Things You'll Need
1/2 cup baking soda
2 cups white vinegar
The sour smell that sometimes comes from laundry is often caused by mildew. Mildew forms on laundry when clothes are left in a warm, damp area such as the bottom of a laundry basket or in the washing machine. Mildew can damage fabric and the laundry may need to be washed several times before the odor is removed completely.
Launder the sour-smelling clothes in small loads. Overcrowding the washing machine will keep it from laundering the clothes properly.
Set the washing machine to the hottest water that's safe for the fabric. Always read the care instructions on clothing labels to prevent ruining the material.
Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your regular laundry detergent. The baking soda will absorb the sour smell. Pour two cups of white vinegar into the washing machine during the rinse cycle.
Wash the clothes again using just your regular laundry detergent.
Place the laundry in the dryer or hang the clothes to dry. Hanging the laundry to dry will allow air to circulate, which will help remove any lingering odors. If using a dryer, put it on the hottest setting the material can withstand. Dry the clothing completely.
If the clothes contain mildew stains, launder them with bleach or color-safe bleach to kill the mold spores.
- Iowa State University Extension: Textiles and Laundry
- New Mexico State University; Getting Clothes Clean; Susan Wright; April 2006
- University of Missouri Extension; How to Prevent and Remove Mildew; Wanda Eubank et al; April 1998
- "Reader's Digest": Mildew Cleaning Solutions
- "Good Housekeeping": Sour-Laundry Solution
Angela LaFollette was born in raised in West Virginia, but she currently resides with her husband and children in Minnesota. She is food freelance writer and blogger as well as a full-time stay at home mother. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marshall University. Angela's work has appeared on many online publications like Yahoo!, eHow, and Leaf Group.