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How to Make Sure Your Washing Machine Does Not Smell Bad - Tips and Tricks

Updated on June 14, 2019
BenjiRoss profile image

I have to ensure that I reach my wife's standard of a 'home'


The Washing Machine - A Brilliant Invention!

There is no doubt that a washer is a lifesaver in the modern era. Chuck your clothes in, add some detergent and an hour or so later your clothes are all clean and almost dry. This must be one of the most brilliant technologies ever created for mankind. You use it every day of the week - what could go wrong with these robust machines?

What's That Smell?

So after using it happily for a few months, you find that your clothes no longer smell fresh. They have a dank, musty or even disgusting smell. This is not uncommon

Although quite robust, washing machines mix dirt, detergent, soap scum, hard water residue, cloth fibres and lots of other stuff that whoosh, mix, flow and sometimes stay stagnant in pipes, a drum, corners and motors. This can cause build up of residue and dirt in these crevices, corners and pipes. This is a perfect recipe for bad odours. Sometimes its difficult to pinpoint where the smells come from. Prevention is best, but its not too difficult to get rid of these smells too. Here are my tips


Prevent Your Washing Machine From Smelling Bad

1. Use recommended detergents only: These dissolve well, don't lather too much and get easily washed away without leaving a residue. Use detergents that are specifically made for your front loader or HE machines even if it costs a little more.

1. Use the correct amount of detergent: Overusing detergent could result in more residue and scum that can clog up the internal parts of the washer.

The laundry dispenser needs to be cleaned regularly. Also use the correct type of laundry detergent.
The laundry dispenser needs to be cleaned regularly. Also use the correct type of laundry detergent.

3. Remove clothes immediately after the wash cycle is completed: Unless your washer has a dedicated dryer, the clothes will still be damp at the end of washing and can be the cause of bad smells

4. Leave the washer door open between washes when possible: This allows the drum and some tubings to dry out completely. For front loading machines ensure you wipe off all water from the door seals and rubber parts.

Leaving the washing machine door will allow it to dry better. Also remove water and muck that will accumulate in the door rubber seals
Leaving the washing machine door will allow it to dry better. Also remove water and muck that will accumulate in the door rubber seals

5. Descale regularly: Although this is a little controversial, it is recommended by some manufacturers, especially if your water supply is hard. There are plenty of washing machine descalers available as tablets and powders. Use them once in a few months to ensure that hard water residues and stains dont accumulate and block parts of the machine.
6. Use a water inlet filter / water softener: Some washers will have this as a part of the water inlet. There are filters and hard water softeners that can be connected to the inlet to prevent particles and dirt from entering the drum. Some may even reduce the hardness of the water. Cleaner water means better washes and lesser chances of odour. Make sure you remove and clean these filters or softeners regularly.
7. Dry out your sweaty clothes and wet towels before you wash them: I'm not sure it helps, but some people say that these can make your other clothes smell wet or sweaty even after a wash - something contagious??!!
8. Ensure that no lizards or mice or insects can access your machine: There are gaps in the bottom and back of your machine and these little creatures can go in and poop or live or even die in your machine. They can also chew up the electricals and pipes which could mess up your machine big time.
9. Clean the lint filter or similar part inside your machine: These instructions will be there in your washer manual. Its very simple and takes only a few seconds.

Image by Brett Hondow from pixabay
Image by Brett Hondow from pixabay

Get Rid of That Bad Smell In Your Washer

Once you start getting smelly, washed clothes, you're in trouble, but all is not lost. Try these steps.

  1. What always works for me is vinegar and baking soda: This has never failed me. I tend to mix them in the drum and the soap dispenser and run a full hot wash cycle and then another cycle to rinse. Some people alternate them. This works and is safe as long as you don't do it too often.
  2. Use a descaler from Amazon: There are plenty of them available - I use one by Tide. For bad smells you may need to use multiple cycles.
  3. Open and air your drum: Opening it will get rid of moisture and wetness. It also allows fresh air to get in. This can reduce the smell
  4. Open any of the tubings and pipes and inspect: Inspect for rats, lizards or any insects that could be dead and clogging pipes or just causing a smell. Rat poop and lizard poop are not very refreshing to the nose!
  5. When all else fails, call the professionals: This is an expensive option, but sometimes you need to dismantle a inside few parts and clear the source of the smell.

Image by akiragiulia from
Image by akiragiulia from


So a little regular maintenance steps should keep your washer clean and smelling good. What works for you? Please do write in the comments below.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 BenjiRoss


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