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Thread: Smelly clothes

  1. #1
    Manks's Avatar
    Manks is offline Serial procrastinator and general busybody
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    Default Smelly clothes

    Since coming to NZ, I've noticed a real problem with our clothes in that they often develop a funny smell to them. The best way I can describe it is that it's a bit like sweaty feet. As you can imagine, this isn't exactly pleasant, and I'm trying to figure out what's going on and what to do.

    I assumed it was things that maybe hadn't dried properly after washing. So I've been line drying as much as possible, if I'm not using the tumble dryer I'm trying to dry on airers in a closed room with a dehumidifier. It's getting better, but I think I'm finding clothes that develop this smell even after being dried.

    It's really frustrating - anyone got any tips?!

  2. #2
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    Where/how do you store these clothes?

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    One of my friends in Dunedin always used the tumble dryer for about 20- 30 min after she took her washing from the line, because the air is just not dry enough to get stuff really dry (lots of times). Maybe there is still some humidity left in the clothes?
    We have a very dry climate up here and even on cloudy days things dry very fast, I can't say I ever had the problem with any smell.
    The children do, though.., but in my opinion it is partly because of the washing machine (top loader) and partly because they (especially the boys) tend to hang to many clothes in too small a space.., and the student flats are not known to be very well aired, too.

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    It is not a problem peculiar to NZ
    It seems to happen most often when there is not enough water ..I had a terrible time with this in the UK and put it down to using a dinky wee front loader as opposed to the big top loader i'd had in Canada.
    I have a top loader here and had never had this problem (here) until a few weeks ago when we had to replace our machine with a smaller older one (it wouldnt fit).
    I've had to be careful to set the water level higher than I would have liked and to get the clothes onto the line asap
    Leaving the in the machine makes them smell 'sick'

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    I often find that even if I line dry on a very windy day, I still need to pop the clothes in the in the tumble drier to take the last bit of dampness out. We've been having 90% humidity or more in northland over the past month or so, hence a bit of tumble drying to get the dampness completely out. If you are still using your front loader from the UK, you might need to get any accumulated mould out - they need a boil wash every month with nothing in apart from a bit of white vinegar in the powder tray - front loaders have a tendency to accumulate odd black gunk on the rubber seals which can make the whole washer smell a bit musty.

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    We use the front loader we brought from the UK and never have this problem.. We don't have a tumble dryer, so the clothes are always either line dried outside or on a rack in the conservatory. Sometimes they stay in the washing machine for a whole day, e.g. if I put a load on in the evening to hang out before work.

    Maybe it's the detergent, or softener? Our little one has eczema issues, so we just use a plain, boring, un-scented detergent (hubby has finally come to accept that clothes don't need to smell of flowers to be clean) and white vinegar.

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    Quote Originally Posted by newarrival View Post
    One of my friends in Dunedin always used the tumble dryer for about 20- 30 min after she took her washing from the line, because the air is just not dry enough to get stuff really dry (lots of times).
    Interesting, as we don't use a dryer here and don't have any problems.

    I really think it is up to storing clothes, i.e. proper ventilation (and heating) of ward robes. To often build in ward robes in cold bed rooms just cannot provide the right climate.

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    My 1st guess would be the front loader washing machine (if that's what the original post uses). The reason for using specific 'front loader' washing detergent is due to the anti-bacterial properties in the soap. However, i've found that is not enough and that washing clothes in a higher hot temperature (60C) definitely fixes the problem. Beware that taking the wet clothes out, you won't notice the smell, it's only when it dries that the smell concentrates on the clothing - thus making it more noticeable when you take it off the clothes line.

    If not enough water to rinse the smelly soap out, choose the 2nd rinse option if your washing machine has it. Choose it wisely if you live in Auckland where they meter the water supply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ralf-nz View Post
    Interesting, as we don't use a dryer here and don't have any problems.

    I really think it is up to storing clothes, i.e. proper ventilation (and heating) of ward robes. To often build in ward robes in cold bed rooms just cannot provide the right climate.
    There are small, low wattage wardrobe heaters available.

    I'd guess your smelly clothes problem is caused by clothes not being thoroughly dry when you put them away. In the old days (in NZ) clothes that were still damp after they came off the line would go into the water cylinder cupboard 'to air'. The cylinder cupboards always had shelves above it for this purpose.

  10. #10
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    I sometimes get this here in the UK. We always dry our clothes inside as we don't have enough outdoor space for a line, but I find them get a bit of a smell to them either when they takes ages to dry - i.e. a couple of days when it's freezing cold like it is at the moment, or when I leave them in the machine too long before taking them out to dry them.

    It sounds like there could be a whole host of reasons though so maybe go through the different possibilities one at a time until you find something that works.

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