The Shocking Truth About Leaving Clothes in the Washer Too Long!

We’ve all been there. You throw a load of laundry into the washing machine, get distracted, and completely forget to move it to the dryer. 

Suddenly, it’s hours later, or even a day or two, and you’re left wondering: should I wash these again? Or just dry them and hope for the best? 

Let’s take a look at what the laundry pros have to say!

Oops, You Forgot Your Laundry Again, Didn’t You?

Alright, it’s happened again. You’ve gone and left your clean clothes in the washer so long they’ve practically celebrated a birthday in there. 

A washing machine with clothes in it

But before you throw in the towel (or, well, rewash it), let’s sort out what’s really going on with your forgotten laundry.

Is it really that big of a deal?

Honestly, it might be. Leaving clothes in the washer can turn your fresh wash into a funk-fest if you’re not careful. Damp clothes are basically a party invitation for bacteria and mould. And nobody wants those uninvited guests, right? 

How Long Is Too Long?

The magic number? To be safe, it’s 12 hours. If you’ve left your garments in the washer for less than that, you might have dodged a bullet. 

Just pop them in the dryer, and they’ll probably be fine. 

But more than a day? Oh man, you are in smelly (and itchy) territory.

Left Clothes In The Washer For Over A Day?

Here’s the deal: if they’ve been in the washing machine for 24 hours and they don’t stink or show signs of a science experiment gone wrong, airing them out might just do the trick. 

But let’s be honest here, you’re probably better off giving them another wash. Especially if you have sensitive skin. Why?

trousers with bacteria

Because your garments may already start growing bacteria and fungi, and you wouldn’t want to deal with skin allergies or smelly laundry. Would you?

A Week In The Washer? Time To Rewash!

If your clothes have been sitting for a week or longer, you’re not just looking at a potential stink issue. Mould might even be making itself at home on your clothes! 

Once a week or more has gone by with those clothes festering in the washing machine, definitely do not even think about wearing them. At this point, mould spores and smells have probably taken over. 

Anything that’s been left damp for over a week is best thrown straight back in the wash with some white vinegar to kill off any nastiness. 

distilled white vinegar washing machine

In extreme cases, you may even need to just bin the lot – it’s just not worth the risk!  

If you have serious skin issues like eczema[1], consider rewashing your clothes twice or just binning the fabric once there are clear signs of mould growth. 

What You Can Do To Test

Ever done a sniff test to decide if jeans get another day out? Same principle. If your laundry smells more like a damp cellar than fresh linen, it’s time for a rewash. No debates!

person smelling clothes

See signs of mould or mildew?

Do you have spots on your clothes that look a bit suspect? 

If it looks like mould or mildew has moved in, don’t even think about it – get those clothes back in the wash, ASAP!

You Can Do This To Banish The Bad Smells

Clothes smell a bit off? Don’t panic. If you want to save your clothes and nose, here’s a hack for that:

  • Air them out – Sometimes all your clothes need is a good old sunbathe. Sunshine is great for beating bad smells.
  • Make white vinegar your new best mate – Forget fabric softener and just add a splash of white vinegar to your wash to help freshen up your clothes. Plus, it’s a pro at softening them too!

And Your Washer Needs A Clean Too

Think of your washing machine like your teeth – regular cleaning prevents bacteria buildup and keeps it in top condition.

cleaning washing machine exterior

A hot wash with some vinegar can work wonders and will keep everything fresh while also preventing those pesky odours from building up.

SEE ALSO: What Causes Black Mould On Washing Machines? (how to remove it)

TL;DR: Should I Rewash?

Just forgotten your laundry for a bit? You might get away with just drying them. 

But if your clothes have been left damp for over a day or they’ve started to smell like a wet dog, it’s probably time for a rewash. 

Trust us, no one wants to be (or be with) the person wearing stinky clothes! 

While leaving clothes in the washer sometimes can’t be helped, anything more than half a day and you’re taking a real risk with odours and mould.

Got any helpful tricks to remember to switch your laundry over? Drop us a comment below – we’re all ears!

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