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Clothes Smell Sour?

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.

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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

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September 25, 20082 found this helpful
Best Answer

One thing you might consider is where you are storing your clothes. Could that possibly be the source. Have you tried a different laundromat? If the water in your area is pretty hard try adding some Arm & Hammer Washing Soda to each load to help your soap work a little better.

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You could also try adding about a 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax to your wash load. And before you go crazy find a close friend to confide in who can help you tell if the smell is your "not so good sniffer" or a real odor.

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May 31, 20181 found this helpful

I had the same problem...clothes coming out after a wash that stink! Id rewash...theyd still stink! Tried vinegar, bleach, soda, combinations...and still stink. I cleaned my washer... no change. Changed my soap...washed my clothes in hot water...and they dont stink!! The soap that worked for me is TIDE. I read not to over soap.

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June 1, 20180 found this helpful

When I had this trouble, I fixed it by switching to powdered laundry detergent instead of the liquid types. I'm not sure why it worked but my clothes don't smell sour anymore. Plus, I'm saving a ton by buying the tub from Costco instead of the name brand types.

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September 26, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

Could it be your car seats?? Have they gotten wet or mildewed and you are sitting in it? Or, maybe it is mildew in your dresser or closet??

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Can you try opening up all the windows in the area where you store your clothing and air it out good? Is it carpeted? If so, how does the carpet smell? Do you maybe live in a damp basement?

And, when you dry your clothes, are you sure you are getting your clothing good and completly dry??

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September 8, 20190 found this helpful

Thank you! I know the most common reason is leaving clothes wet for too long before adding them to the dryer but I knew that this wasn't the case. I think it may be something in my closet.

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By June (Guest Post)
September 26, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have had that problem sometimes. I have finally resorted to washing every load for about 15 minutes with about a tablespoon of baking soda. Then I just wash them as usual. I found that we were piling our clothes (including our wet towels) in the hamper and letting them stay for a day or two until I could get the laundry done.

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This was causing them to sour. We started to spread out our towels in the laundry room to dry between laundry days, too. All of this has helped dramatically.

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September 26, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

Wash your clothes and towels separately. Put a quarter cup or LESS of bleach in with the towels. That's probably where the odor is coming from. The bleach will kill any mildew spores that have started to grow. Hang up the towels to dry in the bathroom until your next shower. Then toss them into the laundry basket. This should prevent any mildew from starting. Borax works well, too, but it's kind of pricey. Stick with the less expensive products like the bleach or baking soda first. Arm and Hammer makes a laundry detergent with the baking soda already in it. Again, not very thrifty.

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January 4, 20191 found this helpful

Borax is not kind of pricey its under $5 at Walmart, dollar General, and family dollar. A box lasts a while. I use it for making homemade detergent not removing smells. I would suggest 3 things, if possible.

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1. Go to a different laundromat. 2. Add a cup or two of baking soda to each load. 3. Use hot water. 4. Do not buy the cheap detergents like Sun or Pyrex. Try Persil or Era. They work for my stinkiest of laundry.

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September 8, 20190 found this helpful

I think the O.P. was comparing the price of borax to baking soda which is about 5 times more expensive. But thanks for the advice on switching detergent.

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By Uncle T'Dub (Guest Post)
September 27, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

We have had this problem in the past and along with the other ideas above, I have found that washing the garments (clothes or towels) in the hottest setting your washer has along with a good detergent I.E. Tide w/ Bleach or equivalent and approximately 3/4 cup of Simple Green cleaner/degreaser works wonders. I personally think the body oils cause most of the odors and the "degreasing" action of the Simple Green (which is also biodegradeable) and hot water remedy the problem.

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By (Guest Post)
September 27, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

Nine and ten, sour smelling clothes are because you leave them in the washer too long after the cycle is over before drying them. Even for just 15 minutes, they will sour especially if you are doing them in a hot local laundromat. GET THOSE CLOTHES OUT AS SOON AS THE CYCLE IS DONE!

