View Full Version : Clean but smelly laundry?

08-27-2007, 10:34 AM
I have a problem and other than buying a new washing machine, I have no idea how to fix it. I wash and dry our clothes, line dry the shirts and then when I put them away, they still smell like old moldy clothes!:ick: I am bleaching the washing machine about once a week and the smell is still there in the clothes. It is disgusting to get out of a clean shower, put a towel up to my face and then smell that!:ick: I have been known to forget to get the clothes out of the washer right when they are done (the washer/dryer is in the basement and there is no beep when the washer is done) but I do try to get them out as soon as possible. The smell is now getting into the shirts but no the pants?

Anyone have any suggestions?

Jan in CA
08-27-2007, 10:42 AM
It sounds like maybe your clothing/towels either are being left too long in the washer before drying or your dryer isn't drying them properly. (I've had both happen) Make sure the vent for the dryer is not blocked by lint...not just the trap IN the dryer, but the vent that goes outside. It can become clogged and will affect how clothes dry. Plus I think it can be come a fire hazard so do check it.

08-27-2007, 10:47 AM
The smell started when we were in our old house and the dryer was cleaned throughly when we left there. Is there anyway to get the smell out, maybe washing with vinegar?

08-27-2007, 10:49 AM
My washer is in the basement as well...when it gets hot and muggy I have to set the oven timer to go off... you can't let them sit no time or this happens...I know you said you line dry your shirts and you may want to try using the dryer...esp. if it is hot and muggy where you are at...I have trouble getting anything to dry right now even a purse I felted...even our stair case feels sticky, it's just icky here...this weekend we will see better temps and weather I can't wait :teehee:

08-27-2007, 10:51 AM
you could try vinegar... maybe even run it through your washer empty... I run it with my dishwasher to clean it...:shrug:

08-27-2007, 10:53 AM
The basement is always about 20 degrees cooler then the upstairs but I never thought of a timer. I started line drying the shirts (which are in the basement also) because no matter what temperature I dry my shirts, they would always shrink up.

Jan in CA
08-27-2007, 10:57 AM
The smell started when we were in our old house and the dryer was cleaned throughly when we left there. Is there anyway to get the smell out, maybe washing with vinegar?

I was referring to the vent that attaches to the back of the dryer which should be checked, but if you are having problems in the new house as well as the old it's probably something else. Make sure the clothing gets rinsed well, especially towels. I double rinse them.

I love Febreze and just saw this..maybe this would work, too.

08-27-2007, 11:14 AM
do you have mildew in the basement? the smell could be coming in when they are hanging to dry in the basement, if the basement is damp. if you dry them outside, do you get the same smell?

could it be that the water line coming in to the washer might have mildew? if you let the washer fill with water (no soap, no clothes) does it smell moldy?

08-27-2007, 12:52 PM
I just put a big load of the towels in the washing machine with soap and 1/2 cup bleach. Crossed Fingers I just talked to my mom and she had the same problem with her towels only she waits by the washing machine to take them out right away and hers also stinks. She thinks its because after they would use them, they hang them on a door or something to air dry and then they would use them again. (They live on the side of a mountain and do not have a washer/dryer there so they try to get as much usage as possible) She said the bleach should just make the towels fade a little, no streaking. I filled up the machine, then added the bleach and detergent then added the towels.

08-27-2007, 12:58 PM
I always use my towels for at least a week (sometimes longer) and I hang them on the door to dry in the mean time. I've never had them come out of the laundry smelling funky, so I don't think that's it.

I actually thought everyone used towels for a week until I went away to college and the girl next door to me used a different towel every day. :shock:

08-27-2007, 01:02 PM
I dunno at this point what the reason might be, I just want the smell gone! I think what I am going to try and do is buy a cheap bell and hang it on the machine so it makes a sound while the machine is moving, I thought about the timer but I would need to time each load cause towels don't wash as long as pants, ect.

