rewash clothes

Should You Rewash Clothes Left in the Washing Machine? 

Did you put the clothes in the washing machine and forget about them? Don’t worry, you are not alone!

Lots of us run a load of laundry while going about our other daily chores and then forget to take out the clothes from the washing machine.

Many people give them another spin, whereas others just dry them. But what should you do? You will find answers to all your questions here. Let’s take a look!


How Long Have They Been Left in the Washing Machine?

rewashing clothes

Leaving your washed wet clothes in a machine for a few hours is not the same as leaving them for a week. Bacteria might not grow in your clothes in a few hours if you have used an anti-bacterial detergent.

However, leaving them in the washing machine for a long time will give them a pungent odour due to fungus or bacteria. The longer you leave the wet clothes in your machine, the more chance that bacteria growth will mean you need to wash them again.

If you’ve only left them for a few hours, you don’t need to rewash them. You can leave them for up to 12 hours without needing to rewash them, unless you notice they have started to smell.

If you have left them for a day or more, then they’ll need to be rewashed. 


How to Decide When to Rewash Clothes Left in the Washing Machine

All you need to do is a simple smell test to check if you should rewash clothes that have been left in the washing machine. 

If there is no bad or pungent smell coming from them, then there is no need to rewash your clothes.

It’s best not to leave damp clothes in the washing machine for more than around 8-12 hours. Due to this, if you wanted to wash your clothes overnight and then dry them in the morning, then you will probably be okay.

Just give them a quick smell and then either throw them in the dryer or the drying rack. If you do notice that they have a smell, then it’s best to give them a quick wash. If they just need freshening up, then they probably don’t need a full cycle, and can be washed on a quick cycle instead. 


How Should They Be Rewashed?

rewash clothes with hot water

Removing a bacteria smell from wet clothes can be tricky. If the clothing is not properly sanitized or if the environment is not conducive to drying, the bacteria can multiply and cause an unpleasant odour.

How they should be rewashed will depend on how long they’ve been left. For example, if it has been 13 hours, you’ll probably only need to freshen them up on a quick cycle with a little bit of detergent.

However, if you ran a load of washing and forgot about it before going on holiday, for example, you’ll have a much bigger problem. The clothes will stink and that smell can be very hard to remove.

The best way to wash bacteria out of clothes is to use the hottest water your fabric can withstand without shrinking or getting damaged. This will kill most bacteria and viruses.

It is also important to use a detergent that contains bleach or another disinfectant. Bleach will kill bacteria, mould, and mildew. 

This should kill at least 99% of bacteria. You can also add a cup of bleach to a gallon of water and soak your clothes in it for 30 minutes. This will kill almost all bacteria but you need to be careful with coloured fabrics. 

Another way to wash bacteria out of clothes is to soak them in vinegar for 30 minutes. This can be a good idea for fabrics which aren’t suitable for a hot wash. 

Finally, you can dry your clothes in the sun for two hours. This will kill any remaining bacteria.


The Bottom Line

If you’ve left clothes in the washing machine for over 12 hours, they probably need to be rewashed.

If it has between 8-12 hours, give them a simple smell test, but they probably won’t need to be rewashed. If it has been under 8 hours, you can just dry them straight away.