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What do I do if I leave my clothes in the washer overnight?

We’ve all done it. You start a load of laundry and realize that you’ve left wet clothes in the washer overnight. So, what do you do? Restart the cycle or throw an extra few dryer sheets in with the batch while they are drying to attempt to save the effort?

leave my clothes in the washer overnight

What do I do if I leave my clothes in the washer overnight?

If you leave your clothes in the washer overnight, the truth is you might start to smell something that resembles mildew. To avoid this, remove your clothes from the washer as soon as the cycle is finished and hang them up to dry or put them in your dryer.

Pro tip: If you can’t remove your clothes right away, try running the washer on the spin cycle for a few minutes to remove excess water. Then, open the washer door and let air circulate to help prevent wrinkles and mildew.

Do I have to rewash my load if I left wet clothes in my washer overnight?

If you leave wet clothes in your washer for more than 12 hours, bacteria can start to grow, which can cause mildew or mold. If this happens, you’ll need to rewash your clothes using a new wash cycle. But if you are under 8, you actually don’t have to worry about another cycle. The damp clothes will be fine to continue onto drying.

The in-between hours – 8 to 12 – should be left up to your discretion. If you smell an overwhelming amount of mildew or musty odors coming from your wet laundry, then it is always safe to wash the clothes again.

To avoid leaving wet clothes in your washer overnight, set a timer on your phone or use a laundry timer to remind you when your load is done. That way, you can remove your clean clothes right away and prevent them from sitting in the washer for too long.

mildew smell

How often should I clean my washing machine?

You should clean your washing machine about once a month to prevent mildew, mold, and bacteria from building up. A dirty washing machine will contribute to issues with your clothing. The easiest way to clean your machine is to run an empty cycle with hot water and a cup of white vinegar. The hot settings help get rid of detergent residue. After the cycle is finished, wipe down the inside of your washer with a cloth or sponge.

If you maintain your machine on a frequent basis, then you should be able to let wet clothes sit in the washer for longer. It’s all about having a clean environment to start. If you think your machine isn’t cleaning properly, be sure to consult a repair technician to avoid excess growth of bacteria.

Don’t forget the sniff test!

As a general rule of thumb, if your clothes have an unpleasant smell, it is probably best to rewash them. This goes for clothes that have been sitting in the washer overnight as well as clothes that you’ve worn and then stored in your hamper.

If you’re unsure whether or not your clothes need to be washed, give them a sniff test. If they smell clean, then they are probably fine to wear. But if they smell musty or like mildew, then it’s time to break out the detergent and run another cycle.

Leaving wet clothes in the washer overnight is not ideal, but it happens to everyone. Use your best judgment and these cleaning tips to determine whether or not your clothes need to be rewashed. And, always remember to clean your washing machine regularly to prevent bacteria from building up. It will also extend the life of your machine.

Does Martha Stewart think it’s a good idea to leave damp clothes in the washer?

Martha Stewart was interviewed about this laundry issue regarding damp clothing and believes that it’s ok to leave forgotten wash as is – even if you have a full load. Here’s what she had to say about a forgotten laundry routine filled with stale clothes, “I would say that was perfectly alright. I mean, don’t leave it for a long time. Don’t leave it for a week. If you get up in the morning and throw it in the dryer, it should probably be okay.”

A week seems like a long period of time. Just consider what all that excess moisture could do to your loads of laundry! If you have a busy schedule, it’s best to set reminders to ensure you give yourself plenty of time to combat your whole load – especially if you use shared laundry spaces in a public place. Wet clothing should always be addressed as soon as possible. It’s the best way to deal with damp laundry and to avoid a pungent musty odor from appearing.

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