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Why Does My Washing Machine Smell?

A collage of smelly washing machine.

You may thank bacteria, mildew, and mold for the bad odors coming from your washing machine. Skin oil, grime, hair, and scum become caught in the detergent dispenser, seal, and gasket of your machine every time you wash your clothing.

Nothing beats opening the door to my washer and being greeted by an awful odor. Having a dirty washing machine is like an oxymoron…right? I’ve learned that to stop our washing machine from smelling, we must find the source of the smell. From there on, clean it often (some have an auto wash feature).

Let’s get down into the dirt and grime of the matter and figure out the smell sources in our washing machines, how to prevent them and how to get rid of them. 

Related: How Do Washing Machines Work | How to clean your washing machine | Types of Washing Machines

Why Does My Washing Machine Smell?

A woman smelling unhappily in an open washing machine.

The mildew odor usually comes from the seal, soap dispenser, or rubber gasket located at the front. The odor from the gasket can even seep into your clothing.

The combination of the mixture and the laundromat’s high humidity over time makes for an unpleasant odor. It’s ironic that the washing machine, which is supposed to clean the clothes, ends up stinking even worse than the dirty load. Get your machine back in working order by following our easy steps to eliminate the odor.

Best Practices for Deodorizing Your Washing Machine

Cleaning the inside and outside of your equipment is one of those simple things that seems straightforward but is easily forgotten.

You could clean your washing machine from top to bottom by taking apart its various components, like the detergent tray, soaking them in bicarbonate of soda, and then scrubbing them with a toothbrush.

A woman hands cleaning inside the washing machine.

Ensuring we clean the door seal after each use is another effective method for eliminating odors from the washer. There may be leftover detergent, dirt, debris, and residue after a cycle is done. Neglected garbage can foster the growth of harmful organisms like mold and germs.

A service wash entails operating a washing machine without any garments inside. Many Brits wash their clothes at temperatures of 40 degrees or less to save on utility bills. On the contrary, you need to raise the temperature when operating a service washing service. Most producers suggest doing a monthly service wash.

If the odor remains even after you’ve cleaned the device, you might want to think about clearing the standpipe. There may be a blockage in the pipe. To get rid of the accumulated gunk, use a drain unclogger.

It’s critical to keep the problem from returning now that the odor has been eliminated. Here are some helpful hints for preventing odors from building up in your washing machine.

Other Ways of Fixing a Stinky Washing Machine

Think About Lowering the Washing Machine’s Temperature

The automatic hygiene features of machines like the Axi smart washing machine are a convenient convenience.

When you set the temperature to 60 degrees Celsius, the washer’s hygiene function kicks in, giving your garments a thorough cleaning while keeping the water at a consistent temperature throughout the cycle. It’s as simple as pushing a button.

Invest in Quality Detergent

A woman hands pouring detergent powder on a washing machine.

Typically, the maker of your washing machine will provide some suggestions for detergent. Powdered detergent, especially when used in a front-loading machine, may produce too many suds for the machine to handle.

Make Sure the Drum is Dry

As soon as the cycle is complete, remove clothing and leave the door open so that air can circulate. Put a fan to work in the laundry area to get some air moving. There may be a need to invest in a dehumidifier to help with the moisture removal if the situation persists.

Ensure the Gasket is Cleaned 

It’s not enough to use the right detergent and empty the drum after each wash; the gasket must also be cleaned to ensure your washer stays odor-free. A solution of equal parts water and vinegar applied once a month is an eco-friendly alternative. 

Purchase Some Care Products  

You can ensure the machine stays clean with no extra work by using these fantastic products. Examine the options and settle on the ones that work best to maintain the clean, fresh scent of your machine for the longest time possible.

Differentiating Between Front and Top Load Washer Cleaning

How to clean a stinky washer begins with identifying if you have a front or top-load machine. Front-loading washers are significantly more prone to developing odors and mildew over time if they are not properly maintained, even though they are superior in almost every other way, from cleaning quality to efficiency.

A front load washing machine.

The greater possibility of odors, the buildup of soap scum, plus mildew and mold growth in front-load washers is due to the design of these machines. Water is only poured into the lower half of the washing machine by high-efficiency front loaders.

