Jeans Smell After Washing (Causes, Fixes & Prevention)

Very contradicting right? I mean, you would expect a jean with a bad smell prior to being washed, to smell fresher after getting washed, right? Now, how do we trace the cause of this mildew smell? What can be done about it?

For every issue you face with your jean or every other form of clothing, there is always an explanation for it. Below are a handful of reasons why your jeans would still smell even after washing.

Reasons why your jeans smell after washing & possible fixes


Your washing machine is dirty

This should be classified as one of the root causes because, let’s face it; if the machine that you put your clothes in to get them washed clean is not clean itself, how then do you expect to get back fresh smelling clothes?

If you use your machine frequently, you are bound to find stagnant water in them from time to time. Unknown to you, bacteria’s and mould might be housed in there which, subsequently gets transferred to your jeans making them smell bad.

The solution to this is pretty simple and can be done by anyone. Begin a wash cycle without putting anything in the machine. That’s right, what you are doing, is washing the machine itself, getting rid of stagnant water, grease, germs, dirt, and debris.

Surplus or insufficient use of detergent

What quantity of detergent do you use in washing your jeans? This information is particularly useful because, detergent usage has been listed as one of the possible reasons why your jeans may smell bad even after washing. 

Using too much detergent might see some of them trapped within the jean fabric, encouraging mold growth and, too little detergent is a problem too because it will not get the jeans washed clean. How then do you know the right measurement?

Stipulated on the pack of the detergent is the appropriate dose for certain washing loads. It is advised that you get a jean-friendly detergent in order to get the accurate amount of detergent for washing your jeans. You might even find available, measuring cups in some detergent brands, making it easier to stay true to the right measurement.

You overload your washing machine

This is a very ineffective way to wash clothes in general. Overloading your washing machine does not give the clothes in it enough room to actually move and be washed clean.

Loading the machine too full makes all the clothes stay curled up and entangled, making it impossible for every area of the fabric to get cleaned. 

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It is understandable that you want to reduce the number of washing cycles so as to save electricity cost and time in general, but, you also have to put into consideration that the clothes may not come out fully clean. So, at the end of the day, you are indirectly still wasting time and electricity because the job was not properly done!

Upon subsequent washes, put only the load stipulated on the machine per cycle. Do not exceed that figure by not even a kg more. This would give your jeans a better chance of getting completely clean as the machine agitates.

Your jeans do not get dry on time

I know a lot of factors might work against our jeans getting dried on time. If you don’t have a dryer, you might have to depend on natural sunlight or heat but, what happens when the sun does not shine; like during the rainy season for instance?

They would definitely have no choice but to stay damp and dry at a slower pace. But, the problem lies in the fact that if jeans take too long to dry, there is a tendency for them to give off that offensive damp smell.

The only possible solution to this is to invest in a tumble dryer, so you do not have to be reliant on natural sunlight or, you keep off washing till when the weather is very sunny so, the jeans can get dried in no time.

Chances for your jeans to smell bad if you leave them indoors to dry are also very high. It is advised that you get a dehumidifier placed in your home to soak in all the water in the atmosphere likely to cause dampness.

You leave your jeans in the washing machine for too long

Okay, no judgment here but, honestly, the habit of washing your clothes in the machine and abandoning them in there instead of proceeding to dry them immediately is a lazy method of washing.

Your jeans are busy getting stale while stuck in that machine. I know it’s possible to get carried away doing other chores while the wash cycle is going on and, totally fail to remember when it is completed but, you can find a way around it by making use of the “delay start” button on your washing machine.

This would get the clothes washed at a very slow pace, giving you ample time to attend to other things and still, be able to get back to the clothes on record time.

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You do not leave your jeans to get completely dried

This is one mistake people make and then feel surprised that their jeans do not smell fresh. It is not enough to have them dried, you also have to be sure that they are completely dried.

If the jean pockets or another tiny fraction of the fabric still feels damp, it means that the jean itself is yet to dry completely. Please do not pass off as inconsequential.

If you intend to have them ironed while damp, that is totally okay but, you must proceed to do so immediately. Leaving them in a pile of other clothing meant for ironing, would make them a breeding site for bacteria’s and germs which would in turn, lead to them having a bad smell.

The solution to this is pretty straightforward; whether tumble drying or drying naturally, allow your jeans dry completely. If you would prefer to iron them damp, do so right away.

You do not store them well

When your jeans and clothing, in general, are stored choked up in a wardrobe, they start smelling misty. Your jeans too, need to be stored in a well ventilated room, one in which they can get sufficient air to keep them smelling fresh.

Jeans are usually kept folded but, do so in a way that you do not have a lot stacked on each other. Ensure too, that the wardrobe is not packed full so, the clothes in it can get enough doses of air.

Your jeans have been stored for too long

As a rule, clothes in general kept for a long time without being worn will smell funny. This happens especially in cases where they are kept in a room without enough air.

You can try spreading them outside periodically in order for them to get air and let go of that stale smell. Another thing that could work is throwing in a nice scent bag in the wardrobe to keep them smelling good. Also, see to the fact that the room in which they are kept is well ventilated.

If you do all these and the smell persists, that would leave you with no choice but to wash them lightly before you wear.

Other things that you can do to keep your jeans from smelling

This is highly optional and you don’t really need to go to this length but, washing your jeans with a sweet smelling detergent would have them smelling good. We also have fabric conditioners that you can use too for odor control on your jean. Just be sure that they can be used on your jeans before you apply.

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For advanced smell that would not go off even after trying all these tips, get them treated to a hot water wash. For you to eliminate an advanced case of damp or sweaty smells, a deep clean should be considered.

Place your jeans for washing using very hot water and have them set to a very long cycle. Make sure this is done in compliance to what you have on its care tag. 

For maximum effect, you can place in the detergent dispenser, a cup full of white vinegar as it is also very effective for odor control.

Now, if your jeans are made with materials that cannot tolerate extreme heat, have them washed instead at a lower temperature but this time, focus on the detergent being used and make sure you get one that is extra powerful.

Jeans Smell After Washing – Conclusion

The fact that a jean might be clean yet smell funny is something to be carefully scrutinized. Like it or not, the way we appear in what we wear, tells a lot about the kind of person that we are.

If our jeans looks clean, and smell nice but are very rumpled, we might be perceived as a very untidy person. How much more if they now smell bad too? This is why we must pay close attention to the tips above and follow them in order to stop our jeans smelling for good.

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