Clothes Smell Bad After Washing

If your freshly washed clothes have a bad or sour smell, some sleuthing may be called for to determine the cause. This is a guide about when clothes smell bad after washing.
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October 18, 2010 Flag

Sometimes I forget I have a load of wash in the washing machine that has begun to smell musty. How can I get rid of the smell that sometimes remains in the cloths even after washing them again?

By Mary Jean from Budd Lake, NJ

October 30, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

With towels use the hottest water you can vinegar is good to use so is oxi clean. I use oxi-clean instead of clorox, clorox eats up the clothes oxi clean doesn't. With the clothes vinegar or oxi-clean (dissolved first). Use at least warm water on clothes.

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Anonymous Flag
October 19, 20100 found this helpful

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I have made 2 rules for myself. 1) I cannot put any clothes in the washer or dryer unless I first set my loud kitchen timer for 35 minutes. 2) When the timer goes off I must drop what I am doing and go directly to the washer or dryer. With these 2 rules, clothes are never left in the washer and I can take the clothes out of the dryer while it is still spinning, which means less wrinkles.

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October 19, 20100 found this helpful

Between all of using my family, this happens fairly often. If it doesn't smell too bad, I usually just do a quick wash with warm water & 1/2 the amount of laundry soap. If it smells strong, I add borax to the wash.

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October 20, 20100 found this helpful

I have done this many times. I am a stay at home Mom but I get easily distracted by my kids and their needs, so I forget to go down there and switch loads. I remove about half of the clothes and wash again, it usually does the trick.

Good luck to you.

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December 2, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

My clothes seem to smell okay when they are washed. The problem I run into is that when I start to sweat or my clothes get wet by rain or moisture from any sort, they stink. The smell is an awful sour smell. I tried borax and vinegar and new detergents. I even cleaned my washer as instructed. No luck so far. Please help.

December 2, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

I once had problems with my washing machine leaving my clothes smelling fausty. I cleaned the filter and then followed a tip I had read in a magazine by putting a wash on -with no clothes inside- using just Coca -Cola (full sugar one, not diet).

It recommended a tin but I put in half a two litre bottle in. It definitely helped. My brother was a firefighter for over a decade and used Coca cola to wash his clothes if they smelt a bit smoky or dirty.

Ask a good friend or family member to wash a load of your clothes to see whether it's a fault in your machine. Perhaps it's time to get a new one and if that's the case remember to go to Freecycle!

Good luck, Monique :)

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Anonymous Flag
December 5, 20160 found this helpful

I use a 1/2 cup of baking soda to a load of laundry with towels which tend to smell like this. Works great.

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December 5, 20160 found this helpful

Are you using a hot enough temperature? Bacteria are only destroyed by a temperature of at least 50C. I would try hotter washes and a biological detergent as a first line of defence.

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December 5, 20160 found this helpful

I had a problem with this once, my family went to a friends house my towel got wet, they smelled moldy, so I bought some baking soda and tide with downy washed the towels on the hot cycle they came out of the dryer smelling clean.

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December 6, 20160 found this helpful

September 25, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful

My clothes smell real bad. I have tried washing them twice each time I visit the laundromat. I followed your instructions regarding vinegar and today when I on the train everyone started sniffing around me. When my fellow employees past my desk the smell themselves. I am desperate and need advice asap.

I sometimes ask people if I smell funny, they say no but it doesn't sound sincere. My sense of smell is poor so I can't even tell if I do smell funny. I used to wash my clothes 2-3 times a week. I cry sometimes because I don't know what to do. I know its not B.O, my clothes just smell sour. I am afraid to wear perfume.

I am becoming more depressed every day. Today I went straight to the nearest clothing store and purchased a whole outfit and then on my lunch break went out and purchased bras because I noticed they smell really bad. Please help me or I might just lose my job.

Debbie from NY

Anonymous Flag
March 23, 20160 found this helpful

sounds like your laundrymat has dirty washers ,or are you on any medications alot of them will cause a hard to destroy smell,my other half was on a special medicine for a year and it ruined all his tee's.

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July 17, 20160 found this helpful

Get your water tested...I bet you have this problem every summer as I do...I live in SW Pa...and every summer my laundry smells like sulfur.

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Anonymous Flag
August 17, 20160 found this helpful

Our clothes smell funny in summer, especially my husband's and I live in southwestern PA. Not from this area so I had no idea what the issue was. So glad to read this comment!

My husband is ridiculous about hygiene he has a whole deodorant, body spray AND cologne routine every morning and when he gets home from work his clothes sme s bad I make him change. This has never in 18 years of marriage been an issue until we moved here! Now I know what's causing it!

