Can't get smell out of clothes- please help!

shimshereeFebruary 23, 2008

We live in an apartment and our dryer was bad so our apartment manager gave us a brand new Kenmore dryer. We used it, but noticed that our clothes had a weird, almost burnt smell in them. It also squeaked why drying clothes. They had the manufacture person come out and he couldn't fix either problem. We had tested more of our clothes after he left, but they just smelled bad too. So they sent another person out, and he fixed the squeak, but not the smell.

This smell was driving me and my husband crazy, as we hadn't had this problem until we got the new dryer. So we complained to our apartment manager again and she gave us another brand new dryer. It had the same problem! So now half of our clothes have this smell that won't go away. It bothered me so much that my parents gave us an extra dryer they had and we gave back the new dryer to the apartment people.

So now our problem is that we CANNOT get that smell out of our clothes! It is so bad that I can't wear those clothes or put them on our baby. I've tried using baking soda and vinegar and they didn't work. We used to us Sun detergent, so we switched to Tide with Febreeze. I used that, plus the febreeze dryer sheets, but now that smell is overpowering in that batch of clothing and it won't come out either! So we have some batches of clothing in bags with the bad dryer smell, and some batches of clothing with the strong Febreeze smell, and then our other clothes that I'm too afraid to wash and dry.

I'm also a little worried that maybe the original smell wasn't coming from the dryer, but from the washing machine. I don't think so though, because I would wash our clothes in the washer and then dry them at my cousin's house and they didn't smell bad. But I just washed some whites today and they have that smell in them...some of them had been washed in the brand new dryer though, but there are some clothes in the whites that were brand new (never dried in the new dryer), and they smell. Could the bad smell have transfered to the new clothes?

Can anyone help me? I feel like I've tried everything and I'm running out of clothes to wear. I ordered some stuff from to see if that will help the washer. I was thinking of trying some 20 mule team borax. I'm surprised that vinegar or baking soda haven't worked because that's something that everyone recommends.

Anyway, thanks so much for any help you might have.

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Tide or dryer sheets won't get rid of the smell, they'll just cover it up. Try soaking in Oxi-Clean. I used it to get the odor out of my son's football uniform (it smelled worse than bad eggs sitting in the sun!). Use the hottest water you can for the fabric and if you soak in the washer (as opposed to the sink) use a few scoops.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 11:43AM
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You might want to check out the smelly jeans thread for some ideas. I used borax and Charlie's Soap on my jeans and I think the smell is now gone.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2008 at 3:15PM
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Another vote for Charlie's Soap . . . DD had problems with smelly towels for two years till I directed her to CS. She switched and noticed a difference immediately, but also said that they continued to get better and better for several months. I use it and find everything is clean and fluffy -- and no odor ever!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 7:05PM
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Was the apartment painted recently? Fumes released while the paint is fresh can cause a bad smell in dried clothes, *particularly* with a gas dryer.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2008 at 9:07PM
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stupid question but are you on well water? Well water with certain minerals, such as sulphur, will do that to your clothes. We throw a little baking soda in to help with the odor. good luck!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 9:08PM
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We're having the same problem - mainly with sheets, and after reading the posts here, I'm pretty convinced that the problem came from washing and drying things too HOT. The dryers in our apartment building laundry room run insanely hot - I can't even touch the clothes for a few minutes when they're done - and I was washing and drying sheets, towels, and anything that got a lot of kitty dander on it in HOT, HOT. My guess is that at some point something - either one of the cheap $10 sheets I use to cover the sofa from cat hair, or a pair of slippers with rubber soles, or like someone here said paint fumes from the gas heat pushing up through the dryer - something with petroleum or oil in it got cooked into a batch of laundry and kept baking itself in nice and solid every time I tried to wash out the smell.

Thinking it was the dryers here, we just took everything to a local laundromat to try to get rid of the smell. We got some new sheets and a new duvet cover. The duvet cover smelled bad when I opened the package! It smelled bad after I washed it in warm water. It smelled bad after I dried it on medium with a dryer sheet. And it still smells bad after a spin on low with 2 more dryer sheets! But it doesn't smell AS bad, and I'm going to try washing it in cold and drying it on low with some more dryer sheets.

I don't know, but since we just got the new sheets, I'm going to write to the company and ask if they have any suggestions. Meanwhile, I do think it will be worth it to try to wash your banished clothing in cold and dry on low, but keep it separate from good-smelling clothing. There is definitely something that rings true in the idea that this smell is "contagious."

    Bookmark   June 24, 2008 at 12:09PM
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All these are good recs. The only thing I can add would be to check the quality of air in the room where they drier is. If the air quality (odors) in the room where the drier is is bad then the clothes will come out smelling just as bad if not worse than the room.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2008 at 3:49PM
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Have you thought of re-washing them w/detergent, putting baking soda in the washer before adding clothes, vinegar in the fabric softerner dispenser, letting them soak for several hours before washing, and then hanging them outside to dry? When my husband was working outside around wood smoke for a time, that's what I did to get the odor out of his clothes.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2008 at 8:56PM
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Getting unusual odors out of clothing and fabric in general can be a real challenge that detergents and over the counter odor products simply can not handle.

However, all is not lost. There are 2 products available in some Cincinnati hardware stores and on line called OdorXit Concentrate and OdorXit ClO2 that will remove the odors mentioned on this thread.

OdorXit Concentrate can be added to the wash right along with the detergent. If you can let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes at the end of the first agitate cycle before the spin cycle it improves the performance a lot. Then let the cycle finish normally and dry normally.

For odors that do not respond to OdorXit Concentrate, there is OdorXit ClO2. It is a small packet of powder that when exposed to water vapor generates a gas called chlorine dioxide (ClO2) that kills mold, spores, bacteria, and eliminates a wide variety of odor including tobacco smoke, burned food, cooking odor, body odor, shoe odor, mold odor, and much more.

Just hang the affected clothing/fabric in a closet with a packet of OdorXit ClO2 above the clothing. The clothing needs to be separated so the gas can get in between and inside the garments. Generally the treatment takes 2 to 4 days but the extended release products continue to produce gas for 20 to 30 days and can be used in other places during that period. Once started the reaction can not be stopped.

If you are interested in getting rid of tough odors check the web site for a ton of information.

Here is a link that might be useful: OdorXit Products

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:45AM
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try OdorKlenz-S in your wash. It's nontoxic eco friendly made of earth metal powder. Seriously though it works, I swear by it! It's not marketted for laundry specifically but use it on laundry and it'll do a great job. All odors gone from urine to vomit to sweat to you name it. Anyways the company is legit. and have some other cool stuff too. May seem pricey but it lasts forever practically and works amazing!! Hope this helps you out.

Here is a link that might be useful: NanoScale Corporation

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 2:59PM
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