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Why Do My Clothes Smell After Washing Them?


Jan 10, 2019

why do my clothes smell after washing

Have you ever been folding laundry and suddenly realized your clothes don’t smell as fresh as they should? It can be quite frustrating. Let’s explore some of the reasons why your clothes might still smell even after washing them.

Common Causes of Smelly Laundry

There are several reasons why your clean laundry might still smell off. In order to identify the cause of smelly laundry, you first need to figure out the type of smell lingering on your clothing. Here are some of the most common laundry smells you’ll encounter:

Sour. You all know that “gym sock” smell we’re talking about — it’s caused by bacteria. Letting dirty clothes sit in the hamper too long before washing them, overloading your washing machine, and using cheap laundry detergents are all reasons why your clean laundry might stink. To eliminate the sour smell:

  • Be sure to wash sweaty garments right away to avoid bacterial overgrowth.
  • Don’t overload the washer — it prevents clothing from being cleaned properly.
  • Invest in quality laundry detergent that will adequately kill the bacteria.

Mildew. If you notice your clothes have a musty smell, you’re probably letting damp garments sit in the washing machine too long before drying them. The dark, damp washing machine provides the perfect environment for mold and mildew to grow on your clothing, resulting in that musty scent. Rewash any clothing that smells stale and make sure to transfer damp clothes to the dryer relatively soon after the washing cycle is complete.

Chlorine or chemicals. Clean laundry that smells like chlorine indicates that chemicals and minerals are present in your water supply. This is known as “hard water.” Hard water isn’t an easy fix since it has to do with the water supply delivered to your home, often from the town or county you live in. In order to remedy hard water, you’ll need to either install or replace an existing water filtration system.

What causes hard water?

Hard water is just water that contains high concentrations of chemicals and minerals. That sounds a bit scary, but rest assured that hard water is harmless, although it can be a bit of an inconvenience.

As water travels through soil and stone, it picks up minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. Water supplies are also treated to regulate the pH and eliminate any harmful bacteria or viruses, often with chemicals like chlorine. Therefore, water that comes out of your faucet may still contain small amounts of those chemicals and minerals.

One way that homeowners can combat some of the unpleasant side effects of hard water is by installing a water filtration system. Water filtration systems use a combination of water softeners and filters to ensure the water you and your family use if free of impurities.

If you’re experiencing hard water, it’s likely that your home lacks a water filtration system, or it could be that your current system needs to be replaced.

Signs of Poor Water Filtration

Smelly laundry isn’t the only byproduct of hard water. Other signs of poor water filtration include:

Sediment buildup on shower head and faucets. One visible sign of hard water is lime buildup on plumbing fixtures like shower heads and faucets. You may even notice the white, chalky residue building up on porcelain sinks over time. Bathroom cleaning products designed to remove lime can provide you with a temporary solution for hard water.

Low water pressure. Another sign of hard water is low water pressure. As mentioned, hard water can cause sediment buildup on shower heads and faucets. While cleaning products can help remove lime and mineral residue from the exterior of plumbing fixtures, sediment can also accumulate within the fixtures and pipes. These blockages slow water flow and can result in low water pressure.

Water is cloudy. Hard water means there a chemicals and minerals present in your water supply, so one way to tell if you have hard water is to fill up a glass and take a look. The particles in hard water often result in a cloudy, semi-opaque appearance.

Read more: Water Filtration Facts

Water smells like chlorine or has a metallic taste. Not only does hard water differ in appearance, but it also smells and tastes different than soft water. Chemicals like chlorine are used to clean your water supply before it’s delivered to your home’s plumbing system, and in high concentrations, can cause a chemical smell or taste. Minerals in your water can also result in a metallic taste.

Stains on porcelain toilet bowl. If you’ve noticed pink or reddish stains running down the sides of your toilet bowl, there’s a good chance your water has a high concentration of iron in it. Excessive consumption of iron can be unhealthy, so you’ll want to replace your water filtration system relatively quickly.

Skin irritation. For those with sensitive skin, hard water can even lead to skin irritation. Aside from the chemicals and minerals present that can dry out your skin, hard water prevents soap from fully dissolving, leaving residue on your skin that can cause irritation. If you or a family member has an existing skin condition like eczema or psoriasis, hard water can exacerbate symptoms and create additional discomfort.

How to Fix Hard Water in Your Home

Water quality matters. It’s important to your health, the health of your plumbing systems, and your quality of life.

The best way to remedy hard water is to install water filtration or replace your existing system. CroppMetcalfe’s team of licensed plumbers test your water’s pH and hardness levels and work with you to find a water filtration system that works — whether it’s an under-the-sink system, whole home water filtration, or water softeners.

Call us at 703-698-8855 or contacts us online to schedule a water quality test with the experts at CroppMetcalfe.


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