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valdasta's avatar

Why do our clothes smell moldy when they come out of the washer?

Asked by valdasta (2144points) September 17th, 2010

After our clothes go through the wash they have a must or moldy smell. We haven’t been letting them sit in the washer for any length of time before throwing them in the dryer (at least, that is what my wife says). Is the water not draining properly out of the machine? Thanks for all the help, Fluther.


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18 Answers

Brian1946's avatar

Does the load smell moldy right after the last spin cycle is done?

Does your washing machine drum smell moldy after a wash or at any other time?
If so, you might try doing a complete cycle without any load.

Also, if you have a top-loader, try leaving the lid up for about a day or two to let it vent and thoroughly dry out.

If you have a front loader, try leaving the door open for about the same length of time.

chels's avatar

The only time that it’s happened to me is after leaving them sit for a while. I know your wife may say that this is not the case, but even a small length of time can do this to clothes.

john65pennington's avatar

Chels is correct. you cannot leave freshly washed clothes in the washing machine for any length of time. Mr. Mold and his oldies will attack your clean clothes and leave their smelly calling card. if this occurs, best to rewash your clothes and then spray the inside of your washing machine with bleach.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You might have some bugs growing under the rubber lip seal. Wipe around in there with a small white wash cloth or handkerchief and see if it comes out black. It is easy to clean.

Cruiser's avatar

I agree with Chels…letting the close rest in the washer after they are washed for more than a few hours will let that funk start to kick in. Drying it even with dryer sheets won’t help. Or she may not be drying the clothes completely and folding damp clothes will achieve the same result.

valdasta's avatar

@chels You may be right…my wife does look after a house of seven children plus a hubby who is a handful. I suppose I should volunteer to do the laundry for a while to see what’s going on.

Thanks a latte!

valdasta's avatar

@Cruiser We (or should I say, “she”) make sure the clothes are dry. And, you are right about the dryer sheets…they do not help.

There is nothing worse than getting out of the shower and drying yourself off with a funky towel…smelling worse than before you were clean.

valdasta's avatar

@worriedguy Your answer goes great with your user name. I will certainly have a looky.

valdasta's avatar

Thanks for all the speedy help, Fluther! Shouldn’t you jellies be out making a living?

LuckyGuy's avatar

We have well water with no chlorine. Periodically we run a “blast load” with hot water, detergent and liquid Clorox bleach on white towels, white sheets, my undies, hankies, and white socks. I love the way they smell after – and it cleans the washer too. Win-Win.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Do you use bleach?
If you don’t I would run a cycle or two ( NO CLOTHES ) first with bleach and shut the machine off during the first cycle and let the bleach sit. The second cycle add a cup of baking soda, no bleach.

@worriedguy Beat me to it.

Cruiser's avatar

@valdasta I am making a living though the $1.35 per answer they pay me here is not cutting it. I think I should ask for a raise….

valdasta's avatar

@Cruiser You are not getting paid…are you? (this may be a gullible moment for me)

will you have to kill me now that you told me?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Two other ideas: I leave the washing machine lid open after a load so that any leftover moisture can evaporate. On occasions, I’ve put a load of laundry in the dryer in which some items dry more quickly than others. Once the dryer stops, if the clothes that are dry aren’t pulled out and another cycle run for the ones that are still damp, the musky spell can penetrate into those that are dry. This has happened when I turned off the dryer buzzer and lost track of time.

skfinkel's avatar

If you look at the rubber around the washing machine opening (if you have a front loading washing machine), you will probably find mold around and in the folds of the rubber. It is a design problem. I think the idea of running a no clothes bleach run is a good one, and you might also run some bleach around that rubber lining. You might also contact the maker of the machine. They might replace some parts for you that are contributing to the problem, but they won’t necessarily call you to tell you they will do that.

john65pennington's avatar

Valdasta, i have already earned my living…........forever. retired.

snowberry's avatar

Somewhere along the line your stuff became infested with mold spores which spread through-out all your stuff. Regular washing and drying will not eliminate this problem. You can clean it out of your washer and your clothes by rinsing everything in white vinegar. I have done this by dumping a gallon of vinegar in a 5 gallon bucket, filling it up the rest of the way with water, dunking in my clothes, and wringing them out before running through a regular cycle with detergent. You will also want to do a deep water rinse on the washer with vinegar as well, because the mold is likely in the washer as well. If the washer has detergent and fabric softener build up, it will harbor the mold and mildew, and is also a possible source of your problem. This would need to be removed to eliminate the smell. Clorox makes a washer cleaner, but I suspect it’s bleach based, which is not the greatest at removing detergent and softener build up.

Different products are available for this, which you can buy over the internet, or check with an appliance repair store. Also try an Internet search for “How to remove detergent build up” and see what you get. You will get additional ideas there.

summeroses's avatar

I always wash with cold water and use half the detergent recommended. I keep a jug of cheap white vinegar close by and when the washer starts agitating, add a splash of vinegar because I have hard (well) water in the high desert. I add the dirty laundry, agitate till all are covered in soapy water, & shut the washing machine off. I leave the lid up as I soak the clothing for a few hours/overnight. I then re-start the washer. Because I want to be absolutely certain no detergent remains, I give it an extra rinse, especially if its towels, sheets, or undergarments. Sometimes I will add another splash of vinegar to this extra rinse. There is NO odor afterwards. I also have an overhead clothesline. I air dry most of my clothing on the line & I always leave the washer lid up.

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