How Long Can You Actually Leave Wet Washing in the Machine?

How Long Can You Actually Leave Wet Washing in the Machine?

We’re all culprits of doing it, and we’ll probably do it again: putting a load of washing on, letting it run and leaving the wet clothes sit in the laundry washer for hours (or even more) because you got distracted by something else or simply didn’t have time to unload them before heading out the door. 

But as soon as you do remember – or get around – to unloading your soggy clothes, you’re likely to question whether they’re actually still clean enough to be put out to dry, or if they’re technically dirty again because, you know… mould and mildew (sorry, gross but true). 

So, how long is too long to leave wet clothes sitting in the washing machine?

Well, according to TikTok’s hygiene etiquette expert Mary Futher (known as Madame Sweat on social media), the maximum length of time wet washing can be left in the laundry machine is 12 hours. 

“The rule of thumb generally is if you left them sitting wet for more than 12 hours that’s the cut-off point,” Futher said in a TikTok video that has since been watched over 508k times.

Once your washed clothes have surpassed the 12-hour mark, Futher says it’s time to rewash them. 

To eliminate all possible traces of mould and mildew, the TikTok creator recommends that you “Use half a cup of baking soda with your detergent.” 

Madame Sweat revealed clean, wet clothes shouldn’t be left sitting in the washer for longer than 12 hours. Image: TikTok/@madamesweat.

However, people took to the comments section to say that they know when their clothes need to be rewashed just from the smell it emits.

“More than eight hrs and I can smell the mildew, nasty,” one person commented. 

A second person goes by the rule: “If it ain’t smelling, it ain’t washing.”

“Wow 12 hours would not work here in hot and humid Queensland, Australia,” a third person wrote. “You have about 4 hours before it starts to smell.” 

Others simply disagreed entirely with Futher’s recommended 12-hour mark. 

“I rewash after two hours,” a user simply commented. 

A second person exclaimed, writing, “Ummm 2 hours max here!!”

“2 hours is my max otherwise I rewash them,” a third person noted. “I can smell the mildew if it’s too long.” 

One TikToker even revealed the horrible consequences they dealt with after wearing dried clothes that had been left to sit wet in the washer for 12 hours. 

“Left it for 12 hours once and after wearing my dried clothes for a day I had welts all over my body.” Gross.

But don’t stress if you have left your washing in the appliance for longer than desired. Like Futher said, all you need to do is rewash them in a fresh cycle with a touch of baking soda. 

There’s also the likely chance that your machine will also smell a little nasty after having damp clothes sit inside for hours and reusing a smelly washing machine can lead to your washed clothes coming out smelling unpleasant after every cycle. 

If you’ve noticed this happening, give your washing machine a rinse by running a clean cycle with white vinegar in the detergent compartment and bicarb soda in the drum, or simply purchase an appliance cleaner from your closest supermarket.

And you can also find relief in knowing that on the other end of the scale, there are people who go about life leaving their clothes sitting in the washer for days (stress the use of plural).

“3 days is my limit”, admitted a TikToker. 

“Mines been sitting there for 4 days,” someone wrote. 

“6 to 10 days is ok”, another casually noted.

Questionable, but you do you, I guess…

Lead Image Credit: NBC

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