Wearing freshly-washed, nicely-smelling, fluffy clothes is an amazing feeling, so when you are ready to wear that piece of clothing you were saving for a special occasion and it doesn’t smell very good, it can be very frustrating. In this article, you will learn how to make and keep your clothes smell good for days, and even weeks.
Identify What’s Making Your Clothes Smell Bad
If you regularly notice that your clothes are coming out of a washing machine or a dryer smelling bad, it is probably caused by some factors that are, luckily, easily eliminated and fixed. Let’s see what the cause can be and how to best deal with it.
Dirty Washing Machine
Using a washing machine for long periods of time without cleaning the drum can cause mold, grimes, and dirt to build up. Not only this makes your clothes smell bad, but it can also prevent the washing machine from running properly.
In order to avoid a dirty washing machine making your clothes smell bad, you should deep-clean it occasionally. This is not a complicated process and it takes only a few hours for your washing machine to be brand-new.
The only ingredient you will need is vinegar. This common household ingredient really works magic when it comes to cleaning. Follow these steps to thoroughly clean your washing machine.
- Empty your washing machine completely. Make sure that there are no socks left in there – you are probably familiar with how they like to get stuck in a drum.
- Take two to three cups of white vinegar and pour it into the container for laundry detergent. It’s important to use white vinegar because it doesn’t leave any stains like darker ones.
- Run your washing machine at the hottest and longest setting possible.
- Wait for it to finish and open the washer door. Keep it open for around half an hour.
- Check for any residue of dirt. Likely, there won’t be any, but you can take a sponge and a little bit of detergent and clean up anything that may have not been cleaned. You should especially check around the gum of a drum.
Cleaning your washing machine prevents clothes from picking up dirt and mold and if this is the reason for the bad smell of your clothes, you can solve it in just a few hours. [9 Things You Can Use To Get Mold Out Of Your Clothes]
Overloaded Washing Machine
If you put too many clothes in your washing machine, the laundry detergent and the fabric softener may not be able to get distributed evenly. This can prevent parts of your clothing from getting washed properly, and therefore smell bad when taken out.
The solution here is pretty simple and obvious – try not to overload your washing machine. I know, it can be pretty boring to wait for an hour or two more for two loads of laundry to be done, but it is worth it. Follow the instructions of the manufacturer and let your clothes move around in the drum freely so every piece can get thoroughly washed.
Not Enough Or Too Much Laundry Detergent And Fabric Softener
One of the things that can make your clothes smell bad is putting too much or too little laundry detergent and/or fabric softener. Putting too little laundry detergent can prevent your clothes from getting washed properly, and too much of it cannot be well-dispersed, so you are left with the remainings of wet detergent on your clothes, especially if you are using the powdery one.
Make sure to follow the instructions on the bottles of detergent and fabric softener. If you are used to powder detergent, consider switching to the liquid one because it is easier to use and you will not have to worry about its residue on clothes.
Incorrect Temperature Setting
We all want to make sure our clothes don’t get damaged in the process of washing them. However, this can come at a price – if you wash your clothes at a lower temperature than recommended, they might not get properly cleaned. Some stubborn odors and stains simply require higher temperatures. Also, the smell is caused by bacteria, and higher temperatures are more likely to kill them off.
Always follow the instructions on the labels. If the label says it’s safe to wash a piece of clothing at 60 degrees, don’t be afraid to do so as long as all of the clothes in one load are safe to wash at that temperature. This will make your clothes well-cleaned and more likely to smell nice.
Drying Laundry Mistakes
One of the most common causes of smelly clothes is the incomplete drying process. Any residue of moisture in your clothes makes them damp and causes them to smell really bad.
First off, dry the laundry right away. Don’t let it sit in the washing machine for too long before you place them in a dryer – try to do that as soon as the washer has finished working. If they stay wet too long it will be more difficult to dry them and they will not smell very nice when taken out.
Next, try to dry the clothes outside whenever possible. Sun is very beneficial for killing off bacteria and microscopic parasites that may live on your clothes. Plus, clothes dried outside tend to smell nicer than those dried in a dryer.
Finally, whichever option you choose, make sure that your clothes are totally dry before folding them. Even a small amount of humidity can make your whole wardrobe smell awful, so this part is especially important.
Waiting For Too Long To Wash The Clothes
As mentioned, the stinky odor of clothes is caused by bacteria. The longer you leave your clothes unwashed, the more bacteria can multiply and make the clothes even stinkier. This will make it more difficult to eliminate the odor with just one washing, especially at lower temperatures.
We all know it’s much easier to pile the dirty clothes for days or even weeks, and just wash them all in one day. However, if you want your clothes to always smell nice, make sure to wash them more regularly. Don’t leave them dirty for more than two or three days, especially during the summer months.
In case your clothes were left unwashed for too long, just soak them overnight. Fill your bathtub with water, add some detergent, and put the clothes in. Leave them for one night and run the washing machine in the morning. Soaking them makes it more likely that only one wash can eliminate the odors and make your clothes smell great.
4 Additional Tips For Making Your Clothes Smell Good
1. Use Laundry Scent Boosters
Using laundry scent boosters in addition to your regular equipment for washing clothes is a great way to make your clothes smell even nicer and fresher for weeks on end. You can choose either beads or pods and they come in an infinite number of scent options.
Make sure to check out the ingredients of scent boosters and try to choose ones with fewer additives and unnecessary chemicals. Naturally-produced scents are always better, especially if you are prone to allergies.
2. Use Scented Dryer Sheets
Dryer sheets are a relatively new invention. They are used for reducing static electricity and for separating the clothing items during drying so they don’t stick together. If you want to add some fragrance to your clothes during drying, dryer sheets or dryer balls are the best options to do that.
3. Use Scented Sachets
Once your clothes are washed, dried, and put in a wardrobe, you can use scented sachets to make them smell nice for a longer time.
This is particularly helpful for items of clothing you don’t wear for a long time – they can start smelling after a while and scented sachets can help prevent that. They come in various fragrances, but the most common is lavender. It is not too strong and most people like it.
4. Consider Using Essential Oils
If you have some clothes lying around that are not exactly dirty, just haven’t been worn in a long time, but you don’t have time to wash and dry them, you can use essential oils. You can make your own mixture that can last for months.
Make sure that the essential oil of your choice is safe to use on the skin first, mix it with water, and put it in a spray bottle. The proportion of oil to water is up to you – if you want a stronger fragrance, you can use more essential oil and vice versa. Spray your piece of clothing with the mixture and let it dry. If you are in a hurry, you can use a hairdryer. That’s it!
There are many ways to make your clothes smell good and to prevent them from smelling bad in the first place. Some of the key ways to do this are to take good care of your washing machine, to always dry the clothes thoroughly, and to use proper laundry detergents and fabric softeners. For prolonged results, use scented dryer sheets and sachets, and for a quick refresh try essential oils.
Jessica Oliver is a fashion enthusiast with more than ten years of experience in the industry. She previously managed her own clothing store in New York before becoming a mother of three. With a passion for sustainability and a desire to share clothing care and recycling tips.