Who doesn’t know this situation: The freshly-washed laundry comes directly from the machine, but instead of well-scented laundry, your clothes have an unattractive or maybe even a musty smell. A portion of fabric softener often helps to remedy this. However, such a fabric softener is not suitable for many types of laundry.
For this reason, in this article, we would love to give you some easy and practical ideas on how to make laundry smell good. But we won’t only tell you how to make your clothes smell good but will also give you an idea of why your laundry might be smelling bad in the first place.
So let’s dive right into those 16 proven ways of getting the best smelling laundry.
Why does my laundry smell bad after washing?
The bad smells of your laundry are often associated with bacteria and contaminants. The bad smell can either be caused by the washing machine, or it can come from the laundry itself.
The main reason for the bad smell in the washing machine can be the accumulation of bacteria. These often arise from residual water, hair, detergent residues, or similar.
If the smell comes from the washed clothes directly, this may indicate that the laundry was not washed optimally. For both reasons for bad smells in the laundry, you will find the perfect solution in this article. This way, you will always have good-smelling laundry. You can find tips and suggested solutions in the next paragraph. But first, let’s check why we should even want to know how to make laundry smell good in the first place.
Benefits of good smelling laundry without fabric softener
Bad-smelling laundry is not only uncomfortable when wearing or using the textiles, but can also be a sign of bacteria on your laundry. In the worst case, this can lead to malaise due to the smell or skin irritation. It is, therefore, all the more important to identify the source of the bad smell and eliminate it.
As soon as the laundry no longer smells pleasantly fresh, many simply use fabric softener. Depending on what triggers the bad smell of your laundry, fabric softeners may not help. On the contrary, using fabric softener can even make the smell worse in some cases.
In general, using fabric softener can have some disadvantages. For one thing, it’s usually not really good for the environment. This is because the chemical substances are very difficult to filter out of the water.
On the other hand, the fabric softener might cause some types of textiles to lose their shine and smoothness. If possible, keep particularly soft or sensitive fabrics such as cotton, fleece, or silk away from fabric softener.
Pleasant-smelling laundry also has the advantage that you feel much more comfortable in it, and that freshness lasts longer. This feeling of freshness is particularly important for freshly washed towels or bed linen.
How to make your laundry smell good – Common Mistakes
Wash laundry warm enough
Washing your laundry in hot temperatures is particularly important for laundry that contains a particularly large number of bacteria. This is especially the case with bed sheets, towels, underwear, and sportswear. Always try to wash this type of laundry at at least 60°C (130°F). This is the only way to ensure that all bacteria are destroyed during washing in hot water.
Let your laundry dry in fresh air
A very important tip so that your laundry always smells good is to let your laundry dry in the fresh air if possible. For example, in the garden or on the balcony. It is particularly easy for us in Spain since every house has a clothesline in the window on which the wet laundry can be hung to dry.
But don’t worry if you don’t have a way to hang your laundry outside. Just make sure there are good ventilation and lots of fresh air in the room where your laundry dries. Otherwise, the air can quickly become musty, especially in small spaces.
Hang laundry immediately after washing
Unfortunately, I am guilty of this point way too often. Although the washing cycle is over, I often leave the laundry in the machine for several hours before I finally find the time to hang it for drying. During this time, not only wrinkles can appear in clothing, but also unpleasant smells occur.
Therefore, try to hang up your laundry as soon as possible after the washing program is finished, so that bad smells don’t start.
Open the washing machine door after washing
Although you hung the laundry directly as described in the previous step, bacteria and, therefore, bad smells can still form inside the washing machine. The bacteria can spread perfectly due to the accumulated warm, humid air inside the washing machine. That’s why it’s important that the washing machine is properly ventilated.
So after taking the laundry out of the washing machine, leave the door open a little so that fresh air can get inside and the washing machine can dry sufficiently.
The whole thing is particularly efficient if you also open the compartment for the detergent to let it dry.
Use the washing machine regularly
Bad smells and bacteria can also accumulate if you don’t use the machine regularly. If it has been a while since it was last used, running the washing machine at hot temperatures can help to get rid of bacteria before you start the actual wash cycle.
Clean the washing machine regularly
Some think that cleaning the washing machine is not necessary since it somehow cleans itself while washing your laundry. However, that’s unfortunately not the case. Detergent residues, hair, bacteria, and skin particles from clothing can remain in the washing drum with every wash. Dirt particles and hair tend to collect in the rubber of the door seal.
Just as you regularly clean your shower, you should also clean your washing machine. Also, don’t forget to clean the drawer for the detergent, too. Because also here, dirt and bacteria can accumulate, which can cause unpleasant smells.
Use more detergent
Sometimes the pleasant smell of your laundry is simply missing because not enough detergent is used for washing. The amount of detergent required depends on the amount of laundry you wash, what type of textiles are washed and which program is used for washing. As a rule of thumb, you can use the markings on the detergent packaging or the washing machine to orient yourself.
