How to Make your Closet Smell Good

There’s nothing worse than opening a closet to be hit with a horrible smell.  Do you want to know how to make your closet smell good? We’ve all encountered the musty odors, bad smells, and unpleasant odors that can sneak into our closets over time. Maybe your home has that old house closet smell floating around. Whether it’s sweaty shoes, damp clothes, or other sources of unwanted odors, there are easy and effective ways to make your closet smell good again. 


Do you ever find your house smells musty but no mold is growing?  You look into your closets and they seem fine, but they don’t smell fine?  Well, there are things that can help with that!

In this post we’ll explore 25 tried-and-true methods if your closet smells musty that will help you maintain a fresh scent in your closet.  

How to Make your Closet Smell Good

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Ventilation and Fresh Air 

One of the first things to consider in making your closet smell good is ensuring proper ventilation. Stale air can lead to musty odors, so it’s essential to allow fresh air to circulate regularly. Leave the closet door ajar during the day to promote air exchange. If your closet is in a small or poorly ventilated space, consider using a fan or installing vents to improve air circulation.

Dealing with Moisture 

Excess moisture is a common culprit behind musty odors and mold growth. To combat this issue, make sure your closet remains dry. Use a dehumidifier if your closet is prone to high humidity, especially in damp climates. We’ve had to use dehumidifiers in our house due to closet moisture.  Additionally, fix any leaks or water sources that may be contributing to the problem.

Natural Odor Absorbers 

Natural odor absorbers can be a great way to fight musty smells in your closet. Try placing activated charcoal, coffee grounds, or baking soda in a small bowl or breathable container in the corners of your closet. These substances are known for their ability to absorb and neutralize unpleasant odors.

activated charcoal

Essential Oils for a Fresh Smell 

Essential oils are not just for aromatherapy; they can also work wonders in eliminating bad odors in your closet. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, such as lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus, to cotton balls or tissue paper and place them in your closet. If you have any presence of mice in your closet mint essential oil can keep them away.  You can also create a DIY closet freshener by mixing a few drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle and lightly misting your closet’s interior.

Scented Sachets and DIY Potpourri 

Scented sachets and DIY potpourri can add a pleasant aroma to your closet. You can buy scented sachets from perfume shops or create your own using dried flowers, cinnamon sticks, and your favorite fragrances. Place these sachets or potpourri in closet drawers or hang them on closet shelves to infuse your clothing with a fresh scent.

Cedar Wood Products 

Cedar wood has natural aromatic properties that can help keep your closet smelling fresh while also repelling moths and other pests. Consider investing in cedar hangers, cedar blocks, or cedar shoe inserts. These items release a pleasant cedar scent that masks unwanted odors and protects your clothes from damage.

Regularly Clean and Organize 

The best way to prevent bad smells from taking over your closet is by keeping it clean and organized. Regularly go through your clothes, removing items you no longer wear or need. Wash dirty clothes promptly and ensure they are completely dry before returning them to the closet.

Use the Right Detergents and Fabric Softeners 

The detergents and fabric softeners you use can impact how your clothes smell. Opt for detergents with a clean scent that will leave your clothes smelling fresh. Be cautious not to use too much detergent, as this can lead to a musty smell. Additionally, consider using fabric softeners or dryer sheets to impart a pleasant scent to your clothes.

Bar Soap for Freshness 

A simple and effective way to keep your closet smelling good is by using bars of soap. Place unwrapped bars of your favorite scented soap on closet shelves or in dresser drawers. The soap will release its fragrance over time, providing a subtle and long-lasting fresh scent.

bar soap for closet odors

Regularly Wash or Replace Dirty Laundry Baskets 

Dirty laundry baskets can be a hidden source of foul odors in your closet. Ensure that your laundry baskets are clean and dry to prevent mold growth and unwanted smells from transferring to your clean clothes.

Invest in an Essential Oil Diffuser 

An essential oil diffuser is an excellent addition to your closet if you want a consistent and customizable scent. You can use it to disperse your favorite essential oil scents throughout your closet, creating a pleasant and inviting atmosphere.

