Why does the dryer drum smell bad?

A dryer usually smells bad due to the accumulation of lint in the lint trap. Additionally, if the dryer isn’t venting properly, that can cause a bad odor to build up in the drum as well.

There’s a lot to look into, however, the most essential job here is to get it fixed and prevent such causes thereafter.

Key Takeaways

  • Be it your washer or the dryer the most common cause of the foul smell is irregular maintenance and odor from damp clothes.
  • If your clothes dryer drum is smelling, it could be due to a build-up of lint, and debris in different areas.
  • It is better to clean and service them regularly to avoid irreparable damages and avoid odors.

Why does the dryer drum smell bad?

A dryer can smell bad for many reasons; here are some common reasons for the foul odor released by your dryer.


The most common cause is that you must have left the dryer unclean for a long time.

This will not only lead to a smelling dryer but also can be hazardous because lint accumulation can cause fires.

Hence, it is advised to clean the lint filter and the exhaust vent regularly to avoid a smelling dryer drum.

Unattended washer

It’s also possible that you forgot about the clothes in the washing machine after the last cycle was completed and then loaded the same load into the dryer.

So, it is essential to take out the clothes immediately after the washing cycle is over and dry them as soon as possible.

Badly vented dryer

If your clothes dryer isn’t venting properly, that can cause bad odor to build up in the drum as well.

So, ensure that the dryer is venting to the outside and not into the house.

Also, check if there are any blockages in the venting system.

Dirty loads

It could have been on purpose or by accident that your sweaty or unwashed clothes ended up in the dryer.

This could be the reason for the bad smell, as sweat and other body fluids will start to rot and cause a foul odor.

Hence, always make sure to dry clean or wash the clothes before putting them in the dryer.

Dirty Socks

If your dryer smells like dirty socks, it could be due to the build-up of bacteria and mold in the damp, dark environment of the dryer.

To avoid this, clean the inside of the dryer regularly with a disinfectant.

You can also try leaving the door of the dryer open for a few hours to let it air out.

Dryer sheets

Dryer sheets can leave a residue on clothes, which can cause the dryer drum to smell bad.

To avoid this, use dryer sheets sparingly or not at all.

If you do use them, make sure to clean the dryer drum regularly with a damp cloth to remove any residue.

Lint Buildups

A musty odor may result from lint accumulation in the dryer’s drum.

To avoid this, clean the dryer drum regularly with a damp cloth to remove any residue.

Additionally, clean the lint trap after every load of laundry to remove any build-up of lint.

If you have a front-loading dryer, also clean the seal around the door to remove any lint that has accumulated there.

How to get rid of a smelly dryer drum?

You can get rid of the bad smell in your dryer drum by following these simple step-by-step instructions.

Step 1: Vacuum cleaner

If lint or dirt has settled into the drum’s crevices, you can remove it with a vacuum cleaner

Step 2: Lint screen and vent

Inspect the lint screen and the venting system.

Clean them if required, or if the said areas are already clean, move on to the next step.

Step 3: Inspect the dryer drum

Open the door to its full capacity and check if there are any unwanted buildups.

Buildups such as mold and mildew or dirt and lint accumulation can cause a bad smell.

If you see any such buildups, then clean them with a brush or a cloth.

Look around the corners and turn the drum manually with your bare hands to look all around as it rotates.

Step 4: Distilled Vinegar

Use a small bowl and mix 1 part white vinegar with 3 parts water.

Dip a sponge or a clean cloth in the solution and start applying it to the surface of the drum.

Apply the solution thoroughly and leave it to settle for around 20 minutes.

Close the dryer’s door in the meantime.

Now, wipe the drum surface using a damp cloth or a sponge.

Leave the door open until the dryer drum surface dries completely.

Step 5: Inspect the drum again

Finally, inspect if the smell has disappeared from your dryer’s drum.

Final Thoughts

Make sure to load damp garments immediately into the dryer after your washer completes the wash cycle.

Do not leave damp garments in the washer or dryer’s drum for longer.

Keep the dryer’s lint screen and the vent hoses clean and tidy to avoid foul smells.

Service your dryers regularly on your own or simply hire a professional for the best outcomes.

Lastly, badly vented dryers, dirty loads, and dryer sheets can also cause the dryer drum to smell

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at) portablelaundry.com