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Removing Odors From Clothing That Was Left in the Washer

Category Laundry
Woman crouched in front of a front loading dryer smelling a shirt
This is a guide about removing odors from clothing that was left in the washer. Mildew can grow in damp clothes that have not been dried promptly leaving a stubborn smell.
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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
November 14, 2010

All of my towels have that smell of when you leave them in the washer too long. (I did that). I can't get the smell out. I have tried with vinegar and bleach even though they are colored. I will have to get new ones if I can't get the stink out. When you dry yourself off, you smell then. Please any ideas?

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By Maria from WI

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Answers

November 14, 20100 found this helpful

Please try Baking soda in the wash. Let it soak for 20 minutes. A shot of Febreeze when they are dry wouldn't hurt!

Best wishes!

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November 15, 20100 found this helpful

The magic word is baking soda. Soak the towels in your regular laundry soap and add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of soda. Maybe soak them for 1/2 hour. I hope it helps you.

Donnakay

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November 15, 20100 found this helpful

Done that! Washed them in HOT water and dishwasher soap, the powder or 2 tabs. I used double the amount for one dishwasher load and it got the smell out! I used lemon scented dishwasher soap and now they smell like lemon! It HAS to be dishwasher soap, not just dish soap. Good luck!

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November 15, 20100 found this helpful

Something that is color safe and fabric safe is Pine Sol. I will add 1/8 to 1/4 cup of lavender or spring flowers scented Pine Sol to the wash to deodorize and disinfect laundry that has a "sour" smell to it. I've done it with excellent results and NO DAMAGE to the laundry.

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November 26, 20100 found this helpful

I use 20 Mule Team Borax, pine cleaner along with my regular detergent and run one full cycle. Then I rinse a second time with fabric softener, smells wonderful when it comes out of the dryer.

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Anonymous
October 9, 20120 found this helpful

Try ammonia... I know it sounds weird, because it is stinky on its own, but I swear it works and your clothes do not smell like ammonia when they are done. Also safe on clothes... treat similar to bleach.

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July 28, 20160 found this helpful

please answer this question i need help i left cloth in washer an i can't get the sour odor out

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April 30, 20170 found this helpful

My brother-in-law worked delivering fuel oil and he always got some fuel oil on his clothes. He used ammonia and swears by it. I have the sour smelling clothes and have avoided this method. I have tried the vinegar, but the smell won't come out. So today, I am trying the ammonia. I use ammonia to wash my floors, and like you say...it smells bad, but it drys clean and fresh. Weird, but true.

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By 0 found this helpful
December 4, 2015

I forgot I had washed a load of laundry and left it for a couple of days. Now it smells. What can I do?

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December 5, 20151 found this helpful

Run it thru the rinse cycle with a little vinegar. I use vinegar in the rinse cycle of every load. It eliminates the static electricity and don't have to use fabric softner. Can't smell the vinegar after after the water rings out and clothes are dry.

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December 6, 20150 found this helpful

Your clothes stink due to bacteria that has grown in that damp dark environment. Wash them again! :)

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December 6, 20150 found this helpful

You could also re-wash them, and pour a cup or so of regular amber mouthwash in at the start of the rinse cycle.

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November 14, 20100 found this helpful

I left clothes soaking in my washer too long with detergent added to the water. Needless to say, we had a very busy week and forgot to run the load. How can I get the odor out now sticking to the load of clothes? Thanks!

Cindy from Gainesville, GA

Answers:

Removing Odor From Clothing Left In Washer

A further option is to run a quart of vinegar (white) in your empty washer to remove all mildew from it especially if you have front loader as they have many more hiding spaces in the rubber gaskets inside the door to grow uglies. Same works for dishwasher periodically. Sparkling clean! (09/12/2008)

By grannygail

Removing Odor From Clothing Left In Washer

Wash them in Gain with baking soda; it is known to take out odors and it is all I use. Then I use Gain fabric liquid softener in island fresh, it must be ultra. You will never go back to any other detergent again. I promise baking soda is what takes the smell out of laundry! (09/12/2008)

By KimmyLynn

Removing Odor From Clothing Left in Washer

I use the vinegar also, I also use borax, it also fights odors and stains. It can be found next to laundry soap in the store aisle. (09/14/2008)

By Little Miss Sunshine

Removing Odor From Clothing Left in Washer

Febreze makes a laundry odor remover that works great, but I usually do the vinegar method too. There is also a product called Affresh that will clean all the odor causing residue in your washing machine. The package has 3 tablets and we got it at Home Depot. You just drop a tablet in and run a hot wash (empty). This was a miracle for me! My washer was really smelly after washing so many flood soaked items this summer. (09/16/2008)

By loved1

Removing Odor From Clothing Left in Washer

I rewash adding baking soda and new laundry detergent. (09/18/2008)

By Karen

Removing Odor From Clothing Left in Washer

I swear by clear ammonia. I too have committed the "sin" of leaving damp stuff lying around and the smell is unbelievable. We also have a male cat (neutered of course) that has a very bad habit of urinating on clothing, etc. left on the floor (I have 2 kids, so you know what this means). I just pour a 1/2 cup of ammonia in the "rinse" cycle and it works great! It may leave an ammonia smell right out of the washer, but once the stuff has been in the dryer, there is no smell. You can also use 1 cup of white vinegar, but I like the ammonia better. In fact, I keep a gallon of the stuff right next to the washer. (09/22/2008)

By 2BoysMom

Removing Odor From Clothing Left in Washer

I once left a comforter in the washer and forgot about it for a few days. When opening the washer lid, I about passed out from the stench. When in doubt call mom! Mom recommended using 20 Mule Team Borax with your normal detergent. I followed the directions on the box and it was as good as new after washing it only once. Great stuff and it can be used for many other cleaning problems. (03/29/2009)

By Nockmoi

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

September 12, 20080 found this helpful

How do you remove "sour" odor from laundry left in the washer too long?

Glenys from Georgia

Answers:

Removing Odor From Clothing Left In Washer

Been there, done that! I run it through the wash again using vinegar for wash and in place of fabric softener. They won't come out smelling like vinegar, just fresh and not like mildew. (06/19/2008)

By Glenn'sMom

Removing Odor From Clothing Left In Washer

Yes, as Glenn's mom said, simply re-wash and the vinegar will help rid possible mildew. Not even a dozen dryer sheets will take the sour odor out otherwise. (06/23/2008)

By Deeli

Removing Odor From Clothing Left In Washer

Rewash and add vinegar or baking soda. (06/24/2008)

By falldowngobump

Removing Odor From Clothing Left In Washer

You don't really have to rewash! Just add the vinegar and send it through the rinse cycles again.
Works best with cold water. (06/25/2008)

By Shosha

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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