You’ve just washed your favorite shirt, dried it, and tucked it nicely in the drawer to wear the next day. However, when you pull it out, you find it smelling stale despite having washed it just a day prior. Well, don’t worry because there is a solution. Today, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to keep clothes smelling fresh in storage!

One of the best ways to avoid foul-smelling clothes is to use high-quality laundry detergent. Using a laundry conditioner helps give your clothes a nice fragrance too. But that’s not always enough. Sometimes, washing your clothes all the time won’t help, so you need to address the lingering smell in your storage.

Why Do Clothes Smell After Being Stored?

The most important part of getting rid of the foul smell is to understand what has caused it in the first place. Depending on the type of storage you use, there might be a number of issues. Starting from water (yes, water!) to body odor that stays on clothes, anything can affect the smell in your storage.

For bigger storage spaces, for instance, your closet, you need to make sure that there is no mold.Usually, mold forms on the back walls or in the deep, hidden corners. Thoroughly inspect your closet for any moist spots, as you can easily miss them at first glance.

Due to their design and lack of airflow, closets are prone to humidity, which eventually leads to mold growth. It’s best to keep any slightly damp outerwear away from your closet because it can contribute to that.

However, when it comes to smaller spaces such as storage containers, drawers, or boxes, there is something else to keep an eye out for. These spaces will usually retain any foul smell (if there is one in the first place).So, before you place your clothes inside, make sure that your drawers are sparkling clean and odorless.

For example, if your storage box stinks, your garments will smell as well. This applies to clothes too — if you place one foul-smelling piece of clothing inside, all other clothes will absorb that smell.

13 Great Ways to Keep Clothes Smelling Fresh in Storage

1. Deodorize the Storage Before Placing Your Clothes

The best way to prevent smells from forming in your storage is to deodorize it. No matter what type of storage you’re using, be it a closet or a box, deodorizing works because it removes all smells.

You can start by taking out any clothes that are still inside. Then, vacuum the storage to remove bigger dust particles and dirt (especially in closets). Once you finish, wipe the entirety of the space with an odor-neutralizing solution and let it dry.

Another, more natural approach, would be to clean the storage with a mixture of water and vinegar. Allow it to dry, and the foul smells should disappear shortly thanks to its deodorizing properties!

Keep in mind, though, that vinegar has a particularly strong smell. It may take a couple of hours until it completely dissipates.

2. Consider Using Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are a fantastic option that should allow your clothes to smell fresh for a long time. It doesn’t matter if you go for used sheets or fresh ones — they both work. The next time you do your laundry, don’t throw away the dryer sheet. Instead, use it to make your clothes smell incredible.

All you need to do is place a couple of sheets on the bottom of the drawer or between your clothes. Repeat for every storage container you have, and the stale smell will not set into the fabric even if you store the clothes for months. Moreover, the clothing will retain the aroma of the dryer sheets — so choose your favorite!

3. Opt for Essential Oils and Their Amazing Deodorizing Properties

Some essential oils are fantastic to use with your laundry, as they not only give your clothes a fresh scent but also have moth-repelling properties (such as cedarwood essential oil). Pour 4–5 drops of essential oil onto a wool dryer ball and place it in your storage, alongside your clothes. It will keep them smelling fresh for a very long time. If you don’t have wool dryer balls on hand, though, you could use a dryer sheet or even a paper towel.

Just remember: do not use dryer balls soaked in essential oil in your dryer. It is dangerous and could potentially be a fire hazard. The dryer balls are made of wool, which promotes heat production (and you know oil doesn’t go well with fire). If you want your wool dryer balls to have a particular smell, there are specifically designed scented dryer balls.

4. Use Your Favorite Perfume and Some Tissue Paper

Another great way to keep your clothes smelling amazing while in storage is to use your favorite perfume. It’s pretty easy — spray some tissue paper with your aroma of choice and let it dry. Once it does (if it’s not dry, it could stain the clothes), place it inside the storage underneath your clothes.

This method is a clear favorite for some people, as it will keep your garments smelling like you all the time. Plus, if you get bored with that smell or want to try another perfume, you can easily spritz another tissue.

5. Place Soap Bars in the Storage Alongside Your Clothes

Scented soap bars can also give your clothes a pleasant aroma. First, wrap a soap bar in some thin fabric that will allow the scent to pass through. Then, place the soap bar inside the storage, right between your clothes. Thanks to the fabric, the soap won’t stain your clothes, but it will spread the fragrance.

6. Fill a Cup With Baking Soda and Set It in a Corner

You might’ve heard of the many benefits of baking soda — but did you know that you can use it to absorb smells in your storage too? Put 2–3 tablespoons of baking soda into a container, and then place it in the storage. Just make sure it’s in an area where you won’t knock it down and spill it. You don’t want to make a mess all over your clothes!

