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My cotton t-shirts smell bad coming out of the dryer?

BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
edited November 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
And just my cotton t-shirts. Pants are fine, underwear is fine, dress shirts are fine, polo shirts are fine. My white t-shirts (used frequently for undershirts) and my other colored t-shirts smell like...I don't even know. I mainly don't know why the hell we can't transmit smells over the internet yet, but in addition, I can't describe the smell. Musty, maybe? It's not like poo or BO or anything, but it's pretty harsh. This has happened over a couple of wash cycles now. I've made sure to be prompt with taking them from the washer and putting them into the dryer, and removing them from the dryer. I've added vinegar to the wash cycle, and tried both cold and hot water.

I use dryer sheets, and they smell fine coming out of the washer, so I would suppose something is happening to them in the dryer, but it isn't happening to my other clothes.

Anybody have a similar experience? I have tried to eliminate the commonly Googled suggested causes (letting them sit in the washer too long, for example)

BlochWave on

Posts

  • Dread Pirate ArbuthnotDread Pirate Arbuthnot OMG WRIGGLY T O X O P L A S M O S I SRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Are you cleaning your lint filter?

    Dread Pirate Arbuthnot on
  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Are you letting the shirts sit in the washer for a long time before you move the over to the dryer? You've only got so much time before the start to get mildew.

    MushroomStick on
  • starmanbrandstarmanbrand Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Do you sweat a lot? Maybe when you sweat them out and toss them in a hamper where they sit for a while, they get a little funk that doesnt wash out.

    starmanbrand on
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  • BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I clean the lint filter between uses

    It occurs to me I do live with a roommate, and he hasn't been complaining. Maybe it's my shirts? All...my shirts? This is kinda weird...and no it's not like a weak smell that a normal person wouldn't notice, they're practically unwearable. I've been classing it up polo shirt style recently

    The sweat is worth a thought, but the smell is pretty divorced from BO-ish. If I had to guess, and I really am guessing, I'd say it's more mildew related than body related.


    Edit: So I suppose I should gather up all my shirts and give it another shot. Any suggestions? I don't typically separate colored and white stuff. I guess I could try bleaching the white stuff?

    BlochWave on
  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2010
    If they are white, try adding bleach?

    ceres on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    How old are these shirts? Clothes do wear out, undershirts especially, simply from accumulated sweat, skin, and deodorant film. I have had to ditch some favorite t-shirts that I've had for a long time simply due to the fact that the pits smelled. Like you say, not like BO or stench, just "off." Personally, I would call it "baked-in BO" since it hits the dryer.

    But yes, try washing the stinky shirts by themselves, and add more soap than usual. Perhaps let them soak in soap a bit before washing them, just in a tub or large rubbermaid.

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  • FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Throw in a brand new shirt with your wash next time and see if it also contracts the smell.

    Have you recently changed laundry soap?

    Edit: Also, when doing your next load, take one of the shirts you know will get smelly after the dryer and hang it to dry instead. You need to isolate the problem and determine if the shirts themselves just stink, the wash is doing it, or the dryer is doing it.

    Figgy on
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  • BlochWaveBlochWave Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    That's good advice on the experimentation, I'll make sure to do that.
    How old are these shirts?

    The youngest one is probably around 3 years old, the oldest....around 7... O_O

    BlochWave on
  • FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    BlochWave wrote: »
    That's good advice on the experimentation, I'll make sure to do that.
    How old are these shirts?

    The youngest one is probably around 3 years old, the oldest....around 7... O_O

    You may also be scorching them in the dryer. They could be so old that the cotton is getting singed ever so slightly, and they're smelling burnt. Try drying on a lower setting and seeing if it still happens.

    Figgy on
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  • MushroomStickMushroomStick Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Also, try perfume/dye free detergents. I noticed that if I washed a shirt and then it sat in a drawer/closet for long enough, all the chemicals that made it "spring time fresh" would rot or something and smell like ass.

    MushroomStick on
  • starmanbrandstarmanbrand Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    3 years old for an undershirt?! Jesus, man. Toss 'em all and get a new set. Kirkland brand if you have access to costco or someone that does.

    starmanbrand on
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  • RuckusRuckus Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    3 years old for an undershirt?! Jesus, man. Toss 'em all and get a new set. Kirkland brand if you have access to costco or someone that does.

    Man I got plenty of undershirts that are that old, there aint nothin wrong with them.

