Do your clothes smell after washing them?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Big-TDI-Guy, Jan 4, 2008.

  1. macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    Look, I'm a big guy - but do cut me some credit here.

    I got a front-loading washer almost a year ago - and ever since, my clothes have not smelled clean. After coming out of the wash, they smell like -- like a beach towel left in a plastic bag for 2 days. After the dryer, you can hardly detect it (thank you, dryer sheets).

    But here is the catch, after wearing these clothes - once you perspire ANY bit - the smell comes back!!!

    I've tried multiple detergents, and yes I'm using the HE detergents my machine says to use.

    I tried bleaching / running hot water through it - and this still didn't stop it.

    I'm now leaving the door open after washing, and I kick it almost every night in the dark - but I was told this would stop mold from growing - and that was the problem I had...

    So - no dice yet. It's not my town water (old washer was fine), and i even tried putting a water filter on it. (you know, to improve the taste of water for drinking) Didn't work.

    I also tried checking the drain catch-basin after reading that some HE washers empty water faster - causing the catch-basin to empty completely - allowing sewer gasses back into the washer. A this isn't the smell I speak of, and B - it turned out not to be the problem in my case.

    Can anyone help me here? I'm sick of smelling bad, and can't stand "masking" the smell via cologne / scents. I just want to be clean.

  2. macrumors 6502

    Eric Piercey

    Nov 29, 2006
    Perpetual Bondage
    How long are they sitting in there between the finish of being washed and being put in the dryer?
  3. thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    No more than 2 hours, tops.
  4. adk
    macrumors 68000


    Nov 11, 2005
    Stuck in the middle with you
    Are you talking about a mildew type smell? Sometimes my clothes smell a little like that when I take them out of the washing machine, but the smell never comes back after drying them.
  5. thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    Yeah a mold / mildew smell. Like a pile of wet clothes left for a couple of days.

    I've even tried all temperature variations / detergent levels / even multiple washes. (which seems to completely defeat the purpose of a High Efficiency washing machine - don't ya think?
  6. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    Once the smell gets into them, it almost never comes out, and it happens when the clothes sit for too long, even once.

    You might be out of luck for the currently smelly clothes. :(
  7. macrumors 601


    Jun 13, 2007
    Mine sometimes get like this, i think its too do with them being damp for too long, if possible, put them in the dryer asap, hope that helps.
  8. macrumors 6502

    Eric Piercey

    Nov 29, 2006
    Perpetual Bondage
    Weird, mold shouldn't grow that quickly. It does seem like your water supply is tainted somehow.
  9. macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    That only happens to me if I forget about the clothes and leave them in the washer overnight. To get rid of it we just rewash them and dry.

    The problem may have to do with the HE washer. High Efficency means not so great at washing is my guess. I'd assume it's like with most low flow toilets where if you crap you have to use a plunger most of the time.

    Have you read any reviews on the washer itself? Also, what brand/model do you have?
  10. emw
    macrumors G4


    Aug 2, 2004
    I also have the HE front-loading washer, but have never experienced what you're describing. We do, however, always leave the washer door open to prevent mold, which does indeed sound like what you're dealing with.

    I'd think that if you did the hot water/bleach cycle without clothes (I believe you said you did) should clean up the problem, and I'm surprised it hasn't, especially on any new clothes you've washed since cleaning the washer.

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

    You may want to try washing some new clothes in the now-cleaned washer and see if they come back with the same smell. And I would suggest not letting clothes sit in the washer for 2 hours or so, as that will, eventually, contribute to the mold problem.
  11. macrumors 68020

    Sep 24, 2002
    That's too long. Immediately put them in the dryer after washing.
  12. macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    2 hours isn't going to cause noticeable mildew growth.
  13. thread starter macrumors 68030


    Jan 11, 2007
    Um, check their location. NJ. Things are different down there. ;)

    Yeah - I didn't think 2 hours was that bad, and the HE washers take their sweat @$$ time washing, so it's rather hard to time it, because they never have a "set time".
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Jun 20, 2004
    Same thing happened to me. Turned out some neighborhood kids secretly swapped by liquid tide with urine. Bunch of pranksters. Gotta love 'em though.
  15. macrumors Core


    Jan 18, 2005
    Darkplace Hospital
    When my folks go away I find my clothes smell a bit too, but once they're back and wash my clothes for me it's all business as usual. I definitely put them into the dryer as fast as possible too.
  16. macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    It seems like the wash may not be flushing the water out fully, or quickly enough. I use to have a front load at my old place. I dearly miss it. My cloths never had any bad smell after washing. I also go for neutralizing detergents as I do not like the smell that most of them have. Also this type of detergent may kill off that damp smell from your cloths. I don't know, just a guess.
  17. Guest


