will smell lovely for a while. Simply drop more oil onto the cotton balls when the scent wears off and enjoy the smell again.

You can also use essential oils in potpourri if you like. The delicate flowers and herbs mix well with essential oils. Dried lavender makes beautiful fragrance sachets for closets and drawers and makes your clothes smell lovely.

Final Thoughts on How to Keep Clothes Smelling Good in Drawers and Closets

It is possible to keep your clothes smelling fresh while stored in your closet or drawers. Keep your closet and drawers clean and ventilated, and ensure that there is no mold or mildew.

Use baking soda activated charcoal, and other ingredients to absorb foul odors. Use sweet-smelling deodorizers to make your clothes smell lovely while being stored for use.

Did you find our tips on how to keep your clothes smelling fresh in drawers and closets helpful? Leave your comment below.

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Brenda H

Saturday 4th of November 2023

Loved these tips on how to keep your closets and drawers smelling clean. I am going to try some of these tips soon. Thank you

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