There are few things more disappointing than getting an outfit out of the closet and realizing it smells. Dampness in closets can cause odor and mustiness, which can easily transfer to your clothing. The way closets are set up often contributes to the issue. Generally, they’re closed by doors and recessed back into the wall, which obstructs airflow and allows humid air to flow into these spaces. Also, the fact that closets are filled to the brim with shoes, clothing and accessories leads to stuffiness and poor air circulation that only makes mustiness worse. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make your closet smell great.

5 Surefire Ways to Eliminate Musty Closet Odor

(Pixabay / Victoria_Borodinova)

1. Get rid of mold and mildew

Mold and mildew are horrible and are the enemy of good smell. They make closets smell stale, so it’s best to eliminate them from the space early. If you identify the presence of water/humidity inside the closet, get rid of it instantly. Mildew will start growing there, and it can bring a host of trouble – destruction of fabric, allergies, and that horrible smell.

Get direct sunlight on your closet by keeping its doors open on sunny days to combat mildew, and put on a fan to get the air moving. If mold and mildew have spread on your clothes, sanitize them with bleach during laundry to eliminate the musty odors and mold spores. For mildew attached to painted metal closet doors, use denatured alcohol to wipe it away.

2. Add a natural scent

If you want your closet to smell fresh, put your favorite dried herbs (such as rose petals or lavender) in a cheesecloth bag, tie it with a ribbon and place it in your closet. Alternatively, spray an organic perfume on some cotton balls or tissue papers, wait for them to dry, and then line your closet with them before putting your clothes on top.

Additionally, you can opt for essential oils instead of perfume. Pine is a particularly refreshing scent. Put some cotton balls in the oils, and put them in a container with various holes punched in the lid. Make space in the back of your closet, and place the container there to do its magic. If you choose to go with this option, make sure to replace the cotton balls every few weeks.

3. Clean and reorganize

Sometimes, the simple act of cleaning can work wonders for your closet. Clear out every shelf and hanger and clean the space thoroughly by sweeping up or vacuuming loose debris. If you’re dealing with a utility closet, clean up spills from cleaners or chemicals. For surfaces like walls and shelves, use a natural cleaner like vinegar (diluted with water) or Borax for an odor-smacking punch. Let the surfaces dry after cleaning (you can also place a circulating fan in front of the closet to get the job done quickly). Cleaning and drying your closet will also help eliminate smell arising from crammed-in clothing.

After you’re done, go through your outfits and remove (or better, donate) what you rarely wear. Off-season clothing can go in see-through plastic bins placed on the floor beneath clothes or on top shelves out of view. You may even consider organizing the closet space by clothing type to make it simple to find what you require. For instance, formal outfits can go on blue-colored hangers, while informal ones can be put on an orange-colored one to make identification easier. And if your closet space feels too cramped to organize properly, consider a custom closet system installed by an experienced Seattle contractor.

4. Get rid of shoe smell

Oftentimes, stinky shoes are the culprit in a musty smelling closet. Things like sweat and moisture can make shoes smell pretty repulsive. Here are some ideas for killing shoe odor:

  • Fill old pantyhose or socks with clay cat litter and put inside your shoes
  • Sprinkle talcum or baking powder inside the shoes and shake them to even it out
  • Place each shoe in a resealable bag, zip it up and put them in the freezer for 24 hours

You should also make sure you are keeping your feet extra clean to cut down on smells. One tip is to scrub in between your toes and dry the area thoroughly. Also, wear trainer socks instead of walking barefoot all the time.

5. Deodorize with an eco-friendly air freshener

An obvious answer to funky closet smell is an air freshener. However, this solution has its own shortcomings. For instance, some commercial air fresheners contain chemical compounds that can stir up adverse reactions, such as wheezing or asthma. Fortunately, you can create an organic air freshener to infuse fresh scent into your closet.

Here’s a recipe you can follow:

  • Take 1.5 cups of lukewarm water and add three packets of gelatin (flavorless variety)
  • Stir until the gelatin is well-mixed with water
  • Add a tbsp. of salt to the mixture and stir it again
  • Put 20-25 drops of your favorite essential oil to give it the desired fragrance

Now pour the mixture in a jar and let it cool until it achieves a gel-like shape. Once it does, place it in the closet and voila!

Your daily encounters with your closet shouldn’t be something you dread. These tried-and-true cleaning, deoderizing, and organizing tips should help you create a fresher, cleaner environment. Contact us if you need more help freshening up and revitalizing your closet designs.