No matter what I do, I cannot make our laundry smell good! Help :(

posted 3 years ago in Home
Post # 3
1719 posts
Bumble bee

Are you and your SO the only ones who are smelling the laundry to see if it has a scent? I suggest having some other people smell it. It’s possible that your clothes do have a scent, but you can’t smell it.

Using all of these products to add a scent to your clothes may be counterproductive. It could be making smelling things more difficult. That sounds odd, I know, but that does happen. 

You might need to stop using these products, all of them, for a while. You could also switch to more natural ways to freshen clothing, because fabric softeners, dryer sheets, and scent boosters like the kind you listed can cause problems for you and the people around you. Sometimes people get headaches, have trouble smelling or tasting, and feel badly and they don’t realize that all of those things are being caused or made worse by what they’re washing their clothes in.  

Post # 4
7292 posts
Busy Beekeeper

@Rhopalocera:  This exactly. Ask your mum or another relative to give your freshly washed clothes a smell.

Post # 5
975 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Definitely have someone else smell test your freshly laundered clothes.  Also I’d pick one scent at a time to focus on (foral, citrus, musk, whatever and not mix them).  If you love scents and use them a lot your nose sometimes can’t go “oh yeah, here’s this scent I smell all the time” but instead it’s like “oh yeah that, doesn’t matter”.  Like if you walk outside and the grass is freshly cut that first inhale is very obvious to your nose, but then if you’re outside a while you don’t even notice it.  Kinda like how we tune out a sound we hear all the time but someone visiting asks about it right away.

My DH has a friend, his wife LOVES scents on anything and in everything and she recently complained a candle didn’t have much smell.  DH said he could smell it when he walked in.  And when he visits them and returns home he strips and heads straight for the shower because I’m sensitive to smells.  As soon as he walks in the door I can smell the chemical “funk” as I call it because by the time he gets home the scented part of what they were supposed to smell like has faded and he just smells like some weird chemical concoction (not oh, that smells like X but I’m allergic which frequently happens elsewhere or when the scent is present).  It’s really kinda gross (to me), which is why I call it that.  I still like smelling scented stuff for a short bit but I can’t be around it long… only being able to smell the chemicals is what’s gross to me.  That I can’t be around much scents is just my bad luck lol.  I’ve just got a super sensitive and allergic nose.

Even for me though who uses unscented almost everything… I love scents that don’t bother my allergies (like real vanilla, cinnamon, peppermint, or tea tree) and even I’ll get used to it and not notice/smell it and then someone comes over and goes “Oh, your home smells like cinnamon!” and I’m like “It does?” cause I haven’t used it that day.  Noses are funny!

Post # 6
1463 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

What kind of washing machine do you have?  I’ve read about high efficiency/front loading machines can get dirty which will affect the laundry.  I do believe I’ve seen products that are supposed to tackle this problem. 

Post # 7
1988 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

@AllieLaLa:  +1 to what PPs said. I think using all those scented products might be counterproductive, try to focus on one smell only. 

I’ve recently learned through Weddingbee that American washing machines are different from European ones so I’m not sure this advice applies but I guess it can’t hurt to try. If you have limescale buildup on your washing machine’s vital parts if may affect how well your laundry is washed and consequently the smell of it too. Try adding a little bit of distilled vinegar to your washing powder to help prevent the limescale buildup. I’m in Europe, our washers have internal heating and water in my area is very hard so it’s a pretty big deal. I always do this and my laundry always smells very nice and never reeks of distilled vinegar if that worries you. 

Good luck! 

Post # 8
1719 posts
Bumble bee

@MrsTangerine:  I’m the same way.

Laundry products, scented candles, perfumes, air fresheners, and the like cause me lots of trouble. They can smell so gross and overpowering, and the headaches and breathing issues they cause are no fun. I prefer natural scents or no scent at all.

