The musty smell of mildew
The musty smell of mildew often comes out of clothes that were left wet or damp for quite a few days or are made wet very often (like a towel).
Clothes if left damp for long would develop this musty smell in just a single day. The odor is produced due to some microbial organic growth that happens by itself. If the clothes are left damp for too long like a few days, they might develop some kind of fungal growth that that make the smell even worse.
Mildew also develops on those clothes or fabric that are used for cleaning/washing regularly. For example your towel or cleaning rag. Towels even absorb your sweat and over a few weeks start smelling.
Other things like kitchen rugs develop smell every second day.
The funky smell coming out of wet and damp clothes actually contains microbial/fungal growth which is not a good thing. Using clothes with such smell is unhygienic and can cause skin irritation, suffocation and even worse things. These smells are a sign of decay and should be eliminated as soon as they appear.
1. Wash with vinegar
If you left the clothes in the washing machine and forgot to dry them, they will surely start smelling in about 1-2 days. Then its time to treat them properly.
Add a cup of white plain vinegar along with your usual detergent and hot water and wash the clothes as usual in a washing machine.
Vinegar contains acetic acid which acts as a natural disinfectant to remove any organic infections in the fabric including mold or mildew
2. A little bit of baking soda
Baking soda also acts as a disinfectant and can be used as a fungicide. It can absorb musty smells so is often used to reduce bad odor.
Put your clothes in the washing machine and fill with water. Now add a cup of baking soda to tub full of clothes and run the washing machine. That should reduce or totally eliminate the smell from the clothes.
Trying using warm or little hot water for cleaning. Hot water and remove a whole lot of organic infection from the clothes including microbes and germs. However, first read the label on the fabric to ensure that it can stand a little bit of hot water.
3. Dry them in the sun
Drying your clothes in the sun is a very good way to get your clothes rid of any kind of smell, or microbial growth. The fresh air and the heat of the sun kills the germs and make the clothes feel new.
Spread out the clothes on a rope directly under the sun. Keep for few hours till the clothes are completely dry and crisp.
4. Use commercial cleaning solutions
If you are trying to clean some specific kind of fabric that is quite thick and is carrying a really strong mildew smell then try some of the commercial cleaning solutions or liquids or heavy duty detergent.
But make sure to read the instructions carefully on these products and on the label of the fabric. Not all kinds of fabrics are supposed to withstand all kinds of detergents. Some detergents might be too reactive and damage the fabric causing discoloration or thinning.
Here are the names of few products –