Over time, the baking soda will absorb any unwanted smells and moisture that might form. When you notice that its effects are starting to wear off, all you need to do is replace it. Do this regularly to maintain its absorption properties.

7. Try Odor-Removing Balls

Just like baking soda, odor-removing balls will absorb unwanted smells. You can place them in any storage space, airtight or not, and you will quickly notice their odor-absorbing properties.

The main difference between odor-removing balls and baking soda is that there’s no risk of spilling the contents. Still, in order to keep them effective, it’s best to replace them every 2–2.5 months.

8. Hang Little Bags of Activated Charcoal in the Closet

Activated charcoal is another odor-absorbing substance that will help you get rid of foul storage smells. You could put 2–3 tablespoons of activated charcoal in a cup, just like you would do with baking soda.

Alternatively, you can buy little bags of bamboo charcoal, which are specifically designed for your closet. In thirty minutes to one hour, the air should be purified, and the smells gone (at least for the most part).

If you choose loose powder instead of bags, be careful not to get it on your clothes. Charcoal could stain them black, and such stains are pretty difficult to remove.

9. Line Your Drawers With Beautiful Scented Paper

It might come as a surprise, but there is scented paper that you can use to line your drawers! If you want to avoid placing unsightly cups of charcoal or baking soda, soap bars, and other items all around your clothes, this paper is the solution. It will align perfectly with your drawers, and it even comes in various designs to spice up the inside of your storage.

10. Invest in Cedarwood Clothes Hangers

Usually, clothes hangers are not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about how to keep smells away from your clothes. However, cedarwood is a great material for clothes hangers because of its moisture-absorbing properties.

Similar to the cedarwood essential oil mentioned earlier, the hanger works as a moth repellent while absorbing any moisture present in the closet. Furthermore, it has a natural, earthy fragrance that will give your clothes a pleasant smell.

If replacing all of your clothes hangers with cedarwood ones sounds too expensive, the cheaper alternative would be cedarwood blocks. These wooden discs can be placed inside your closet, between the clothes, and even on wire hangers. They offer the same properties as cedarwood clothes hangers and cedarwood oil, but at a much lower price!

11. DIY Your Favorite Potpourri Bags

Potpourri bags can bring a natural aroma to your clothes, and it’s very simple to make your own. Of course, you can probably find ready-made ones at your local perfume shop, but if you make them yourself, you can add all the fragrances that you want. Here’s a very easy tutorial on how to make potpourri from apples, lemons, and oranges, with a few drops of orange essential oil.

Once you finish drying the fruit and scenting it, simply drop some in a tiny bag and place it inside your storage. Additionally, you could DIY potpourri for all the different seasons using various essential oils, and even offer it as a gift!

12. Soak Cotton Balls in Perfume and Put Them in a Jar

Soak a few cotton balls in your favorite perfume or essential oil, and place them in a glass jar. Cover the jar with a fabric that will allow the fragrance to spread, and set it in your storage space of choice. After some time (around a month or so), you should replace the cotton balls because they will dry out completely, and the fragrance will disappear.

13. Place an Air Freshener in Your Closet

Sometimes, the best way to give your closet a wonderful smell is as simple as using an automatic air freshener. The Air Wick Pure Freshmatic is one of the best — if you’ve tried it before, you will definitely agree. It will diffuse a pleasant smell periodically, depending on the setup you choose. For a smaller space, the lowest frequency is ideal — you don’t want your clothes to reek of air freshener!

How to Freshen Up Clothing After Taking It Out From Storage

After covering all the essentials on how to keep clothes smelling good in storage, it’s time to consider what to do when you decide to take the clothes out of storage. Oftentimes, garments that have been tucked away for months might need a touch-up before you can wear them. Here are a few ideas:

  • Mix half part water and half part vodka, and spray the solution onto your clothes. The alcohol will kill all smell-producing bacteria and eliminate odors. Let the solution air-dry; once it does, you won’t smell the vodka anymore.
  • Use a spray fabric refresher. A spray fabric refresher will instantly give your clothes a pleasant smell and remove any odors. You can also DIY your own for 50 cents a bottle, or create an organic clothes refresher from scratch.
  • Give your clothes a quick rinse with a laundry conditioner. If the clothes you just pulled out of storage have a bad smell, you can just give them a quick wash. Use the fastest cycle (that’s usually the 15-minute one), and add ½ cup of detergent and a measure of laundry conditioner.

Final Words: Keep Your Clothes Clean and Moisture-Free

Hopefully, you found these tips useful and now know how to not only store clothes properly but prepare the storage space beforehand. No matter where you store your clothes, a musty smell can appear anywhere if there is enough humidity or bacteria. Therefore, try to dry your clothes completely and make sure you clean and deodorize the space thoroughly. Of course, if you ever find your clothes smelling foul again, feel free to come back to this article!

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