7 things people with a nice-smelling closet always do

Our experts explain the habits and tactics that contribute to a closet that consistently exudes a pleasant scent

Things people with a nice-smelling closets always do
(Image credit: Ted Todd / DelightFULL / Chad Mellon at Studio Mellon / Styling Kara Perlis)

Trapped odors in closets are a common but often overlooked issue that can lead to your clothes and space smelling musty and unpleasant. However, you can ensure this space remains fresh by incorporating some regular practices and strategies.

People with nice-smelling closet storage incorporate thoughtful practices – from ensuring the space is properly ventilated to cleaning and organizing their closet to include natural deodorizers and scents. This way, they can ensure their closet is clean, clutter-free, and beautifully fragrant year-round.

Our experts have recommended seven tricks to keep your closet smelling fresh, contributing to making your home smell nice.

Things people with a nice-smelling closet always do

By incorporating these tips into your cleaning and fabric care routines, you can turn this storage space into an olfactory haven.

1. Keep your closet clean and organized

mud room with screened closet and storage buckets

(Image credit: Chad Mellon at Studio Mellon / Styling Kara Perlis)

A nice-smelling closet starts with the basics – keeping it clean and organized.  Regularly dust and vacuum your closet, wiping down shelves and surfaces. 

'I know it's tedious, but trust me – vacuuming weekly and laundering fabric items monthly is closet kryptonite for keeping odors at bay,' says Keely Smith, Lead Interior Designer at JD Elite. 'I also make sure to give wood and metals a regular wipe-down to banish residue.' 

You can clean wooden furniture with a simple mixture of water and dish soap, wiping it with a soft microfiber cloth. Be sure to air the closet properly after cleaning to prevent moisture from persisting and causing odors.

You should also keep your closet organized by getting rid of any clothes or items that you no longer use or need and rotating your wardrobe seasonally. A clutter-free closet not only makes it easier to find items but also ensures that your clothes get fresh air to prevent musty odors from lingering.

Keely Smith / JD Interiors
Keely Smith

Keely Smith is a designer and artist living in North Vancouver, BC. She has over 10 years experience working with design studios, private companies and as a freelance designer.

2. Avoid overcrowding

Small room bed ideas with dressing room and mirrored wardrobes

(Image credit: Future / Rachael Smith)

An overcrowded closet can lead to poor air circulation, trapping musty air and leading to odors. 

Be sure to keep your closet uncluttered and organize it to allow for air circulation, leaving breathing room between your clothes.

3. Banish moisture


(Image credit: DelightFULL)

Dealing with moisture is critical in preventing mold and mildew which are common culprits of bad odors. Using dehumidifiers or moisture absorbers, especially in humid environments, can help to keep your closet dry and odor-free.

'A crucial element for maintaining a fresh closet is the inclusion of humidity beads. These beads help control moisture levels, preventing musty odors and preserving the quality of clothing,' explains Megan McGovern, founder and CEO of SORT. We recommend these LIFJOY silica gel packs from Amazon.

Additionally, closet doors with slits or vents (such as rattan or woven materials) allow for better air circulation, which will help to prevent the build-up of stagnant air and aid the evaporation of moisture, reducing the likelihood of mold and mildew formation.

Regular inspection and maintenance of the closet, including checking for signs of mold and addressing any moisture issues, can prevent musty odors from building up.

4. Use natural deodorizers

Opulent walk-in closet, Covet House

(Image credit: Covet House)

Rather than relying on chemical-laden air fresheners, people with a nice-smelling closet always opt for natural deodorizers.

Baking soda, cedar chips, or activated charcoal bags can absorb odors and excess moisture. These can be strategically placed on shelves, hangers, in drawers, or in shoes. Incorporating natural scents can also enhance the aroma of a closet.

Baking soda is not only effective in eliminating clothing stains, but it's also excellent at soaking up undesirable smells. Place three tablespoons of baking soda into a perforated container or leave it uncovered and place it in the closet. This helps to neutralize odors and draw in any moisture from the air, preventing garments from developing a musty scent. You can also mix a few drops of essential oils or dried lavender with baking soda to add a fragrant scent to your closet. 