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The weird thing is, you can't tell it until you put the clothes on and they warm up from your body. I can't STAND that smell! I am highly allergic, it makes my head hurt. I had a kid in my class that had sour clothes and I had to talk to his mother. She was none to pleased but I just couldn't take it any more. I was sneezing my head off!

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By Misty (Guest Post)
October 13, 20081 found this helpful
Best Answer

I don't think anyone has mentioned this yet, but about one a month I run a "mock" load of laundry to clean my washer. You put the setting of your washer on HOT wash/Cold rinse and add a cup of bleach to the washer. Let it soak for 30 minutes to an hour, and then let it cycle as necessary. The bleach will kill any odor causing bacteria in your washer.

Next, make sure as stated above that your drier vents are clear from lint. It has been said that mice and rats can climb into the vents and die. After a few days they begin to smell and the smell will come out on your clothes.

Then, when you wash your laundry for the next few times, add vinegar or 1/4 cup BORAX power (which can be found with the laundry detergent) to your next few loads of laundry.

Lastly, don't forget to dry your towels, wash cloths, and any clothing that might have gotten wet throughout the day COMPLETELY before throwing them in your dirty laundry hamper or basket. The wet clothing will cause mildew and make all your clothing in the hamper or basket smell bad.

Good Luck resolving your problem, and let us know if any of our suggestions works.

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By Fifi (Guest Post)
September 26, 20081 found this helpful

Try washing your clothing in baking soda and vinegar along with a detergent.

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By raveninca (Guest Post)
September 26, 20081 found this helpful

Try oxyclean detergent. Worked for me.

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By Dana tnkitty79@hotmail.com (Guest Post)
September 26, 20081 found this helpful

I've had mine to do the same thing before. Unfortunatly, I had left mine in the washer too long and instead of rewashing I threw them into the dryer. BIG MISTAKE!! It took forever to get the sour smell out. I still have a thick towel that smells when it gets wet. I found out that if I left the clothes in the washer, with hot water fully covering them, and use 2 whole cups of detergent(laundrymats hate this because of excessive suds)then the smell come out on its own. But do not use cheap laundry detergent. It makes it worse. Also, try liquid fabric softener. You definetly get what you pay for and under these circumstance you ned the best. Let the clothes soak as long as you can. It's best to turn the knob to let the water run out and restart it as a regular load but if not finish it out and be sure to use the softener and dry as normal. For under garments they can be soaked in the sink the same way just less detergent. Good luck!!

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By janee0423 (Guest Post)
September 26, 20080 found this helpful

maybe it's not the wash but the drying.
I had a problem a few years ago, my clothes weren't being fully dried in the dryer. They smelled sour- not so much when i put them away- but it seemed my body heat activated the smell when I wore them. I also noticed that when I hung clothes to dry in my laundry room, they didn't get enough airflow, and sometimes took a sour odor.
....or if you leave the clothes in the washer too long before putting in the dryer...

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By (Guest Post)
September 26, 20081 found this helpful

You could also try using about 1/2 cup of ammonia to the wash water to deodorize the load.

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September 26, 20081 found this helpful

Try wiping out the washing maching tub & dryer drum with a damp cloth which you have a little dishsoap or something on.Maybe people using the landromat before you do have clothes that smell bad & it has nothing to do with you or your clothes!

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By kelleydf04 (Guest Post)
September 26, 20081 found this helpful

My brother had the same problem and we finally found out that he was loading the washer with too many items (including heavy towels) and he was not drying them long enough. After he started washing normal loads (doing the towels and sheets separately) and drying his clothes until completely dry, his clothes don't have an odor. He was so happy to find out what was causing the problem!

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By sue (Guest Post)
September 26, 20081 found this helpful

If you have been doing all you can, and it sounds like you have, you may have a mild case of obsessive compulsive disorder happening to you. You say your sense of smell is not that good. Maybe having a good thorough medical exam is in order, making sure to tell your doctor about your compulsion with your clothing. You could even ask them if THEY think you smell off.

