how long can laundry sit in the washer

How Long Can Laundry Sit in The Washer?

Have you ever wondered, “how long can laundry sit in the washer?” Busy homeowners must juggle many daily tasks, and taking the laundry out of the washer sometimes falls by the wayside. Don’t fret if you forget to unload your fresh laundry; experts say leaving cleaned laundry in the washing machine overnight remains completely acceptable. 

However, leaving clothes in the washer overnight should not become a habit. Washing machines can still become a perfect breeding ground for harmful bacteria, mold spores, and mildew growth. Keep your clothes smelling fresh and looking beautiful by removing your clothes as soon as your washer completes the washing cycle. 

Martha Stewart, America’s favorite housekeeping superstar, strongly recommends that homeowners not leave clothes in the washer overnight. Create a washing and drying routine or set reminders on your phone to ensure you never forget to remove clothes from your washer. Please continue reading to learn everything you need to know about how long you can leave clothes in the washer. 

Is It Bad To Leave Clothes in the Washer Overnight? 

If you’ve ever panic-searched on Google “left clothes in washer overnight smell,” fear not. Individuals who forget about their wet clothes in the washing machine do not need to throw away clothes and buy an entirely new wardrobe. Wet clothes may smell funky, but alas, many solutions remain to remove musty odors from damp loads of laundry. 

To increase the lifespan of your clothing and avoid unsightly stains on your sweaters, remove clothing from the washing machine as soon as possible. Experts recommend transferring wet clothes to the dryer within eight to 12 hours of the completed washing cycle. The benefits of removing clothes promptly from the washing machine include the following:

  • Prevents mildew growth
  • Avoids mold stains 
  • Improves washing machine cleanliness
  • Improves indoor air quality
  • Reduces energy costs due to rewashing
  • Saves time

Washing machines harbor harmful bacteria that may damage clothes left overnight. Always thoroughly clean your washing machine with warm water and a low-pH cleaner solution to prevent damage to your clothing. Tide’s Washer Machine Cleaner Tablets and Renuv’s Heavy Duty Washing Machine Cleaner effectively remove bacteria, dirt, and mold accumulation from the inside of your washing machine. 

How Long Can You Leave Clothes in the Washer Overnight? 

To answer, “how long can laundry sit in the washer?” consider the many dangers of mold and mildew growth. The CDC and EPA outline many causes, symptoms, and risks of indoor mold growth. Unfortunately, no practical solutions can eliminate mold spores from confined indoor spaces. 

Allergists also have trouble testing patients for mold and mildew allergic reactions. Blood tests for patients exposed to black mold and mildew help doctors treat fungal infections effectively. Mold spores thrive in damp, dark, and humid washing machines. 

Mold flourishes in areas of homes exposed to high humidity levels, moisture, and a lack of light. Many homeowners fight an uphill battle against mold in their bathrooms, basements, attics, and kitchens. The most alarming dangers of mold growth in homes include the following: 

  • Reduced indoor air quality
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Asthma attacks
  • Skin infections
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Watering and red eyes

Individuals suffering from underlying health conditions and asthma may experience severe upper-respiratory infections when exposed to mold and mildew. The cotton fibers of clothes provide nutrients for mold and mildew and may harbor invisible particles that cause skin infections, trouble breathing and running noses. Mold requires water to survive, so damp clothes provide the best conditions for mildew growth. 

The most common mold strains on damp clothing include penicillium, Cladosporium, and Aspergillus. Take advantage of professional laundry services to avoid merciless mold reducing the indoor air quality of your home. Many professional laundry services offer organic dry cleaning methods to improve the durability and cleanliness of your laundry. 

Should You Rewash Clothes Left in the Washer? 

Individuals curious about the question, “how long can laundry sit in the washer?” often seek solutions for removing musty odors from their laundry. Thankfully, you will find many options for taking care of laundry left in the washer for too long. The most effective methods for restoring the clean smell, appearance, and feeling of your clothes include the following: 

Rewash Your Clothing 

Use fragrance-free, hypoallergenic laundry detergent to rewash your laundry. Sometimes the smell of “tropical sunrise” laundry detergents masks the smell of mildew but fails to remove mold from clothing effectively. Tide’s Free & Gentle Laundry Detergent and Arm & Hammer’s Sensitive Skin Laundry Detergent remove musty smells from clothes and eliminate harmful toxins from the fibers of your clothing. 

Vinegar Solutions

The acetic acid in vinegar acts as a potent antifungal. Mix two parts vinegar with two parts water and soak your musty clothes for 30 minutes before rewashing your clothing. The polyphenols in vinegar eliminate mold spores, contain antibacterial properties, and leave your clothes cleaner than ever before. 

Baking Soda 

Sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, helps lift stains, smells, and bacteria from the surface of your clothing. Sprinkle baking soda on your damp laundry before starting the rewashing process. The alkaline pH of baking soda remains entirely safe for apparel and helps reduce wrinkles when added to laundry. 

Air-Dry Clothing 

The extreme humidity and darkness of dryers may exacerbate mildew growth on damp clothing. After rewashing your clothing, consider airdrying the damp clothing on a clothing line outside or in your home. Adequate air circulation, a steady breeze, and natural light kill harmful bacteria and help restore the natural smell and feel of your clothing. 

Washing and Drying Schedule 

The leading reason individuals ask, “how long can you leave wet clothes in the washer,” remains busy schedules. People fall asleep, go to work, or forget about clothes in the washer while performing any number of household tasks. To avoid musty odors, dirty clothes, and constant rewashing of clothes, make the laundry process as easy as possible for yourself. 

Create a comprehensive laundry schedule that indicates the specific day and time you intend to do laundry. Laundry schedules help avoid scheduling conflicts and ensure you transfer damp clothes to the dryer promptly. Set alarms and timers to ensure you never forget about your damp laundry ever again. 

Additional Considerations 

Unfortunately, mold grows in more places than just your laundry room. Cracked pipes, leaking attics, and moisture-damaged walls provide an excellent place for mold and mildew growth. Mold growth in other areas in your home may negatively impact the smell and appearance of your clothing. 

Consider the following tips for eradicating mold and mildew from your home: 

  • Repair any leaking pipes
  • Unclog obstructions from drains 
  • Purchase an AC unit or dehumidifier 
  • Keep your home well ventilated 
  • Test your indoor air quality 

Mold-free homes ensure your family’s safety and your clothing’s cleanliness. Regularly inspecting your home for black mold and mildew growth ensures you never have to ask, “can I leave clothes in the washer overnight” ever again. 

Trust Martinizing Dry Cleaners for All Your Laundry Needs

Martinizing Dry Cleaners proudly serves the California community. We offer high-quality dry cleaning, pick-up and delivery laundry services, and wedding dress alteration services in the East Bay area. To learn more about how long can laundry sit in the washer and the best temperature to wash colored clothes, call the friendly staff at Martinizing Dry Cleaners at (925) 528-4688 today!  

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