    Ruckus on
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  • ZeonZeon Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Are you letting the shirts sit in the washer for a long time before you move the over to the dryer? You've only got so much time before the start to get mildew.

    This, so much. I find if you leave stuff in the washer for any more than about 30-45 minutes, they start to get a mildew smell. My grandmother leaves her stuff in all day while she goes out and does shopping and what not, and all the towels at her place smell like mold. My wet towels i leave in my hamper smell musty if i end up having to reuse them.

    If it smells like mildew, this is probably it. But if youre sure thats not it, there might be mold growing in your washing machine and its mixing into the loads. Try running just bleach through the machine, empty, on the hottest cycle you can.

    *edit* some people cant smell the mildew smell so maybe thats why your roommate isnt complaining. My grandmother for instance swears she cant smell it. I can though, and my mom can too. I can also smell the dye in black denim though (smells sharp and bitter). Drives me nuts.

    Zeon on
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  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2010
    You might want to stop suggesting he's letting them sit too long in the washer when he clearly states in the OP that he's not doing that.

    Druhim on
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  • ZeonZeon Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Druhim wrote: »
    You might want to stop suggesting he's letting them sit too long in the washer when he clearly states in the OP that he's not doing that.

    He said he was trying to be prompt, not that hes doing it immediately. Thats why i said it can happen in less than 45 minutes.

    Zeon on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    IMO, this is what happens to white undershirts when you don't bleach them. I've had undershirts from 10 years ago that still smell fine and look great. Follow the washing instructions and pretty much always wash white clothes separate, don't use "cold wash" shit.

    bowen on
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  • EggyToastEggyToast Jersey CityRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    BlochWave wrote: »
    That's good advice on the experimentation, I'll make sure to do that.
    How old are these shirts?

    The youngest one is probably around 3 years old, the oldest....around 7... O_O

    Do the 7 year old ones smell worse than the 3 year old ones?

    And ultimately, the "I need these to not smell by tomorrow" solution is to buy new undershirts; they are pretty cheap.

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  • DisrupterDisrupter Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    ut if youre sure thats not it, there might be mold growing in your washing machine and its mixing into the loads.

    This happened to me and my wife when we bought our new house. Everything smelled gross and we couldnt figure out why. First we thought we were letting or clothes sit too long. Then we thought maybe we were singing them a bit (it smelled a BIT like burnt). But she investigated and found a ton of mold growing in the washer. She cleaned it out and it is fine now.

    Got to admit, not sure WHERE it was growing in the washer, or how she cleaned it, but it worked.

    Disrupter on
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  • HeirHeir Ausitn, TXRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    bowen wrote: »
    IMO, this is what happens to white undershirts when you don't bleach them. I've had undershirts from 10 years ago that still smell fine and look great. Follow the washing instructions and pretty much always wash white clothes separate, don't use "cold wash" shit.

    This. It makes a world of difference.

    Heir on
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  • FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Washing in cold would have absolutely nothing to do with it. The benefit to using hot water is that your powdered detergent will disolve easier.

    You can wash your laundry in cold water--and you should. There is no reason to waste hot water like that on simple everyday laundry.

    Figgy on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Figgy wrote: »
    Washing in cold would have absolutely nothing to do with it. The benefit to using hot water is that your powdered detergent will disolve easier.

    You can wash your laundry in cold water--and you should. There is no reason to waste hot water like that on simple everyday laundry.

    Unfortunately the funk from BO wouldn't be removed adequately with cold water. This is especially true with cold water, but, generally things with protein in them aren't easily removed in cold water. This is the same reason why when you do dishes you don't use cold water for them -- although not really in this case. Dirt and soil? Yeah it's fine to use cold water.

    But it is an undershirt and they generally the the brunt of sweat. That's also probably why his other clothes don't stink. Urea and lactate are considerably more difficult to remove from clothes (especially in heavy sweaters -- like myself actually) with cold water. My whites used to have yellow stains in the pits whenever I'd use cold water.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • FiggyFiggy Fighter of the night man Champion of the sunRegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Well, to each his own I suppose. My washer is always set to cold wash, cold rinse. I have never had any problems with staining or smells.

    I also use a regular liquid laundry soap, not the special cold water variety.

