34 answers

Help with Mildew Smell on Laundry

My husband was trying to be helpful and wash some laundry for me, but he ended up leaving one load of wet laundry sitting in the wash machine over night. Then he dried the load the next morning and now a whole load of bathroom towels smells like mildew. I tried re washing them in hot water but they still smell. Any suggestions for getting this yucky smell out? I have a front load washer and dryer. I will use what ever is necessary to get this smell out but was also wanting to see if anyone knew of a "green" solution? Thanks!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you so much ladies for all the wonderful advice! I ended up using a cup of white vinegar with my detergant in the wash and then threw in a softner sheet to dry. No more smell! What an easy and cheap answer and I didn't have to buy all new towels like I thought I might!!!! Thanks again!

Featured Answers

Add some vinegar to the wash cycle- works for me every time!! (Also gets out odors from potty training accidents!)

Hi A.,

Put a whole cup of vinegar in with the load of laundry and also put fabric softener keep the close from smelling like vinegar. It always works

This happens in my house all the time! We use hot water, regular detergent, clorox 2 for colors, and a fabric softner. It usually takes care of the problem. Sometimes we put 2 dryer sheets in the dryer with the load too.

More Answers

Try a 1/2 cup of vinegar in the wash. I use vinegar every wash (also good to keep colors from fading). Baking soda is helpful in cleaning, just pour some in the wash. Also, if you have something that could bleed in the wash, add salt. ( :

Does anyone else out there hate their front loading washer? I have such a problem with mildew and a mildewey smell on clothes with this washer. I thought it was a manufacturing problem, but there is a disclaimer in the product sheet that calls out the moisture problem and actually suggests wiping out the inside of the washer, seal, and door after each use. Who has time for this, right? I've learned to wipe off the door and any obtuse moisture and leave the detergent bin and door open after every use.

On occasion, I forget to let others know to leave open the door and not let the wet laundry sit for too long. When this hapens, I have found it helpful to run the rinse cycle again on this load...and then spin the clothes once more before placing in the dryer. Also, I will sprinkle some baking soda on a cloth and wipe the door seal dry. Baking soda is very green and is good for treating mildew. Good luck!

Add baking soda in with your detergent. (Works great for stinky dishwashers too!)

This happens a lot with front loading washers. Every once in a while we have to run a wash cycle with no clothing and with dilute bleach. New models have a basket wash button built in.

To save your clothes just rewash with Tide and add some bleach for white or oxyclean for colors. Use the hottest water you can for the wash but cold rinse is o.k. Everytime I use anything but Tide I regret it.

Make sure there is nothing stuck in the gasket like a sock or something that might be the source of a continued problem.

I have had this happen alot. I rewash them and add vinegar to the rinse cycle.Something in the vinegar breaks down the yucky smell. It seemed to help with mine. Good luck.

Try rewashing with a couple of cups of white vinegar in the wash water as well as soap.

Hot water and bleach will get rid of the mildew smell.

Hi A.! I'm not married, but I had the same problem to happen to me. I know viniger works good for getting stains and odors out. I know Fabuloso is good also. Hope this will help. God and God Bless.

wash them one more time and put 3 dryer sheets in the dryer... works every time my hubby does laundry ;)

Vinegar is always been helpful in our family as a cheap and green solution. We add about a cup to a load of wash and theat removes the smell during that wash. Hope that helps!

Put them in a hot wash with detergent and 1 cup of white vinegar. I usually put some baking soda in also but I am not sure if you can do that with a front loader? If you can let them sit for a while and soak it will help. The vinegar works because it is a natural disinfectant. It also works when you have clothes that smell like sweaty body odor. When the clothes have finished washing they WILL NOT smell like vinegar only fresh and clean. Good Luck

You can try vinegar in your wash, let is soak for awhile. I had the same thing happen to me and most of the towels never lost the smell. I tried bleach too....I ended up sending many to the dog towel bin. Maybe yours weren't as bad, try the white vinegar in hot water and detergent and let it soak. Don't dry them again until you get the smell out or decide that you are using them as cleaning towels.

Add some vinegar to the wash cycle- works for me every time!! (Also gets out odors from potty training accidents!)

the other girls are right! I had big issues last year with my towels. I finally started to go grean with cleaning supplies. I started using white vinegar instead of fab softner. It worked. No more mildew smell - mostly on my towels. Your cloths will not smell like vinegar, so don't worry. But they will be soft.

Splash a little vinegar into the wash. Problem solved!

A cup of white vinegar in the wash will do the trick!

