laundry in machine

Why Do My Clothes Still Smell After Washing Them?

Posted on January 31, 2023 by Steven Toltz

There are few smells as comforting as freshly cleaned laundry. It’s such a nice experience, it’s enough to motivate you to do the dreaded chore of washing and drying your clothes. The last thing you want after all that hard work is laundry that still smells dirty or even stinkier than it was before getting washed! Clean laundry should smell clean, right?

If you’ve experienced the disappointing post-wash mildew stench of improperly washed laundry, read on to learn what could be causing it. 

Bacteria Buildup In Your Washing Machine

Washing machines tend to hold onto stagnant water, especially front loading machines, which can harbor bacteria, limescale, and mold. So, washing machines need to be cleaned regularly in order to provide the best wash for your clothes. 

How can you tell if your dirty washing machine is the culprit? If you take your clothes out of the washing machine immediately after their wash cycle is complete, and you notice a smell that wasn’t there before, your washing machine likely needs a deep clean!

How to Clean A Stinky Washing Machine

  1. Pour two cups of white vinegar where you’d pour your detergent
  2. Run your empty washing machine through the longest hot water cycle or the sanitizing cycle, if your washing machine has one
  3. After the cycle, use a sponge to wipe down the inside
  4. Run a second hot water or sanitizing cycle to fully remove the vinegar
  5. Leave the washer door open to air dry 
  6. Now that your washing machine is clean, maintain it by keeping the door open after running a load of laundry to let it air dry and giving it a deep clean every 90 days

Incorrect Detergent Amount

While not using enough detergent won’t clean your clothes properly, using too much detergent could lead to an equally disappointing result. Too much soap can cause a buildup of suds, which then leads to trapping the bacteria in your fabric. In both cases, clothes may come out of the wash unclean and potentially still smelly. 

Not sure how much detergent to use? Follow the instructions on your clothing care labels and consider separating your washes by clothing materials – like separating your workout clothes from your cotton tees and jeans. 

Too Big of a Laundry Load 

A washing machine that’s jam-packed with a full load of laundry will have a hard time properly cleaning each article of clothing. Reduce your load size a bit by making sure you’re leaving enough space in the machine for clothes to move around as they are washed, as that’s how your machine will function at its best. 

So, while you think you’re saving time or resources by loading your machine to the brim, you’ll likely have to rewash your clothes after the first try, costing you more time and energy in the long run. 

Clothes Left In The Machine Too Long

Tend to forget about your clothes in the washer? It happens to the best of us! When clothes end up sitting in the washer for hours, or even days, they become vulnerable to the dark, damp, bacteria-friendly environment and will likely take on a dank and unpleasant stench. 

To avoid this, transfer your clothes to the dryer right when they are finished with their wash cycle. You can also set a timer or reminder on your phone to make sure you don’t forget. 

Read More: Laundry Tips for Fresher, Cleaner Results

Clean Clothes Should Smell Clean 

The frustration and disappointment of clothes still smelling after being washed is something most adults have experienced. These simple tips should help avoid stress and help keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean, as they should! 

If you still find yourself stressed or need help keeping up with your laundry loads, consider trying our convenient Wash & Fold Laundry Service at one of our 20+ metro Colorado locations. We even offer laundry pickup and delivery to take your stressful laundry situation completely off your hands, all you have to do is fill up your VIP garment bag, leave it on your doorstep, and leave the rest to our professional cleaners.