Using Baking Soda to Freshen Closets

Box of baking soda on a closet shelf

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, which is a weak base that can act as an acid depending on what it comes in contact with. The smells in your closet are made up of organic particles. Baking soda bonds with these particles, making it easy to remove them.

Why Closets Need "Freshening"

Smells on clothes could develop and worsen as time goes on. Some smells are a result of mold, as mold grows in warm, damp places and thrives on organic matter. The inside of your damp sneakers is ideal for mold.

In some cases, smells are simply a matter of body odor. You wore a T-shirt to work out in, and rather than wash it immediately you shoved it into the hamper or tossed it onto the floor of the closet. Either way, the smell can start to permeate other fabrics.

Tips for Using Baking Soda to Remove Closet Odors

Try any or all of these easy tips for keeping or making your closet sweeter-smelling.

  1. Baking Soda Boxes: If you simply want to keep your closet smelling fresh, and have specific odor issues to address, you can simply place an opened box of baking soda inside your closet. Once there, it will absorb smells for up to a year. You'll want to be sure that the box is in a safe spot so it won't wind up spilling all over your clothing.
  2. Baking Soda Mopping Solutions: If your closet is already smelling musty, there's a chance that deodorizing the floor will make the difference. This is especially true if you're in the habit of dropping wet clothing or shoes on an uncarpeted floor. To deodorize the floor with baking soda, make a solution of one gallon of warm water, 1/2 cup of vinegar, and 1/4 cup of baking soda. Mop the floor thoroughly and rinse with clear water. Then dry the floor thoroughly.
  3. Baking Soda and Shoes: Even work shoes can get sweaty and damp, and moist, dark places are perfect for mold and mildew. Instead of living with the smell (or buying an expensive "odor eater"), consider sprinkling baking soda into your shoes and/or directly on the closet floor to absorb odors. Do this on a monthly or weekly basis.
  4. Baking Soda and Hampers: Wet towels and other items left in hampers for more than a day or two can lead to an ongoing problem with "freshness." To avoid this try sprinkling baking soda directly in the bottom of your hamper. To avoid the potential messiness of powder, you can also create baking soda sachets to place in your hampers.
pouring baking soda into the dirty clothes hamper

The Spruce / Michelle Becker