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By Lindy (Guest Post)
September 26, 20081 found this helpful

I had this problem with my son's clothes. A few of his tee shirts I had to throw out.It comes from your clothes being left wet. Either sitting in the hamper or washing machine wet. Our washing machine doesn't drain properly and it smells like stagnate water sometimes. I put it through a wash cycle without any clothes in it with bleach. I also found when I wash my clothes with Era especially the one I think is called spring mountain and rinse them with Downey fabric softener the smell had went away after awhile as long as they didn't get wet.

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September 27, 20080 found this helpful

Hi, First of all i do sympathize with you it must be very distressing. I would first eliminate any medical problems. Book an appointment with a doctor and the night before take a bath or on the morning have a shower , and of course brush teeth, fix hair etc and then go along for your appointment in clean clothes.

Tell them you notice an unpleasant smell and you cant decide if its body, clothes or imagination or whatever and ask for their opinion. There are some medical conditions that cause unpleasant smells so its worth having these eliminated or confirmed and getting treatments if necessary.

Then if there is no medical condition then all you can do is have a good wash/bathe or shower every day morning or evening . use antiperspirants and perfumes and talc if you want to and brush teeth and wash hair and keep very clean.

As for clothes, wash and dry as normal. If your feelings still persist as to you think you smell or you think your coworkers think you smell then I would take aside a very good friend or relative and ask them one to one for some guidance. If they say NO then it probaly is just anxiety and you will have to let it go somehow

If they say yes then I would say as long as you are washing everyday and cleaning clothes after use there isn't a lot else you can do. I think its probably anxiety myself. To be on the safe side check over your washing machine is working properly and your dryer, clean out any soap dishes or filters and use a good quality wash powder , wash your clothes after every single wearing if necessary and dry thoroughly.

I live in the United Kingdom so we don't have a problem with humidity maybe it's to do with clothes staying damp? God bless and I hope you get to the bottom of the mystery and try not to worry. My best advice would be get all your friends on board and tell them how miserable you feel trying to find a solution most people would bend over backwards to be of help and service and they are your friends they would love to help out I'm sure.

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By kathlyne (Guest Post)
September 27, 20080 found this helpful

Clean the washing machine. Some dish soap and bleach should help.

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By Enter your ncarolyname. (Guest Post)
September 27, 20080 found this helpful

Put a clothesline up outside and the fresh air and sunshine will do wonders. We also out our bed pillows out once a week. You will sleep like a baby. Good luck. We also spin our clothes twice in washer, then clothes dry faster. You would not believe how much extra water you can get out.

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September 27, 20080 found this helpful

I had the same problem with my towels and it was driving me crazy. I took some advise I read on Thrify Fun and it worked. First, I filled my washer with water and about 3 cups of white vinegar. I let my towels soak for about an hour and then added my laundry detergent and washed as usual. Then I made sure they were good and dry when they came out of the dryer. This took care of the problem. I repeat the vinegar soak about once or twice a month but I think one of the main causes was my towels were laying in the hamper along with something damp or wet and the next thing you know they smell terrible. After you wash and dry them they seemed fine and the smell isn't noticeable again until you get the towel wet. But the vinegar soak took all that away. I also do this to other items of clothing and it works great.
Brenda in Ohio

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By Trisha Aa (Guest Post)
September 27, 20080 found this helpful

Debbie,
I have worked in laundromats and have come across a few people in my day with this same problem. I think you are probably filling the washer with too many clothes. This does not allow clothes to agitate enough and it also doesn't allow for proper water distribution. Which can crate a stale sour smell.

It will probably take more than one proper washing to alleviate this odor issue. OxyClean is great for any odors and can be used on colors and whites. I think a good fabric softener maybe something with freebreze in it would help also. But, not filling it too much will be your best and first line of defense. Also, you must dry clothes immediately either on a clothes line outside or in an electric dryer otherwise it allows for bacteria and mildew growth. I hope this helps you.

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By Georgetta Ruth. (Guest Post)
September 28, 20080 found this helpful

Maybe you can try this. My husband works on a farm. His clothes smell terrible. No matter how many times, I have washed them, they were still smelling bad. I tried a cap full of ammonia. No more smelly clothes. Keep you head up.