After the tub is partially filled with water, the drum can be used to wash the clothing without wasting any water. Cleaning with this setup requires the use of high-efficiency (HE) laundry detergents. Detergents that aren’t HE can’t be flushed away because there isn’t enough water in the system.

Soap scum, dirt, and grime from your dirty laundry can accumulate on the washer drum and make it difficult to clean. Mold and mildew can flourish in the warm, humid environment of your washing machine.

The rubber door gasket also suffers the same fate when it fails to keep out water. These seals collect dust, soap scum, and other debris, providing yet another breeding ground for unpleasant odors.

Guide to Deodorizing Your Washing Machine

You may be wondering what to do about a smelly washer and how to clean it. The first thing to do is amass your supplies. It shortens the time it takes to clean. In addition, you won’t have to make several stops at the store to make up for any forgotten items.

Items required

  • Cloth or sponge 
  • Gloves
  • Bleach
  • Baking soda 
  • Vinegar 

The pre-scrub is an essential part of restoring freshness to a musty washing machine. You should take out all the dispensers and clean them first. 

A hand on gloves cleaning washing machine.

To thoroughly clean the crevices and nooks, use a small, unused toothbrush or the tip of a sponge. If you can get to the insides of the dispensers’ pipes, clear out any debris that has accumulated there. Owners of top-loading models should regularly inspect the door as well as hinges for areas where dirt may be hiding.

To get rid of the gunk that has built up in the rubber gaskets of a front-loading machine, you should wipe out the area around the rubber seal and clean it thoroughly. Scrubbing these places before giving the drum a thorough cleaning is a good idea.

Cleaning the Washer Drums with Bleach

Mold prevention is the most crucial part of washing machine cleaning. Mold and mildew are no match for bleach’s ability to eliminate them. Wear rubber gloves and make sure the area is well ventilated, and remember that bleach and other cleaning products should never be combined.

You should fill the top-loading machine with four cups of bleach, while the front-loading machine should have two cups.

Start a hot water cycle and wait for the tub to fill. Once the bleach has been added to the water, you can stop the washing cycle. Stop the cycle and let it sit for 30 minutes.

The bleach must be removed completely, so run a rinse cycle.

Scrub with Baking Soda and Vinegar

A hand in gloves scrubbing washing machine.

This mixture can be used as a secondary cleaning and deodorizer for your washing machine after the bleach has disinfected the drum. There shouldn’t be any leftover smells or problems with your washer after this.

  • Combine a quarter cup of baking soda with a quarter cup of water, and then pour the mixture into the detergent dispenser of your washing machine.
  • If you have a top-loading washing machine, add four cups of white vinegar (not apple cider vinegar) and if you have a front-loading machine, add two cups.
  • The vinegar should be added to the drum.
  • Maintain a high-temperature cycle. (For more thorough cleaning, you can pause the wash and let the solution soak for 30 minutes.)
  • If stains persist after washing, try wiping the interior of the drum with a damp cloth, paying special attention to the crevices and the gasket seal. 

The vinegar odor is also easier to get rid of by wiping down the drum. If you want to remove everything, just start a rinse cycle. 

  • The last step is to apply essential oil to the seal to eliminate any lingering odors and to provide some moderate disinfection.

How to Prevent Washer Odors?

Learning how to clean a stinky washer not only helps you deal with the scents that are currently there, but it also helps you avoid the situation from deteriorating to such a horrible one in the future.

Auto-clean should be activated. Most modern washing machines have an auto wash setting specifically designed to avoid this very scenario. To ensure it functions at peak efficiency, use this setting every few months. 

Mildew can be prevented by leaving the washing machine door open between uses to allow excess moisture to dissipate. (The same holds for your dryer.)

Make sure to use HE detergents. High-Efficiency (HE) detergents are designed to reduce the formation of soap scum in HE appliances, particularly front-load washers.

From time to time, you should clean out the gasket seal. If your washing machine has a strange odor, it’s probably the gasket. Laundry rooms and clothing benefit greatly from regular cleaning and sanitation.