Why Does My Washing Machine Smell?

It is important when you are maintaining your daily appliances that you keep them clean. This is especially true for washing machines, as it ensures smooth operation with every use. If your washing machine is starting to smell or has been smelling for a while, you could be in for a deep clean inside and even around the washer. The good news is it will be a simple, quick fix.

Start with A Deep Clean

When your clothes enter your washing machine, it is natural for hair, bodily smells, lint, fibers, body oil, and dirt to get into the crevices of the washer. Over time, they can build up, causing a combination of mildew, mold, and bacteria to germinate. This is the typical cause of most nasty smells within your washer.

To clean up your machine and get those smells behind you, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the detergent tray and soak using a bicarbonate of soda to remove any lingering bacteria and dirt buildup. Then, simply use a toothbrush (a spare one that you don’t use on your teeth!) to scrub the harder to reach places of the detergent tray before wiping the exterior again with a damp rag or cloth.
  2. Dry the door seals with a clean cloth. This is an important step because door seals are the most susceptible to gathering dirt, lint, and accumulating bacteria. Repeat this process, if you can, after every wash cycle. This will prevent germs from spreading and eliminate chances of mold growth. Ideally, you should dry the seals after every use, as dripping water can gather and add to the humidity of your laundry room, thus creating the perfect breeding ground for mold.
  3. Clean your door and exterior of the washer. Do this by mixing lukewarm water and vinegar, spraying directly onto your desired surface, and wiping clean with a dry, soft rag.
  4. Run your washing machine with a cycle test. This is simply a trial run, without your laundry inside, to wash any remaining dirt, oil, and other nasty bits away. Not only does it leave your machine smelling pleasant; it erodes any remaining fibers from your washer that you may have missed. For this process, run the cycle at a higher temperature than you normally would wash your clothes in. For example, if you usually run your laundry on a cold wash cycle, conduct your test with a hot wash instead.
  5. If smells persist, then check your standpipe. The standpipe may be blocked, so combat the residue by using a drain unblocker.

Preventing the Smells from Returning

It’s all well and good to clean your washing machine, but you also need to ensure that the smells don’t keep coming back after every wash. To do this, you can easily:

1. Change your cycle temperature

Changing the temperature is vital for keeping unpleasant washer smells at bay. Most washing machines come equipped with hygiene features, which help keep clothes smelling lovely and fresh after every wash.

However, you may want to set your wash at sixty degrees to ensure these pleasantries extend to your clothes and give them that extra deep clean. Consider automatically setting this temperature to your next cycles so you don’t have to worry about manually setting it with each wash.

2. Invest in a front-load washer if you don’t already own one

Not only do they produce a superior clean to top-load washing machines, but they also save on energy and water, which can help you combat blockages, mold, and buildup.

3. Be mindful of what detergent you use

This isn’t something many people consider with their laundry, as it is often easy to just get the cheapest options at your local supermarket. However, using the correct detergent can stop suds from getting into your washer’s cracks and crevices, which can add to the spread and buildup of mold. Ask your washing machine manufacturer what the best detergent to use is, based on what model you own.

Powdered detergent is especially noted to have more suds than most appliances can take, especially for front-facing detergent trays. Instead, keep the powdered detergent for large loads and use pods or liquid detergents for smaller ones. This greatly reduces the chances of suds sneaking into your washer and continuing the cycle of nasty-smelling germs.

4. Clean the water gasket

Use a small mixture of vinegar and water to gently clean the water gasket. This will give you that extra boost for a deeper and more satisfying clean. It also prevents the gasket from being blocked, which can lead to blockages and stop water from entering the washer. You only need to do this step once a month.

5. Keep your drum dry

Do this by hanging the items you are washing immediately after the cycle is done. This will prevent residue from clinging to the drum, again stopping mold and dirt in its tracks. Leave the door open after every wash to ensure it is ventilated and enough clean air is going through the washing machine. This will dehumidify your washer, which will keep your washer (and your next load) clean after every use.


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