Tackle Mold and Mildew 

Mold and mildew can be stubborn sources of unpleasant closet odors. If you suspect mold growth, address it promptly. Clean affected areas with a mixture of white vinegar and water to kill mold spores. Ensure the closet is completely dry before returning your items.

Keep Shoes Fresh 

Stinky shoes are a common cause of unpleasant closet smells. Combat this by using cedar shoe inserts, sprinkling baking soda inside your shoes, or using dedicated shoe deodorizers. Regularly cleaning and airing out your shoes can also help.

Pet Hair Removal 

If you have pets, their fur can contribute to a less-than-fresh closet. Regularly clean pet hair from your clothing and closet surfaces. Consider using lint rollers or a handheld vacuum to make this task more manageable.

Check for Poor Air Circulation 

Poor air circulation can trap musty odors in your closet. Ensure that your closet isn’t overcrowded and that items are not blocking airflow. If possible, install vents or fans to improve circulation.

Identify and Eliminate the Source of the Smell 

To permanently solve the problem of a smelly closet, you must identify and eliminate the source of the smell. It could be a forgotten bag of sweaty gym clothes, old dryer sheets that have lost their scent, or even a hidden mold issue. Thoroughly inspect your closet to find the root cause of the smell and address it accordingly.

DIY Closet Air Fresheners 

Create your own DIY closet air fresheners using natural ingredients. Mix coffee grounds, baking soda, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil in a small container. Place this container on a closet shelf to absorb odors and provide a pleasant scent.

coffee grounds

Use Old Dryer Sheets Creatively 

Don’t throw away old dryer sheets just yet. They can still be useful for keeping your closet smelling fresh. Tuck them into dresser drawers, place them in shoes, or even hang them on wooden hangers. They may not have the same potency as when they were fresh, but they can still help.

Consider Incense Sticks and DIY Potpourri 

Incense sticks can infuse your closet with strong scents that can mask less pleasant odors. Alternatively, you can create your own DIY potpourri by mixing dried flowers and herbs with drops of essential oil. Place these near the source of the smell for best results.

Regularly Wash Wooden Hangers 

Wooden hangers are a classic choice for maintaining the shape of your clothes, but they can also absorb odors over time. Periodically wipe down wooden hangers with a cloth dampened with a mixture of water and white vinegar to keep them fresh.

Use Cedar Blocks in Closet Corners 

Cedar blocks are excellent for preventing musty odors and repelling pests. Place cedar blocks in the corners of your closet or hang them near the source of the problem for the best results.

Create a Breathable Container for Dirty Clothes

Designate a breathable container for your dirty laundry to prevent the spread of unpleasant odors. Consider a laundry hamper with ventilation holes or a fabric bag to allow air circulation.

Homemade Scented Drawer Liners 

Add a personal touch to your closet by making homemade scented drawer liners. Cut tissue paper to fit your dresser drawers, and lightly spritz them with a mixture of water and drops of your favorite essential oil. Once dry, place these scented liners in your drawers to keep your clothes smelling fresh.

Spray Bottles for Quick Refresh 

Keep a small spray bottle filled with a water and essential oil mixture in your closet. Use it to quickly refresh the scent of your clothes or the closet itself whenever needed. It’s an easy way to maintain a fresh smell.

Long-Term Solutions for a Fresh Closet 

In the long run, the key to a consistently fresh-smelling closet is a combination of these methods and regular maintenance. By staying organized, addressing the root causes of bad smells, and using natural remedies like essential oils and cedar, you can enjoy a closet that always smells inviting.

​Getting rid of musty odors and maintaining a pleasant scent in your closet doesn’t have to feel impossible. With the ideas above you can easily make your closet smell good and keep it that way. Whether you prefer the natural approach with essential oils and cedar or the convenience of scented sachets and DIY potpourri, there’s a method that suits your style.

By tackling the root causes of bad odors, promoting proper ventilation, and staying organized, you’ll ensure that your closet remains a fresh and inviting space for your clothing and accessories. Say goodbye to musty odors and hello to a closet that always smells delightful.

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