rain while drying clothes outside

Should You Wash Clothes Again After They’ve Been Rained On?

We’ve all been there. You check the weather forecast, not a drop of rain in sight. Perfect for getting some washing out to dry.

So, you hang out your laundry and leave the house, only for the heavens to open. Now your laundry’s ruined and you have to wash it all again, or do you?

In this article, we discuss whether you should wash clothes again after they’ve been rained on, whether a rinse cycle is enough or whether you need to do anything at all.


Should You Wash Clothes Again After It Rains?

There is no definitive yes or no answer to this question. Instead, it depends on several factors. These factors include how long the washing has been out, where you live, and what type of clothing was drying.

How long was the washing out before it rained?

If your clothes had already been wet for a couple of days and then got wet again, you may want to re-wash them.

A consistently wet environment is perfect for mould to grow, so the longer clothes are wet, the more likely it is that bacteria will develop.

This can lead to clothes smelling damp and musty.

wet jeans during rain

Where do you live?

Rainwater is naturally acidic. Therefore, it’s softer than the water you wash your clothes in if you live in a hard water area. Rain water is generally safe for clothes, and won’t damage them.

However, dust, dirt and other bacteria can be carried by rain. If there is construction work going on near your home, for example, the rain may carry the dust onto your clothing. If you dry your clothes near a main road, pollution particles could get into the rainwater.

If you live in a particularly dusty or polluted area, you may want to wash your clothes again after rainfall.

What type of clothing was out drying?

Clothing is heavy when it’s soaking wet and if it’s hanging up, it may stretch. Heavier items such as hoodies and jeans, as well as delicate items, could become deformed if they get drenched and are left on the line.

In this case, you may want to put your laundry back in the machine on a rinse or spin cycle. This will remove some of the excess weight and will help them dry faster.


Why Does Rain Make Clothes Smell?

man with laundry

It’s not the rainwater itself that makes clothes smell, it’s the fact that they’ve been wet for too long.

As mentioned before, damp, humid clothing is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mould. This in turn causes a musty smell to develop.

Clothes that are constantly wet for at least two days will start to smell bad. If your clothes were almost dry and got caught in a light shower, you can probably leave them to dry naturally. Especially if the forecast is sunny and warm.

However, if they were stuck in the rain for a couple of days, it’s probably best to wash them again.


Can You Do Laundry When It Rains?

rain and drying clothes

The unpredictable weather in the UK can mean that there’s only a short window to get clothes out on the line.

We can’t always plan our washes around dry days, so here are some ways to dry clothes when it’s raining outside:

  • Dry clothes outside if you have a covered area in your garden.
  • Use a tumble dryer, if you don’t have one at home you can take your clothes to the launderette.
  • If you can only dry clothes indoors, be sure to do so in a well-ventilated room with the windows and doors open and pop a dehumidifier in the room.