Stinky Washing Machine

How To Clean a Washing Machine That Stinks

If your washing machine stinks, don’t worry, you’re not alone. Washer mildew and odors are one of the most common complaints among homeowners. However, it is possible to get rid of smell through a few simple steps.  Changing your washing habits and/or detergent used may be necessary to keep odor away.

Identify Why Your Washing Machine Stinks

Most of the time, a musty or mildew smell in or around your washer or laundry indicates mold or bacteria growing in your washing machine.  The moist, dark tub interior is perfect for mold and bacteria to thrive.  The best defense is limiting food supply which means using less detergent and fabric softener.

To a certain degree all washers, HE or regular, front and top loaders alike have a buildup of residue.  This constantly wet, decaying matter, aka “bio-film” can really start to stink over time and spread to the laundry and even the wash room and home in more serious cases.   The washer should be cleaned before attempting to remove mildew odor from towels and other laundry.

Use Washing Machine Cleaner

A cleaner, such as Smelly Washer or Towel Cleaner, that can be used with laundry is best to use.  The added bulk of the clothing will raise the water level to include the “splash area” just above the normal waterline where suds and soiled water accumulate and don’t get rinsed out.  The splash area is almost invariably the area of worst buildup and can become quite thick after years of buildup.  Cleaning cycles don’t reach the splash area and worse cases may need repeated cleaning and soaking to remove.  Returning or persistent odor in your washer or laundry is a sign of remaining residue.

Water Temperature is Important

Using mainly cold water for washing is fine but make preventive maintenance very important.  A hot wash or soak as the last cycle on wash day will help dissolve the bio-film buildup and is a good opportunity to do more soiled laundry.  Also, if the washer isn’t regularly used or returning odor is a problem a second rinse may be desired.

Clean the Trap or Drain Pump Filter

If your washing machine stinks, this is one of the less obvious culprits. It requires a tad bit more work than throwing some bleach or washing machine cleaner into the clean cycle, but it can effectively eliminate the “gunk” at the root cause of the stench.  Most manufacturers recommend cleaning the filter once a month. Items such as coins, screws, toys and even bra wires can cause plugged filters to slow draining to cause odor.

Posted in What Causes Odor?.