Odor Removal Tips

Tips to Get Rid of Laundry Odor

Odor in your washing machine or laundry can sometimes be difficult to get rid of.  Rather than mask the odor with fragrance, this article will give tips on how to get rid of the source of that mildew odor and keep it away!

Note:  Many users like to leave the washer door open to get rid of mildew odor.  It does lessen odor by drying out the odor-causing residue but makes it more difficult to remove.  Also, the residue is still present upon the next wash.  If your washer smells with the door open or closed – it’s time to clean it!

Start with your washing machine

Odor is usually noticed in towels before the clothes washer because cotton towels are thicker and used close to the face when wet.  Using a towel that smells of mold and mildew when we’re drying off after a shower can leave bad smell behind.  We can get used to that smell but other people can smell it and it can be embarassing.  Before attempting to remove odor from towels and other laundry it’s necessary to clean the odor-causing residue from your washer.

Bleach, Vinegar or baking soda (never together)

Bleach is the most commonly used cleaner to kill the mold and bacteria growing in our machines.  Available since the early 1900’s, it’s used to sanitize and remove odor.  Care should be taken when using to avoid spilling, contact with skin or breathing fumes.  DO NOT MIX BLEACH WITH ANYTHING as dangerous gases can form to cause illness or even death. Another option is vinegar to kill the mold spores and bacteria.  A cup of white, distilled vinegar added to wash can help with odor.

Use A Washer Cleaner

Persistent or returning odor in your washer or laundry is a sure sign of remaining residue inside the washing machine.  The odor-causing residue can be stubborn to remove.  Since we created the first washing machine deodorizer in 2006 a few major corporations have jumped on board with their version of washing machine cleaner but, whatever you use, it’s important to weigh cost, effectiveness and the environment when making a decision on what to use.


More Tips

  • The area of heaviest buildup is almost invariably just above the normal waterline where suds and soiled water splash up and don’t get rinsed out.  Intermittent odor in towels and laundry is caused when a full load reaches this splash area.  “Tub Clean” and “santize” cycles do not reach this area.
  • The secret to getting rid of persistent odor is to use a washer cleaner, such as Smelly Washer Cleaner, that can be used with laundry.  If odor persists add a cap of Smelly Washer or Smelly Towel Cleaner to a full load of laundry. The added bulk of the clothing will lift the water level to include the splash area 3-5 inches above the normal waterline. This “splash area” is always the worst area for buildup.
  • Using a washer cleaner for preventive maintenance will ensure you always have a fresh washer.  Smelly Washer uses all natural, organic ingredients to eliminate odor, fungus and mildew that cause washing machine odor.
  • To initially clean your smelly washer a level capful of cleaner should be used in the hottest or “clean” cycle of your washer with no clothes (in the washer).  After that it can be used sparingly; along with your detergent, to keep odor away. Just a half teaspoon of either Smelly Washer or our towel cleaner added with your detergent will leave your laundry brighter, fluffier and free of odor…guaranteed!
  • For more stubborn odors, allow the solution to soak in the washer. Push “pause” to force a short soak or even unplug to force an overnight soak if desired. .
  • Adding 2 to 5 gallons of hot water manually after agitation starts will also raise the water level.  Add it directly into the tub or slowly through the detergent dispenser.  Do not add too much water as it can force open a front loader door and/or cause an automatic drain.


Smelly Washer can also be mixed in a spray bottle of warm water to clean the detergent drawer, rubber door gasket, or under the lid – all those hard-to-reach places!  Just spray liberally and allow to soak. This method is also great to remove mildew stains from showers and tile grout.

Posted in How do I Get Rid of Odor?.