Why do my clothes smell burnt after washing them?

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Washing our clothes is such a mundane task, but it’s just one of those chores that need to be done. When we do our laundry, we expect our clothes to be left with a fresh scent, but if you’re realizing that after a new wash and dry cycle your clothes actually smell as if they were burning, there’s an issue!

There are many reasons why your freshly laundered fabric may smell sour, musty, or even burnt. Here are a few reasons why that might be the case and what to do to fix the problem and remove the smell.

To pinpoint the exact reason why your clothes smell burnt, we need to decide on what the main cause of the problem is. A scorching smell can be a cause of alarm and you may be worried about what it means and where it came from.

For the burnt smell in clothes, your washing machine or your dryer may be the ones to blame.

Is it my washing machine that causes my clothes to smell burnt or is it my dryer?

If there is a distinct burnt smell from your clothes after washing them, you might be thinking that there is a problem with your washing machine or dryer. How do you know which one is the culprit?

Suspect Number 1: Washing Machine

Your washer may smell burnt while in use, but the smell can rarely transfer into your clothes as they are being washed.

Possible reasons why your washing machine smells burnt: 

Defective Drive Belt

Signs: If your drive belt is cracked, frayed, or burned, it will agitate the load and may put off a weird noise white the washer is in use.

What to do: Have your belt replaced using parts that are recommended and approved by your manufacturer.

Defective Pump Belt

Signs: If your pump belt is defective, it will set off loud noises and a burnt smell of rubber when used. There may also be water left behind when the drain cycle is finished.

What to do: Unplug your washing machine from the power source and inspect your pump belt for possible cracks and fraying. If there are signs of damage, you will need to have it replaced.  You can do it yourself, but if you don’t have experience doing this, it’s recommended you call a repairman near you.

Suspect Number 2: Dryer

If your dryer is defective or not properly used and maintained, it may have broken parts that are not functioning properly. Dryers are the main reason there is a burnt smell in your clothes after drying them.

Possible reasons why your dryer smells burnt: 

Lint Buildup

Signs: Dryer hose and vents should be cleaned often. If you haven’t had it cleaned in a long time, lint and debris can build up and be a serious fire hazard. You can see signs such as your dryer and clothes getting really hot, drying clothes takes a longer time than usual, and you may even notice lint around the opening of your outside vents.

What to do: Lint is a very combustible material and is one of the most common causes of fires in the United States. To prevent possible fires, you should clean up your dryer vent after every use and have your dryer inspected by a professional regularly.  It’s recommended that you get it cleaned annually to prevent buildup and potential fires.

Defective Drive Belt

Signs: If your drive belt is damaged, aside from the burnt smell, you would hear loud noises when using it. In some cases, the drum will not move and turn, your dryer won’t get the moisture out of your clothing, and eventually the dryer just won’t start.

What to do: When your drive belt is not functioning properly, it should be replaced. This part is inexpensive and would not cost a lot.

Defective Dryer Motor

Signs: If your dryer motor is defective, you will hear a humming sound and you may notice your dryer stopping when the clothes are not yet dry.

What to do: If our dryer motor is burned out, you should replace it with a part that was approved by its manufacturer.

Defective Thermostat

Signs: The thermostat’s function is to regulate the temperature inside your dryer when it is being used. If your dryer’s thermostat is already faulty, it will not heat enough for your clothes to dry, or do the opposite which is overheating that can cause the problem to spread to other parts. There may also be unpleasant noises coming from your dryer, and you will notice that the clothes are taking much longer to dry.

What to do: You can check your thermostat by unplugging it and using an ohmmeter to check its terminals to see if it is broken.

Fumes from combustible household products

Signs: When you use combustible household products around your home such as varnish and solvent, you may notice your dryer emitting burnt smells. This is because of the fumes combining with the heat produced by your dryer, which results in a gas-like odor.

What to do: Avoid using these products near your dryer. If you absolutely have to, open the windows and door inside your house to get rid of the smell immediately.

How do I get the burnt smell out of clothes?

Now that you have a general idea behind the cause of the burnt smell in your clothes and are probably having your appliances inspected and fixed, you may be worried that the smell will not be removed from your clothes and fabrics.

There is no need to be concerned about your favorite shirt or pajamas. After you have it washed once or twice, the burnt smell will be gone. You can also couple that with the use of vinegar and baking soda to get rid of the unpleasant smell. This will definitely leave your clothes smelling like the days when your washer and dryer were brand new!