Washing machine: How long can you leave wet or damp clothes in the washing machine?

WE’RE all guilty of leaving our wet washing in the machine overnight after forgetting to stick the load in the dryer. But how long can you leave wet or damp clothes in the washing machine?

No one wants to wear smelly, damp clothes but laundry is time consuming when done properly. We all know we shouldn’t leave damp clothes in the washing machine for too long, but sometimes the inevitable happens. How many times have you put a load in the washing machine before bed, only to wake up in a panic before work because you forgot to dry your clothes? We’ve all been there. But how long can you leave clean clothes in the washing machine before they start to smell of damp?



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Why do clothes smell damp after washing?

When there is excess moisture trapped in clothing, they might start to smell of damp.

The smell is a sign of mildew, a type of white fungus that is like similar to mold.

If you leave your clothes wet for long enough with no way for the moisture to escape, you will have to deal with stains and rotten fabric as well as the smell.

The same can happen if you let your clothes sit in a pile after getting caught in the rain or a hardcore workout.

How long can you leave wet or damp clothes in the washing machine?

The general consensus is to dry your clothes as soon as you remember you’ve left them in the machine – the sooner the better.

An expert on the topic, Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science’s lead home economist Lucinda Ottusch says that clothes will start to smell between eight and 12 hours.

Going anything above this is not only risky, it’s bad for your clothes and the machine.

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How do you clean a washing machine?

Different machines will have different instruction manuals, so consult that first of all as certain products may damage your specific machine.

Remove the detergent drawer and soak it in hot water. Next take a toothbrush and scrub it to get rid of any mould. Let it dry before you put it back in place.

Add white vinegar to the drum and run the machine on a hot wash, as this will sanitise your machine.

Once the cycle is done, air-dry the inside of the drum by leaving the door open.

Do this once a month and you will be a changed person.

Other tips include always reading the detergent packaging.

We often think that the more product the better, but using too much detergent can create a buildup inside the machine- leading to mould and bacteria.

If your clothes are visibly dirty, muddy, or soiled, you need to rinse them before you put them in the machine.

Is letting your clothes air-dry good?

On a summers day, it’s easy to hang your clothes on the washing-line outside.

This is the environmentally friendly option, and much gentler on your garments than a tumble-dryer.

Another fun fact is that the sun’s UV rays can disinfect water on damp clothes, and help to remove stubborn stains. Incredible!

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