Post # 9
975 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

@Rhopalocera:  Agreed, but most people don’t have any health issues with scents so they don’t even think about what’s in the products or how it effects other people.  Seriously I want to say “If I can smell your perfume/cologne from 20 feet away… it’s TOO MUCH.”.  I’ve worked with some people where I could only smell their scents if I was RIGHT next to them, like helping them on a pc.  That’s fine… I know not to get that close.

I actually worked at a place where a lady sprayed so many different scents so heavily that I needed an ambulance… twice (about a year apart).  Kicker?  She was the HR person and had to do all the workers comp paperwork :)… karma.  Bonus?  Everyone told me she did it the afternoon before while I was out so I went and asked her not too… said she wouldn’t, then did half an hour later.

I’d had trouble breathing before but never needed an ambulance!  I used my inhaler.  Then I went outside (told a workmate… who thankfully followed me… and I remember her calling 911 wishing I could tell her not to but I was sprawled out on the concrete and couldn’t).  I heard the first responders (firemen) were all really cute, but I don’t remember them.  The ambulance techs were awesome and treated me in the ambulance then asked if I wanted to go to the hospital.  I’m like not really but if I need to I need to and you’re the professionals.  One of them had allergies and asthma and said “I can’t tell you not to… but if it were me…” (detailed what happened, reactions, getting out of the scents/heat into the amulance/getting O2, how I felt) “and if it were me and I felt like you say you do now, I’d just go home and drink a lot of fluids, have dinner, and take it easy for the night… but if you do that and have any problems don’t hesitate to call us.  I just can’t recommend not going to the hospital.”.  Um, ya, so where do I sign?

Post # 10
2394 posts
Buzzing bee



Maybe the smell is there, but you’re not smelling it because there is something going on with your nose?

For example do you have a lot of fragrance things in your home, like plug in air fresheners or scented candles? If so maybe you have become dulled to fragrances and your nose isn’t picking up on something unless it is really overpowering.

I think laundry detergent smells are really there so you can just smell the pretty detergent when you’re pouring it in. It gets rinsed off during the rinse cycle, so the citrus spice detergent is not going to end up on your dry laundry. Same thing for liquid fabric softener.


The dryer sheets are what will end up making your laundry have a scent. I always use extra dryer sheets because I HATE static cling, and my laundry always has the fragrance of the dryer sheets when I first take it out.


How many dryer sheets do you use? I honestly throw in three per load. I know it’s overkill but have you tried that? My laundry always smells like the dryer sheets when I pull it out. 


Post # 11
4440 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

Either you’re used to the smell…OR maybe you leave the wet clothes in the washer too long before placing in the dryer.  That can do it too.

Post # 12
290 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

I recommend going without the dryer if you can. We recently got an apartment washer to save money on laundry so we’ve been air dying our clothes and they smell SO good all day! I know clothes aren’t as soft when they’re air died but you really can’t tell the difference once you’ve been wearing them for a couple hours.  

Post # 13
9859 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2014

I agree on the multiple smells, you’re probably overdoing it.  You also get used to smells – like when you walk into a friends house and it always has a distinct smell but they dont’ notice it.  Or if you’ve been away for a weekend you’ll suddenly notice your vanilla air freshner again.

Post # 14
6794 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - A castle!

@AllieLaLa:  It could possibly be your water… do you have well water? I’ve had both well and city water, and with the well water I could never get my clothes smelling as fresh. Maybe you need a water softener installed?

Post # 15
540 posts
Busy bee

I add a 1/2 cup of Borax to my laundry, in addition to my normal soap and liquid downey, removes any musty smell and makes my clothes smell better, to me at least. Then I use a dryer sheet when drying. Borax takes out the work smell out of my husbands clothes and the stinky boy smell out of my kids clothes too. Works wonders.

Post # 16
11772 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

How frequently do you clean your HE washer? Those can get pretty skanky…

And I’d pick one “line” of coordinating scents. Like all lavender, or all citrus.

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