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James I
James I,
Category: Plumbing
Satisfied Customers: 2086
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We are having problems with an unpleasant smell on our

Customer Question

We are having problems with an unpleasant smell on our clothes which appears to be coming from contaminated water. I think it was affected when we had leaky guttering at the back of the house - there was an intense metallic smell when washing clothes in the kitchen sink. We have had a new washing machine, the guttering replaced and the drains flushed out (which may have helped but not solved the problem) to no avail. The smell is slightly metallic with a strong 'swampiness' to it. The water board has tested it at the tap in the kitchen sink and said it was OK.
Please help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Plumbing
Expert:  James I replied 1 year ago.

So we are clear the smell is from the mains water not just when using the washing machine.

If that is the case based on washing clothes in the kitchen sink, do you notice the same problem when running a bath, if you do does it only occur when using hot\warm water, or is it obvious on cold water too?

Its a case of trying to identify the source, is it the boiler, kitchen sink\pipes, mains water feed etc.

Though the water has been tested this will look for harmful microbes, not identify a cause of smell, I assume none of your neighbours have the problem, and do you know if the water board checked if you have a water leak on the feed into your house?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi James,The smell appears to be the same if you wash clothes in the upstairs sink, the downstairs kitchen sink or in the washing machine. I can't smell it in the water when it runs, it's much more distinct after the clothes have dried. The washing machine takes cold water however if I use the sink I use hot.None of our neighbours has this problem.I don't know if the water board checked for a leak on the feed into the house however I will ask my partner and see if he knows.
Expert:  James I replied 1 year ago.

I take it you havent noticed anything different about the taste of colour of the water if you put it in a glass, the fact the water doesnt seem to smell it sounds like it could be a reaction to the washing powder.

When washing in the sink are you just rinsing them out, or using washing powder, as I would try and give a few garments a good wash\rinse in the shower dry them, then proceed to wash them in the sink (without soap) and see if you notice the same smell. It could well be the clothes have absorbed some softener or soap which is reacting in some way.

A water softener will not fix this issue (in my view), this just strips minerals from the water and your neighbours arent having the same issue, I would try a different washing powder as it could be the washing powder your using has had its formula changed which is causing this issue.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm not sure it's the washing powder as I have tried several different varieties (mostly biological, major brands such as Persil) without success. I have also tried soda crystals, oxygen bleach and Dettol laundry cleanser without any joy. Having said this, my partner's clothes don't smell as bad as mine - (he uses less powder) although they still go stale very quickly - which I originally put down to him not using pre-wash whereas I do. The water doesn't smell strange and Anglian water did use a professional water sniffer to test it and they couldn't find anything amiss with it. I wondered if it could be the pipes that have been adversely affected - even if I do a couple of 4 hour washes on 90 degrees with a moderate amount of powder I can still smell the unpleasant odour in the washing machine's drum. If I buy new clothes and take them to the dry cleaner's for laundering they still smell bad, I think due to cross-contamination with a previous wash even if it was a few weeks earlier. I originally thought it was due to a damp problem in the house however even if I keep the clothes in my car the problems still occurs. I will try rinsing the clothes this evening anyway and let you know the outcome.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have tried rinsing a top in the shower, drying it and then washing it without soap. It smells less 'swampy' but more metallic. What would you suggest? Thanks.
Expert:  James I replied 1 year ago.

The fact it doesnt make any difference which tap you use, and if its hot or cold water used I would suggest you flush the cold water system.

Do you have a combi boiler, or a header tank in the loft, it maybe there is something corroding in the tank.

I would be tempted to take the clothes and see if a neighbour, friends or relative can wash them to remove the smell, then wash them again in the sink with soap and see if the odour comes back, as it may well be the issue was something in the washer caused this and its taken a while for it to fade from the clothes.

Expert:  James I replied 1 year ago.

I just wanted to follow up and check if you required any further assistance, and request you rate the service received so I may resolve this case.

Many thanks


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I have been waiting to wash something else by hand to see if the problems persists. If I take clothes and wash them in a friend's machine they smell just as bad and they contaminate their machine so they have to run a maintenance wash.We do have a combi boiler (about 6 years old) and I think we had a plumber to flush our pipes out last year without any joy.If I can get hold of the water board today I will ask if they checked for a leak.
Expert:  James I replied 1 year ago.
No problem, maybe you can try a laundrette to clean the clothes, it doesn't sound like its the boiler as you said the smell is present when using cold water.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the delay in responding. I think the method of washing the clothes may be to blame however I need to try a few more washes to be certain.Have tried laundrettes before but everything came back smelling of mildew!When I know more I will be in touch.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks very much for your help, James. It's much appreciated.
Expert:  James I replied 1 year ago.

No problem appreciate if you can rate the service received.

I await to hear back how you get on.