It happens to all of us — we get the washing out, and it rains before we can get it in. And it keeps on raining, often for days. But just how long should it stay out there?
There's no rule from on high to give a definitive answer. However, the longer your washing stays damp and warm ish the more likely it is that bacteria and mould will breed, and the more likely it will become smelly.
That can happen within two days, and yes you probably will need to re-wash it, or put it through a rinse cycle. Just as the Mumsnet forum went crazy about wet washing left in the machine overnightso do online forums have plenty to say about wet washing on the line. One of the most interesting is the Whirlpool forum. Readers have some interesting observations.
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One person suggests we look at what happens to our parked cars when it rains — the rain spots leave dirty marks on the paintwork. That is exactly what's happening to your clothes and towels on the line. Rain pollution is a thing. But it's not all bad. Confused Soul wrote, "I've discovered by accident that if you leave clothes out in the rain for a few days that carry a BO smell ie clothes you use to go to the gym, or play sports in etc the rain will generally removes the smell.
So for example, I'll wash a T-shirt, and leave it out in the rain for a few days.
After that period, I'll re-wash the T-shirt. BO smell gone! Some could suggest Confused Soul uses a better laundry powder in the first instance.
And no-one likes the smell of old wet towels, which is what you get after two days on the clothesline in the rain. He also says, "Apparently, men does not mind wearing musty-smell clothes.
Maybe the smell attracts the opposite sex? Can any female comment on this? There's another problem if you leave clothes and towels on the line in heavy rain — they will sag down with the weight of the water and may stretch permanently, never to look the same again.
If you don't have a vented or condenser dryer and think the solution is to dry your clothes inside your house, you may want to reconsider. All that water in the wet washing has to go somewhere.
It goes into the air inside your house, making it very humid, which in turn causes mould to grow on windows, walls and ceilings. Opening doors and windows to ventilate the house will help, but it won't do a lot on a wet day.
A dehumidifier will remove some of the moisture, but you will need to use it the entire time your clothes are drying and that costs more to run than the dryer. Energywise says a dehumidifier is best used with a heater, otherwise it won't stop mould growing.
And that's more electricity. But Energywise recommends you never dry your clothes indoors because of the moisture build-up. So, perhaps the solution is to keep an eye on that weather forecast and maybe have a clothesline under cover outdoors.
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How long can I leave wet, rained-out washing on the clothesline? While the occasional light shower may not be a problem for your washing, it it rains for a couple of days you will probably need to rewash or rinse your laundry to avoid a whiffy odour. Energywise says it's not a good idea to dry clothes inside the house - you are simply putting more moisture into the air, which can cause mould to grow on walls, windows and ceilings.