How To Make Your Laundry Smell Amazing, According To The Pros

Without relying on scent-boosting additives.

There’s nothing like climbing into fresh sheets after a long day and being enveloped in that clean-laundry smell. It’s one of life’s simple pleasures. But sometimes the fresh fragrance is gone all too soon—seemingly diminishing with each passing load. You’ve been using additives like scent boosters and the fabric softener you’ve sworn by for years but something just isn’t right.

There are a number of reasons your laundry isn’t smelling quite right, instead churning out clean clothes (at least, we think) that have a less-than-pleasing scent. To get our laundry back on track, we enlisted the help of Morgan LaLonde, Whirlpool Laundry Brand Manager, and Mary Gagliardi (AKA Dr. Laundry), in-house scientist and cleaning expert for Clorox. Here, the laundry pros share their top tips for maximizing each load with a major fragrance boost.

Meet The Experts

  • Morgan LaLonde is the Laundry Brand Manager for Whirlpool.

  • Mary Gagliardi (AKA Dr. Laundry) is an in-house scientist and cleaning expert for Clorox.

Wash Your Washer

We’ve said it before, keeping a clean washer is the foremost rule for fresher laundry. “Clothes washers, especially high-efficiency models, trap residual detergent, softener, and soil inside the inner workings of the clothes washer—in the tub, hoses and pump where the water isn't completely removed from the washer after the cycle is complete,” explains Gagliardi. It sets up the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive and eventually transfer to your laundry.

For those who are regularly cleaning their washing machines and are still dealing with basin odor, you might be missing one key component: the cleanout cycle. These monthly maintenance cleans can help remove soil build-ups that can play safe-haven for odor-causing bacteria. Both Gagliardi and LaLonde recommend cleaning the machine once a month, or every 30 cycles. You can do so by running a cleanout cycle on your empty washer with bleach, using a washing machine tablet, or baking soda. Refer to your washing machine’s manual for the best course of action for your unit.

Make sure you keep your cleaning schedule fluid too. “If you notice that your laundry doesn’t seem to be as clean as usual and/or emits an odor, that may be a sign you’re due for a cleaning,” says LaLonde. Even if it’s a few days or weeks earlier than you anticipated.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Run a Bleach Load Once a Week

You can extend the time between washing machine cleanings (whether a deep clean or a clean cycle) while maintaining laundry freshness by running bleach loads once a week, says Gagliardi. Items like bleach-safe socks, napkins, towels, shirts, etc. can all be thrown in the washer and aid in your laundry fragrance goals.

Prefer not to go the bleach route? Switch up your water temperature instead. “If you normally wash with cold water, also consider running an occasional cycle with warm or hot water to help slow down soil and detergent buildup,” says LaLonde.

Use a Laundry Sanitizer

Some fabrics are obviously not safe for bleach, but there are other additives that can produce similar bacteria-fighting benefits. Liquid laundry sanitizers are an effective tool for deodorizing with each load, but there are times when already clean items just need an extra boost. Fabric sanitizing sprays (Gagliardi recommends Clorox Fabric Sanitizer Aerosol) are ideal for a between-wash freshen up. Not only will a sanitizing spray help keep odor-causing bacteria in check, but it could also help get an extra wear out of your clothing item before it needs to hit the hamper.

Don’t Overload

It’s tempting to overstuff the machine, especially when you just want to be done with this particular chore. But overloading the machine is one way to sabotage your aim for freshness. “Overloading a washing machine may cause the laundry to smell bad,” says LaLonde. “This is because it can prevent the load from getting a proper clean.” For a front-load washing machine, a good rule of thumb is to allow about 6-inches of clearing from the top of the drum to the load.

Of course, there’s also the obvious smell factor that comes along with letting your wet laundry sit before moving it to the dryer. Moving your laundry with haste (whether to the dryer or the drying rack) will not only keep it smelling fresh, but will also help avoid deep set-in wrinkles, says LaLonde.

Leave the Door Open

With so many ways to keep laundry fresh, and many of them simply revolving around machine maintenance, there’s one more trick that we would be remiss for failing to mention. Lucky for you it’s probably the easiest of all: Leave your washer door open between uses. Not only does it save you a quarter of a second of time, but LaLonde says it will also ensure your wash basket dries out between uses, which is an essential element in maintaining freshness.

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