08-27-2007, 01:02 PM
Like everyone else, I have noticed that during the hot weather if I let the laundry sit in the washer for even an hour it gets stinky!!

You might also want to try one of the fresch scent softeners.

Jan in CA
08-27-2007, 01:36 PM
When I do towels I ALWAYS put them through and extra rinse cycle, too. The amount of detergent they hang onto is amazing! Halfway through the drying cycle clean the lint trap so you get maximum drying, too. If you try the Febreze along with all these suggestions it should take care of it..if not then I'm stumped. :think:

08-27-2007, 01:42 PM
I had read that if you use dryer sheets they can create a film on your lint trap too. I periodically take out the trap and scrub it with a brush and hot soapy water. It's amazing the difference.

My washer lately has had a mildewy smell so I run it on empty with hot water and a lot of bleach, it seemed to help.

Good luck!

08-27-2007, 02:22 PM
I have the same problem too. My washer/dryer are not in the basement... we have a brand new dryer. I use the 2nd rinse function for everything and add fabric softener in the dryer. Everything still stinks. I thought it might be the soap we use. I have to use the clear kind because oldest DD is allergic to the dyes, but thought the softener would at least make them smell better. No such luck. Kind of missing DH's oily/concretey clothes to throw in.... they even smell better than this!

08-27-2007, 02:26 PM
Our laundry still smells funky after washing. Not moldy but not clean either, more like sweat. I'm going to try the rinse twice option and see if that helps. I use the no dye, no scent clear liquid detergent and I'm wondering if it isn't cleaning. I've tried adding OxyClean and that doesn't help either.

08-27-2007, 02:30 PM
My mom is allergic to scented products (thanks to me :teehee: she was fine before she got pregnant with me) so we've always used the hypo-allergenic detergents. Usually Purex. My clothes never smelled of anything after washing (unless they'd been left wet in the washer a few days.) I've switched to scented detergent, because I'm not allergic and I like having the mild scent because psychologically it feels cleaner.

But the point is that the dyes and scents aren't going to make a difference in the actual performance of the detergent. The scent is cosmetic.

ETA: I'm so helpful, aren't I? "No, that's not the reason!" but not offering any suggestions of my own. :roll: :teehee:

I hope you figure it out soon!

08-27-2007, 03:23 PM
:waving:White vinegar in the final rinse and remove from the washer immediately and dry as quickly as posssible with either a hot dryer or line dry outside in the sun.

The odor is mildew and in muggy weather will grow almost instantly, it seems. I have the same problem here in the desert during the monsoon season.:shrug:

08-27-2007, 04:36 PM
Oh man! I'm so glad someone posted this question!! I've been having the same problem with our towels too!! I always dry them in the dryer, never outside as they become stiffer than a board! I'll use a fresh clean towel in the morning after my shower and then I smell it :ick: makes me want to puke!

I use regular soap and fabric softener, but it never fails, they smell terrible. Other than buying new towels (they're about a year old) I don't know what to do. I never leave my loads to sit in the wash when they're done cause I do the wash only once a week and all at the same time.

Nope, no kids :wink:

We do have a front-loading machine. So I can't open it up during the cycle to add the vinegar. :think: hmmmm, what to do.....

08-27-2007, 04:56 PM
Well, they have been through the wash and dry cycle once, I was there when it stopped spinning, through the load into the dryer and left for the girls gym class. Unfortunately the one dryer load did not dry it and I can still smell it a little tiny bit but it is enough for me. One more time should do it, and it did not do anything to the colors of the towels either!

It makes me feel better knowing I am not the only one this happens to, I feel bad for you all cause I know what it feels like to dry yourself with a stinky towel!:hair::ick:

And I am going to try to find the Frebreze and keep it on hand. That and a gallon or 2 of vinegar too!

