How can I get my clothes to smell better after doing laundry?

Real Mom Problem

“I've noticed lately that our clothes aren't smelling all that fresh when they come out of the dryer. I use fabric softener and Bounce sheets in the dryer, but it's not helping at all!”

by LDavis33 LDavis33

Quick Tips

  • 1. Make sure your washer and dryer are clean and functioning well
  • 2. Consider using white vinegar instead of fabric softener to soften clothes and neutralize odor
  • 3. Try adding a little baking soda to your detergent for an added boost of freshening power
  • 4. Don't let your clothes sit in the washer or dryer for too long as they will start to smell musty
  • 5. Consider running your empty washer with just detergent (or even bleach) for a cycle to clean it out

Real Mom Solutions

Clean-smelling clothes are one of life's great pleasures. See how these moms ensure fresh results for every load of laundry!

Hannah Keeley Hannah Keeley

Our Expert Mom Says...

Fabric softener dryer sheets aren't just for dryers. I love sticking them in between my linens to keep them smelling fresh. Another trick I love is purchasing inexpensive body spray and using them on my linens every time I make up the bed. It not only makes your sheets smell fresh every time you go to bed, but it also provides motivation to get that chore done.

You can also place sachets in your closets and in your drawers to keep them smelling fragrant. You can make simple sachets out of lavender wrapped up in fabric and tied at the top with ribbon. If you don't want to buy or make sachets, no problem, you can use discs that come with the plug-in air fresheners to freshen your drawers and closets. Just toss them in and the job is done.

Hannah Keeley is the producer and host of the national television series, "Hannah, Help Me!" She is also the author of "Hannah Keeley's Total Mom Makeover," founder of the mom website,, and the mother of seven rambunctious kids! Hannah has appeared on the "Today" show, "Fox and Friends", TLC, and has been a frequent guest on the "Rachael Ray Show". She has also been featured in "The Wall Street Journal," "Better Homes and Gardens," and "Real Simple" magazine.

The Moms of CafeMom Say...

  • mummy1990

    Run an empty cycle in your washing machine with one cup bleach, and one cup vinegar. And when you are done washing a load, keep the washer door open to air it out, and let it dry. Otherwise your clothes will smell because of the musty washing machine.

  • grngrlkitchen

    My kids' clothes smell heavenly! I use Tide or Wisk and I love the Purex Crystals. I am sure the Downey Crystals are great, too. Then I put a dryer sheet in the dryer with the clothes.

  • Leslieasnyder

    I find that if I run my washer with bleach and hot water and nothing else once a week, my detergent seems to smell a lot stronger, which makes the clothes smell better for longer.

  • MamaJane

    Front-loading washing machines get a musty smell. I run a bleach-only cycle about once a month. There should be one on your settings. Another thing you can do is take apart the laundry soap holder and clean it. Mine is on the top, above the door and comes all the way out. Also, always leave the soap drawer and door open. I also stopped using fabric softener. I put straight vinegar in where the fabric softener goes. It really made my clothes smell better. I know it sounds counterproductive! They didn't have the fragrant smell but they didn't smell musty anymore. It took two months before they started feeling stiff and getting static-y. That really made me think: It took two months to get all that build-up out of our clothes! I started using fabric softener again this week because the clothes were starting to feel rough. I think now I'm going to alternate every two weeks or so. I just can't believe all that was built up.