Sour smell on clothes- too much detergent or not enough?

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Posted 2/21/2009 by holliman in NSBR Board


PeaNut 117,926
November 2003
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Loc: Arizona

Posted: 2/21/2009 9:39:28 PM
I have the LG frontloaders which I HATE. We have experienced the exact opposite of all the good things I heard about this washer and dryer. Our clothes do not get clean at all and get extremely wrinkled. The wear and tear on our clothes is ridiculous- looks like I wash everything with a bunch of rocks. I can literally sometimes smell perfume/smoke/cleaning chemicals that were on dirty items I put in the washer, after they are cleaned and dryed. We have had the service people come out twice now and there is nothing wrong with them (which I find hard to believe). We use HE detergent, have tried every kind on the market and have tried the recommended amount all the way down to just 1 tablespoon. I have noticed a lot of times that our clothes smell sour- I immediately take them out of the washer when it finishes. Why am I getting this smell and how do I get rid of it??? I know mold is sometimes a problem with frontloaders- and we do not have that problem so that is not the issue. Thanks!

Mom to the Wild Things.

PeaNut 96,783
July 2003
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Loc: Altoona, Alabama

Posted: 2/21/2009 9:44:37 PM
I would run an entire jug of white vinegar through the washer. Then use about 2/3 of a cup of vinegar with each load. I use vinegar all the time, along with All Free & Clear detergent. I don't think that detergent is approved for your type washer though.

Ruby Slippered Pea

PeaNut 74,765
March 2003
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Posted: 2/21/2009 9:44:47 PM
I have front loaders too but only have the sour smell when I leave the clothes in the washing machine for more than two days.

To prevent that smell I suggest two things; 1 try switching back to regular (liquid) detergent. I've found that the HE is a bunch of hype. You can still use regular detergent if you use much less of it. I prefer Gain. Smells so fresh and it's not as expensive. 2. try adding 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle. That will really help the way your clothes come out smelling and it will help keep them soft. Vinegar is a good replacement for softner and is way cheaper!


PeaNut 54,671
November 2002
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Posted: 2/21/2009 9:45:06 PM
I have the LG front loaders, too, and don't have this problem. I use white vinegar in the fabric softener cup - have you tried that?


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Just Lizzy
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PeaNut 19,817
August 2001
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Posted: 2/21/2009 9:46:09 PM
I can't say what's causing it, but I use white vinegar as a fabric softener and my clothes always come out smelling fresh. Not vinegar-y at all.

DD scored a pair of 2nd hand Sears Kenmore Elite front loaders this week and I tried them out last night. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven! I have to have a pair of these when I get my house.

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PeaNut 151,660
June 2004
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Posted: 2/21/2009 9:47:38 PM
I agree with the vinegar... we don't have a front loader, but when we get a sour smell occasionally (from forgetting and leaving a load in the washer too long), we put vinegar in when we rewash the load and they come out smelling fine.

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PeaNut 117,926
November 2003
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Loc: Arizona

Posted: 2/21/2009 9:57:00 PM
Thanks for the replies! I have not tried the vinegar and am off to try it right now!


PeaNut 147,417
May 2004
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Loc: Wisconsin

Posted: 2/21/2009 10:31:52 PM
I have LG front loader too. I put about 2/3 cup of white vinager in each load. As far as wrinlking goes, the only time I have any problem is when I do not put the clothes in the washer one or two things at a time and just shove the whole basket in there. Won't do that again.


PeaNut 143,176
April 2004
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Posted: 2/21/2009 11:54:36 PM
Perhaps you have too many clothes in the washer at once. Maybe they don't have enough room to move around.

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PeaNut 406,102
January 2009
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Posted: 2/22/2009 7:49:41 AM
When I first got my frontload I would get a chemical smell in my clothes. I eventually realized I was using too much detergent. (If you already have that smell in your clothes you migh try a soak cycle first to help get the smell off). Eventually I found I loved the new machine. But the 'less' water takes time to get used to. When I wash dh workout clothes - I always do a soak first - it just takes more water to get those clean. good luck.



PeaNut 66,309
February 2003
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Loc: Central Iowa

Posted: 2/22/2009 8:00:38 AM
To get rid of smells, I use 20 mule team borax. Don't know how to fix it if it is a continual problem, though. I'd say we're about years or less from a new washer/dryer, so it will be something I google before we buy! Thanks for the heads up!


PeaNut 281,607
October 2006
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Posted: 2/22/2009 8:16:44 AM
In addition to the above advice (running vinegar through a complete cycle to clean your machine, washing smaller loads - though this hasn't been an issue for me), are you leaving your machine and the liquid dispenser open after your final load to dry out?

I use a vinegar rinse about once a month, but use Downy for my loads. I use a very small amount. Sorry, I just love the stuff. I tried the vinegar, but we love the softness and smell of Downy here.

Also, I make sure the clothes are not twisted as I place them in the dryer. I untwist and shake them as I transfer them. That helps with wrinkling a lot.

These are large, hearty machines and should not require you to do small loads to prevent smells or wrinkling. Just the opposite - you should be able to do larger loads than you did before with the older machines. That's not to say you should be jamming them full, but you should be able to wash, say, 6 pair of adult jeans and dry them without a smell or wrinkle problem. Try to get to the bottom of this.

ETA: I also pull back the gasket of the washer at the end of my last load and wipe it dry with a paper towel to prevent mold. Even with letting the machine dry between wash days and running vinegar cycles, there still gets a little black mold in there! Everyone should check that part and stay on top of keeping that area clean.



& the Velcro dog

PeaNut 133,429
February 2004
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Posted: 2/22/2009 10:28:29 AM

Is the smell on all of your clothes? I would get that odor with the towels & jeans. The jeans were always line dried.

My solution, from a fellow pea, was to run a tub clean cycle using Lime Away. There are directions on the back of the bottle. I followed it with a tub clean cycle with bleach. Changed over to powdered detergent (Charlie's). And, haven't had a problem since.

I did end up bleaching the towels the firt time I washed them. Did not bleach the jeans or any of the other clothing. However, there is a possibility that I used Borax on the jeans the first time. I really can't remember.

But, I haven't had any odor since this process. And, I've stuck with Charlie's Soap, too.

I don't understand why the clothing odors (not the sour smell) is remaining in your clothing. Even dh's clothes that gets the tractor/lawnmower fumes on them come out smelling nice & fresh. I hate that smell. Have the curse of a tremendously sensitive sense of smell, so I would have definitely noticed. I will admit to purposely smelling them after they came out of the washer the first time.

I also use the vinegar for the rinse. Dry the gasket & soap drawer. And, leave the door & drawer open.

I love my washer & dryer. Even with that bump in the road.

Good luck.

How do you run an entire jug of vinegar through the machine - the dispenser isn't that big?

I have the LGs. The soap dispenser is open in the back. There is a little cup like thing for liquid detergent. If using powder, the cup isn't used. So, you would just dump the entire bottle of vinegar in the area where the powder is placed. You must only have the drawer open about half way though. Otherwise, it may run out the opening, down the front of the machine & onto the floor. BTDT.

The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. ~Albert Einstein
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