Thread Number: 91521  /  Tag: Detergents and Additives
Smelly laundry: TMI
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Post# 1160450   9/26/2022 at 16:00 by bajaespuma (Connecticut)        

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I forgot a load of laundry which was left damp dried in the washer for a couple of days. It didn't smell bad when I rediscovered it, but, after drying, it reveals its inner stink when worn and body heat warms the fibers. What detergent/additive/whatever would be most effective at removing the odor in one wash cycle?


I'm thinking of ammonia, borax, enzyme soaks (now I know why some uninformed people are tempted to throw ammonia and chlorine bleach in the same load).


Moral of story, I know, is don't forget the wash, but I've been hobbled lately with a torn quadriceps tendon and trips downstairs are going to remain challenging for the next month or so.



Post# 1160451 , Reply# 1   9/26/2022 at 16:20 by qsd-dan (West)        

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"I'm thinking of ammonia, borax, enzyme soaks."

That should do it.

Post# 1160467 , Reply# 2   9/26/2022 at 20:37 by combo52 (50 Year Repair Tech Beltsville,Md)        
Smelly clean laundry

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If a load of clothing that has just been washed a few days earlier starts to smell in the washer it either wasn’t washed adequately or the machine has a dirty buildup in it.

The best thing to remove it is using liquid chlorine bleach if you can get away with using it with the clothing that was washed.

At the very least the washing machine should be cleaned heavily with bleach or taken apart and cleaned.

The last time I was in Australia I left my sheets in the front load washer for the three weeks I was gone when I came home I could see the water on the inside of the glass doors and oh dear, when I open the door and started to pull the clothing out they smell just as fresh and wonderful as it as if they had just been washed.

If you want to check to see if your laundry is adequately cleaned take a clean T-shirt pair of underwear or washcloth make it damp put it in a Ziploc bag and put it back in the closet and check it in several days or a week if it is starting to smell you’re not getting your clothing very clean.

It’s also important always rinsing the coldest water available as that keeps bacteria at bay and reduces bacteria growth until the clothing is dried, unfortunately this is hard to do in some of the warmer parts of the country in the summer.

John L

Post# 1160485 , Reply# 3   9/27/2022 at 03:10 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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It's happened to me several years ago with some colors.  I just rewashed everything with a little ocean breeze Lysol in the water.  Took care of the problem.

Post# 1160509 , Reply# 4   9/27/2022 at 14:45 by kenwashesmonday (Carlstadt, NJ)        

If it's mildew, washing it again with a little chlorine bleach, a dose of detergent, and warm water will fix it.

Post# 1160510 , Reply# 5   9/27/2022 at 16:24 by qsd-dan (West)        

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I wouldn't use chlorine bleach on anything but whites. Borax and ammonia will not fade colors.

Post# 1160514 , Reply# 6   9/27/2022 at 18:07 by bajaespuma (Connecticut)        

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Thanks to all of you for the suggestions.


I guess I was hoping there was some new miracle laundry product out there (NOT febreeze or those perfumed fabric softeners) that would eliminate all the odor sources. I don't use a lot of chlorine bleach because we all have septic systems in my village and all the guys who come once a year to vacuum them out tell us to avoid "putting anything down our drains that couldn't go through our guts".


But this is war.



Post# 1160519 , Reply# 7   9/27/2022 at 19:33 by qsd-dan (West)        

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Well, ammonia is on the "Do not use" list of septic living but if it's a one time deal, you should be okay. Let it soak for good long time with occasional agitation (I'm assume you're using a toploader).

Post# 1160522 , Reply# 8   9/27/2022 at 19:57 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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I've been using chlorine bleach, although less than monthly on average per my laundry habits of not washing a given type of load until nearly out of clean items, for almost 18 years with no cause of issues to my septic.  Also STPP for 14 years.  Also dishwasher powder with bleach and phosphates.  Also toilet cleaner with bleach (warns not to mix with ammonia).

Post# 1160524 , Reply# 9   9/27/2022 at 20:24 by bradfordwhite (West Coast, U.S.)        

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Sounds like Ken, maybe you need to move the washer dryer upstairs where it's more convenient?


For those using septics: I've had a few septic systems installed so far in my life. I was always told that washing machines and water softeners should NOT be run into a septic and a simple drainage leach field for them is fine. Also garbage disposals are not to be used with a septic.