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By Dede (Guest Post)
September 29, 20080 found this helpful

I have had my dryer vent clog and it caused this musty odor on my clothes. Try cleaning that out real good, the part that goes outside.

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October 2, 20080 found this helpful

1/2 to 1 cup of ammonia worked for my smelly clothes. I had left them in the dryer wet for a week, big OOPS. They stunk and vinegar did not work so I used ammonia and one wash did the job.

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October 19, 20080 found this helpful

Debbie,

Every once in a while, my daughter leaves wet towels in her bathroom and they take on a mildew (sour) smell. If I wash them without realizing it, everything in the loads takes on the smell. I've gotten in the habit of soaking every load, especially towels, before the wash cycle. I would imagine this might be a little more difficult in a public laundromat.

If the machines have a soak cycle as mine does, allow the load to soak with liquid detergent already added for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to washing. Then, without draining the water, assuming your machines allow you to, start the wash cycle and launder normally. This works for me and our towels are smelling fresh again. If the water drains before the wash cycle, I would add additional liquid detergent when you begin washing.

With clothing, you might want to soak them in the soapy water longer before the wash cycle. I know this is distressing for you. Just remember, nearly everyone has had this issue at some point and should understand. Best of luck.

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December 29, 20080 found this helpful

I always wash my towels by themselves and always wash small loads by separating my clothes into 5 piles underwear, dark clothes, sweaters, bright clothes & towels
and the problem still persists-any advice

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October 2, 20100 found this helpful

Try soaking your sour items in a bucket with white vinegar and the warmest water for the items. Do this overnight and then wash and completely dry them. It may be that your washer is holding old water and it rinses through your wash cycle.
Use baking soda or laundry booster in your laundry as well.

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October 11, 20100 found this helpful

I am severly allergic to any sort of mold or mildew. I can't usually smell most things very well, but I think since my body reacts so violently to mold, it seems like I can pick up on even traces of mold smell really well. I'd also like to point out that I've read articles about airbourne and foodbourne molds creating toxins in people with mold allergies that makes them feel depressed or tired. I'm just throwing it out there. I've had success soaking moldy clothes in a high concentration of vinegar for several hours with several capfuls of liquid fabric softener and line drying in the sun (uv kills mold). Bleach doesn't seem to do anything, and the fumes can exacerbate allergies. Mold is toxic even to people who aren't allergic to it, but if you think you might be, there are things out there that you can do to help get rid and keep mold toxins out of your body. There's a lot of good information online about diet and prevention and not letting toxic-forming fungi actually grow in your stomach. It's an idea, anyway.
Have you tried going to a different laundromat?

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March 16, 20150 found this helpful

I have been thru it myself, when I went to school, other students just didn't come closer to me. And my solution was and still is to wear a cotton T-shirt under my uniform and when doing laundry I wash the uniforms normally but my T-shirts by hand and I concentrate the washing at the underarm to remove any deodorant and everything and then I wash them normally by machine again, I do that every week and only once a month I wash my uniforms like I wash my cotton T-shirts. It is much work but I think its worth it. And where I live people sweat alot cause it's very hot so it is needed. This method has given me good results and I hope it will be so for you too.

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May 27, 20150 found this helpful

Switch you laundry detergent and liquid fabric softener. When I stopped using Tide and Downy the problem went completely away.

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October 16, 20151 found this helpful

Hi Debbie,

Look into colloidal silver. 2 cups of 10 ppm colloidal silver added to wash cycle and/or rinse cycle will disinfect clothing.

The problem is that today, natural (less harsh and less chemical) laundry detergents are not killing the bacteria during the wash. This, plus using cold wash temps (to prevent fading) are creating a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew transfer between clothes.

You can buy colloidal silver (8 oz, 16oz, 32oz, etc). Or you can buy a generator and make your own. Just google "Colloidal Silver in Laundry."

