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Bed Sheets Smell Musty After Washing: How to Prevent That Stinky Washing Smell?

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Written By Anđela Rajković

Certified Sleep Consultant

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29 March 2024 4 min read

Are you tired of doing laundry and finding that your bed sheets smell musty after washing? Don't worry, you're not alone!

Are you tired of pulling your freshly washed bed sheets out of the dryer, only to be hit with a musty smell that makes you feel like you need to wash them all over again?

Just like previously said – you're not alone. Many people experience this problem and it can be frustrating to deal with. But fear not, there are several reasons why your bed sheets may smell musty after washing, and there are also solutions to help you get that fresh, clean scent you crave.

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the musty smell and provide some tips on how to prevent it from happening.

Why do my sheets smell after washing?

An image of a woman holding her nose to avoid a nasty smell
  • Overloading the washing machine: cramming too many sheets into the washing machine can prevent proper water circulation. That can result in sheets not getting washed thoroughly, leading to a musty odour.
  • Using the wrong laundry detergent: some detergents are not effective in removing dirt, bacteria, and mould from the sheets. This can cause smelly sheets even after washing.
  • Using the wrong amount of detergent: adding too little detergent can result in insufficient cleaning, while using too much detergent can leave behind soap residue, leading to a musty odour.

Why do my washed sheets smell musty after storing?

How to properly wash sheets

An image of a woman turning on a washing machine

Keeping your sheets smelling fresh and clean is essential for a good night's sleep! Here are some tips to make sure your sheets stay odour-free:

  • Start with a pre-wash (with hot water if the sheets are made of cotton, for example)by adding half a cup of baking soda to the wash cycle. This will help remove any lingering odours and stains.
  • Use warm water in the wash cycle to help break down any dirt or oils on the fabric. If your sheets are white, you can add a small amount of chlorine bleach to the wash cycle.

By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your sheets stay fresh and clean, and you can enjoy a good night's sleep without any smelly surprises!

How to properly dry sheets

An image of folded and cleaned bed sheets

Properly drying your sheets is just as important as washing them to avoid that musty smell. Here are some tips to help you dry your sheets the right way:

  • Line drying your sheets is an excellent option if you have the space. Not only will it save on energy, but it will also give your sheets a natural freshness that you can't get with a dryer.
  • If you do use a dryer, make sure there is good airflow. This will help prevent moisture from getting trapped in the sheets, which can lead to that musty smell.

How to properly store sheets


In conclusion, smelly sheets are no match for our cleaning hacks!

By taking a few extra steps during the washing, drying, and storing processes, we can ensure that our sheets stay fresh and clean. And for an extra boost of freshness, try using a linen spray or even a DIY spray made from essential oils and water.

Moreover, when in doubt, always do the smell test before putting sheets back in the linen closet, and more importantly, before putting them on the bed! With these tips, we can say goodbye to musty odours and hello to clean, fresh sheets (and fresh laundry of any kind)!

But if you have any hacks of your own for when your bed sheets smell musty after washing, share them in the comments!

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About the author

Anđela Rajković
As a CPD certified Sleep Consultant and well-practiced sleep enthusiast, I find a lot of joy in bringing my expertise to our readers – preferably those who love to sleep. With a background in the English language and literature and a love of research, I'm always seeking new ways to share the latest sleep science and bed-related findings. And, when I'm not connecting with my readers, you can find me exploring the great outdoors, or, well, curling up in bed.
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