Washed Sheets Smell Bad?

I have had an issue with the smell of my sheets. I don't notice the odor on other items. Anyway, right out of the wash (on sanitize cycle) the sheets don't smell fresh. I had a set of sheets that I threw away because the odor filled the cupboard and the room. I bought a new washing machine after that, but I notice the same issue cropping up. I have hung them out to dry, which did not help that much. I don't use softener in the washer. I have a front loading washer.


Any suggestions?

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,298 Posts
September 7, 20171 found this helpful
Best Answer

When the washer goes off, do you immediately move your clothes from the washer to the dryer?

If you leave your clothes in the washer for a long time, that could be the smell perhaps.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
September 8, 20170 found this helpful

I do remove loads promptly. the smell mostly affects sheets. even in the dryer I could smell the musty odor come through the vent. the smell on the sheets affected my linen closet.


I disposed of the sheets. I even bought a new washing machine! but the musty, dirty, unpleasant smell I can't figure out. thank you for your time

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Silver Post Medal for All Time! 433 Posts
September 10, 20171 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try running your washer on an empty load, using bleach or vinegar. It may be your washer.

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Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
September 6, 20170 found this helpful

There is a product called Nok-Out. You can get it on Amazon. It gets rave reviews.

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Diamond Post Medal for All Time! 1,246 Posts
September 8, 20170 found this helpful

It's possible theyre not getting dry enough, or your water might be needing a good amount of softener?

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September 10, 20170 found this helpful

Try putting a fourth cup of apple cider vinegar in your wash then about one half cup of soda in the rinse. I read this on a soda web site when I was looking for something to get rid of cat urine smells.


So far, it works and it leaves my clothes smelling fresh. Hope it works for you

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September 10, 20170 found this helpful

the soda manufacturer said to put one fourth cup of apple cider vinegar in the wash then one half cup of washing soda in the rinse. It worked to remove cat urine smells and it leaves my clothes smelling nice.

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Gold Feedback Medal for All Time! 949 Feedbacks
September 14, 20171 found this helpful

I'm sure you feel it is strange that only your sheets have this odor but it is possible that whatever material content of your sheets may be part of the problem.


Step 1
Check the material content of your sheets and if there is anything other than cotton you may have a problem with whatever "other" material used. It is possible that polyester, nylon or even silk could be the culprit as none of these are as good as cotton for being able to remove stains and odors.

Step 2
With a problem like this you need to be able to use very hot water for your washing cycle.

Step 3
Are your sheets tangled in any way when cycle is finished? If you have king size sheets and other items in the same wash they may not be able to move freely.

Step 4
Water pressure (machine not filling properly) can also have an effect on larger items. This can cause the clothes to not rinse properly.

Step 5
Whatever detergent you are using, I would try using half as much as recommended and see how that does.

Step 6
Are you using the same brand/type of sheet that you used before and decided to throw away?


Step 7
I am not sure whether the higher thread count in sheets is good or bad for this problem but I did find that Egyptian cotton did not smell as fresh as regular cotton.

Step 8
Since I do not care to use bleach in my washing, I tend to use either baking soda or (mostly) washing soda to clean and whiten my linens and always use a cup of vinegar in my final rinse and never use other softeners in any form.

Step 9
Have you tried using white vinegar in your bleach dispenser and then again in your final rinse? This has helped my neighbor who has an HE machine (front loader).

Step 10
You may need to use a color-safe bleach on some of your clothes to get the smell out of them, because once the smell is in the clothes it may be tough to get rid of it.

Step 11
Suggestions are really all we can offer; try a small scoop of oxyclean in your wash and see if that doesn't get rid of the smell.

Do you have a regular cleaning time for your washer as these machines are notorious for have mystery bad smells. This may not be your problem with your sheets but it may be a good idea to have a regular time schedule for these cleaning tasks.


Once you feel you have tried everything I can only suggest you contact the company that makes your washer and also the brand company that makes your sheets.
I would suggest that when contacting the sheet maker do not inform them that you are using a front loading machine (HE) as most likely they will stop at that point and tell you it is your machine. As a general rule, I have found most companies to be very friendly and sometimes offer good advice.

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Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 111 Answers
September 29, 20170 found this helpful

Try a laundry booster like Biz. It contains enzymes that will break up any organic matter that remains in the sheets. There are other products. Make sure they contain enzymes. Do a pre soak to give the enzymes time to work.

Dry mostly in the dryer but do the last part of the drying in the sunshine. sunshine will destroy the DNA of any remaining organic matter. Even the highest heat of the dryer will not do that. Dry completely in the sun if you can. Best of luck.

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