Odor related issues during textile washing

Customers and users who have recently laundered textiles can have the right expectation that they will be clean, dry, and free from staining.

This assumption can be disproved if items emit an unpleasant odour. The launderer could be in serious trouble if the unpleasant smell develops into a foul, stomach-churning stench.

The current pandemic has increased everyone’s sensitivities, and it is a terrible time to have odour complaints.

We will be discussing how to deal with them when they occur this month.

Identifying the type and source of odour

Some troops learned to recognize poison gas from its initial smell in World War 1.

“Phosgene smells a lot like mouldy hay,”
Chlorine can take your breath away

Although not every soldier will recognize the smell of mouldy straw, they soon realized that chlorine was being used by the gasps it produced when it was detected.

Although there is a low risk of getting poisoned from the chlorine traces on bleached textiles, leading launderers will still inspect the packaging area for any signs of inconsistency. It can also be used to alert you to any other odours.

It is possible to create a warm environment by rubbing the fabric together if the odour appears very faint. Not everyone has good sense of smell. This will increase the visibility of the odour and make it easier to identify.

Unremoved protein staining and soiling from food can cause foul-smelling sewer smells. They can become even worse when bacteria starts to grow on the residues. This is why industrial workers complain about a foul-smelling stench every time they open their locker doors to take out a new garment.

Peracetic acid is used in laundry because of its disinfection properties and stain-removing properties. It is similar to vinegar being sprinkled in fish and chips shops in the UK, and other countries. This leads customers to suspect that the items were not washed properly.

The chemical butyric acid that gives vomit its smell is responsible for the unpleasant smell. They rarely survive washing unless they are given a neutral detergent and rinsed properly.

If textiles that are contaminated with soot or quarry dust, or other particulate foodstuffs such as flour, are not properly rinsed or given the proper detergent dosage, a sooty or ‘dusty” odour can often develop.

The smell of petrol and diesel, as well as mineral oils, is easily identifiable. You can remedy this by changing the detergent dosage.

Excessive chemical smells

Most common odour complaints caused by residue chemicals on fabrics are those caused by bleaching with sodium hypochlorite (or ‘chlorine bleach’).

This can cause a chlorine odour that is reminiscent of toilet cleaner or swimming pools if it isn’t thoroughly rinsed off.

The launderer should be concerned about the presence of residual chlorine odour. This is for two reasons:

First, the stock could be slowly degraded and pre-weakened. The stock may also show signs of wear and tear as excess chlorine bleach causes cotton and linen to rot.

Second, it is possible that someone is using too much chlorine bleach to treat a problem with resistant staining. This is a mistaken diagnosis. Chlorine bleach is easy to remove vegetable dye stains in tea, coffee, red wine and beer. You can cure them by making sure the washing conditions are right.

Bacterial odours

Some smells, particularly those from protein staining or soiling, can become much more severe after a few hours in a warm pile or locker of food-industry workers.

This is often due to bacteria growth on nutrition from unremoved substances. A small amount can sustain many millions of micro-organisms. The characteristic foul odours are caused by the excrement of these substances.

Many countries still use implied thermal disinfection to control the levels of bugs in healthcare textiles. This means that the main wash must be kept at minimum 71C for three minutes and then mixed.

It is often mistakenly believed that this can be done in the garment ironer, garment tunnel finisher, or garment press at higher temperatures. It has been proven that bacteria can survive in damp seams and hems, and then breed as the fabric cools. The breeding process can be very prolific if there is enough nutrition in the form of soiling from the protein residual. After washing, rinse in clean water.

This problem is magnified if rinse water comes from a stream or river. This can lead to odours that can really upset stomachs.

Simple dip-slides are the best way for a launderer to monitor whether they are using surface water or mains water. They are inexpensive and easy to use in your own home.

Dusty, sooty odours

Human noses are very sensitive. They can sense the smell of soot in the vicinity of a freshly swept chimney. Although they might not be visible with the naked eye (they can still be seen using a magnifying glass), the nose will detect them easily.

These and other particulate, dusty odours can be solved by choosing the right detergent. The’suspending agents’ are the key ingredient. This is a key ingredient in most detergents. It wraps around any embedded particles on the cloth and helps to pull them off. Once the particle has been removed from the wash liquor, it wraps around the entire thing to prevent it from being re-deposited onto the fabric.

This can be achieved in two ways:

First, the suspending agent will physically stop it from being re-used on the material.

It will also neutralize the tiny electrostatic charge that the particle has on it, which would make it gravitate towards the cloth surface with the opposite charge.

The suspending power of premium detergents is higher than that of the less expensive ones. These detergents rely more heavily on the surfactant. You can increase the effectiveness of your detergent by either using more suspending agents or incorporating stronger suspending agents, or both.

You can purchase additional suspending agents to add value to laundry that is dealing with highly contaminated contract work.

Washer extractor selection

Only washer-extractors with XTend TM technology are currently unrivalled in terms of odour management. This is a combination of XOrbs TM, XDrum TM and XDrum _ TM .

It uses XOrbs and TM in its main wash and prewash stages. The surface is ‘oleophilic. It attracts oils and fats to the surface. This reduces reliance on detergency.

The XOrbs TM reduce the amount of water needed to wash clothes in a traditional way. This allows for higher detergent concentrations (and the surfactant or suspending agent to contain) while still significantly reducing the chemicals cost compared to normal washing processes. This allows for unrivalled quality and a lower wash cost. There is also the added benefit of a lower environmental footprint due to lower chemicals being disposed of to the drain.


It is not easy to maintain high quality products with minimal odours and no complaints. However, it is helpful to have another option to raise the price when the customer is only talking about the price. A successful launderer must achieve consistent quality at a low enough cost to make a reasonable profit. We have attempted to show you how to do this by responding to the points made in this month’s blog.

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