We've all been there before--you're rushing to check off chores on your to-do list, and you quickly chuck some clothes in the washing machine. Now, fast forward to 11 p.m. that night. As you crawl into bed and doze off, you immediately remember your load of laundry, which is currently still sitting in the washing machine. You ask yourself, "Can't I just get it tomorrow? How long can wet clothes stay in the washer? Overnight?" Don't fret! Pull those covers back up and catch some Z's--here's why your clothes will be just fine.
According to domestic goddess Martha Stewart, it's "perfectly all right," to leave your load overnight. "If you get up in the morning and throw it in the dryer, it should probably be OK." Just "don't make a habit of it."
While letting your wet laundry sit isn't the best option because it can lead to health problems, it's only an issue when you let it sit for a long period of time--say, more than 24 hours. If that happens, mildew will start to form on your clothes and the washing machine, causing both to smell unpleasant. Mildew growth can also trigger an asthma attack.
How long before wet clothes mildew?
So you've got about 8-12 hours to get some shut eye before you really should do something about your wet clothes. However, let's say it slips your mind again. The worst case scenario involves you washing the clothes again, and while it's definitely not energy efficient, it's not the end of the world.
If you're really concerned about mildew, but you just can't be bothered to start a load in the dryer, leave the washing machine door or lid open. Better yet, move them to a hanging rack or even outside where they can sit temporarily.
Nobody likes doing laundry, and with kids or grandkids at home, it might feel like you're constantly loading your machine. But good laundry hygiene will keep you and your family safe.