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How Long Can You Leave Clothes in the Washer?

How Long Can You Leave Clothes in the Washer?

Washing clothing is a long process. Depending on the amount of laundry you have, you could easily wash clothing, towels, bedding, dog beds, jackets, and furniture covers all day. But what if you have an emergency or you have to leave your home for a few hours?

If your machine works correctly, then you can just leave the clothes in the washer and the machine will operate with its pre-programmed instructions. But after the wash cycle is over, how long can you leave the damp clothing in the washer?

How long you can leave damp clothes in the washer depends on the temperature in the home. On average, it is fine, if not recommended, to leave damp clothing in the washer for at least six hours or overnight. However, in the summer, you cannot leave the clothes in the washer overnight. The heat will affect the damp clothes and cause them to smell.

Temperature-controlled washrooms will not be affected by the weather problem. So, it will be fine to leave that damp clothes in the washer overnight.

To learn more about leaving dry, damp, and dirty clothes in the washer, keep on reading!

Can You Leave Dry Clothes in the Washer?

When the laundry has piled up so that half or more of the washer is full, it’s time to do a load of laundry.

Every person has a laundry hamper for their clothing, but everyone throws towels, rugs, mats, washcloths, and dish towels in the washer when these linens become soiled. Dry clothes can be left in the washer as long as they do not smell.

However, dirty fabrics and linens piled together can start smelling foul in a day or two, but you can leave the linens in the washer overnight. They may smell a bit in the morning, and that’s when you press the power button on the washer!

Wet, dirty fabric will become stinky faster than dry fabrics, so don’t add a lot of wet fabrics to the washing machines until it is time to wash.

How Long Can You Leave Clothes in The Washer?

Washing cycles take anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half. This is a long time and we might have to pop out of the house for a bit. But our errand run can take longer than we expected, or you may fall asleep and not wake up in time to transfer the laundry to the dryer.

In the fall and winter, it is perfectly fine to leave damp clean and damp, dirty laundry in the washer overnight. But in the late spring and summer, your pile of clean damp clothing may need to be rewashed because of the smell it developed. Heat absolutely affects the way damp clothes develop smells and mold.

If you have a home that is constantly air conditioned and temperature-controlled, then this is not an issue for you.

You do not have to put the clothes in the dryer to dry them. Since the room is already hot, spread the clothes around the house on chairs, tables, and on top of the washer and dryer to air dry.

Can You Leave Clothes Soaking in Water?

Leaving your clothing floating in water for an hour is fine, but not overnight. If you have to stop washing your laundry load because of noise, switch the washer onto the drain cycle.

Should I Leave Soapy Clothes in the Washer?

You definitely do not want to leave the clothes soaking in soapy water overnight.

If the washer is already operating, then do not press the stop button. Allow the machine to complete the cycle so the washer can rinse the soap out of the clothes.

Should I Leave Soapy Clothes in the Washer?

If the laundry is left in soapy water, the soap will embed itself into the clothing and it will not come out when the washer rinses the clothing. Then, you will remove the soapy clothes from the washer, load them into the dryer, and the soap will be dried on your clothes.

Soapy clothing will feel like there is a residue on the fabric, giving it a greasy feel. To remove the soap from the clothes, restart the cycle over again.

What Should I Do If I Have Wet Fabric to Wash?

If the dirty fabric is wet, lay the dirty fabric over a chair, table or on the clothesline in your backyard. Allow the clothes to dry completely, then place the dried dirty fabric in its designated laundry basket.

By drying the wet, dirty fabric, they will not become smelly for a few days. You can also place the dirty fabric in the washing machine and leave it there until you’re ready to wash.

Will My Clothes Grow Mold If I Leave Them in the Washer?

It is possible that, if left long enough in the washer, damp clothes can grow mold. Laundry detergent and a washing machine may cleanse the clothes, but the clothing is not 100% bacteria and mold-free.

Plus, mold and bacteria spores can make their way into the washer and infect the clothes.

Will My Clothes Grow Mold If I Leave Them in the Washer?

If you forget about your clothes for four to seven days and the temperature inside the laundry room is hot, your laundry will stink to high heaven when you open the washer lid. You might see gray, green, or even dark brown spots growing on the fabric.

Your clothes could have microscopic mold colonies forming. These colonies are not large enough for the human eye to see. Stop the mold from growing by rewashing the entire load of laundry with half a cup of vinegar in both the rinse water and the wash water.

Conclusion to How Long You Can Leave Clothes in the Washer

You can leave damp clothes in the washer for several hours to overnight, depending on the weather and the temperature in the house. Do not leave clothes soaking in water for more than an hour.

Lindsay Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! I created this website to be a resource for everyone who wants to make the best home possible.