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When I tumble dry my clothes they smell fine. When I line (outside) dry them they smell quite bad, a musty stale smell. In both instances they have been taken out of washing machine quite quickly after the cycle has finished and smell good coming out of the machine?

Any tips on how to keep them smelling good when outside line drying?

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-1 because this is asking about cleaning clothes rather than cleaning some portion of your home. – BMitch Jul 30 '13 at 18:45
Is your clothes line in a location exposed to the sun and wind to help achieve the quickest drying times? – rjbergen Jan 9 '15 at 18:36
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Smells generally come from bacteria which thrive in a moist environment. A dryer heats up clothing to the point where most of these bacteria are killed off.

It's possible that the bacteria is coming from your washing machine, if you usually do cool or cold cycles and haven't cleaned it out in awhile then it is a breeding ground. Try running an empty load at its highest temperature, or better yet running an empty load with a washing machine cleaner to get it gunk-free. That should get your washing smelling fresh when using a line.

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The smell could also occur if line drying is in a shaded area or high-humidity region, causing the clothes to stay damp for a much longer period of time, allowing a slight mildew to set in. Bacteria in the washer could definitely be contributory. – Jacob S Jul 30 '13 at 18:59
I've already run an empty wash highest temperature with a cleaner, didn't improve the situation, I'll try washing my clothes at a higher heat to see what happens, if that fixes my problem I'll accept as answer. – DermFrench Jul 30 '13 at 20:14
Just seen this article online: dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2050239/… – DermFrench Aug 3 '13 at 17:47

Could it be your water? I lived in SW Missouri and NEVER had this problem. Clothes always smelled fresh line dried. Water had a high calcium content. Moved to Pensacola, FL and every time I line dry clothes they smell like dead fish. I have changed NOTHING. They do not sit, or take longer to dry and the ONLY thing I can up with is the water. My machine is clean. Hmmm...

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Everything's moldy in Florida. I can smell the must on our employees clothing when they return home from doing 2 week stints at our other store location. In this case, damp hay smell, the kind that warns you you're going to kill your horses and cattle if you feed it to them. – Fiasco Labs Aug 23 '15 at 20:03

It may be air pollution like the smell of ozone that has been described as a fishy smell or even like bleach by others.

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