How To Keep Your Laundry Basket Smelling Fresh

Unfortunately, the stench from our sweaty shirts doesn’t magically evaporate once we throw them in the laundry basket. These handy bins could be a breeding ground for bad bacteria, loathsome odors, and musty mildew if we're not careful. Are you concerned about the stench of your laundry baskets? If so, don’t “sweat” it! We’ve done all the research on the best ways to keep your laundry basket smelling fresh all year round.  

Here are a few common ways people get rid of odors in their laundry basket:

  • Give your laundry basket a thorough scrubbing with warm, soapy water.  
  • Spray a mixture of baking soda and water in your laundry basket.
  • Mist a 1:1 vinegar to water mix in your basket, let sit for 15 minutes and wipe away. 
  • Wipe your laundry basket with non-bleach antimicrobial wipes or use a disinfectant spray. 
  • Consider buying a protective, removable liner for your laundry basket.   
  • Opt for machine-washable “laundry bags” rather than traditional baskets. 

Please note that not all of these techniques will work for every laundry basket model. Keep reading to understand what cleaning technique works best for your basket. 

A laundry basket filled with newly washed laundry, How To Keep Your Laundry Basket Smelling Fresh

How To Keep Your Laundry Basket Smelling Fresh – Six Stink-Proof Strategies  

You don’t need a ton of harsh chemicals to keep your laundry bin clean. If you follow a few of the simple tips below, you shouldn’t have an issue keeping this basket smelling fresh.  

Give Your Basket A Bubbly Bath – Use Warm Water & Soap

Never discount the cleansing power of warm water and mild detergent on plastic laundry bins. Scrubbing your laundry bin with a soapy sponge is the gentlest way to remove grime, and it’s also a great way to pre-treat your bin before using harsher chemicals. 

Before you clean your bin with soapy water, use your vacuum cleaner to clean obvious debris. Next, scrub your basket thoroughly with a soapy sponge. Lastly, rinse all of the suds off with warm water and dry with a clean towel. 

While you could clean your bin in the bathtub, it’s best to use this strategy outside on a sunny day. Not only is it easier to wash your basket with a hose, but sunlight could also naturally kill bacteria.   

Just keep in mind this method works best with plastic laundry bins. Please don’t blast your fragile wicker baskets with your hose.   

For optimal scrubbing power, be sure to look into the highly-rated “scrung sponge” models. 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

Baking Soda Busts Bad Odors 

Forget Febreze; baking soda is a fabulous (and frugal!) odor buster. Here’s how you could use baking soda to get rid of funky smells in your laundry basket:

  • Mix ~1 tablespoon baking soda per 12 oz of water in a spray bottle. 
  • Vacuum any obvious debris clinging to your laundry basket.  
  • Mist your laundry basket with the baking soda mixture. 
  • Use a clean brush to scrub the baking soda deep into your basket.
  • Let the baking soda sit for about five minutes.
  • Use a slightly damp towel or sponge to wipe away the baking soda. 
  • Dry with a clean microfiber towel. 

But you don’t have to wait till your basket smells bad to harness the power of baking soda. Indeed, you could easily create a DIY sachet with baking soda and place it in your hamper. 

To make this baking soda sachet, follow these steps:

  1. Grab a new coffee filter and fill it with about 1 teaspoon of baking soda.
  2. Bend your coffee filter in half and use a stapler to seal it completely.
  3. Place this sachet at the bottom of your hamper and replace it biweekly. 

If you don’t feel like going through all of this effort, please keep in mind Arm & Hammer offers a lavender-scented baking soda cartridge.

Find out more on this Amazon link.

Alternatively, you could place an activated charcoal purifying bag near your laundry hamper. Like baking soda, activated charcoal is fantastic at absorbing foul odors. Plus, since activated charcoal is so trendy nowadays, it’s easy to find high-quality products online. 

Find out more on this Amazon link.   

Are you interested in more “out of the box” ways to use a box of baking soda? If so, check out our recent piece on How To Clean A Shower Head With Baking Soda. You could also learn How To Unclog A Bathroom Sink With Vinegar And Baking Soda

Make A DIY Disinfectant With Vinegar & Water 

White distilled vinegar is a potent odor fighter that’s probably already in your kitchen. But vinegar doesn’t merely mask disgusting odors; it also has potent antimicrobial properties. So, if you notice your laundry basket has a moldy smell, it’s time to break out that bottle of vinegar. 

For a potent clean, mix equal parts white distilled vinegar and water in a spray bottle. After you’ve vacuumed away obvious debris, lightly spray this vinegar mix all over your laundry basket. Once your basket has an even coating of vinegar, allow it to sit for at least 15 minutes. Lastly, wipe away the vinegar with a clean, damp towel and dry with another clean rag. 

