weird laundry problem (smell)


This is a weird vexing problem and I just want to see if anyone has any input.
Some items come out of my wash with a weird, unpleasant metallic odor. At first it was a couple of towels, now it's some shirts and a pair of my sons jeans. The best way to describe it is if you've ever been in a machine shop, where they machine metal and use oil or grease to lubricate it, just a weird burnt metal odor.
I do a lot of laundry, and I can do a whole load and have just one or two items come out with this weird odor. It persists through drying, and is there even when the items are hung outside or fabric softener is used. I've tried every kind of detergent. I've had to throw a few towels away, but now the jeans are affected and I'm loathe to throw away a 40-dollar pair of jeans before trying to get this smell out!
Some information, that may or may not be relevant:
We have very hard well water, but have lived here for 20 years, and this problem is recent.
We have a full-size washer and dryer downstairs, and an apartment size set upstairs. It occurs in both places.
My husband is an auto mechanic by trade, but worked in a bronze foundry for a few years, leaving in 8/2006. This problem started 6 months or so ago. I never washed his stuff with anyone elses.
I usually wash things in hot water, because the hard water makes it hard to get things clean if they are washed in cold water. We drink the water right from the tap, and it tastes fine.
I'd appreciate any feedback, because this is driving me nuts!
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wrote:

How long has this been happening? Any plumbing upgrades or repairs precede this problem?
It is not the washers, or specific detergent [maybe detergent type?].
Are cotton fabrics more susceptible, as it seems?
It almost has to be the water. I note you have hard water. Do you happen to know which minerals are causing the hardness? Do you happen to know the pH of your water? My best guess would be that one or more minerals in your water are attracted to cotton fibers, which are hollow. If you could soften the water, perhaps with baking soda, it might help you make a determination. Otherwise, a water analysis might help.
Do any of your neighbors, who have the same water source, have this problem?
________________________ Whatever it takes.
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I tried to address this in my original post. We've lived here for 20 years, have a full-size washer/dryer downstairs, an apartment size set upstairs, this problem started earlier this year. No plumbing changes. Many different detergents tried. I also notice my dishwasher doesn't do a good job of cleaning dishes unless I add rinse agent.a
We use mostly cotton fabrics, I'd say less than 2% of what I wash is a blend or non-cotton. I don't know the exact chemical content of my water. A water analysis would be a good thing, I know. How would I go about getting one? I'm pretty sure my neighbors are hooked up to city water, and we're the only ones still with a well. The water tastes good and is fine for cooking. I like my well water!
Why would only some of my laundered articles come out smelly?

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wrote:

I'd chalk that up (no pun intended) to hard water, but a different set of minerals might be causing the odor problem. Over 20 years, the aquifer supplying your well could have become infiltrated, by many unsavory substances.

Ask your local health department where/how to have your water tested. Your local Culagen dealer will gladly analyze your water. LOL But it might not be totally objective.

"I tried to address this in my original post."
I do not know, but here are some possibilities:
Cotton fibers that have been grown, processed, milled, treated, dyed, coated, preserved differently; with chemicals of various pH, molecular weight, ionic charge and so forth.
Factor in all of these variables and you'll see there are many reasons why *only* some of your laundry develops problems.
Don't be surprised, if analysis shows you need to process your well water: softening, ion targeting, reverse osmosis, filtering. That public water supply might begin to seem more acceptable after all.
_______________________ Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
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wrote:

Carefully inspect your washer for rust--you may need to take-apart some parts. I keep the washer lid in the upright position after use to allow it to dry, helps prevent rust/mildew. If the smell was due to something left in a pocket, etc, do a "rag" wash using extra detergent (if you have TSP use that), a half box of baking soda and hot water. Finally, a cup of white vinegar in the water-softener rinse will remove most odors.
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dejablues wrote:

Maybe you could get somebody from outside the household to see if they agree with you about which clothes smell, how much, and what they smell like.
Years ago I started getting bits of "putty" in my clothes from a washer that had been in use more than ten years. I was afraid the transmission was leaking. I took the machine apart to see the inside of the tub, outside the basket. The stuff had accumulated at the waterline. I removed what I could and had no trouble after that.
Whatever the source, the transmission wasn't leaking. Apparently it came from a combination of soil in the clothes, detergent, and microbes. Maybe oil from fixing cars has contributed to your buildup.
One approach would be to fill it with hot water, stop it, add more hot water with a bucket, add 3 cups of bleach and 3 cups of baking soda, let it run a few minutes, let it sit a few hours, and let it complete the wash cycle.
Sometimes trash gets into the sump and keeps a washer from draining completely. Once in a while, the end of the drain tube will be underwater in the drain pipe, and it will siphon smelly water into the washer.
If you take a washer apart, it pays to make sure the electrical circuits are dry before you plug it back in.
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wrote:

I also have a problem with odors and was wondering if anyone could help me. My Significant Other does martial arts. His clothes get soaked with sweat and I wash them as soon as possible. The problem is that even though they look and smell clean and fresh after washing, as soon as they get wet (from sweat) they get an unpleasant soured smell. If I wash them in bleach this doesn't happen. But I can't wash his colored clothes in bleach or they fade and they peroxide type of "color safe bleach" didn't help ( I used Kroger brand.)
Suggestions?
Thanks Bonnie
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On Tue, 31 Jul 2007 22:43:30 -0400, Bonnie Peebles

You can't expect clothes to smell clean after a workout. Use vinegar in the rinse water, possibly add a half cup of baking soda in the wash.
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Using 100% cotton workout clothes might help, as synthetics tend to hold onto odor more than cotton. Not mostly cotton--100%.
Donna
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sounds like a metal seal is loose--is it a top or side machine?

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Re: metallic smell in laundry:

Not this would help with your problem, but I just wonder if it's cotton or synthetic items that are holding odor---or is it both?
Donna
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