Why Do My Clothes Smell Musty After Washing And Drying?

There is something really soul destroying about putting on a good clothes wash, hanging them out to dry on your rotary line (or tumble drying), then going to put them away and being dismayed by the fact that they smell musty. It makes you feel as though the whole process has been wasted!

In fact, this is often the case, as you will probably have to re-wash the clothes to remove the smell, as no one wants their clothes to smell stale. If you are noticing this repeatedly, despite following all the good washing practises, then it’s time to sort it out once and for all.

why do my clothes smell musty after washing and drying

My Favourite Tips & Tricks To Avoid This Problem

1 — One of the most simple tips is to wash your clothes inside out. The inside is the bit that collects the most sweat, skin oil and dead skin cells, so the inside is the bit that needs the most cleaning. A great advantage to this is that you only need to shrug off your clothes; no need to turn them the right way round before you wash them!

2 — You may think that, if your clothes are still smelling after a wash, that you should add more detergent next time. Not so. Using excessive amounts of laundry detergent is counter productive, as the detergent gets caught in the material, and will react with the sweat and smell of your body, releasing a more foul odour than ever.

3 — Instead of overdoing the washing powder, you could opt for some essential oils in your next wash. The secret is to place a few drops of your chosen oil (lavender or rosemary to freshen your laundry; tea tree if they are smelling particularly musty; lemon to add a really fresh scent) on a wet cloth or a drying sheet, and add it to your machine at the final rinse or the drying cycle. Adding the oils directly to the machine will mean that they are simply washed away.

4 — Hanging up your washing as soon as you take it off, rather than piling it into a damp ball at the bottom of the wash basket, will also lead to better post-washing results. When you take off clothes, even if they are not your workout gear and you don’t feel they are particularly smelly, the bacteria and yeast left by your body can breed and multiply (eew!) leading to musty smells even after washing.

5 — Another cause for stinky smelling clothes after washing could be your actual washing machine itself. How often do you ever wash the thing that does the washing? Almost never, if you’re like most people! The washing machine is a breeding ground for all sorts of nasties that cause bad smells in your washing, so you should clean it out regularly. To do this:

  • Make a mild bleach solution with equal parts bleach and water.
  • Wipe the visible areas of your washing machine – particularly the rubber seals around the door – with a cloth soaked in the bleach mix.
  • Next, add 16oz of white vinegar to the powder drawer, and run your machine at the hottest cycle.
  • You can do your washing straight after this treatment, and it will be cleaner than ever and should be sweet smelling!
  • As a tip, never use the bleach and vinegar together, as they can create a nasty reaction when they mix.

6 — If you are leaving your washing in the machine for a while after it is washed, this may be the key to your clothes smelling musty. They need to taken out and hung up to dry quickly, to allow the fresh smell that we all strive for.

7 — After you have finished a wash, leave the washer door ajar, to allow air to circulate and prevent the machine itself becoming musty.

Final Words

final words

Washing clothes is much easier these days than it ever has been – no pounding dirty clothes on rocks in a stream, or wrestling with heavy equipment to get clothes clean – just open and shut a door, press a few buttons and you’re away! That’s why it is so disheartening when clothes still smell.

Hopefully we have answered your questions on why my clothes still smell musty after washing and drying, and that we have given you some tips to deal with the problem!