What Happens If You Don’t Rinse Your Clothes?

What Happens If You Don't Rinse Your Clothes
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I’ve always wondered how much easier life would have been if we just wash our clothes, dry them and throw them on without rinsing.

well, on the upside we’ll save some money on water, and the extra power needed to rinse and spin. And maybe save on the extra rinse time too, especially if we do hand wash.

But what can happen if we don’t rinse our clothes after washing?

The short answer is: you’ll gradually destroy your clothes. 

But that is not the hardest part. Before we discuss this in detail, let’s understand more about detergents and soaps.


Unlike soaps, detergents are synthetic.

They are not biodegradable. This means that if you drop some dry or liquid detergent on the ground, they can not be eaten up by microbes. So except they are used up by washing or some other activities, they will remain on surfaces for a long long time.

The earth is built to breakdown waste substances. Take for instance a dead plant, animal or even poop. Even without direct human action, they are broken down and dissolved by bacteria and other microbial activities. 

So even if they’re harmful to their immediate environment, with time they are eaten up by nature and stop being a threat.

Well, detergents are not like this. Any harm they pose to their environment, last a long time unless deliberate action is taken to remove them.

Effects Of Unwashed Detergent On Cloth Fabric

Unwashed detergent is harmful to your clothes and your skin. They can cause:

  1. White spots on fabrics
  2. Discoloration
  3. Skin irritation
  4. Unpleasant fabric odor
  5. Respiratory reaction

  1. White Spots

When not properly rinsed, detergent can cause white stains in cloth fabrics. this can result in 

  1. Discoloration

The very power of detergents that causes it to remove stains and dirt on your clothes can also act against your fabric natural dye.

when left on clothes, especially when in contact with liquid, such as body sweat, detergent can become active. 

Its surfactant property can become active, resulting in discoloration of spots on your clothes.

  1. Skin Irritation

Maybe the biggest loser when detergent in clothes mixes with sweat is the wearer.

When unwashed detergent in clothes becomes active by coming in contact with body sweat, it can cause skin burning or irritation.

If the clothes involved is an underwear, it can pose a different type threat.

It is common for people to sweat in their pubic region. The interaction of those sweat with unwashed lingeries can cause skin reaction to eczema, to yeast infection.

  1. Unpleasant Fabric Odor

When properly laundered, clothes can come off with those sweet fresh laundry odor, that is pleasant to the wearer.

However, when not properly rinsed, detergents can leave a strong pungent smell on clothes.

  1. Respiratory Reaction

Aside from the unpleasant smell, it can be harmful to some wearers. For example, it can trigger asthma attach when worn by asthmatic persons.

Some persons, though not asthmatic, reacts strongly to strong chemical odor. 

I used to have a workmate who always feel uncomfortable whenever we’re doing the weekly office cleaning. Of course, we still clean, but we properly aerate the office during the cleaning and use less cleaning agents when she’s around. For the record, she’s not even asthmatic.

Imagine someone like this actually wearing the clothes with those strong pungent smell.

Effects Of Unwashed Soap On Cloth Fabric

Most of the effects of mentioned above is applicable to unwashed soap on garment.

The major difference of soaps and detergents is that soaps are degradable. meaning they loose strength with time as microbes act on them.

So they do have a prolonged effect as does detergents.

What To Do If Your Rinse Cycle Does Not Thoroughly Rinse Clothes

Applying too much detergent can cause your washer’s rinse cycle not to properly rinse-off detergents from garment. 

You can tell that your clothes are not properly rinsed when you have lots of suds on your laundry at the end of the rinse cycle.

If this is a regular occurrence:

  1. Your best option is to know the right measurement of detergent and soap to use for each laundry size. As a general rule, reduce the detergent amount for soft water, small loads, or lightly soiled loads.
  1. Make sure you use the recommended types of detergent as appropriate. 
  1. Use high efficiency (HE) detergent to prevent over-sudsing. 
  1. Non-HE detergent is not recommended.

On the short term, though, you can simply run the “Rinse and Spin” a second time. This will remove any detergent remaining on the clothes.

If you’re washing manually, you should avoid the temptation to simply increase the rinsing water. Of course, this does work sometimes. But your best option is to rinse your clothes a second time with sufficient water.

In Conclusion

Properly rinsing your clothes is important for your skin and your clothes. 

Whether you need to conserve water, or manage electricity consumption or you’re simply just another crazy thinker obsessed with experiments, you should not even attempt to think of skipping the rinse process.

If you need to save on your washing machine electricity consumption, this linked article gives the best suggestion.

If you’re concerned about water conservation, here is another linked article with some suggestions.

But if you’re simply a crazy thinker like me, please contact me personally, and I’ll give you the most adrenaline-packed project you’ll ever think of.

So if you have unwashed laundry out there, kindly pause this article and go rinse some clothes.

And don’t forget to run it a second time if needed.

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