Getting rid of mildew smell on clothes..

andi2928March 29, 2010

So my husband came home today after being in the field for 2 weeks with only one "shower" in the cold rain. All of his uniforms got wet and stayed wet almost the entire time. He hands me a bag full of dirties and unfortunately I opened it right after eating dinner... OMG. There is no word for the smell that came out of that bag! I almost lost my dinner! They were covered in slime and mud and lord knows what else! Anywho... I washed them in warm/warm ( they can't handle much heat, they shrink very easily ) with Tide powder ( twice because of all the mud ) and they still stink! Im going to try it again with my Tide original liquid, but Im pretty sure the smell will still be there. I put vinegar in both the bleach and FS dispensers and after the second wash, they looked and felt clean, just mildew-y!

Is there anything I can add to the wash for the smell? Im desperate! Im def. willing to run to walmart to get anything anyone suggests! ALL of his uniforms are filthy and he needs them for work tomorrow! Thanks guys!

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I never had anything this bad, but when my bf t-shirts and some of our towels got smelly once(he has dermatitis and using all sorts of loations and medications), I soaked things and resoaked in ton of detergent and cascade in hot water .Than tt took me about 5 sanitary washes and extra detergent and many, many rinses to get rid of the smell and detergent. I never use bleach.
Ammonia could help too.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 12:39AM
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Yeah.. it's bad haha

I've never tried Cascade in laundry before! How interesting! I have some of those action packs with powder and Dawn in them, would that work or do I need to go get a specific kind? Also, would it have any kind of "bleaching" effect? I have a load of 7 ACU's and they're about 100 each so Im really nervous about shrinking them or messing them up in any way.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 12:58AM
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Andi, I only use powdered Cascade in the washer, so I have no idea. Liquids make suds.
But I soaked many things in bucket or tub in all sorts soaps and detergents.More of them the better.My ex worked on cars and motorcycles and went fishing a lot so I had messes and grease stains. Kids were actually cleaner than their father!!!
I always rinsed everytning in the tub to make sure I don't have mounds of suds in fl.
I wash almost everything in hot or sanitary, so things that shrink, we buy bigger. I am use to it.
I'm really not sure what to do other than wash and rewash.I know ammonia is safe even for silk and pine sol? Someone mentioned some sport wash product, available in Walmart too.
I know there are commercial mildewcide products for hospitals and nursing homes. I would go to hospital and try to get some.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 2:33AM
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I'll run to walmart and try some ammonia. The 6th heavy duty cycle just finished up and they dont smell as bad, but it's still pretty obvious. I tried tide powder first, then the original liquid and the last cycle I used the cold water formula with my washers activfresh silver option and it actually did a better job than the others! I hope the ammonia works, I've got 2.5 hours till he gets up for work! eek!

Thanks for your help! :-D

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 3:16AM
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Andim is there anyway you can hang them outside to dry after you wash them. I can get the petrolium smell out of some work clothes and hangin them out all day seems to help a lot

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:07AM
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My DH was in the military, and I remember well the condition his uniforms and other clothing were in when he came home after two weeks in the field during a time when a hurricane passed over us, in the month of June. The extreme heat and humidity created conditions which were unbelievable. I don't know how the soldiers toughed it out, but they did.

Needless to say, the stench of his dirty laundry was incredible. I actually laid the wet things out in the sun, on the front porch, and let them dry -- just so I could stand to put them in the washing machine.

Liquid chlorine bleach kills mildew, which is a living organism which grows until killed. You should be able to use it with no problem on white socks, undies, and t-shirts -- and hot water doesn't usually harm white cottons.

A small amount of bleach (1/4 cup) per full load kills bacteria and mildew, and does not usually affect coloration of laundry.

If you have baking soda in the house, it doubles the effectiveness of liquid chlorine bleach. One cup in the wash load (I put it directly in the washer drum) boosts the bleach's effectiveness, gives a fresh smell, and even softens laundry.

Another suggestion to kill mildew is Lysol Concentrate (not household cleaner). It comes in a little brown bottle (Walmart sells it), usage information is given on the bottle, and it can be used on colored laundry with no problem.

I would definitely use the hottest water possible for the fabric. And, yes, drying the laundry in the sun (you could put the colored items on non-metal hangers and hang them in the shade to prevent fading) will really help to kill odor.

I would not put the laundry in the dryer until the odor is completely gone, as dryer heat can 'bake' it in, making it extremely difficult to remove.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 11:33AM
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Gates1.. Unfortunately Im not able to hang anything outside, housing has rules against that :-(

Mara.. I had to dry one uniform and send him to work in it... it still had an odor to it, but not as bad. I felt so bad sending him to work stinky! He called me once he got there and said the others guys stank too lol
Ugh, I can't imagine what your hubs laundry smelled like in June! It never got above 70 here and the smell is bad enough!

