Sour Smelling Bedding

In the tips section on Sour Smelling clothing, someone keeps writing to use "nappy soaker". What is that? I never heard of a nappy soaker? I have the same problem with sour smelling sheets and bedding no matter what I've tried (and I bathe and deodorize myself every day! But I think it was created from washing my bedding in cold water for years...not a good idea. Now I have sour smelling bedding). Thanks so much,

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A guess. In England, diapers are called nappys (nappies?) Maybe the suggestion is for some diaper pre-soak product?


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Its me! I'm the nappy soaker queen! Yes - it is for diapers. In Australia the best known brand is Napisan. I use generic brands. The one I have at the moment has the active ingredient sodium percarbonate and is called Nappy and Laundry treatment/laundry soaker. They recommend that the articles don't need a full cycle wash after soaking, just rinsing by hand or machine - I throw mine in with the wash anyway. I only soak stained or very heavily soiled articles. I also wash in cold water and don't use detergent in the wash but have never had any problem with sour smelling bedding. Are you sure its not your mattress? Do your other clothes smell sour as well? Maybe its a washing machine problem???? Just some thoughts.



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I have almost always washed my bedding in cold water, however, I use a soap with bleach that's safe with color clothes too. I would also make sure that your bedding is totally dry before putting away. I have also heard that this is a problem with high humidity areas. Which I don't know what you can do then as I live in southern Colorado. Hope you can get it solved.

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To remove sour smells, I put vinegar in the bleach cup of the washer and use a tiny amount of liquid softener. If that doesn't sovle the problem, running the empty washing machine through a hot cycle with a cup of chlorine bleach might take care of it. That is the recommendation that came with my front loading Maytag. My thrifty heart can't quite stand an empty washer, so I throw in a few rags and it still seems to clear up the smells. It's possible that dirty lint and guck have built up under the agitator in a top loader, so removing that and cleaning it might be helpful.

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Jo Bodey:

Do you know what the product equivalent would be here in the United States to the Napisan product? I don't know if it's the mattress (too?), it's hard to tell, but it's definitely the sheets. The mattress isn't that old, maybe 6 yrs old and in excellent condition. The mattress and bedding have never ever had an "accident" on them either. And my other clothes all smell fresh and fine. If you know the product equivalent here in the states, I'll look for that meantime. Thanks so much.

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If you live in a moist area as we do (coastal) towels, dishcloths and other such items often get a sour smell. Bleach will often take care of this but if you are alergic to bleach there is a friendly alternative. For smaller items, thoroughly moisten the item and then microwave for 2-4 minutes (longer for bigger items). The heat will kill whatever bacteria is causing the smell. I do this every day or two with my dish cloth. Larger items can be simmered in a canner or large pot. Put the item in the pot with enough cool water to cover. Bring to a simmer and hold for 20 minutes. Wash as you would normally.

You can also try running a water-only load through your washer along with a generous dose of bleach. If you react to bleach, run a second or third time before running a load of actual laundry.

Since washing machines never completely empty, it is possible for bacteria to build up, especially if you do not use bleach or detergents on a regular basis.


Bonilla Island Lighthouse

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I have read some of the answers and they're all great however,there is a product on the market called "washing Soda" and it's used in the's really good to soak clothes in and so is white vinegar.sunshine will remove a lot of odors so try hanging your sheets in the air and not using the dryer for awhile.sometimes it has to d with the material the sheets and pillow cases are made from--I had a couple of perma press sheets that had a burned odor in them and used them for 5 years,the smell never left,I just placed them in the drawer with baby powder added and used them.

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I have never heard the term "sour smelling" used for sheets, etc. I'm assuming it means the same as "heavy smelling".

Use ammonia in the wash water (use as hot water, as hot as material will take). The smell comes from the oils in your body. Even though they are clean, the oils don't always wash out of the material. Ammonia or bleach helps cut the oils.

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My husband must sweat at night when he sleeps, and the 500 threadcount cotton sheets that I love have become yellow stained and sour smelling. I don't know what's causing it, and I launder them every weekend. I have used bleach. Besides the sour smell, I'd love to find something that can take out the stain, too, especially on his pillow.

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I don't think any of these answers are what she's looking for. My husband sweats at night and causes his pillow to stink sour real bad from the amount of sweat his pillow soaks up. I'm sick of having to wash his pillow every week...I want to know what can be done for it or what the problem is with him.

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Have you thought about putting the waterproof covers on the pillows and mattress? The kind of covers they sell for relief from allergens, such as dust mites. The problem is the covers are very expensive. But you can launder them and your pillows will always stay dry and fresh. It would be great to have them the next time you buy new pillows and start fresh. The mattress covers are outrageously priced, but keep it in mind in case you ever hit the lottery!

Good luck,

Donna M.

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I sometimes sweat at night, and I used to have sour-smelling bedding (especially my pillow). I cannot name a specific cause, but I can share my experience.