If you need to re-stock on vinegar, it’s not difficult to find online.

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

Wipe Away Your Smelly Stains – Buy A Bottle Of Disinfectant Wipes  

If vinegar isn’t getting the job done, you might want to use a few store-bought disinfectant wipes on your laundry basket. After a quick wipe, you should notice a tremendous improvement in the smell department.  

Just be careful not to use bleach-based products on your bins. Even though bleach is a fantastic mold buster, most cleaning experts believe it’s too abrasive on baskets. 

Two of the best-reviewed disinfectant wipes include Clorox’s Bleach-Free Wipes and Lysol’s Lemon & Lime Wipes. 

Find out more on this Amazon link.

Click this Amazon link for more details.  

Let A Laundry Liner Absorb The Odors   

If you don’t want odors clinging to your bin, why not prevent your clothes from touching the basket? That’s the bright idea behind laundry basket liners!

These removable cloth liners help keep the inside of your basket looking good and smelling great. Plus, since most of these removable liners are machine washable, you could toss them in the laundry with your clothes. 

You could easily make a DIY liner with clean bed sheets or a tablecloth. However, there are a few laundry baskets that come with pre-fitted liners.

Find out more on this Amazon link.

Forget Baskets – Use Laundry Bags!  

Instead of fussing with liners and cleaning products, why not ditch the whole idea of a laundry basket and buy a laundry bag! These containers serve the same purpose as your basket—except in a bag form. 

Be sure to opt for a laundry bag that is machine-washable so you could pop it in the laundry with your clothes. It’s also a good idea to use bags that have a mesh coating to improve airflow.  

Find out more on this Amazon link.   

What Does Dirty Laundry Smell Like?

A man smelling his shirt while putting laundry inside a washing machine

If you’ve ever walked into a sweaty gym locker, you know first-hand the scent of dirty laundry. Besides “sweaty,” a few words commonly used to describe dirty laundry include “musty,” “sour,” and “cheesy.”

According to the latest scientific research, stinky clothes give off highly volatile compounds when they’ve been sitting for too long. Over time, icky bacteria work their way into these clothes and start interacting with sweat and dead skin cells.

Interestingly, a brave group of Canadian researchers studied (and smelt!) stinky socks from study participants. According to their report, each of the volatile compounds in different clothes had its own unique “scent”—kind of like a "putrid perfume"!  

For instance, scientists said clothes with more butyric acid had a scent similar to rancid butter. However, the compound dimethyl disulfide gave off an intense onion aroma.

However, we bet you won’t need a team of scientists to tell you when your laundry bin smells disgusting!   

How Long Does It Take For Wet (Or Sweaty) Clothes To Attract Mildew?

A detailed photo of molds growing

If you leave sweaty or wet items in a dark and humid area, mildew could appear within as little as six hours. However, in most cases, mold will start to appear in 24 – 48 hours.

Remember: mildew loves dark, damp areas. So, it’s best to keep your laundry bins in a place with plenty of light and ventilation. Whatever you do, keep laundry bins out of the shower room!

It’s also a good idea to throw sweaty gym clothes in the laundry ASAP. It would also help if you let wet towels air dry before putting them in your laundry basket.  

Should I Clean My Laundry Basket?

A dog sitting on a laundry basket

Optimally, you should clean your laundry basket after every laundry cycle. Not only will washing your laundry basket keep it smelling fresh, it could get rid of potentially harmful bacteria.

The easiest way to clean your laundry basket between cycles is to wipe it down with disinfectant wipes. If you don’t have disinfectant wipes handy, it’s also OK to scrub your laundry basket with a soapy sponge. Just be sure to dry your laundry basket completely before placing clothes inside it.

If you can’t be bothered to clean your bin, consider buying re-usable “laundry bags” instead of a basket. Toss your laundry bag into the washing machine with all your dirty clothes. After your wash cycle is complete, please wait for your bag to dry before using it again.

Find out more on this Amazon link.   

Does A Hamper Need To Breathe?

A laundry basket with dirty bed sheets

Breathability should be a primary concern when shopping for hampers. Since hampers have to hold dirty clothes over the week, there’s a high-risk mold could form in them. The only way to cut this significant threat is to ensure air is continuously moving through your clothes.     

Thankfully, many hamper brands have openings to let air pass through. Plus, many of these new hamper models are light and easy-to-transport—and some even have cute animal designs! 

Find out more on this Amazon link. 

From Laundry Basket To Bed Linens – Check Out Our Bedroom Cleaning Guide  

Now that your laundry basket smells nice, how about de-stinking your bedroom? Not sure how to clean odors in your linens? Home Décor Bliss has got you “covered!” Be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to Removing Odors In The Bedroom.    

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