Washing Machine Stinking? Here is How to Eliminate Bad Odor

In today’s fast-paced world, a washing machine is more than just a convenience; it’s a necessity.

Ironically, this appliance designed to clean our clothes can itself become a breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria, leading to an unpleasant smell from the washing machine itself.

In this article we’ll try to cover:

  • Possible reasons why your washer stinks
  • How to clean a washing machine
  • How to get rid of washing machine smell.
  • And More..

We’ll also, dive into various odor issues, from the pungent sewage smells to the musty odors that can plague your machine, offering actionable solutions to keep it smelling fresh.

Quick Answer

To eliminate the washing machine smell, run an empty hot water cycle with 2 cups of white vinegar. After the cycle, wipe down the drum, seals, and door with a cloth.

Why Do Washing Machines Start to Smell?

Understanding the Causes of a smelly washing machine is the first step toward resolving the issue. Here are some common culprits:

  • Stagnant Water: Water that doesn’t drain properly can become a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to foul odors.
  • Build-up of Detergent and Fabric Softeners: Over time, detergent residue can accumulate, creating an environment where mold and mildew thrive.
  • Mold and Mildew: These fungi love damp, dark places, making your washing machine an ideal home. Mildew smell and moldy smell are often the first Signs of a smelly washing machine.
  • Drain Issues: Problems with the drain can cause sewage or rotten egg smells, often indicating more severe issues that require immediate attention.
  • Lint Accumulation: Even the lint (tiny fibers from your clothes) may have accumulated inside the washer. Over a period of time, if uncleaned, these lints attract mold & mildew and release a bad smell.

By identifying the root cause, you can tailor your cleaning cycle and other methods to get rid of the smell effectively.

Identifying the Type of Smell

Before you can effectively get rid of the washing machine smell, it’s crucial to identify the type of odor you’re dealing with. Here are some common types:

  • Sewage Smell: A strong, foul odor resembling sewage usually indicates drain issues. This smell is a red flag that should not be ignored.
  • Musty Smell: This is often the result of mold and mildew build-up. A musty smell is a clear sign that your washing machine needs a thorough cleaning cycle.
  • Rotten Egg Smell: This pungent odor is usually caused by a build-up of hydrogen sulfide gas, often due to drain or hose issues.

Recognizing the specific smell can guide you in choosing the most effective Solutions for a smelly washing machine.

How to Clean a Smelly Washing Machine? (step by step)

Once you’ve identified the type of washing machine smell, it’s time to take action. Follow this step-by-step guide to Cleaning a smelly washing machine:

Step 1: Before you begin the cleaning process, make sure the drum is empty to ensure a thorough cleaning.

Step 2: A clogged lint trap can contribute to odors, so, remove any lint or debris to allow for better drainage.

Step 3: Residue in the detergent dispenser can lead to mold and mildew, therefore use a damp cloth to wipe it clean.

Step 4: The rubber gasket is a hotspot for mold and mildew build-up. So, to get rid of mold from rubber gasket areas, use a mixture of baking soda and water to scrub it clean.

Step 5: Fill the detergent dispenser with vinegar, sprinkle baking soda into the drum, and run a hot cleaning cycle to eliminate odors.

Step 6: Check the hoses for any signs of Hose blockage or leaks, as these can contribute to bad smells.

Troubleshooting by Washing Machine Type

Different types of washing machines may require specific approaches to tackle odors, here’s a breakdown:

Top Loader

How to Remove Bad Smell from a Top Loader Washing Machine?

For top loaders, consider using a cleaning cycle with hot water and vinegar. This will help to break down mildew, mold, and detergent residue.

Regularly cleaning the lint trap and using the correct amount of detergent can go a long way in Preventing a washing machine from getting smelly.

Check the Water Level Sensor

Sometimes, the water level sensor can malfunction, leading to incomplete drainage and consequently, a smelly washing machine.

Inspect the Drum

Foreign objects like coins or small toys can get stuck in the drum, causing a washing machine smell.

Therefore, make sure to inspect and remove any foreign objects.

Regular Drum Cleaning

Use a damp cloth to wipe down the drum regularly to prevent mold and mildew build-up.

Front Loader

How to Remove Stagnant Water Smell from Front Load Washing Machine?

A stagnant water smell often indicates poor drainage. Ensure the machine is leveled correctly and run a cleaning cycle with baking soda and vinegar.

By tailoring your approach based on the type of machine, you can effectively combat washing machine smell and keep your appliance fresh.

Front Load Washing Machine Smells Like Sewage

If your front loader has a sewage smell, check the drain pump filter and the hoses for blockages followed by cleaning them thoroughly to get rid of the smell.

Clean the Door Seal

The door seal is a common place for mold and mildew. Make sure to wipe it down after each wash.