    Figgy on
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  • LunysgwenLunysgwen Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    I had some PT shirts from Aircrew school a couple of years back that would never smell 'fresh' (Like detergent.) and I just ended up throwing them out. It's happened after using them for so long (Three months of rolling in the dirt and sweating/bleeding in them.) just wears them out and it just got to the point where I couldn't make them smell good again. Just buy new shirts and save yourself the trouble and wasted detergent, plus new shirts won't be stretched all to hell.

    Lunysgwen on
  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Figgy wrote: »
    Well, to each his own I suppose. My washer is always set to cold wash, cold rinse. I have never had any problems with staining or smells.

    I also use a regular liquid laundry soap, not the special cold water variety.

    Yeah you don't need cold water detergent for cold water washing. Waste of money!

    Being a... vivacious sweater could be his ultimate problem where he'll have to replace shirts ever year or so. There is just some low quality shirts you can't save from the funk.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • starmanbrandstarmanbrand Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Off topic quick question. For you guys that have like. 10 year old undershirts...How old is your average piece of underwear?

    starmanbrand on
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  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    3-5, after that the elastic is usually shot. Just don't wipe your ass with them.

    bowen on
    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • Reverend_ChaosReverend_Chaos Suit Up! Spokane WARegistered User regular
    edited November 2010
    Disrupter wrote: »
    if youre sure thats not it, there might be mold growing in your washing machine and its mixing into the loads.

    This happened to me and my wife when we bought our new house. Everything smelled gross and we couldnt figure out why. First we thought we were letting or clothes sit too long. Then we thought maybe we were singing them a bit (it smelled a BIT like burnt). But she investigated and found a ton of mold growing in the washer. She cleaned it out and it is fine now.

    I had this problem, my basement is not set up originally for a washer and dryer, so my washer drains into a utility sink, so the water has to travel up a rubber hose about 4 feet to dump the water into the sink. Some small ammount of water never makes it out of the washer then, and my shirts started to smell funky. My dryer broke and I got a new pair, and haven't had a problems since. About once a month, I do a load of all whites, where I pour vinegar in with the bleach and soap to help keep anything from taking root in my new washer.

    Also, if you use too much soap, it's hard to rinse out, and it leaves a soapy residue which causes a funky smell. Check your laundry soap, you may be using too much.

    Reverend_Chaos on
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  • illiricaillirica Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    One additional thing I didn't see suggested here is to try cleaning the lint out of your dryer hose. Cleaning out the lint screen is great, but some lint gets by and over time stocks up in the hose bit, and you should clean that out at least yearly.
    Lint tends to build up in 3 areas: inside the lint trap, inside the flexible duct hose behind the dryer, and inside the in-wall duct work leading to the outside vent flap. The first step is to clean the lint trap after every load of laundry. How do you clean the lint trap? You pull out the lint trap and scrape out the lint with your fingers or bang it over the trash can to clear it out, then replace it. When you pull out the lint trap, look around inside the dryer in the pocket where it sat -- if you see more loose lint there, take it out (you can use your hand, a brush, or your vacuum). By doing this simple cleaning regularly, you will avoid 90% of dryer vent problems. Each year (or sooner if you suspect a problem) you should unplug your dryer and pull it out from the wall, then disconnect the exhaust tube from the dryer and the wall and clean it out with a vacuum. That cleans out area #2. Area #3 is the in-wall ductwork that leads to the outside. Clean out this area using a vacuum or blower along with a dryer brush or auger (see below), put everything back together and in place, and you're done.
    - from here.

    I would try that and see if it helps the situation at all.

    illirica on
  • The CatThe Cat Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited November 2010
    good points about cleaning the hose and such. Run an empty load, but put like a litre of plain vinegar and a packet of baking soda in the machine, and run an extra rinse cycle after, for starters. You may not need to get tricky with pipe cleaners after that.

    Another thing you might try is a post-wash rinse like Canesten, if you can get it. Dettol do a similar product, but those are the only two I've seen around here. The brands might be different where you are, but it will be in the laundry aisle with the washing powder somewhere. It'll kill a bunch of stuff, just use as you would fabric softener.

    The Cat on
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  • CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited November 2010
    You say they smell fine out of the washer but are bad coming out of the dryer? My friends had a similar issue. Check the seals around the door on your dryer. They eventually found that the seals had built up some kind of disgusting smell. Wiping them out with disinfectant got rid of that.