So if you’re not happy with the smell of your laundry, just try using a little more detergent the next time you wash your laundry.
The washing cycle is too short
Who doesn’t know the following scenario? You want to leave, you are tired or stressed, and you are just waiting for the washing machine to be ready so that you can finally hang the laundry. In such a situation, many simply decide to use a short wash program. If you need clean laundry quickly, you can, of course, use the short wash cycle once in a while – that’s what it’s there for. But in the long run, you shouldn’t let this become a habit.
Because the short wash doesn’t remove all bacteria from your clothes. Especially with bed linen, towels, underwear, and sportswear, you should avoid the short wash if possible. The longer and hotter the laundry is washed, the more efficiently the bacteria in your clothes will be removed.
How to make clothes smell nice – Proven tricks
You are already following the tips above for washing your laundry, and it still does not smell fresh after washing? Then you will find a few tried and tested tricks below, which are guaranteed to make your laundry smell good.
Washing machine idle at 95 °C (135°F or as hot as you can)
Bad-smelling laundry can indicate bacteria inside your washing machine. So if your laundry smells unpleasant after washing, you should run your washing machine without laundry before the next wash cycle.
This is particularly efficient if you run them through the boiling water laundry program. At high temperatures of 90° – 95°C (32 – 35°F), the bacteria inside your washing machine will definitely be destroyed. To be on the safe side, you can also use a washing machine hygiene cleaner when idling (click here to check hygiene cleaner on Amazon). So your washing machine is guaranteed to be clean and free of bacteria.
Soak bad-smelling laundry in vinegar
Vinegar is an old trick to get rid of bad smells in your laundry. Especially sweaty clothes can smell wonderfully fresh again after washing. So soak your laundry in vinegar for 10-20 minutes before washing. Whether you use conventional vinegar or apple cider vinegar is entirely up to you.
Extra tip: It is best to switch on the laundry machine immediately after soaking. Otherwise, your entire house will smell like vinegar after a short time.
But be careful: on many pages, it is recommended to put the vinegar directly into the washing machine. You should avoid this if possible. The strong acidity of the vinegar attacks the seals and the metal in your washing machine and can significantly reduce the life span of the machine.
Use scented pearls or laundry perfume
Maybe you have already tried all our tricks, and your laundry just still doesn’t smell good enough for your taste. Maybe, in the end, the smell is simply caused by the quality of the water you are using. If you live in a big city like me, sometimes the water just has a bad smell. Lime can also reduce the fresh scent of your laundry. Or the scent of your regular detergent is just not strong enough for you.
Both the scented pearls (click here for more information and prices of the scented pearls) and the washing perfume (click here for more information and prices of the washing perfume) are added to the laundry. Unlike fabric softeners, they usually serve no other purpose than to add a nice smell to your laundry. Similar to the perfume that you use for your body.
You can choose between different brands and fragrances. So there is definitely the right fragrance for you.
Wash with baking soda
Another insider tip for washing that comes from grandma’s time: simply wash your laundry with baking soda. With such a wash cycle with the disinfecting soda, you can even catch two birds with one stone. Because the baking soda not only helps to disinfect your laundry and gives it a pleasant freshness, it also cleans your washing machine and helps to prevent malodorous bacteria.
Here’s how it works: Simply add a large tablespoon of soda powder (you can find this in the supermarket or online here) to your normal detergent during the next wash cycle. It becomes even more effective if you wash your laundry at at least 60°C (130°F or more).
Use hygiene detergent
If you have laundry that cannot be washed at 60°C or other high temperatures, so-called hygiene detergent can help. Fill this kind of detergent simply into the fabric softener compartment during washing. When washing your laundry, it then ensures particularly thorough cleaning of your clothes or disinfection of your laundry.
Depending on the brand and type, it differs in fragrance and effectiveness. As a rule, such a hygienic rinse works from 30°C (86°F) and helps to eliminate bacteria. Ideally, however, you should wash the laundry at at least 40°C (105°F) in order to achieve an optimal result. Click here to see more information and prices of the hygiene washer on Amazon.
Bad smelling laundry caused by dryer
Maybe your bad smelling laundry isn’t caused by the washing itself, but by your dryer. Just like your washing machine, you should also clean your dryer regularly.
Bad smells in the dryer can also arise from an incorrectly connected drain hose.
From liquid to powder
Another trick that works for many. Just try switching from liquid detergent to washing powder. Many people report that after switching to washing powder, they are more likely to be satisfied with the smell of their laundry.
The whole thing can also work the other way round. Of course, it always depends on your own preferences.
If nothing helps: citric acid
Have you tried everything, but your favorite shirt still smells bad? Then citric acid can help to get out even the worst grease smell from your clothes. Simply put your bad-smelling laundry in citric acid before washing or add citric acid to the laundry.
Warning: Due to its bleaching effect, you should only use citric acid in light/white laundry. You should also not use citric acid too often when washing because its acid can damage the metal and seals in your washing machine.