What causes the stale smell and how to get the unpleasant smell out of the clothes after washing?
Your clothes should smell divine after washing, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes they have an unpleasant, stale smell after drying, and you’re not even sure what’s causing it. The culprit may be the washing machine, but not only.
Freshly laundered clothes can lose their pleasant smell for any number of reasons, for example, if you smoke in the house or lay your laundry near the kitchen. You may have wanted to dry your clothes outdoors, but you live in a smoggy area, or your neighbor has chosen the very moment to throw a garden party. If neither of these things is a factor, the smell is probably caused by the water itself.
What makes clothes smell bad?
In most cases, clothes may smell stale because water is trapped in the fabric. The moisture cannot escape and so a kind of stale, unpleasant smell develops. In extreme cases, clothes may even become moldy, with grey stains appearing on their surface, in which case it is important to remember that it is no longer enough to just remove the smell; the problem of mold has to be dealt with as well.
In most cases, however, the problem is simply that the clothes have been left in the washing machine for too long. We have all been there: something has happened that distracted us, or we were too busy, and the clothes were only put in the dryer in the morning after being washed in the evening, for example. Even sitting that long in water can be enough to make the fabric smell.
Stale smell may also be caused if the clothes not completely dry when you took them out from the dryer and put them in the wardrobe. It’s easy for mold to grow in dark, damp areas and, if you clean the inside of the washing machine too rarely, it can affect your clothes. It doesn’t matter how much detergent you use: too much will prevent the chemicals from leaving the fabric, which can also cause the smell.
What can you do to get rid of it? If you don’t have time to rewash your clothes, but you have some vodka, lemon juice or baking soda at home, you may use these three natural deodorizers. Get a spray bottle, wash it well and pour in the vodka or lemon juice. Then spray it on your clothes, and either of the substances will eliminate mild odors in no time. You can then add a little perfume to give the fabric a new scent.
Baking soda, being a powder, works a little differently. You’ll need a bowl and a toothbrush. Use the brush to introduce the powder deep into the fabric, and you can achieve a similar effect to vodka and lemon juice. Unfortunately, this method only works on white clothes. It’s also important to remember that this is only a temporary solution for when you need help in a hurry, but for the long term it’s better to go for prevention or rewashing. Prevention means cleaning the washing machine from time to time and making sure you only wash clothes when you know you’ll have the time to complete the process.
Never leave clothes in the washing machine for too long. Also, before you collect the clothes after drying, make sure that they have dried completely. The most problematic areas are those where the fabric is the thickest: around pockets, the waist, the neck, and sleeves of T-shirts. Once the problem has happened, sometimes it’s enough to rinse the clothes, but in serious cases a new wash may be necessary. Add a little vinegar in the washing machine to make sure you get rid of any unpleasant odors, as vinegar is also a natural deodorizer.
If you see signs of mold on your clothes, set the washing machine to the highest heat to kill the spores. Then, if possible, dry the clothes outdoors to ensure that the fabric is aired out as well as possible.