5. Add fragrance

Clothes storage ideas with grey walk in wardrobes

(Image credit: Ham Interiors)

Adding fragrances is a surefire way to ensure your closet smells nice. You can buy pre-made sachets or make your own by placing dried lavender, rose petals, or your favorite herbs in small fabric sachets. These can be hung in your closet or placed in drawers.

You can also make your own DIY linen spray, using around 15 drops of your favorite essential oils, 1-2 tablespoons of witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, and 1 cup of water in a spray bottle. If you use essential oils, ensure they will not damage your clothes by doing a patch test prior to using them.

Keely Smith says, 'One of my absolute favorite no-fail strategies is soaking cotton balls in only a few drops of doTERRA essential oils from Amazon, like lavender, eucalyptus, lemon or mint. 

'Simply place them on shelves to naturally freshen the air every day. The subtle yet sublime scents linger for weeks without harsh chemicals.'

Harmoso Cedar Chip & Lavender Sachets | Was $10.99, now $9.90 from Amazon

Harmoso Cedar Chip & Lavender Sachets | Was $10.99, now $9.90 from Amazon

These scented sachets are filled with natural red cedar shavings and lavender buds. They are perfect for hanging in your closet to release a relaxing floral scent.

6. Use fragrant storage solutions

closet with drawers and hanging space

(Image credit: Sharps)

Consider integrating fragrances into your closet using scented drawer liners or storage solutions. 

Scented drawer liners come in various scents, so you can choose one that complements your preferences. Additionally, when placing them in drawers, consider the color and design to add a touch of personal style along with the pleasant aroma.

You can find linen-scented drawer liners from Amazon, or add contact paper to your drawers and wipe them with a personalized fragrance made with essential oils or scented fabric spray. This will allow you to choose a drawer liner design that suits your personal interior style.

7. Air the closet out regularly


(Image credit: Ted Todd)

Luis Carmona, owner and lead designer at VERDE Interior Design, recommends keeping your closet doors open for a few hours each day. 

'Whether your closet opens to the bedroom or bathroom, leaving the doors open for a few hours each day will allow air to circulate. Anything that would normally cause odor to build up in a closet will hopefully be cleared out by the circulating air.'

Headshot of Luis Carmona owner of VERDE Interior Design
Luis Carmona

Luis Carmona is owner of VERDE Interior Design. He has 20 years of experience working in interior design and brings a unique 360-degree perspective to his commercial and residential clients. His expertise extends across a wide spectrum of design, from single-family homes to restaurants, and everything in between


Should you store shoes in your closet?

Shoes can contribute to a not-so-pleasant odor in your closet, leading to your clothes smelling musty. It is best to have separate shoe storage to maintain the cleanliness and freshness of your closet. 

If you have no choice but to keep shoes in your closet, store them in sealed containers such as shoe boxes or in hanging organizers with odor absorbers, such as activated charcoal and scented sachets. 

What hangers should you use to prevent odors in your closet?

Synthetic fabrics can trap odors instead of releasing them, so natural materials for hangers are preferable. Use hangers such as wood, breathable cotton, wool, or silk to prevent bad odors.

Vacuum sealing or using airtight containers for off-season items ensures smells and moisture won't permeate these items. This can help keep these items fresh while they are not being used.

Finally, you can use a hygrometer, such as this one from Amazon, to help monitor humidity levels in your closet to determine the extent to which you need to manage moisture.

Lola Houlton
News writer

Lola Houlton is a news writer for Homes & Gardens. She has been writing content for Future PLC for the past six years, in particular Homes & Gardens, Real Homes and GardeningEtc. She writes on a broad range of subjects, including practical household advice, recipe articles, and product reviews, working closely with experts in their fields to cover everything from heating to home organization through to house plants. Lola is a graduate, who completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sussex. She has also spent some time working at the BBC.