Post# 1160531 , Reply# 10   9/27/2022 at 21:38 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

I think the product you want to use is the Lysol Laundry Sanitizer. It's a quaternary ammonia based formula.

Post# 1160543 , Reply# 11   9/28/2022 at 00:13 by tolivac (greenville nc)        

I have drained my washer into the septic tank with no problems.Same with a disposer.Been doing this for over 20Yrs-with only 3 pumpouts.

Post# 1160550 , Reply# 12   9/28/2022 at 03:11 by Stan (Napa CA)        

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is a handy laundry staple to have on hand for odor issues
I agree that machines need to be cleaned out from time to time.
Short of taking machine apart to do this (I have) you could try running the machine (empty) with hot water and a good dose of washing soda to break loose the gunk.
Once u have the machine clean. Try re washing the smelly clothes with Borax
(pre soak) with borax.

Post# 1160565 , Reply# 13   9/28/2022 at 13:02 by lakewebsterkid (Dayton, Ohio)        
Bleach and Septic

Bleach breaks down surprisingly quickly. If the load wasn’t colors, that’s what I would recommend. Ammonia is gonna be effective.

Post# 1160580 , Reply# 14   9/28/2022 at 15:44 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

If you want to use a reminder for a load of laundry, you can set the minute timer on your range when you start the laundry and it will start buzzing requiring you to turn off the time signal before taking the laundry out of the machine.

Post# 1160630 , Reply# 15   9/29/2022 at 06:34 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

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My parents had septic for 26 years with a TL Maytag and Kitchenaid dishwasher that used chlorine in every load and also a garbage disposal.  They had only one pump out in that whole time and it was only done when my dad extended the field lines just as a precaution while the yard was already dug up.  The septic men down there always said people who have the most problems don't have enough "water" going into the systems to keep them going...referring to several neighbors who drained their washers elsewhere and not in the tanks.  Rid-X helped I'm sure.  Thankfully, they got city sewer in 1992 so it's a non-issue now anyway. Nearly every one of their neighbors had problems but we were lucky.

Post# 1160638 , Reply# 16   9/29/2022 at 08:54 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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Tolivac:  I have drained my washer into the septic tank with no problems.Same with a disposer.Been doing this for over 20Yrs-with only 3 pumpouts.
My system has had zero pump-outs in 18 years 5 months (including the original builder-seller's 9 months of occupancy).  There is no garbage disposer so perhaps that's the trick?

Post# 1160639 , Reply# 17   9/29/2022 at 09:01 by qsd-dan (West)        

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"The septic men down there always said people who have the most problems don't have enough "water" going into the systems to keep them going."

About 12 years ago I read a post from a guy who worked in the wastewater industry and he commented that low flow toilets are notorious for plugging up septic fields. He said they also cause the need to flush out sewers more often in residential areas, which requires a ton of water. This statement was made before the implementation of 1.28 gallon flush toilets. I'm sure front load washers cause an even bigger impact.

Post# 1160640 , Reply# 18   9/29/2022 at 10:36 by appnut (TX)        

This post has been removed by the member who posted it.

Post# 1160642 , Reply# 19   9/29/2022 at 11:55 by appnut (TX)        

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When I began replacing my toilets in 2019, I disovered it was best to hold down the flush handle until the tank was completely emptied for all flushes. This action surpasses what the flush mechanism design intended to limmit.

Post# 1160645 , Reply# 20   9/29/2022 at 12:18 by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

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“This action surpasses what the flush mechanism design intended to limit.”

The main reason people complain about the new low water use toilets is because they don’t flush solids completely and require a second flush.

Well as Bob outlined above, its NOT the toilets fault, its USER error due to not familiarizing themselves with the proper use of these “new fangled” toilets.

Ya need to hold the handle DOWN until the brown has gone down! If you do this the 1.6 gpf toilets flush just as effectively and fully as the old fashioned 3.5 gpf toilets.

We had both of our toilets replaced with 1.6 gpf toilets 12 years ago and have never had any problems with them flushing fully and completely.


Post# 1160771 , Reply# 21   10/1/2022 at 08:31 by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        

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I'm a firm believer in ammonia & borax for safe laundry odor removal. Bleach is oftentimes too harsh. Just rewash the load with the normal amount of detergent, and 1 cup of ammonia and/or 1/2 cup of borax.

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