What to do when your clothes smell musty after washing

Noticed your clothes smell musty or damp after washing? Avoid this laundry fate with our handy guide to getting that fresh, just-washed smell every time!


rail of musty clothes

Key Steps

  1. Don’t worry if your clothes smell musty when they come out of the laundry, a washing machine making clothes smell is a common problem and easily fixed.
  2. If your clothes aren’t smelling fresh after washing, check to see whether your machine needs cleaning.
  3. A ‘clothes smell’ after washing may also be due to using the wrong amount of detergent so try Persil capsules to ensure you’re using the right amount.
  4. It’s easy to get rid of damp clothes smell once you know why it has occurred.

When your laundry is dirty, and you want to get it fresh, the worst thing is clothes not smelling fresh after washing. Sometimes, clothes smell after washing and it can be quite frustrating. It means either wearing slightly musty clothes or starting the wash all over again. So how can you avoid this not-so-nice laundry fate?

The important thing is to know why clothes smell damp after washing (or indeed why clothes smell musty after washing) and the things you can do to prevent this damp clothes smell. Here’s our handy guide:

If your clothes smell musty after washing, check the amount of detergent you’re using. Try using laundry capsules rather than liquid so you know you’re always putting in the right amount.

Causes of bad smells in just-washed clothes

  • Leaving your clothes in the machine for too long after the cycle has finished
  • Using too much detergent
  • Using not enough detergent
  • Having an unclean washing machine

If your clothes smell after washing, it’s usually due to one of these four reasons. Luckily there are things you can do about each of them. If clothes smell musty or washing smells musty when dry, the answer is to take them out of the machine as soon as the wash has finished. If you’re struggling with time management, try using the ‘delay start’ function on your machine so you can time the wash to finish at a convenient time for you to hang your clothes up.

Alternatively, if your clothes are not smelling fresh after washing, it could be due to the amount of detergent you are using. Opt for laundry brands like Comfort which give you specific dosing balls – these measure out the amount you’ll need, making it much easier to get right. You could also use pre-filled capsules in your wash, taking away the issue of how much to use entirely.

Finally, if it’s your washing machine making clothes smell musty the only thing to do is to give it a good clean. Here are different ways to get started.

Do you use powder, capsules or liquid to wash your clothes?

How to clean your washing machine

  • Damp clothes smell is often caused by mould in the machine. Mould is particularly likely to grow in a machine because as a dark, damp environment it’s an ideal mould-growing environment.
  • To avoid washing machine making clothes smell: try putting a cup of white vinegar into the drum and then setting the machine to spin on a normal cycle without any clothes. Vinegar is a great, natural mould-remover.
  • If damp clothes smell continues check your detergent drawer – it’s common for residue to build up in here. If that’s happened, remove completely and soak in hot water. Scrub away remaining stains, dry thoroughly, then replace.
  • Clothes smell musty can also be caused by residue in the door rim. Wipe around the rubber seal of the machine with a warm, damp cloth to remove any mould building up there.


Originally published