    Cryogen on
  • beenerbeener Registered User new member
    I know this is an old thread but I have a similar issue. I don’t leave clothes in the washer for any length of time, they all seem dry from the dryer. The only clothes that carry a mildew type smell are my husbands carhartt shirts that seem to be a thicker cotton than a typical tshirt. Underwear, pants, socks, shorts all other shirts, towels, blankets and sheets smell fine. So do his other clothes. Any ideas?

  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    whenever I get a batch of clothes that smell a bit musty, I just double up on the dryer sheets and send them through again. Never had it fail yet!

  • I ZimbraI Zimbra Worst song, played on ugliest guitar Registered User regular
    beener wrote: »
    I know this is an old thread but I have a similar issue. I don’t leave clothes in the washer for any length of time, they all seem dry from the dryer. The only clothes that carry a mildew type smell are my husbands carhartt shirts that seem to be a thicker cotton than a typical tshirt. Underwear, pants, socks, shorts all other shirts, towels, blankets and sheets smell fine. So do his other clothes. Any ideas?

    Lysol makes a non-bleach laundry sanitizer, try washing them with that and then a double dry on high heat. That's worked well for me in the past.

    If you haven't done it recently running a load of washing machine cleaner through your machine might help with any little pockets of mildew in there that are transferring to your clothes.

  • RiboflavinRiboflavin Registered User regular
    Not sure if this is helpful but I'll speak from personal experience. We had an issue where the clothes had a slight mildew smell coming from the washer but would be mostly fine coming from the dryer with a dryer sheet. This went on for about a year. For reference, we have a front load washer with a little drawer that slides forward you put liquid detergent into.

    For some reason my wife decides to pull the detergent drawer all the way out. There was a slimy gross disgusting mold/mildew patch underneath where the tray sat. I have no idea how often we'd washed clothes with what amounted to a mildew filter. (Fill tray with detergent, water goes through tray to disgusting mildew blob, then straight into the clothes.)

    She cleaned it and things are nice now. I would not rule out semi sentient amorphous mildew blob hiding under or in some tray or filter.

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  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    Riboflavin wrote: »
    Not sure if this is helpful but I'll speak from personal experience. We had an issue where the clothes had a slight mildew smell coming from the washer but would be mostly fine coming from the dryer with a dryer sheet. This went on for about a year. For reference, we have a front load washer with a little drawer that slides forward you put liquid detergent into.

    For some reason my wife decides to pull the detergent drawer all the way out. There was a slimy gross disgusting mold/mildew patch underneath where the tray sat. I have no idea how often we'd washed clothes with what amounted to a mildew filter. (Fill tray with detergent, water goes through tray to disgusting mildew blob, then straight into the clothes.)

    She cleaned it and things are nice now. I would not rule out semi sentient amorphous mildew blob hiding under or in some tray or filter.

    Front loading washers also have a small drain in the front gasket/seal that will clog with lint or hair. It leaves an ever present puddle that can't drain and will mildew/mold. They usually advise leaving the washer door vented slightly when not in use on older models. I believe newer models vent automatically so the drum and gasket can dry.

  • DocDoc Registered User, ClubPA regular
    You can run a load of towels with a half a cup of vinegar instead of detergent. That will help to kill/clean mildew and other smelly buildup.

  • crispycritters2crispycritters2 Registered User new member
    I have a front loading washing machine which I love. It was the first front loader that I have ever had, and I wondered why my husband's T-shirts would smell weird. I would describe the smell as old wood. Similar to what an old antique dresser would smell like. The smell was only in the white cotton T-shirts, not his white socks or briefs. I learned that I had to pull the rubber gasket lip back in the front of the washer and dry the inside with an old washcloth. That helped. Then my sister told me about a product to use that will clean the inside of the washer whenever you need it. It is called "affresh". Affresh states on the back of the box, "Affresh cleaners are designed to penetrate, dissolve and remove odor-causing residue throughout the entire wash cycle." This REALLY helped kill the odor. I'm supposed to use bleach sparingly due to our septic tank situation, but sometimes THAT and and really hot water are the only things that get the smell out of the T-shirts. But, then after a few washes again... the smell is back. I know it's not my dryer, and I regularly pull and clean out the detergent, softener and bleach inserts in the top of the washing machine. So, I hope this bit about "affresh", might help someone else. P.S. I have also tried using "shout" on the underarms of the T-shirts as a pre-treatment, and let that sit for 30 mins. or so, and that also helps with the smell too.

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