After washing the colthes of whole family,the women found the clothes have strange odors

Why do clothes have strange odors after being washed and dried?

Many people mention that thick clothes taken out from closets, boxes, sealed bags and spare rooms always have a strange smell.Although some down jackets and wool coats have been washed and ironed, there is still a smell when you smell them carefully.Why do we live in a relatively dry environment and our clothes are obviously dry, but there is still a smell?

Today,we are going to unraveling the Mystery of the Science behind post-wash odors on clothes. If you have the same problem at this time, you can read this article to gain a further understanding of this kind of situation.

1. Clothes Left in Shade Develop Unpleasant Odors

During the rainy season, garments left to air-dry on the balcony or in a cool, damp room often struggle to dry completely. Paradoxically, the longer they linger in a moist state, the more pungent an unwelcome sour odor becomes apparent, almost as if the clothing has turned "musty."

Certain garments, such as those that have been exposed to rain, worn during outdoor activities like golf, or used for workouts, tend to develop unpleasant odors when left unattended for even a single day. These odors persist even after washing the clothes with stain removers, deodorants, or scented laundry detergents. The question remains: Why do these odors linger despite all efforts to remove them?

2. Residual sebum

Our skin is the largest organ of the human body. This organ secretes an oily waxy substance all the time, covering the surface of our skin to prevent moisture from leaking and causing skin cracks.

This sebum will adhere to our close-fitting clothing. Of course, sweat, hair, and proliferating bacteria will also adhere to the clothing. Among them, sebum and sweat constitute the main components of clothing dirt.

If this dirt is not removed during the cleaning process, the sebum on the clothes will be decomposed by attached bacteria and mold, causing odor.

For example, Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus bacteria react with sweat, skin flakes, and sebum to produce volatile organic compounds, which are the source of disgusting odors and stick to our clothes, making them smell.

Consequently, when laundering clothes, it's advisable to turn them inside out to ensure that the inner fabric surface is adequately exposed to moisture, making it more accessible for cleansing and preventing odor build-up.

3. The Secret World of Washing Machines

It may sound peculiar, but the very appliance designed to cleanse our clothes can also be a hiding place for dirt and other unsavory elements. The question is, why does the innocuous washing machine find itself embroiled in this hidden world of grime?

The interior of a washing machine provides the ideal environment for lurking issues. Its dark and often damp confines create a suitable habitat for mold and bacteria to thrive, particularly within the residual stains left behind after a laundry cycle. This, in turn, serves as a breeding ground for unpleasant odors. Corynebacterium and Staphylococcus aureus tend to dominate the filter and the bottom of the washing machine drum, efficiently breaking down the remnants of clothing stains.

When certain garments are placed inside the washing machine, the bacteria and mold already present within the machine can transfer to the clothing. Should these freshly laundered clothes not be promptly removed, they can begin to ferment within the drum, resulting in a sour and musty smell.

Clothing with higher sebum content becomes an even more attractive target for mold and bacteria, particularly during the summer months. Undergarments, in particular, with their accumulated sebum, become fertile breeding grounds for unwanted microbial activity within the washing machine. Coupled with the warm temperatures conducive to fermentation, clothes forgotten in the drum may develop unpleasant odors as the day progresses.

In winter, the extended intervals between clothing replacements, especially with thicker garments that are harder to clean and may undergo deformation, increase the accumulation of sebum. Regions like the collar, back, armpits, and groin tend to accumulate more sebum and sweat, leading to unpleasant odors upon wearing.

Cleaning thicker clothes in a drum washing machine can be challenging because the machine's power may not suffice for a thorough rinse. However, the use of specialized detergents or rinse aids can help eliminate as much sebum from the clothing as possible.

Additionally, some individuals have the habit of overloading the washing machine with an excessive amount of clothes, surpassing its capacity. This often results in certain items not being thoroughly cleaned. Therefore, it's crucial to be mindful of the washing machine's recommended clothing capacity when doing your laundry.

4. Washing with warm water

Some clothes have a "maximum washing temperature" set on the label to remind you not to wash the clothes above this temperature. Especially some silk, linen, and wool clothing should avoid washing in hot water.

The main reason is that low-temperature cleaning pays attention to maintaining the ingredients of these special clothes and protecting the clothes. However, low temperature also reduces the effect of the laundry detergent, especially the laundry detergent containing enzyme components, which cannot effectively remove sebum on the clothes.

Soak the clothes in warm water and then wash them at a temperature that does not exceed the maximum washing temperature of the clothes. The effect will be much better and the clothes will be less likely to smell after drying.

5. What are some good ways to dry clothes indoors or on cloudy days?

Clothes need good air circulation to take away moisture. If the air circulation is not smooth, the clothes will soon produce an odor in the environment of moisture + bacteria/fungi + sebum.

If you have enough space, hang your clothes separately instead of folding them or drying them close together.

In relatively humid places, if possible, you can prepare a dehumidifier in the room to help reduce indoor humidity.

For some heavier clothes or sheets, you can dry them and hang them up.

Some clothes that need to be ironed can be ironed before hanging and sterilized at high temperatures to disinfect any remaining bacteria on the clothes.

For some clothes that are still damp to the touch, it is best not to store them in a closet or in a sealed bag. If you do this, the smell will hit your nose as soon as you open the closet. It is best to air or dry the clothes that are still a little damp to the touch and make sure they are dry before storing them.


The post-wash odors in clothing can be attributed to a combination of many factors. Understanding these factors, allows us to take proactive measures to combat unpleasant odors and maintain fresh, clean clothes.

To address these concerns effectively, it's important to adopt practices that promote proper drying. Especially in humid conditions, and regular cleaning of washing machine components. The use of specialized laundry detergents and rinse aids can also help in breaking down sebum and preventing the growth of bacteria and mold.
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