How to keep dirty clothes from smelling?

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So, you have dirty clothes in your closet. They have this annoying smell. You want the bad odor out, but don’t have enough time to launder your dirty lining. What should you do?

Before we begin, let’s establish some common rules.

  • Keeping dirty clothes for a long time without washing them is a bad idea. 
  • Wearing dirty clothes without washing them is bad for your health.
  • Even thinking of wearing dirty clothes without washing them is bad for your mind (ok, this is my personal idea. Not a professional advice).

Now that we’ve set mutual common ground, let’s dive in!

How to keep dirty clothes from smelling

Here are 5 makeshift techniques to keep your used laundry from smelling. Number 1 is the ultimate.

  • Wash them.
  • Air-dry moist, damp or wet dirty clothes before keeping among other dirty clothes.
  • Spread them on the lines once a day or as you possibly can
  • Place camphor in your dirty laundry bags
  • Place common salt in dirty clothes mix

Wash them

How to keep dirty clothes from smelling
Hand washing clothes

Bad smell in itself is not a problem. In fact, they are an signal or pointer to a problem. So when next you perceive a bad odor, rather than spray the room, find the cause of the smell and eliminate it.

In this context, having clothes that smell is an indicator that they’re due for wash. So, the best way to keep dirty clothes from smelling is to wash them.

Alright! This is obvious. And I guess you’re here for the next points. So, we’ll move to point 2

Air-dry moist, damp or wet dirty clothes first

If can imagine dirty clothes as bad, wet dirty clothes are worst than anything you can imagine. This is obvious, they add an added layer to our existing problem.

Dirty clothes can easily become wet from sweat, water, food and drink spill, and other work liquids. Whichever of these liquids come in contact with dirty clothes, they all produce a bad effect as a result: mold infestation.

Moist clothes, whether clean or dirty, are a breeding ground for fungi such as mold. These mold produces offensive gases.

To keep your dirty clothes from smelling, ensure you air-dry or sun-dry them, before added them to your collection of dirty apparels. This will eliminate the offensive odors of mold, bacteria and other fungi.

An alternative to air-drying is using the air condition. This guy does a good job at eliminating moist from anything in it’s part. So if airdring clothes will be difficult due to tight schedule, secuity or other reasons, you can employ the service of your cooling system.

Simply exposing the clothes in the path of the air conditioner will suffice. You can also spread them all through the night, if it will not inconvenience the home’s other occupants.

Spread them on the lines once a day or as possibly as you can

How to keep dirty clothes from smelling

Clothes piled up over a long period of time tend to become moist from humidity. These clothes may be dry when piled, but with exposure to air, they absorb moisture from the atmosphere, and in time begin to smell. 

If for some genuine reason, you’re not doing your laundry in a few days, ensure you spread them out, ideally, on the lines. Also any available space in the home that has good ventilation, and will not cause obstruction can be used to spread your dirty attire.

If you plan on rewearing a particular shirt, which by the way, is a bad idea. Ensure you air-dry it hours before you plan on wearing it. Air is a good absorbent, and will evaporate some offensive odor to a tolerable state.

Place camphor in your dirty laundry bags

Aside from its medicinal use, camphor is a fine addition to your laundry bag. For use other than for laundry, check this article on WebMD

Having camphor in a bag, luggage or any enclosed container containing clothes, whether clean or dirty, helps to give them a pleasant smell.

It is even more important when the clothes are used. Adding camphor helps to eliminate unwanted odor.

Place common salt in dirty clothes mix

Common salt is a good absorbent. Adding a tangible quantity of the substance will help to absorb moist from dirty clothes hence improving it’s smell.

Of course, it will be awkward to spray some salt on every set of dirty clothes in your possession. But here is what you need to do:

  1. Determine the amount of common salt you are willing to part with.
  2. Locate a stockings you’re not wearing any time soon. (Any breathable material will do. A shirt, hankerchief or any similar will do the job)
  3. Pour the salt into the stocks.
  4. Add the stockings to the bag of dirty clothes

Combining this with airing dirty clothes will yield great results.

Why do dirty clothes smell?

How to keep dirty clothes from smelling

This article will not be complete without explaining why dirty clothes smell. Understanding this is vital to eliminating bad odor from laundry. 

According to, bad smell from laundry occurs when gases are released due to the breakdown of sweat particles and other body fluids left in clothes. The breakdown occurs as bacteria feed on these liquid particles, releasing offensive gases in the process.

So there you have it. If you sweat a lot, you increase your chances of having bad smells from your used or partially used laundry.

Disguising this smell with other pleasant smell might always yield the best result. The best first aid treatment to bad cloth odor is to air-dry them. 

This will cause the sweat particles to evaporate, leaving little or nothing for bacteria to feed on.


Living alone while caring for domestic chores can be challenging. I hope this thought helps in appreciate the women in our lives who care for these seemingly minor day to day tasks. 

But if like many we find ourselves home alone, and can’t care for every work at home, learning few home hacks like reduces the stress… at least for now.

But remember the suggestions above are no holy grail. They have their limitations, and none of them can replace the good old cloth washing.

Until next weekend when you’ll do your laundry, hopefully, do enjoy a pleasant smelling wardrobe.

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