Clothes Smell After Washing? 5 Reasons

Doing laundry may not be the most fun chore, but, it is a very necessary one! Otherwise, we would need to purchase new clothes practically every day! That would be a very costly way of living! Fortunately, since ancient times, people came up with the idea of washing clothes with soap and detergent. This makes the clothes fresh and good for additional wear once again!

But, have you ever washed your clothes, dried them, but somehow…they smell worse than even before you washed them? This is can be a very strange phenomenon to experience. How is it that with even all that detergent, the clothes are so foul smelling? Here are some reasons.

5 Reasons Why Clothes Smell Odorous Even After Washing

You Didn’t Use the Right Amount of Detergent

This is probably the most common mistake when washing clothes. So just add more detergent next time right? Actually, if you use too much detergent, some of the wet residues might remain in the pores of your clothes. Just one round of washing might not be able to clear away the leftover detergent. Additionally, bacteria just really love moist environments.

Some bacteria might not be killed off after the wash and with a wet environment, they will multiply. The more there are, the more gas they produce as they continue to thrive in that environment. As a result, their gas production is what leads to that foul odor that we smell.

You Left the Washed Clothes in the Washer for Too Long

When anything is wet for too long, this is ample time for bacteria to multiply! Especially if you finished washing your clothes, and forgot about it for some time? Perhaps you went to work, came back home and forgot about it. This is opportunity for bacteria to divide!

Be sure to throw your wet clothes in the drying machine ASAP whenever possible! Maybe do your laundry on your off days from work.

Your Washing Machine Needs Cleaning

Just like the concept of bacteria thriving in wet environments, the washing machine is no exception. When the machine is new, there is great filtration and the soiled water is drained properly. Over time though, things can get clogged here and there (why our washing machines sometimes need replacement). This causes the soiled water to remain in the machine.

As a result, some of the bacteria might not have been killed off from the washing session. And as you know, even just ONE bacterium, in a moist environment, can multiply into billions! Their colonies can really build up if one doesn’t pay attention to such details. So what can one do?

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You can purchase some of these washing machine cleaning tablets. These tablets have such powerful cleaning agents that it will help get rid of practically all the dirt and grime that has been built up. Just use them every month or so.

To use these cleaning tablets, just throw them where you would normally throw your clothes. (Not in the detergent dispenser!). Then turn on the washing machine and wash like you normally do but using hot water. That is pretty much it!

You Used the Cold Water Setting

Depending on what fabric you threw into the washing machine, it might require colder water temperature settings. Although your clothes might be protected from such a setting, the bacteria in a sense are protected too! Higher heat settings can help with killing more bacteria. Be sure to set the temperature to the highest settings that your clothes can tolerate.

You Overloaded Your Drying Machine

When your drying machine is stuffed to the brim, it doesn’t allow enough airflow to help with drying. Think of it like a small room with limited occupancy. When passed the limit, there is barely enough space with barely enough room to breathe! It’s the same with clothes. They need that room to dry up while in the machine.

Summary of 5 Reasons Your Clothes Smell Odorous Even After Washing

  1. You Didn’t Use the Right Amount of Detergent
  2. You Left the Washed Clothes in the Washer for Too Long
  3. Your Washing Machine Needs Cleaning (i.e. Cleaning Tablets)
  4. You Used the Cold Water Setting
  5. You Overloaded Your Drying Machine


Who would have thought that it was possible that clothes could smell worse even after washing? Unfortunately, that is a very common pattern to see. By paying attention to the details mentioned, you can guarantee that your clothes will smell nice and fresh. No more foul smelling clothes!

Be sure to stock up on a continual supply of cleaning tablets to ensure that your washing machine stays clean! Prevent your machine from harboring foul smelling bacteria! Happy laundry day!

Did you enjoy this article on preventing that foul odor from clothes after washing? Have you used these cleaning tablets before? Please share your experience and leave a comment below!

On the topic of bacteria, there is another tool within the kitchen that is known for harboring all types of bacteria. Find out what it is here!

Are the drain holes in your restroom just not flowing like how to use to? Might be time to add use these tools.

Do your pots, pans, and oven seem to have a really stubborn greasy residue? Though you scrub really hard, it doesn’t seem to come off? Try using this substance!

6 thoughts on “Clothes Smell After Washing? 5 Reasons”

  1. This happens in my household sometimes. When we troubleshoot the problem, it always seems that we’re not using enough detergent or the right washing program. One thing we found helpful was cleaning the filter on a regular basis. All the sediments usually get clogged there and when that’s clean, the washing process seems to work better. 

    • Hello there, Cathy! Thank you for sharing your experiences. It seems like cleaning the washing machine more often is a commonly missed procedure that leads to smelly laundry.

  2. Thank you for these hacks. I have been on my own recently due to other members of my family traveling. I and am struggling with several thing in the house. And one of them is washing. The clothes I washed today have that strange smell. But reading your post, I think I overloaded the drying machine and didn’t leave enough room for my clothes to dry.

    • Hello there, Paolo! Glad that my article was able to help you find a solution! If you ever run into smelly clothes again not because of insufficient room to dry, you now have other ideas to try out as well.

  3. Oh wow that’s crazy. I didn’t even know you have to clean the washer! Thanks for bringing this up. Now I know what I need to do if my clothes are ever smelly even after washing.

    • Hello there, Kevin! You are welcome, it is quite crazy that this technology is available. Hope your clothes are smelling good and fresh once again.


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