Over the past 12-14 months, I have been more concerned with healthy eating. I have read several medical "prevention" books and begun to make some fairly mild lifestyle changes. For example, I no longer drink soda (well, infrequently) and I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. I also started taking a multivitamin and eating some ground flax seed (almost) every day.

While on vacation this summer, my wife made a comment that my bedding, though occasionally still sweaty, hasn't had that "sour" smell. After thinking a while, I had to agree. It used to smell that way all the time, but now I cannot remember the last time I smelled it.

I can't pinpoint a specific reason, other than to say it may be a side effect of my slightly-better health. I still sometimes sweat at night, but it no longer results in the sour smell.

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I might be off the mark here, but sour smelling clothing and sheets are when you don't dry your laundry promptly and completely. It is a horrible smell (mold) and I am highly allergic! I have had to leave the classroom because of a kid with sour clothes on. Just kills me! I get an instant headache!

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My husband recently started getting night sweats. It bleaches our the pillow cases and sheets and smells bad. At first, I thought he must have started drooling heavily at night because it smells like saliva. I have been reading about it and am now worried he has a medical condition. Infections, Diabetes and undiagnosed cancer can cause a person to suddenly have night sweats.

I don't mind changing the pillowcases everyday. I can't find a solution to the bleaching effect on my expensive pillowcases...maybe re-dye them?

I am not as concerned about the sheets as I am about him.

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I live in hot Arizona where temps are over 100 between May & October. Anything left in the washer over 30 minutes, starts to smell. I also have a hubby with night sweats.

I have found that white vinegar is the only thing that will take out the smell from the washing. If something has sat in the washer over night-it smells really bad. I start the washer again with a small amount of soap and a large amount of white vinegar (1-2 cups if it's really bad) and set the washer on a short cycle.

This does the trick! Rarely have I had to wash them again. I buy white vinegar by the gallon.

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You can use Hydrogen Peroxide on stains. If you just spray it on and let it set for awhile. I have used it on bedding, clothing and toilets. It is used as a sterilizer also.

Also, try 20 Mule Team Borax it is a natural laundry booster. I soak clothing or the bedding in soap and 20 mule over night in the washer using the delay button. Then, in the morning I have a fresh washed load of clothing. Dry immediately.

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The only thing I use with my laundry detergent is 20 Mule Team Borax. It is great! I put about 1/4 cup in and wash as usual. They smell so good out of the dryer or from the line outside.

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Baking soda gets the smell out of just about anything. Wash clothes with laundry detergent. I make my own. The castile soap or laundry bar also removes odors. Rub soap on sheets if making the soap from scratch is too much. the bar soap can be purchased from ethnic grocery stores for 2 dollars or less. No toxins and clothes come out cleaner. Throw in a cup of baking soda. Dry clothes thoroughly as one writer stated. If even a little damp mold will grow. You can put a half cup or more of vinegar in a large load in the rinse water. Since vinegar is a mild acid it will disinfect safely. The vinegar odor will go away completely when clothes are dry.Machine dry till bone dry as they say. Drying in the sun is good since the sun will kill the mold-but dry completely again. Each morning if you sweat, hang your bedding up to dry outside or over a door. The old folks always dried out the bedroom for an hour before making up the bed. Everyone sweats at night. Excess night sweats could be a sign of TB, diabetes, heart disease or other serious illness. See a doctor now.

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I forgot to mention to use hot water. Mold will grow no matter what the cause if moisture is allowed to remain on sheets. So you have two problems- not drying your sheets completely, and what is causing the sweats.The first solution is easy, the second requires medical investigation. Sour smelling clothes have nothing to do with the oils on your body, your diet or bacteria. It is fungus, commonly known as mold, mildew-the same black/gray growth you see in your bathroom shower. You do need to wipe out your dryer with vinegar and leave it open to dry it as well. Your washing machine also accumulates dead skin cells, mold, bacteria in the drum. I run an empty load on hot with a gallon of vinegar and a cup of Borateem(20 mule team borax) once a month or so. You can do this less often if you do not do that many loads, but you do need to do this every 2-3 months at least. This has nothing to do with germaphobia. It is sound hygienic practice. All the cleaning materials I mentioned are earth-friendly and safe for humans. As a physician, I recommend you start with your internist or family doctor. Please take care of yourself, do not delay.

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I believe that you'll find that the culprit is none of the above. I don't think it has anything to do with humidity, linens not being throroughly dried, or dust. The cause is body oils. When you sleep you grind them into the fabric. After a few days of that it is pretty well imbedded in it. Try smelling your linens and see where the problem is the worst. Almost surely it will be the fitted sheet (in the middle and not the sides) and your pillow cases. Now I am no whiz in the laundry room but I assume that what will work best at getting this smell out is washing it in hot water with a good detergent and adding vinegar in the rinse.

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To answer the question, "What is a "Nappy Soaker?" I knew the English term for a diaper is a nappy, and so assumed it was a special diaper pail or a cleaner. I googled it and found both, but I'm thinking the person was referring to the cleaner. :)

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Getting Rid of Sour Smell in Bedding
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Home and Garden Cleaning Linens and BlanketsOctober 20, 2004
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