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Anonymous
February 8, 20160 found this helpful

Run a cup of bleach through your empty machine on hot water high level regular cycle. Then wash clothes that stink already with a cup of peroxide in warm water (this works on colors too). Borax as a laundry additive also works wonders--follow the directions on the box. Undies, like bras, can probably take a hot water wash with bleach if they continue to smell. After that, make sure washed clothes get dried right away--don't leave them overnight or anything like that. The sour smell you describe is the direct result of moisture left in washed clothes--the bacteria that cause it cannot stink if the cloth is properly dry. I know--I live in British Columbia and it is a common complaint among newcomers that are used to thinking less than damp means clothing is dry. You must make sure that laundry is COMPLETELY bone dry in relatively short order--if you do that (pay particular attention to seams and pockets) you will not have this smell.

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February 22, 20160 found this helpful

laundromats just don't clean as well as they should! First, make sure your clothes can tumble and toss in the water. Packed together and overloaded they cannot get as clean as you want. Second, you can presoak. A used cat litter bucket with a lid, some Oxy and water, and overnight soaks can really get stains and smells out. Third, do you smoke, have cats, or drink alot of coffee? Those smells cling to fibers. Use a mixture of peroxide and baking soda to soak overnight. Wash bras by hand so they don't self destruct! A paste of peroxide and baking soda will take out armpit stains which are actually caused by antiperspirants. Try washing in hot water. Try washing with no detergent. If you get suds even without, you are using too much detergent and the smell is build up. If you still feel like you smell bad, ask your doctor. Kidney disease, hormonal disturbances are sometimes tipped off by a funny smell. Keep on trying!

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Anonymous
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
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

Buy new clothing little by little and star washing clothes the correct way. You've have been given plenty of answers on how to wash clothing right.

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Anonymous
August 1, 20170 found this helpful

Try using a cup of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar with oxiclean. That works for my husband's work uniforms

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September 3, 20190 found this helpful

I know this is an old post and I hope everything has gotten better or resolved for you.

I have a similar problem. I know your pain. I ask family members if I smell and they say no. Ive gone to the doctor and they say I dont smell. However, when I go to the laundromat people around me give me a dirty look, make a side comment about my odor or leave. I take the train to school and that is the worst experience.

When I put on my fresh laundered clothes my body heat makes the odor noticeable.

What I have found out through this pain and suffering experience is that it can also be what are you laying/sleeping on? The reason being is that when my mother washes she uses waay too much detergent and fabric softener and little drying time. This goes for clothes, blankets and comforters. The smell of the chemicals and low drying (humid/ maybe mold) stays on your clothes(fabric) and skin. I learned this experience when I use to work out and would sweat, the chemical (detergent) smell and mold would make people cough hard and clear out the small gym at my college. And there is also the case of the laundromat machine not using enough water or not giving you actual hot water. This is either do to the owner fixing the setting on the washers to lower costs and improve their profits or it can be that they are new high efficiency machines that use less water and dont clean your clothes well. That is why it is recommended to use less detergent on new washers.

So, my experience was rewashing clothes with recommended amount of detergent, if you want to save your clothes.

For your bedding garments I would suggest getting new ones because the smell will not wash out do to the heavier fabric trapping in the detergent and or fabric softener. This will help with the chemical smell trapped on your skin.

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October 6, 20190 found this helpful

This is an old thread, but maybe it helps someone else to be rid of the problem fast. I had the same very distressing experience in the office and tried everything with my laundry...didn't resolve it. Showered frequently...didn't resolve it. Dehumidifier...didn't resolve it. It was very embarrassing, and it took a year and a half to figure it out. The clue was that it surprisingly didn't happen in summer months. It also wasn't noticeable at all out of the office. It was very noticeable in the office.

It was foot odor. The company heating system apparently would draw air up aggressively. The clean feet would sweat some inside my footwear, and the heating system would draw the offensive odor up. The solution was to powder my feet and wear thick cotton socks every day. Powder isn't enough. The thick cotton socks are very important. I guess they call them "sweat socks" for a reason.

I cannot be the only person who has had this happen to me. Consider the possibility that this is what is happening to you so that you don't have to go through what I went through.

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