Is It Okay To Leave Laundry In The Washer Overnight?


We’ve all been there – you load up the washing machine, set it to run, and then, in the hustle and bustle of daily life, forget to transfer the laundry to the dryer. If you’re guilty of this occasional laundry lapse, you may have wondered whether leaving your damp clothes in the washing machine overnight could have adverse effects. In this article, we’ll delve into the question and explore the implications of this common laundry mishap.

Is It Safe to Leave Wet Laundry in the Washing Machine Overnight? If you’ve left your laundry in the washing machine overnight, you’re not alone. Martha Stewart herself acknowledges this common occurrence and provides some insights into its consequences. According to her, it’s generally safe to leave your laundry in the washer overnight, as long as it’s not for an extended period. She advises against leaving it for a week, but if you happen to forget and notice it in the morning, transferring it to the dryer should suffice.

Benefits of Slightly Drying Laundry in the Washer: Interestingly, allowing your damp clothing to sit in the washing machine overnight and partially dry can be advantageous, especially if your intention is to hang your laundry on a clothesline. While not everyone has the luxury of line-drying, this method can prolong the life of your clothes compared to using a dryer. The gentle drying process that occurs overnight in the washer may help reduce wear and tear on your garments, making them last longer.

Dealing with Unpleasant Odors: If you do forget to transfer your laundry and, upon retrieval, notice an unpleasant odor, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly. A foul smell usually indicates the presence of mold and bacteria due to the damp clothes and the humid environment inside the washer. In such cases, it’s advisable to rerun your laundry through another cycle in the washing machine before proceeding to the dryer. This extra step ensures that your clothes are thoroughly cleaned and odor-free.


In the world of laundry, it’s essential to exercise judgment when it comes to leaving your laundry in the washer overnight. As long as you retrieve your clothes in the morning and don’t detect any foul odors, you can confidently transfer them to the dryer. Martha Stewart’s endorsement of this practice adds a level of reassurance. So, the next time you accidentally leave your laundry in the washing machine overnight, rest assured that you’re in good company, and your clothes should be just fine, provided they pass the smell test.

images source: iStock – Martha Stewart – Clean and Tidy Living