    Aug 5, 2007
    Las Vegas,NV
    yeah thats what happens to me or if I leave the clothes in the waser for like 2or3 days then dry them they have that mildew smell
  18. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 28, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    I don't know if this is going to help any but I used to get the exact same smell on my daughters reusable nappies (diapers). There is a method us reusable nappy users use. It's called stripping (!) but anyway I'll explain. It might be a lot of fuss for you to do it but it may work for you. Worth giving it a try just once though to see if it helps.

    OK here I go. Put load in washer as normal, put a teaspoon of washing up liquid (dish soap) in the wash and do quick wash and rinse. Repeat again but with a little vinegar. Then do a final wash with calgon liquid and usual detergent. Don't use fabric softener though as it puts a like waterproof barrier on your clothes which may actually be trapping the smell in your clothes, the same is said for those dryer sheets you are using! We don't use those in cloth diapering because of the film and making the diapers non-absorbent!

    I hope that helps and I know your prob thinking woah, what a fuss! But it's worth a try once eh? And if it doesn't work, then you've tried. If it does... great!
  19. macrumors 6502

    May 19, 2005
    Escape from New England
    We got a front loader HE washer just to do our son's nappies and never had to do this ceremony to clean them. Just the normal wash cycle got everything out. Didn't use softener on diapers. If your clothes still stink after washing I think you need to check the rubber seals around the door to eliminate any mold that is there and then transfer the clothes immediately to the dryer as suggested above. Also, use a small scoop of oxyclean in your wash and see if that doesn't get rid of the smell.
  20. macrumors 6502a


    Dec 30, 2000
    California, Austria, Arkansas
    I doubt the smell you have is mildew, especially since it comes back as you perspire. More likely, the new washer doesn't get your smelly clothes completely clean. This is a common problem with high efficiency washers since they go overboard with water efficiency to the point that they barely get every part of the clothes wet before the rinse cycle, and then don't use enough water rinsing, either.

    Best thing you can do is to either increase the water level, or the number of rinses, or both. If your washer has an "extra rinse" option, definitely use it. If your washer is a truly high end washer that offers a higher water level (sometimes called "water plus"), use that option, too.

    If it doesn't offer a higher water level (most washers don't), you can do what I do with every high efficiency front load washer: Simply add about half a gallon to a gallon of water manually to the wash cycle by pouring it into the detergent chamber after the washer has finished filling with water. Again, wait until the washer has finished filling with water, and then pour a gallon of water into the detergent compartment using a pitcher, thusby increasing the water level. This will cause the detergent to be distributed more evenly, and the dirty clothes smell to be washed out completely without smelly residue staying behind that can build up after several washes.

    If you want to be even more hard-core, also add water in the rinse cycle, though adding it to the wash cycle is the most important. Again, selecting the "extra rinse" option will also hugely help rinsing the dirt out of your clothes, so make sure you do the extra rinse every time -- have the option selected permanently if possible. Also, make sure to use fabric softener. I would almost bet getting your clothes more water to wash them will take care of your smelly clothes problem completely. If nothing helps, or if you don't want to bother with adding water manually, last resort would be to do a regular cycle with detergent but without fabric softener, and then immediately afterwards run an additional short cycle (on the same clothes) without detergent, but with fabric softener. You can do such a double cycle each time if nothing else helps.
  21. Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    Could it be that the loads are just too big? i.e reduce the amount of clothes to effectively increase the water level.

  22. macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Bleach the crap out of the washer to get the mold an mildew out.
  23. macrumors 68000


    Dec 2, 2006
    Ewwww.....How did they have access to your bottle of Tide?
  24. macrumors 68000

    Jan 14, 2007
    My house in RI is right on the water. It's so damp and there everything just smells. After your clean clothes are there for a day they are damp, smell bad, and just feel dirty. You can't even leave a box of cookies open for more than a day without them being soggy and gross.

    Dehumidifiers and A/C helps a little. We're thinking of installing central a/c but its going to be tricky due to the design of the house.
  25. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 31, 2006
    just this side of heaven, CHARLESTON SC
    I have a front loader myself. It smells moldy every once in awhile. I run bleach through my washer every so often to get rid of the smell. That usually clears it up for awhile.

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