How to Remove the ‘Cupboard Smell’ from Your Clothes ‘Coz You Can Finally Wear Them from Friday

With the announcement of Phase Two, it’s time.

Image: Giphy

It’s time to call up the gang (of only 5 max, of course) to hang out after months but what felt like years.

But wait. You’ve forgotten something very important. Your clothes now smell cause you’ve left them too long in the cupboard. While that smell is going to earn you social isolation points, it’s probably not going to impress your friends.

Because we’re a Feed that’s very Goody to our readers, here’s the reminder and how to remove those smells.

Wash Your Clothes With…

1. Borax

A widely used household cleaner also known as sodium tetraborate. Here’s the good news: it’s also very commonly used in laundry detergents.

So you might not need to do much other than what you were doing previously after all.

But what if your detergent doesn’t do the job? You can try…

2. White Vinegar

Good for adding that acidic tang to your dishes and pickles, but it’s also good for stain and odour removal.

Replace white vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener in your washing machine, a cup of vinegar per load for top loaders, 1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 120 ml) for front loaders and you’re good.

Or…

3. Baking Soda

If you had given up being a Circuit Baker and had a lot of leftover baking soda, know that they can be put to good use here too.

Sprinkle them directly in your clothes in the washing machine, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 to 120 ml) of baking soda per load.

Your clothes won’t stop smelling musty until spores have been killed, so you might need to wash them a few times.

Another cause is moisture, which is why you shouldn’t forget the next important step.

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Dry Your Clothes

This might be difficult considering the current rainy season, but preferably in the sun. Sunlight can kill some odour-causing microbes. You’ll want fresh air able to flow between the fabrics so the sun and wind can actually get rid of the smell.

Make sure your clothes are completely dry, otherwise they will develop the smell in the cupboard again anyway.

Wait A Minute, It’s My Cupboard That Smells

Sometimes, moisture in your own cupboard might be causing the smell to develop. You’ll want to clean up everything here, or anything you put in will quickly get that smell.

Empty the cupboard and wash everything, then dry them.

Look in your closet for signs of mould or mildew. If there’s a water leak, you’ll want to get that fixed. Clean the cupboard thoroughly, with a cloth and warm water mixed with 1/2 cup (120ml) of vinegar.

Let the surfaces of the cupboard dry. You can use a fan to speed up drying.

Place your dried clothes back into the dry cupboard. Make sure it’s tidy and not crammed since that can help prevent odour from building up.

Help, It’s My Washing Machine That Smells

Worst-case scenario, you’ll have to get someone to fix it. But if you’re going for DIY, you’ll want to watch this and read the following:


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Mould might have build up under the rubber gasket. In this case, you’ll want to peel that back and clean it with a borax paste (240 ml borax to 3.8 litres water) or vinegar solution (240 ml vinegar to 3.8 litres water).

It might also be mould in the drain lines, and this is the one where you might need professional help if it’s really bad. You can try running an empty load with a gallon of vinegar, or use commercial washing machine cleaning products.

Now, to make sure your washer doesn’t get mouldy again, remember to leave the lid open after use next time to prevent moisture build-up. Also, don’t use too much detergent or fabric softener as they can leave a film for mould to grow on.

With that, you can now smell fresh and go out again.


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This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying: