Is Your Washing Machine Betraying You? Find Out Why Your Clothes Smell!

Have you ever unloaded your washing machine, expecting a breath of fresh, clean scent, only to be greeted by a musty, foul smell clinging to your clothes? It’s weird and annoying, isn’t it?

Your washing machine’s primary job is to clean, so why do the clothes smell worse coming out than they did going in? 

What’s causing this laundry disappointment? Let’s get to the bottom of this together – you don’t want to smell funky, do you?

Unravelling the Mystery: Why Do Clothes Smell After Washing?

It’s an unfortunate scenario: you’ve washed your clothes, but instead of them smelling like the lavender or ocean breeze of your detergent, they have an unpleasant odour. 

Here are the main culprits that could be turning your laundry experience sour, and what you can do about it:

Culprit #1: Overloading The Washing Machine

One of the most common mistakes in laundry care is overloading the washing machine. 

It might seem like a time-saver to stuff as many garments as possible into one load, but doing so can backfire on you. 

An overloaded washing machine struggles to distribute soap and water evenly, meaning your clothes don’t get as thoroughly washed as they should. 

Why? Because the tightly packed garments can’t move freely, trapping detergent and moisture in the fabric, which contributes to that musty smell.

What to do? Always follow your washing machine’s capacity guidelines! Never overload or underload your washer. 

Tip - Don’t Overload The Washer’s Drum

TIP: A good rule of thumb is if you can’t easily fit your hand in the drum on top of your clothes, it’s too full. Lighten the load to let your laundry breathe and get properly cleaned.

Culprit #2: Misusing Your Laundry Detergent

Whether it’s using too much detergent or not enough, both can leave your clothes smelling less than acceptable!

Overusing detergent can create excessive suds that trap dirt and bacteria in the clothes that aren’t rinsed away. On the other hand, using too little means your garments aren’t being effectively cleaned.

What to do? Follow the detergent guidelines recommended for your washing machine type and load size. This will ensure you use just enough detergent to clean your clothes without leaving residue.

Culprit #3: Ignoring The Need For Hot Washes

Cold washes are great for saving energy and preserving certain fabrics, but sometimes, you need heat to deal with bacteria and mould!

Bacteria and mould spores can survive a cold wash, especially in a machine that isn’t cleaned regularly, leading to a persistent musty smell.

What to do? Use the hot wash cycle for items that can handle it, particularly towels and bed linens, to kill bacteria or mould. 

60 Degree Wash Cycle

WARNING: Always check garment care tags to ensure they can withstand high temperatures!

Culprit #4: Leaving Clothes In The Washer

Did you know that leaving washed clothes in the machine for too long before drying can lead to the growth of mould and mildew? 

These fungi thrive in damp environments and can quickly take root in your clothes if they’re left to sit in the washer. 

The result? Awful smells!

What to do? Always remove your laundry from the washing machine as soon as the cycle is complete. If you’re someone like me that’s prone to forgetting, set a timer as a reminder!

Culprit #5: Neglecting Washing Machine Maintenance

Surprise surprise, your washing machine also needs regular cleaning to perform at its best!

Residue from detergent and fabric softener, combined with the moisture of a typical laundry room, creates an ideal breeding ground for odours.

What to do? Clean your washing machine at least once a month. Wipe down the seals and dispensers, clear out the filter, and run a hot wash cycle with a washing machine cleaner or white vinegar to sanitise and deodorise the machine.

cleaning washing machine exterior
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When All Else Fails, Call In The Professionals!

If you’ve tried every trick under the sun and your clothes are still coming out smelling like used socks, it’s time to admit defeat. As much as we’d all like to be DIYers to save money, there are times when we need to call the pros

After all, the problem may be more serious than you think, and may require repairs such as nasty or clogged pipes. 

We’ve covered the main reasons your clothes might be coming out less than fresh from the machine. But we want to hear your smelly tales too! 

Do you have any funny laundry fails or top tips for tackling troublesome odours? Drop a comment below – we love hearing your stories! 

SEE ALSO: How To Run A Clean Cycle On A Washing Machine

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