Eight Tips for Fresh Smelling Closets

Eight Tips for Fresh Smelling Closets

Custom Closet System

Sometimes cleaning your closets doesn’t take away the foul smells that mysteriously appear, seemingly overnight. Even cleaning regularly does not always seem to do the trick. So what are some ways to make your custom closets smell better?

There is no one way to make your closets smell fresh. There are several methods you can try, but you must first locate the source of the smell. Once that’s discovered, you can use potpourri, air fresheners, dryer sheets, activated charcoal, coffee grounds, perfumed cotton balls, or vinegar to make your closets smell nice. 

Continue reading to discover how each of the above-listed items can help you to maintain fresh-smelling closets.

Locate the Source

Bad smells in closets can come from many different places. Clothing that didn't fully dry before being hung up, moisture from your bathroom shower, and mold are just a few. Storing your dirty clothes in the closet can also contribute to making your clothes smell less than fresh.

Before you begin deodorizing your closets, you must figure out where the source of the problem lies. Remove odor problems, such as washing the dirty clothes and cleaning the hamper or shutting the door to keep the musty smell causing moisture out. If there are signs of mold, treat the moldy area to get rid of it. Mold can be a health hazard if left untreated. To learn more about how to inhibit mold growth, check out 12 Ways to Fend Off Mold in Your Closets by Affordable Custom Closets & Garages.  

Once the source is found and contained, you can begin deodorizing your closets.

Potpourri Sachets


Potpourri helps to combat musty odors that sometimes take over a closet. While you can purchase potpourri at many big box stores or perfume shops, it’s simple to make small pouches that can go anywhere.

Onlyhangers.com explains that you start by taking your favorite combination of herbs and place a small amount of the mixture into a cotton sachet. Place the pouches in drawers and on shelves. If you have pants, shirts, or sweaters with pockets that don’t get worn frequently, put a small bag in the pockets to extend their freshness.

Air Fresheners

It may seem simplistic, but using air fresheners does help to neutralize the odors in your closets. While air freshening sprays like Febreze help, other air fresheners work longer than a simple spray in the air.

One place to start is with your car’s air freshener. After a while, you get accustomed to the scent in the same small space. Over time, it may even seem like your car’s freshener may not be working anymore. Take it out and put it in your closet for a couple of hours. You may find that there is some fragrance left to it after all.

You can also buy air fresheners for small spaces. Like car fresheners, these are made to combat smells in small areas. They are compact enough to sit on a shelf and not take up too much space. Some come with hangers to hang next to your clothes.

Dryer Sheets

Fragrant dryer sheets can help release a pleasant scent into your closet drawers and shelves without overpowering everything. Fold up the sheet and place it at the back of your dresser drawer or basket. It will help keep clothes you don’t often wear from getting musty, and it has the added benefit of already having the same scent as your laundry, so no conflicting smells.

Activated Charcoal


Activated charcoal absorbs odors that may linger in the closet air. While it does work well at keeping the air fresh, it also filters mold spores, keeping them from growing on walls and shelves. To use, place a block of activated charcoal in a breathable container and place it on a shelf. Periodically, take the block out, set it in sunlight for several hours, and then return it to the box and closet.

Experts at Onlyhangers.com suggest cleaning the blocks of activated charcoal periodically by placing them in the sun for several hours. Periodic cleaning such as this allows the charcoal to remain usable for up to two years.

Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds might not be your ideal way of getting rid of foul-smelling odors in your closet, but they are actually great odor absorbers & eliminators!  As with activated charcoal, coffee tends to absorb odors from the air around it.

Bustle.com suggests beginning by placing a container of coffee grounds on a shelf in your closet. If the can does not already contain ventilation holes, make sure to poke some holes in the container and seal the top. To keep the area smelling fresh, replace the coffee monthly.

Perfumed Cotton Balls

Using perfume isn’t the solution to eliminating odors in your closet, but it can be an excellent way to add some scent to the room. Using cotton balls or tissue paper spritzed with a favorite smell is a perfect way to cover up the must to get into the air.

For the best results, spray a piece of tissue paper or some cotton balls with your favorite scent. Then let it dry before placing your clothes in the drawer with it. With the drawer shut, your clothes will quickly pick up the fragrance and give you great-smelling clothes.


Vinegar and Lemons

Natural odor removers are the best option, especially for those with sensitivity to fragrances. White vinegar may sound like a strange option to use as an odor remover, considering its intense smell, but it works wonders.

To use vinegar:

  • Start with a spray bottle and mix equal parts of vinegar and water
  • Test a small portion of your clothing to ensure there is no adverse reaction to using the mixture on the material. If the fabric does not show a change in color or texture, the concoction should be good to go!
  • Use the spray on shelves, walls, and dresser drawers to help remove standing musty smells.

Once the solution dries, the vinegar smell will dissipate.

You can also add a tablespoon of white vinegar to your softener when doing laundry. The softener and vinegar solution will help to battle odors in your laundry that seem to persist.


All closets get a smell every now and then. Just because there is a musty, stale odor on your clothes or in the air doesn’t mean that you don’t clean properly. By eliminating the source and using various deodorizing options, such as potpourri, air fresheners, and activated charcoal, your closets can stay smelling fresh and clean.


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