Washing machine odors are almost always caused by a gradual build-up of bacteria, mildew, limescale, or soap scum—or a combination of all four. If you regularly use cool wash cycles to save energy, you may not be generating enough heat to remove post-wash residue and kill the bacteria that likes to feed on it. But you don't have to switch to hot wash cycles: there are some simple fixes for your odorous washing machine.
Your washing machine is supposed to make everything spotlessly clean and freshly scented. So, what do you do when your washer smells dirtier than your dirty laundry? Where is that foul odor coming from? More importantly, how can you get rid of it? Let's find out.
WHAT CAUSES WASHING MACHINE ODORS?
HOW TO GET RID OF THE SMELL IN YOUR WASHING MACHINE
Fortunately, that moldy or eggy smell is likely coming from parts of your washing machine that can be easily cleaned. You shouldn't have too much trouble reaching the residue on drums, seals, gaskets, and dispensers. The key is using the right cleaning solutions, tools, and techniques to ensure completely spotless results.
- Seals and gaskets: Mold, soap scum, and other build-ups are all too easy to see on your washer's seals. Whether you have a front- or top-loading model, it's simple to get the door or lid seals clean again. In fact, hot soapy water and an old rag should be all you need. If not, don't be tempted to use harsh chemical cleaners or steel wool—instead, opt for an old toothbrush and white vinegar.
- Dispensers: Most newer washing machines have removable detergent, bleach, and/or softener dispensers, whether they're drawers or cup inserts. But stubborn soap build-ups will inevitably accumulate in these dispensers over time. Left unchecked, this gunk will become the perfect breeding ground for stinky bacteria. Remove the dispenser, soak it in hot water, and give it a thorough scrub with that old toothbrush again. You may also be able to run it through the dishwasher; just be sure to check your user manual first.
- Drum: Luckily, you don't have to get hands-on to clean your washer's largest component! Instead, you can have the washer wash itself. Either use an off-the-shelf washing machine cleaner or try the following DIY method:
- Combine 1/4 cup of water with 1/4 cup of baking soda; pour into the soap dispenser
- Pour two cups of white vinegar into your empty washing machine
- Run a hot wash cycle
With a few small changes to your laundry routine, you can also prevent those unwanted odors from ever returning. For instance, use the right detergent for your model to reduce leftover suds and, if possible, make sure your last wash cycle of the day is set to hot. You can also simply leave the door or lid open to allow moisture to dissipate more effectively.
SEWAGE-LIKE SMELLS HAVE A DIFFERENT CAUSE
If the odor smells like sewage—and the cleaning tips above haven't helped—the problem may be with your drain rather than the washing machine itself. If possible, pull the washer away from the wall and remove the washing machine hose from the permanent standpipe. If the smell worsens, that's likely where the problem lies. Either attempt a fix yourself (for example, pouring a white vinegar/baking soda solution into the drainpipe) or book an appointment with one of our local specialists. We usually get the job done in just one visit.*