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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Ridding Clothes of Odors: Your Questions

By Dr. Laundry October 22, 2008

Q. I forgot a load of bright colors in the washing machine, and now they smell bad. Can I use some of your Green Works® Multi-Surface Cleaner in the wash, or will it fade the colors? What would you recommend using to freshen the clothes up?

A. If clothes are left in the washer for an extended period, they can develop an “off odor” due to either incomplete cleaning and/or mildew.

My recommendation would be to re-wash them in the warmest water advised on the care labels using the recommended amount of detergent and probably adding some Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster. This will boost your cleaning power and help remove some of the odor. Your best solution would have been adding some Clorox® Regular-Bleach1, which would solve both problems, but probably isn’t appropriate for the bright colors. The Green Works® Multi-Surface Cleaner is fine for your around-the-home cleaning but lacks the power for good laundry cleaning. Another option might be to do add a presoak using the Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster before the wash to help remove more of the odor.