Hello A.,
I was just wondering if you had try White Vinegar along with your detergent to get the mildew smell out? The vinegar is a natural cleanser and will probably work.

Good Luck and have a blessed day.

T. M

Hi A., my friends just had a FB discussion this morning. The suggestions were vinegar, baking soda, and extra fabric softner. S.

This has happened to us too. Wash the laundry again with your regular detergent, but also add distilled white vinegar. I just eye ball it, but not to much, but depending on the size of the load, a lot or a little. After your wash it, then you can dry it as you would and the smell should be gone. Gold luck!

Also, my front loading machine allows me to do an extra rinse, I use the extra rinse cycle here to make sure all the extra soap and vinegar is out!

A. B

Plain white vinegar will get the smell out. Add a cup or two to the load and wash again. There will be no vinegar smell either if you are worried about that. You can even use vinegar as a fabric softener just add half a cup to the liquid dispenser. Good luck.

I do this with towels that have sat around too long waiting to get washed. Put the load in with a with a cup of white vinegar (no detergent). Run the rinse cycle. Wash as usual in warm water. Use fabric softener with this load or in the dryer.


"Forgot that you left wet laundry in the machine and it now smells moldy? Pour a few cups of white distilled vinegar in the machine and wash the clothes in hot water. Then run a normal cycle with detergent."
Need more tips using vinegar?

You were close to the solution of a re-wash~ first do reload the closthes in the washer, add a cup of white- vinegar to the wash when washi cycle begins. Let it run through the cycle, then re wash with your regular laundry soap and use dryer sheets in the dryer. They work wonders. You can also spray your dryer with frebreeze prior to drying. Good luck.

run them again with vinegar as the "fabric softener" in the wash. that usually works well.

Baking Soda!!

(mt husband is helpful in the same way! LOL)

Dump abut 2 cups in a full load, add you detergent, let it soak for maybe 15-20 minutes & re-wash.

Dump a little vinegar in there too, if it is really bad. I discovered this about 2 years ago, it has saved me hundreds of dollars in ruined clothes & towels!

Hi A.,

Put a whole cup of vinegar in with the load of laundry and also put fabric softener keep the close from smelling like vinegar. It always works

Tried vinegar yet? Add about a cup to the load, wash and rinse twice. Also, Oxyclean powder may get it out. There is also a product I found at Wal-Mart, Skunk and Strong Odor Remover. It is in the Pet Aisle and about $5 for a big container. Yes, my dog was sprayed by a skunk as well as the side of my house, etc...this was the only thing to remove the smell from everything!
Being the case, I was given 2 quilts my grandmother made before she passed, but she was a heavy smoker and the quilts reeked. I washed them at least 7 times with detergent, vinegar and Oxiclean to no avail. I decided to try the Skunk remover and it did the trick! Now the quilts are on our beds with no cigarette smoke smell whatsoever!
Good luck!

Rewash with your regular laundry detergent, but add Downey with Febreeze in your rinse cycle. Hang towels up to dry. Once completely dry, pop them in the dryer for a few minutes on air fluff.

This happens in my house all the time! We use hot water, regular detergent, clorox 2 for colors, and a fabric softner. It usually takes care of the problem. Sometimes we put 2 dryer sheets in the dryer with the load too.

Since Tide and bleach are not healthy for you - especially the little one - to breathe...here is a safer answer - that does not smell like vinegar.

If you know anyone using Melaleuca products - borrow their Sol U Mel and it will take the odor out the first time because it kills the bacteria. *Where there is an oder - there IS bacteria.* Just put one capful and rerun the clothes with their MelaPower laundry detergent and it will be fixed. (voice of experience here) And you won't have to depend on the coating of the fabric sofener with unsafe chemicals to cover up the residual odor.

Using Melaleuca washing products take care of the bateria in the first wash...and then leaving them in too long is not a problem. I accidentally left a load in over the weekend during 90 degree weather with no air in the house. No smell. Amazing.

J. B.

not a real "green" answer But wash your towels with some chlorine bleach that should do it

I have used, with success, a product called Simple Green. I have found it at Lowe's and Home Depot in small and large bottles. I just added some to my wash and it took the smell out.

Best of luck.

A., I have had the same issue. It is a quite cheap fix. First go get some borax. It is in the laundry isle. It is about $4. wash your clothes and pour in your detergent and add the borax with the detergent. you can also add about 1/8c of bleach and it will not damage your colors. but you do not have to add the bleach... the borax will do the same thing... it will take that smell out. I now use if for all of my laundry to keep it fresh if I cannot get to it right away. Hope this helps.

wash again with vinegar

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