There are fewer things as annoying as spending half a day doing laundry, only to realize that your laundry stinks after washing. And this, despite using expensive fabric softener meant to leave your laundry with a delightful scent of a blossoming meadow. Before you start thinking you’re being ripped off by a detergent brand, there are other reasons your laundry stinks after washing.
To most Canadians, laundry is a tedious rinse-&-repeat cycle that sprawls over nearly all domestic calendars. And theirs is a reason it’s known as ‘laundry day’ rather than ‘laundry hour.’ Here is what makes it worse; spending an entire day or night washing clothes, only to have them come out with that dreaded funky smell.
You already know what we are talking about – that lingering foul odor on clean laundry. But why does laundry stinks after washing?
1. Body soils are responsible for 70% of laundry dirt
It’s a fact that might be hard to come into terms with given that body soils are invisible to the human eye, but it’s true all the same. These soils are what messes up your laundry and make you look as though you had nothing better to do with your time.
Studies show that on a typical day, even without doing any physical activities and tedious work, humans produce 10 grams of salt, 1 liter of sweat, 40 grams of sebum (it’s the same, and 10 grams of skin cells.)
You might be tempted to think these are small figures. But if you break those down further, 10g of skin cells is equivalent to 2 billion cells produced in a single day. The 40g of sebum is enough amounts to cause severe acne on someone’s skin. That’s according to Mary Begovic, a leading scientist currently working with Proctor & Gamble Fabric Care. This scientist claims that these are the main reasons why your laundry stinks after washing.
All this stuff we’ve mentioned is transferred from your body to your clothes, sheets, towels, and other fabrics. You’ll need a laundry detergent that’s strong enough to eliminate that entire gunk. Where the detergent does an excellent job at getting rid of the gunk, it will continue to accumulate within and around the fibers of your fabrics.
The most challenging to remove is the sebum that causes acne. According to scientist Mary Begovic, sebum is hard fat and has a high melting point. This makes it sticky and hard to remove as it accumulates over time.
As if sebum wasn’t enough trouble by itself, it goes ahead to attract more soils that cause odors to fabrics. This gunk creeps in stealthily without your knowledge, and before you know it, they become hardcore, nearly impossible to remove. The process starts with the accumulation of sebum, which then attracts more soils.
A strong and effective detergent is your best shot at stopping these soils before they can become a total nightmare. If not removed, the next step is for the sebum and other soils to merge and form volatile malodorous compounds. The compounds formed are first cousins to the sebum that causes meat to rot (cadaverine) and cheese to stink (isovaleric acid). Now, do you know why your laundry stinks after washing?
2. Excessive moisture
In the context of households, most odors and smells allude to biological processes. Bill Carroll, a chemistry professor at Indian University Bloomington, says that moisture also explains why your laundry stinks after washing. That’s what people refer to as mildew or mold, which grows out of spores or fungus.
Carroll notes that fungi are always in the air that surrounds us. They love moist environments, and so when they get damp fabrics, they’ll have a field day. The fungi also thrive in darkness. If you like drying your clothes in your basement, that could explain why your laundry stinks after washing.
A New York Times reporter recently sent Johnson’s team random bundles of vintage clothing to be investigated for odors. The team identified 18 odors in the pile of clothes. Out of those, 12 came from body soils. The remaining odors came from perfumes, gasoline, food, car exhausts, and dry-cleaning solvents.
With time, the essential components’ molecules disintegrate and dissolve into the fabrics, producing the weird smell that’s hard to remove. That’s how the scents that distinguish vintage clothing are formed. The odors are so strong that even the stores where the vintage clothes are stored will take up the same smell.
4. Your washer
It might sound ironic and laughable that your washer is responsible for the icky odor that follows your clothes, but it’s the reality. When you lump together pairs of fabrics with varying smells, they combine their body oil, odor, and numerous disgusting detritus. These odors are then absorbed into the machine gaskets. Gooey fabric softener can be another odor source, especially if you don’t rinse your clothes to remove the residues.
Does your laundry stinks after washing?
Here are tips to ensure your laundry doesn’t stink after washing.
Wash with hot water: Warm or hot water will melt the disgusting sebum giving you an easy time removing different body soils. Remember, not all clothes can be washed using warm or hot water.
Use effective detergent: The best detergent is one that contains polymers as one of the ingredients. It attracts soils and prevents them from sticking to your fabrics. Be sure to choose detergent depending on your cloth types.
Fancy fragrances can be a trap: Strong smelling fragrances carry with them odors that manifest as the perfume’s sweet aromatic smell disappears. So, choose your fragrance wisely.
Ensure your laundry is well-dried: Don’t hang your clothes in dark areas or leave them to sit in your gym bag while damp. Within 12 hours, mold will have accumulated on them.
Clean your washer: Even the washer itself needs cleaning regularly. Use white vinegar and a 50-50 mix of water to run a cycle of cleaning. Use a sponge to wash both the open and hidden ones where bacteria are likely to accumulate.
Laundry services could be helpful if your laundry stinks after washing.
You now know why your laundry stinks after washing.