Check for Blockages in the Detergent Drawer

Leftover detergent residue can contribute to mold and mildew. Clean the drawer regularly.

Use High-Efficiency Detergent

High-efficiency detergents are designed for front loaders and help prevent detergent residue build-up.

Home Remedies for Smelly Washing Machines

If you prefer a more natural approach to get rid of the washing machine smell, home remedies can be both effective and affordable. Here are some options:

Vinegar Solutions

Just add a cup of white vinegar to the detergent dispenser and run a hot cleaning cycle to eliminate mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Baking Soda Methods

Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into the drum and run a hot cycle.

Baking soda neutralizes odors and breaks down detergent residue.

Essential Oils

Add a few drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil to your cleaning cycle for a pleasant aroma and additional antibacterial properties.

Dealing with Drain Smells

Drain issues can be a significant contributor to washing machine smell.

How to Clean a Smelly Washing Machine Drain?

If your drain smells, it’s likely due to a build-up of bacteria or debris. To clean the drain, use a solution of hot water and vinegar. You might need to manually clear the obstruction from difficult clogs.

Washing Machine Drain Smells Like Rotten Eggs

A rotten egg smell from the drain is usually a sign of a build-up of sulfur bacteria. This can be treated by pouring a solution of baking soda and vinegar down the drain, followed by hot water.

Addressing drain smells is crucial for maintaining a clean and fresh-smelling washing machine.

What areas of the washer need more attention in smelly conditions?

It is very essential to identify the areas of the washer from where the smell is generated.

Let me explain to you the common areas of a washer that are most likely to get affected and become a source of a foul smell.

Gasket seal

A gasket seal is located between the tub and the door.

Its purpose is to prevent water from leaking out of the washing machine, therefore considered an extremely important component in your washer.

Over time, With regular usage, the gasket seal can attract mold, mildew, and bacteria, thereby causing a foul smell.

The inner tub

The inner tub of your washer is the area where all these laundry activities are performed, hence the corners of the inner tub are prone to accumulation of the residues.

Detergent Dispenser

The detergent dispensers are attached inside the washtub, and this rarely gets the opportunity to completely dry out. Formation of mold, and mildews are a higher possibility.

Agitator or Impellers

Top loaders usually operate on agitators or the impellers for rotation and spinning activity during the wash cycle. The mold, mildew, and bacteria formation around the agitators are also one of the common causes of foul smell.

Also Read: How to clean the washing machine agitator?

Drain hose/pipe and the Sewage

A clogged drain pipe may be one of the causes, as it may not release the waste and the residues which over time releases a bad odor. For Sewage area inspection and cleaning, it is advised to call a plumber to avoid any accidental damage.

Electrical Components

At times you may notice a burnt smell from the washer. This can be possibly due to a burnt motor, a damaged drive belt, damaged dryer vent areas, or any other electrical parts of the washer. Do not try to manually fix them, just call the expert in such circumstances.

As you are aware of the common areas responsible for releasing foul smells, check out below for useful tips on alleviating the smell from your washer.

Also Read: How to use portable washing machine effectively?

Maintenance Tips for a Fresh-Smelling Machine

Keeping your washing machine fresh-smelling requires regular maintenance, here are some tips:

  • Run an empty cycle with vinegar every month: This helps to break down mold, mildew, and detergent residue, keeping your machine smelling fresh.
  • Clean the lint trap after every use: A clean lint trap ensures better drainage and lessens the chances of mold and mildew build-up.
  • Use the correct amount of detergent: Excess detergent can lead to detergent residue build-up, contributing to the washing machine smell.
  • Avoid overloading the washing machine: Overloading can prevent proper drainage, leading to stagnant water and bad smells.
  • Air-dry clothes whenever possible: This reduces the moisture content in the machine, discouraging mold and mildew.

Also Read: How to fix E1 error in washing machine?

Final Thoughts

Make sure not to use excessive detergents above the required quantity, and allow enough water to mix as per wash type.

Balancing the mixture well leads to less residue formation inside the washer during the wash cycle.

It is always a good idea to clean the washer at regular intervals to avoid constant foul smells. This also helps in maintaining the performance of the washer in the long run.

After every wash, it is a good practice to keep the door or the lid open for a while, as this allows the moisture out of the washer.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the Whirlpool washing machine smell like sewage?

Your Whirlpool washing machine may smell like sewage due to mold buildup, detergent residue, trapped foreign objects, a damaged drain hose, or a faulty P-trap. Regular cleaning and checking of these components can help eliminate the odor.

My washing machine smells worse after cleaning, what should I do?

If your washing machine smells worse after cleaning, inspect the drain hose and P-trap for clogs or damage. Consider using a specialized cleaner and ensure you’re following the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines. Persistent issues may require professional servicing.

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