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Wondering how to make your laundry smell good? This is what you need to do

Smelly laundry is more common than you may think. Luckily, there are simple ways to prevent your clothes, sheets, and towels from coming out of the washer and dryer smelling funky. (And adding more detergent is not one of them — in fact, you may need to use less!) 

If you’re one of those people who run a whole cycle of laundry only to be puzzled by how cleaning something could make it smell bad, read on! We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you keep your laundry smelling fresh and clean.

Clean inside your washing machine

First and foremost, check the inside of your washing machine. Do you see built-up detergent or fabric softener inside? Chances are, if you haven’t cleaned it in a while (or at all), you will need to. Even if you can’t see the built-up grime, giving your washer a thorough cleaning is a good idea.

Many newer washers have a self-cleaning cycle. You can also set your washer to the hottest setting, add vinegar, and run it through a cycle to clean it. Repeat at least once a month; otherwise, that built-up detergent and softener will create mildew that leaves your laundry with a funny smell.

Cherayut Jankitrattanapokkin / EyeEm / Getty Images

It all starts with the washing cycle

Your path to fresh-smelling laundry begins in the washing machine.

Don’t overload the washer

This is a tough one for those of us who like to throw everything in the washer all at once and be done with it. Rethink that habit and break your pile down into smaller loads if you want your laundry to come out smelling nice and fresh. 

Don’t use excess detergent or fabric softener

Your instinct may be to add more detergent or fabric softener to get rid of odors on your clothing. However, too much really is too much in this case. Use only the amount appropriate for the number of items you’re putting in the washer, or the cleaning liquids could build up, causing an unwanted smell.

Use baking soda or vinegar instead of fabric softener

Fabric softener is meant to make your clothes smell nice, and it usually does the trick. However, if you’re cleaning clothes that stink, such as sweaty gym clothes, it’s better to use natural ingredients to eliminate the smell. A fabric softener will only add scent to the existing odor, while baking soda or vinegar will help to neutralize the sweat stench.

Choose the hot water setting on your washer

If the items you’re washing can withstand hot water, use the hottest water setting possible. The hotter the water, the less it will smell inside the washer, and the less chance of the smell seeping onto your clothing.

Leave the washer door open after a cycle

Once you’ve removed your laundry from the washer, don’t shut the door all the way. Leave it open for at least an hour after using it. This allows it to air out and prevents the washer from trapping a musty smell inside.

The drying cycle is important too

Once the washing cycle is complete, it’s on to the dryer.

Don’t wait to dry your laundry

If you’re wondering, “Why does my laundry smell bad after drying,” take heed of the next few steps. First, take your laundry out of the washer as soon as the cycle ends. Once it’s out of the washer, get it right into the dryer or hang it to dry — don’t wait any longer than 10 minutes. If you leave your damp clothes sitting all clumped together for a long time, they may begin to grow mildew.

Dry your laundry in a ventilated area

If you’re drying items that can’t go in the dryer, hang them in a well-ventilated area. Make sure it’s not too humid in the room, and set up a dehumidifier or open windows if you need to.

Take advantage of dryer sheets

If you’re putting your laundry in the dryer, use dryer sheets. Their whole purpose is to give your laundry a fresh scent. You can even slip dryer sheets in with your clothes or towels once they’re all dry and back in your drawers or on your shelves.

Dry completely before storing

Wait to fold and store your laundry until every item is entirely dry. Even a little dampness is a no-no and can lead to mildew. Bulkier items may take longer to dry, so be patient, and don’t fret if you need to keep something in the dryer for more than one cycle.

It’s unfortunate, but if you’re not paying attention your laundry could come out smelling pretty unpleasant. But laundry, stink no more! By implementing a few simple steps in your laundry routine, you’ll never have to worry about your clothes, towels, or bed sheets smelling foul again.

Being aware of detergent and fabric softener buildup, using hot water, being sure not to overload the washer, and adequately drying your laundry load are all super important for making your laundry smell clean. These simple fixes will get your laundry smelling fresh in no time.

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