08-27-2007, 06:58 PM
Can you throw some baking soda or 20 Mule Team in with your detergent? That may help the smell (it gets in my Mom's front loader in her basement as well.) And do you leave the door open when the cycle is finished so it can dry out?

Good luck, I know it is a drag.

08-27-2007, 07:09 PM
I have this same problem..but hubby has a stinky job so I blame it on his clothes making our washer stink. Mom suggested the Mule Team..haven't tried it yet. But, Febreze makes a laundry additive I just picked up and will try. I actually notice it more with our towes. I don't use a lot of fabric softener any more. It gums up the dispenser in the middle and I hate cleaning it. I need to find the Downy ball I used to have. I use dryer sheets very occasionally in winter, but for the most part I figure that too much can "coat" the fabric and prevent them from getting deep clean.:thumbsup:

08-27-2007, 09:25 PM
I notice it on my towels mostly and now I use a cup of baking soda when I wash my towels. It hleps to get the soap out of them. I also rinse twice. Seems to work.

08-27-2007, 09:56 PM
WOO HOO!:woohoo:

It worked, washed and dried the towel load 2 times with half cup of bleach and there is no more smell. I felt like the people on the Frebreze commercials, fold and smell, fold and smell.

Susan P.
08-27-2007, 10:51 PM
I haven't read all the responses so sorry if I overlap someone else. That smell is generally mould in the fabric/material - usually developed from being slightly underdried or left in machine too long or from high humidity on line and the clothes being left out too long or not long enough - particularly if clothes are washed in warm or hot water.

The spores could have transferred to your clothes drawers also but you often need to air clothes between the dryer and putting them away.

I would run a hot vinegar wash in the washing machine.
I would wipe out the dryer with watered down vinegar and then with a very diluted vanilla essence (to put back a nice soft scent).

I would spray the clothes drawers with a bacterial spray (I use Glen 20 here) but air them in the sun first and after spraying and then wipe over and respray and leave in shade until well dry.

You can use the spray on the lint filters also but not while machine is running and don't run machine if the spray is still damp.

I would also tend to change the clothes washing detergent - at least for a few washes.

Susan P.
08-27-2007, 10:54 PM
I see you've resolved. The bleach would have killed the spores but over bleaching can just wear things really quickly so perhaps use some of the other tips people have given to ensure no repeat. I washed a cardigan recently and had to leave it in an inappropriate place. Picked it up two days later and I could smell the spores. Yuch. Immediately washed and left it sun in good breeze and it's ok now.

08-29-2007, 09:07 AM
B'lieve it or not - some fabric conditioners can leave a really bad 'sweetish' smell.

Clothes smell great at first but after 2 days something happens and there's this fusty, horrible, smell.

The only conditioner that seems ok is Comfort (for baby clothes/sensitive skin).

It doesn't matter how you dry the clothes or where you hang them, it's a smell that seems to pervade other fabrics (had to clear my entire wardrobe out and wash all the clothes after I'd hung a blouse in there. Ended up having other clothes dry-cleaned again).

Susan P.
08-29-2007, 09:45 AM
I never use fabric conditioner. I've never liked the smell of it and I dislike the smell of certain washing detergents too.
I find some folks away over use them and the smell pervades everything.

08-29-2007, 09:53 AM
lol- all this washing machine talk jinxed me. our washer stopped agitating/spinning yesterday. (sigh) and the repair guy can't get here for a few days! oh well.....

08-29-2007, 10:04 AM
I have a high school swimmer -so we do lots of towels, year round. Arm and Hammer powder works the best at getting rid of the mildew smell on a going forward basis. The liquid isn't bad either. Plus it works well on my #1 son, who has very sensitive skin - we can use no fabric softener.

Susan P.
08-29-2007, 10:18 AM
On another topic when I swam even five days a week I had to always use aqua ear drops. I washed my things after each swim and immediately put in breeze to dry but I empathise as mould can kick in very quickly like you may have noticed on swimming caps if they're left damp too often.