‘A recipe for a mouldy smell!’ How to stop clothes smelling of ‘damp’ when drying indoors


Doing multiple loads of laundry can not only be a time-consuming chore, but it is also likely to drive up energy bills during the ongoing energy crisis. However, some common time-saving methods could be the reason why your freshly washed clothes may be plagued by the distinct stench of damp. Cleaning experts have shared what makes clothes smell of damp and to stop this issue when drying them indoors.

So what makes clothes smell damp? No matter how great the scent of the fabric softener being used is, the damp smell is caused by trapped moisture in the clothes. If some moisture remains after drying, clothes will smell damp even when they eventually dry completely.

The smell will be especially noticeable if you fold the clothes and put them in a drawer or closet while they are still damp.

Leaving wet clothes in the washing machine for too long can also make them smelly, according Nicky Ellis, a cleaning expert at Clean House Fast. She said: “Drying them doesn’t completely get rid of the smell.

“The same applies if you leave wet clothes in the tumble dryer and you’ve not turned it on. The dampness and the enclosed space are a recipe for a mouldy smell.”

Another common cause of damp clothes is drying them in a small poorly ventilated room. Nicky explained: “Whether you are using a clotheshorse or a heated airer, it is important that the room has good ventilation. If there is too much moisture in the air, it gives your clothes a musty smell.”

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2. Use a dehumidifier 

As poor ventilation is a common cause of musty smelling clothes, homeowners should use a dehumidifier as this will take excess moisture out of the air, making it much easier for laundry to dry, according to experts at Clean and Tidy Living.

They explained: “It also effectively prevents mould from appearing which is much better for our health. Dehumidifiers come in a range of capacities. 

“We think it’s better to go for the largest size that suits your space and budget, to avoid having to constantly empty the water container.”

For those who don’t want to spend money on a dehumidifier, they can just open a window to improve ventilation. This will ensure water vapour does not stick around in the room.

However, since this is England, it’s only really an option for the summer, in which case drying clothes outside is the preferred option. 

READ MORE: ‘Optimum temperature’ to heat homes and ‘save money’ on energy bills

3. Reduce load sizes

With energy bills on the rise, it can be tempting to try and get all of your laundry done in one load.

However, overpacking your machine can result in an inefficient clean, and the dreaded smell of damp.

Beko’s expert said: “Overfilling your washing machine can leave your clothes wetter when you take them out, increasing drying time quite significantly.

“To combat this, make sure you are not exceeding the designated capacity of your washing machine.”

4. Wash clothes with warm water and vinegar

If clothes are already smelling damp, white vinegar will get rid of these odours.

Clean and Tidy Living experts said: “We are often told to wash our clothes in cold water because it saves on electricity but what we don’t often think about is the effect that this may have on the bacteria living on our laundry. 

“You see, it’s hot water that can kill off bacteria. This doesn’t mean that it should be done on every load but occasionally, especially when it comes to towels. 

“Try washing them with a cup of hot vinegar and on a warm setting along with your regular detergent to deodorise them.”



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