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Elder Care Tips: Dealing with Unpleasant Odors in Your Parents’ Laundry

Elder Care Tips: Dealing with Unpleasant Odors in Your Parents’ Laundry

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Doing laundry is an important part of your elder care responsibilities and if you are handling the wash for your parents, your spouse, your children, and yourself, it can seem like there is a never-ending stream of loads to sort, treat, wash, dry, fluff, fold, and hang. Doing a load of laundry should result in a wonderful room-filling breath of freshness from the clean clothes, but if doing laundry for you means battling with foul odors in the washer and smells that cling to the clothing even after they have gone through the wash, you could be dealing with an unpleasant situation every time it is time to replenish your family’s drawers.

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Bad-smelling laundry is not just unpleasant to handle while washing, drying, and folding. If the smell is strong it can make you feel self-conscious about being around other people and less willing to wear particular articles of clothing. Fortunately, there are ways that you can deodorize a stinky laundry room and clothing to restore the freshness and make your task more pleasant again.

Try these tips, and share them with your parents elderly health care services provider, to keep laundry a fresh-smelling part of your seniors’ elder care:

• Wash the washing machine. Good-smelling laundry requires an effective washing machine, and if your washer is harboring bad smells, those are going to transfer right over to your laundry. Give your washer the occasional deep-clean to remove detergent and softener residue and lingering smells from body oils, mold, mildew, skin, and other unpleasant things that may end up in your washer. Do this by running a hot water cycle with four cups of chlorine bleach, then a hot cycle with four cups of white vinegar. Leave the door to the washer open to dry;
• Dry promptly. Avoid the temptation to let a washed load of clothing sit in the washer for a few hours or overnight. The dark, warm, damp environment within the washer is perfect for breeding mildew, mold, and bacteria, all of which create unpleasant smells. Dry your laundry as soon as it finishes washing, or at least take out of the washer to wait for a few minutes until the previous load finishes drying;
• Sun-dry stinky clothes. If you have clothes, towels, or sheets that are clinging to bad smells, put the sun to work for you. Wash those clothes as usual and then hang them outside to dry in the sun for several hours. The light and heat work together to kill odor-causing particles and leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean;
• Separate clothes. Never toss a damp towel into a hamper full of dry laundry or add rain-soaked clothes to your pile of clothes for the next day’s wash. This makes all of the clothes around that item damp and breeds mold and mildew. Wash damp items promptly or keep them in a separate location with a pre-treatment to prevent bad smells;
• Cut down on softener. Using liquid fabric softener in all of your wash can actually contribute to the bad smells. These softeners build up gunk on the inside of the washer and make clothing more difficult to dry, causing many people to put their laundry away slightly damp because they think it has dried long enough. Eliminate using liquid softener or dilute it with water before use.