How to Get Rid of Musty Smell on Mildewed Clothing in Thailand

Monks robes drying on a temple washing line in Thailand – copyright Akuppa, CC license

One thing you may find bothers you when you spend a lot of time in Thailand is sometimes your clothes will smell.

If you wash your clothes and then hang them outside in the sun until they are completely dry, you shouldn’t have much of a problem. But, as Thailand is an incredibly humid country, if you don’t get your clothes completely dry before you hang them up or wear them they’ll soon smell musty or of mildew. Even when you’re wearing them.

So, if you suddenly find your clothing smells of mildew the next time you’re in Thailand, how do you get rid of the smell?

Easy as pie.

Getting rid of mildew smells in clothing in the washing machine

If you are doing your laundry in a washing machine, add about 1 cup of white vinegar to the water, put your clothes in it and let them sit for about an hour before adding soap powder, turning on the machine and completing the wash.

If you wash your clothes in a bucket or bowl, just add about a quarter of a cup of white vinegar to the water and let your clothing sit for a few minutes. Wash, rinse and hang out to dry.

Getting rid of mildew smells in clothing left in a laundry hamper

If you notice your clothes smell really musty or mildewy (which can happen if you have left them in a clothes hamper for a few days when they were still damp from you sweating in Thailand’s incredible heat), then add the vinegar to the water and let your clothes sit in it for four or five hours or even overnight.

The morning after the smell will be completely gone (along with the vinegar smell, which evaporates) and you can then wash as normal.

White vinegar is an amazing thing. It is as powerful as bleach for getting rid of bacteria, but it doesn’t damage the environment.

I use it all the time for clothing, to wash the bottom of my rabbit’s cage as it is completely safe for pets, or to add to the water when I’m mopping the floors of my apartment.

You might think everything would smell of vinegar but it absolutely doesn’t. The smell disappears into the air in a few minutes never to return, but leaves everything you use it on completely bacteria free.

Oh, and the best bit about buying white vinegar in Thailand? It’s as cheap as 10 baht (33 cents) a bottle.