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August 24, 20160 found this helpful

Debbie watch the foods you eat. I went through the same thing very depressing. Onions make me smell very musty, garlic also give a terrible body odor. Onions of any form(no dry onions in prepared foods) I can't have them in anyway. After you eat the odor takes 8 hours to show up (after digestion).I say this "if it smells bad before you eat it don't eat it". I use 2 body soaps to bath dial gold and dove.

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October 21, 20160 found this helpful

February 4, 2015 Flag
1 found this helpful

My work clothes get washed regularly by themselves. The smells don't go even after they've been washed. Shall I hand wash it? Any recommendations would be helpful.

By F. C.

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February 5, 20150 found this helpful

Vinegar and baking soda are know to absorb odors. Try putting a cup of them both in the wash, along with detergent when you wash your clothes. Also make sure your washing machine is clean.

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February 7, 20150 found this helpful

Some times I use All liquid detergent and baking soda. I used this even after a fire for the soot smell. Thought this might help. J

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July 31, 20160 found this helpful

Do not use both together, because they neutralize each other.

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August 25, 2015 Flag
0 found this helpful

I washed my clothes and later used a hand towel to clean my face with. It had a bad sour smell to it. I had a cut so I used a towel again and poured hydrogen peroxide on it and noticed it started bubbling. Doesn't that only happen if there is bacteria present? I need help with this matter. Do I change detergent or try vinegar or ammonia to clean the washer? Why do my towels have bacteria on them after washing?

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August 26, 20150 found this helpful

I would rewash them and in the rinse cycle add a cup of white vinegar. No fabric softener. It will fix it.

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August 26, 20150 found this helpful

You might also try:

Running the washing machine without detergent through two complete 'boil wash' or hot programmes - you probably have a build of excess laundry detergent AND/OR general gunk (lint, bits of paper, soap scum, etc). Most modern machines don't have a hot water rinse but the hot water cycle of the hottest programme should work to rid your machine of excess/built up detergent and softener gunk, mould, etc. There are products you can buy meant specifically for this purpose but usually the simple two hot washes followed by one more with vinegar in the dispenser where bleach or softener goes does the trick for much less money! Btw, you should run the washer empty on boil wash at least four times a year to keep it clean.

After cleaning the machine of built-up gunk, cut down on how much laundry powder or liquid you're using per load - try dropping the amount by a quarter or third and go from there to determine how much detergent you need to get your fabrics clean and fresh smelling. Also consider skipping the softener if you're using it - vinegar works far better and is multi-purpose (cleans and deodorises machine, assists rinse water to get all the detergent out of the fabrics, softens fabrics). Vinegar is also a fabulous savings over commercially prepared softeners!

Cleaning the filters at the hose to tap connections - small mesh screen should be under the washer ring on the hose end, use an old (clean!) toothbrush to get all the accumulated gunk on the screen - you may not be able to see how thick the film on that screen really is until you brush off some of it. Repeat at least twice a year.

Check the washing machine user guide - the machine may have a more accessible filter in addition to the one at the hose to tap and that filter needs to be cleaned regularly as well.

If none of the above solutions resolves your problem, a small (usually a sock) item has likely worked into an area it wasn't meant to and is quietly moulding away causing the 'swamp stench'. This is a job for a repair tech.

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August 30, 20150 found this helpful

This happens to me especially in summer. If I don't put the clothes in the dryer soon enough also. I found that washing the load again on hot with an oxyclean type powder added will kill the sour smell present in the clothing and towels. I also periodically wash my towels on hot with this same thing added to prevent whatever buildup happens over time. I normally wash on cold with liquid detergent. I wonder if this happens to people who consistently wash on hot?

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Anonymous Flag
April 24, 20160 found this helpful

This happened to me and it was because I was using too much laundry detergent and putting too many clothes in the wash. Cut back on the clothes and the laundry detergent

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February 11, 2015 Flag
0 found this helpful

Recently I discovered my clothes have started to smell sour like vinegar. I use Gain detergent and fabric softener along with baking soda. What else can I do?

By Laken M

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February 11, 20150 found this helpful

1. Run your washer with bleach to kill bacteria in your washer.

2. Use white vinegar or Borax in your wash instead of baking soda. Don't overload your washer and put clothes in the dryer right away. Don't let them sit.

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October 26, 20160 found this helpful

Hi, You gave some good tips on getting the foul smell out of clothes but I have a question,,are you putting the stuff right in the wash basin, or in the dispensers, i.e. detergent the dispenser, or fabric softer dispenser, or the bleach one?? I have a high efficiency washer and I didn't think we are supposed to put stuff right into the wash tub, or shiukd we with these tips?. Will you clarify please? Thanks

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April 13, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

Why do my clean clothes smell after awhile? I rewashed clean clothes because they smelled and now they smell again after being in the laundry basket. Please help

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