Sometimes it feels as though life just simply doesn’t have enough hours in the day, especially now with the pressure of being productive all the time.
You can sometimes find the time to get a load of laundry done and then find yourself distracted by something completely different as soon as you turn the washing machine on.
Then maybe you go out to the shops and the washing machine finishes its cycle and your wet clothes are left sitting in the drum.
Is this OK to do?
You can leave your wet clothes in the washing machine for quite a while before taking them out to dry them whichever way you please. If you have a habit of overfilling your machine, though, the time that you can leave the clothes sitting will be lower. There is no danger of lasting damage to your clothes or the washing machine itself though.
In general it’s OK to leave your clothes in the washing machine after the cycle has finished.
If you have a washer dryer combo then this is never an issue as you can set it to dry immediately after the washing cycle has finished.
In this piece we’ll look at why your clothes would smell damp after a wash cycle, why you shouldn’t leave them for too long and how to dry them best once they’re clean.
Why Clothes Smell of Damp After Washing
If you’re easily distracted from housework and you come back to the washing machine to find that your clothes have been sitting wet for a while, you might notice a damp smell.
This comes from the moisture from the wash being trapped in the clothing.
A pile of clothes will have a lot of little gaps which can hold pockets of water.
If the moisture has no way to escape, which is pretty likely in a stationary washing machine drum, then this can start to lead to mildew, which smells pretty bad.
While it’s unlikely that mildew will have grown in that time, the beginnings of it are a damp smell that comes from wet clothes.
This smell will be a lot more noticeable if you’re in the habit of filling the machine.
If the washing machine is too full, not only will it not be able to clean your clothes as well, it will also be harder for moisture to escape once it’s been left sitting.
Another thing that will generally make the smell worse is sweaty clothes. If you do a lot of exercise or have a job that requires lots of physical labour then chances are you’ll be washing a lot of sweat covered clothes.
Even after washing, these can make the drum of the machine smell, which will only be worse if the clothes have been left sitting for a while.
Why You Shouldn’t Leave Your Clothes Too Long
As I mentioned briefly in the previous section, leaving damp clothes sitting in a washing machine drum can lead to mildew and other moulds.
If the clothes are left for an hour or two, then this isn’t such an issue as this isn’t really long enough for these things to develop much, unless the machine has been overfilled.
If left overnight, though, this can be a bit more severe.
If mould or even just a smell has developed, this is unlikely to disappear after drying, so it could warrant another round of washing.
I’ve come to my washing machine having forgotten about the clothes and just re-run the cycle, which usually solves any smell problem.
If the problem is just a slight damp smell, then it can be helpful to run a quick spin and drain cycle, which will get rid of the bulk of the moisture and only lasts about 10 minutes.
The best thing you can do, though, to keep your clothes smelling as fresh as possible is to take them out of the washer as soon as they’re done and start the drying process.
Best Ways to Dry Your Clothes After Washing
There are a lot of different ways to dry your clothes after they’ve been washed, each with its own benefits.
A washer and dryer combo will eliminate any danger of leaving your wet clothes sitting about.
Which way you happen to dry your clothes will usually depend on space and how eco friendly you tend to be.
You can opt to air dry your clothes, which is great for the environment as it uses no water and no energy.
As well as the green benefits, this ends up saving you money as you no longer have to use power to run an appliance to dry your clothes.
If you have the luxury of an outdoor space which gets good sunlight, you can set up a washing line and let nature do the drying for you.
Even without an outside space, you can sometimes set up lines indoors as well as clothes horses, but you have to make sure that the room you plan to do it in has good ventilation.
The drawbacks to this method are that it generally takes a lot longer and it (if you do it outside) is weather dependent.
If you leave your clothes drying outside, forget about them and come back after a heavy rain, then they’ll be wetter than they were before you started!
The other method, of course, is using a tumble dryer.
This is basically the norm for people who live in flats or apartments, where your own garden is just not something people have.
Tumble dryers are much quicker and can have a medium sized load of clothes dry in a couple of hours.
Of course, with the convenience comes a few caveats.
Tumble dryers tend to use quite a bit of energy, especially the older models that a lot of housing will be equipped with by default.
This means that you’ll be paying more each month in energy bills. Moreover, you may need to shell out for repairs or even a replacement down the line.
Though if you live in a very wet climate, then these are pretty much the way to go.
So, you can leave your clothes in the washing machine without any disastrous effects, just be sure you do take them out at some point!
If you do notice any smells when you come to unload the machine, then another cycle or quick spin and drain will usually solve the issue and you can carry on with your day.
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