Why does the washer drain smell like sewage?

Are you avoiding your laundry rooms due to a bad smell from your washer drain?


Are your drain areas stinking?

If you are on this post it’s likely that you either want to know the reason why the washer drain is stinking OR you want to get rid of the sewage-like smell from the washer drain.

There can be several reasons why a washer drain smells like sewage.

In today’s post, you will learn:

  • Causes of stinking drain and solutions
  • Tips to avoid bad smell
  • Commonly Asked Questions
  • And more…

Let’s get started.

Why does the washer drain smell like sewage?

Bad smell from the washer drain may occur due to various factors such as accumulation of detergent & dirt residues, mold & mildew (bacteria) formation, lint accumulation, greasy substances, limescale, etc.

If you miss inspecting the drain area of your washer, it may result in clogging as dirt and debris just build up over time.

If the clogging issue goes unaddressed, it will eventually lead to a foul smell from the washer and drain areas.

Let’s take a quick look into the key factors that may trigger a bad smell in the washer drain.

Mold & Mildew

Mold and Mildew are usually formed due to dirt and detergent residues that are kept uncleaned for a longer time.

As a result, bacteria not only survive but thrive.

These bacterias produce a bad odor from the washer and the drain areas.

Lint accumulation

The tiny fibers from the fabrics build up over a period of time.

Furthermore, it also attracts greasy substances from the food stains present on your clothes.

This again promotes a suitable environment for the bacteria to survive and produce unpleasant odors around the washer.

Heavily soiled clothes

Loading heavily soiled clothes into the washer results in an accumulation of adamant dirt residues inside the washer that is further released through the drain.

These residues build up over time into the drain area which eventually leads to a bad smell and decreased performance of your washer.

Also Read: What is Soil Level in Washing Machine?

Clogged Sewage

This is another factor that promotes bad odor.

The drain pipe that releases wastewater is usually attached to the sewage system, if the sewage system has been clogged then there is a possibility of sewage water running through your drain pipe.

Detergent and fabric softener

Using a poor quality and improper quantity of detergent and the fabric softener may result in a lot of suds and residues.

These residues happen to stay inside the washer for a long time due to constant build-up, thereby producing a bad smell from the washer and drain areas.

How to get rid of the bad smell from the washer drain?

The best way to get rid of the bad smell from your washer and the drain area is to clean them thoroughly.

There are 2 ways to deal with bad smell:

  1. By Using readily available cleaners
  2. Homemade cleaners

Readily available cleaners

Simply add the appropriate quantity of the solution to the washer and run a clean or an empty cycle with the hottest temperature.

This will not only clean the washer but also effectively clean the drain areas since the cleaning solution gets to flow through the drain areas as well.

For thorough cleaning of the drain areas, you may detach the drain pipe and clean it using the solution with hot water.

Also, you will have access to the drain valves which cannot be ignored, therefore use a soft brush to clean the connected drain valves as well.

Note: If you notice clogged sewage, you may clean them using solutions specially formulated for unclogging the sewage.

Homemade cleaners

You don’t need any special preparation for this.

Simply add 2 cups of baking soda or Vinegar to the washtub and run an empty cycle using hot water.

Then, let it run for about 60 minutes.

Once you are done with the above step, detach the drain hose and clean them using the same solution, here’s how:

  • Make a paste using water and baking soda and apply it to the drain areas using a toothbrush.
  • Let the solution settle for about 15 minutes.
  • Now clean the drain hose with hot water.
  • Re-attach the drain hose.

Note: If the area is not cleaned effectively and is still releasing a bad smell, you may have to repeat the wash and clean process. As an alternative, you may use 2 cups of liquid bleach and run an empty or clean cycle with hot water.

The above methods will not only clean your washer and the drain areas but also remove the bad smell.

Note: You can also clean the drainpipe by using metal springs.

Also Read: How to use a portable washing machine effectively?

Tips to avoid bad smell from the washer drain

Here are a few tips to avoid a bad smell from the washer drain.

  • Prewash heavily soiled clothes before loading them into the  laundry
  • Use fabric softeners only when needed.
  • Use good quality detergent suitable to your washer.
  • Clean the lint filters at least once every month.
  • Inspect and clean the drain areas at regular intervals.
  • Use suitable cleaning solutions or vinegar/baking soda to clean the drain areas once a month.
  • Check for any possible clog towards the sewage where the wastewater is released through the drain pipe.

Final thoughts

To avoid a bad smell from any part of the washer, clean them at regular intervals.

Use suitable cleaning solutions available online or at local stores, as an alternative you can use homemade solutions to clean the washer thoroughly.

It is always a good practice to inspect the sewage areas along with the washer drain system.

Also Read: Can you use baking soda as a laundry detergent?

Frequently asked questions

Here are a few common questions that are asked quite frequently.

Why is my washer smelling like a rotten egg?

Due to prolonged usage, there is a constant buildup of dirt and residues inside the washer. These buildups are caused by the mixture of dirt, fabric softener residues, lint formation, buildup of mold, and detergent residues. Another reason for such a bad smell could be stuck socks along with the accumulated lint from other fabrics.

How do you clean a stinking washer?

A stinking washer can be cleaned using readily available cleaning solutions or by simply using home remedies such as Baking Soda OR Vinegar.

How often do I clean my washer?

It is recommended to clean your washing machine at least once every month. In fact, most manufacturers recommend cleaning the washer once a week in order to keep it running efficiently.

Simply run a clean cycle by either using a cleaning solution OR by using baking soda once a month. This ensures that your washing machine stays clean and remains odor-free.

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