I tested a hot water wash out on an old uniform that doesn't fit him anymore and it shrank from an xl to probably a small large/med. The new wash and wear uniforms are rather crappy. I tried the ammonia and it was so-so, I'll go get some of the lysol you mentioned and see how that works, thanks!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 4:54PM
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I find it interesting how the government wants all of us to reduce our energy usagem but yet a home owners association will not allow someone to hang out clothes. I can understand if soeone has a tacky clothes line, but one built out of the proper basics is no offense to me (my opinion) At least people can save some energy and money at the same time. I know its not your fault andi so please do not take it personally. Be careful with the lysol usage, it may leave your clothes smelling like the bottle. I found this out when I was clothes in lestoil...everything came out with a pine sol smell, and who in the whole wants to wear that.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 5:13PM
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Its actually on-post housing, they have ALOT of silly rules that we have to be careful about, we cant even wash our cars or water our lawns but yet we get fined big bucks upon move-out if the grass isnt perfect. Im doing a load with a touch of the lysol now.... heres to luck!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 5:34PM
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For those of you who uses Lestoil in your laundry, to remove the scent.
1. Re-wash load with normal detergent.
2. During first rinse add 3/4 cup of vinegar with one cup of Baking Soda.
3. During second rinse, add fabric softener.
Most to all of the Lestoil scent will be removed.

To remove mildew, use Tide with Bleach detergent and one cup of Ammonia, this should remove all odors from current load.

PLEASE DO NOT SUBSITUTE LCB (Liquid Chlorine Bleach) for Tide with Bleach.
Tide with Bleach detergent and Ammonia can be used together.

As a reminder:
Liquid Chlorine Bleach and Ammonia mixed together gives off gasses which can kill.


    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:14PM
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When we were in the military, on-post housing was scarce in some areas, so we often lived off base. There were some disadvantages to that, but at least we were able to have a clothesline, wash our cars, and water our lawn! I absolutely loved hanging out sheets to dry in the fresh air.

Does your housing have a back porch? On most of the posts where we were stationed, the houses had back porches -- many of them screened in. If you have such a porch, it would seem you could hang the clothes there to dry on plastic hangers -- out of sight, out of mind.

If all else fails, I would take the uniforms to the cleaners; most of them can remove odors.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:14PM
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I would LOVE to live off-post, but we have 3 chows ( sweetest, most friendly dogs ever ) and most places here at Hood won't let renters have "aggressive breeds" We're allowed to have them on post as long as we keep insurance on them and they don't cause any problems.

When we first moved in, the backyard had those old metal poles for line drying, but no line. A few weeks later, maintenance came and took the poles out and we had to sign an agreement to not hang dry laundry to help keep up the appearance of the neighborhood.

We have a back porch, but its not covered and is closed on three sides and we back up right next to the housing office haha.

I supposed if this load is still stinky, I will just suck it up and them to the cleaners. I really appreciate all the suggestions you all have given me! I have gotten so much help for many problems.. who knew laundry could be so complicated?!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 6:49PM
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andi2928, I would think hanging the uniforms -- on hangers -- on the back porch to dry would not be a problem. After all, the clothes would not be outside, would not affect the appearance of the neighborhood. I seriously doubt anyone would even notice them.

Isn't it a hoot that the government is so worked up about climate change, wants everyone to 'go green', yet they took down the clotheslines! Sounds like 'doublespeak' to me. ;-)

Wherever DH and I rented while he was in the military, we were not allowed to have any pets at all -- even when we rented homes in neighborhoods where virtually everyone else had them. Landlords are notoriously tough in military areas.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:49PM
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Andi, I though of something this morning to try on the mildew smelling clothes. Its called oderban. It is made to kill a lot of difficult odors, such as from fires, vomit, and so forth. Hospitals use it too. I think you can find it in Walmart or Sams. Bj's sometimes carries it.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 7:12AM
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Thanks gates1, Im gonna go get some now and try it out!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 7:48AM
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let me know if it works for you.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:17AM
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Gates1, the clothes smell great! A nice, slight hint of Tide and thats it! Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 9:50AM
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thats great, glad it worked for you, maybe I better get a bottle and try it on some stuff I got to get a smell out of. It didnt work in the past, but I will give it another shot.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:11AM
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Looks like you solved your problem. I was going to add that oxygen bleach kills mildew, though I've not tried it on stinky clothing.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:33AM
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Arm & Hammer cleanburst (powder) laundry detergent we got at Target was the only thing that would remove the mildew and mold smell from laundry I removed from my parent's home after they had to a bunch of black mold removed.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 11:14PM
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There is also this stuff called smelly washer. I've used it and it was great at removing mildew smell from my towels and clothes after we had a problem here. I think it's mostly made from citric acid or something.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2010 at 10:53AM
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