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Washing machine smells – What to do about it

get rid of washing machine smells

Washing machines are meant to clean clothes, but what happens when your trusty laundry companion starts emitting foul odors? Washing machine smells can ruin your freshly washed clothes and create an unpleasant atmosphere in your laundry room. Fortunately, you have plenty of options to combat these smells. In this guide, we’ll delve into causes of washing machine odors and provide actionable steps on how to get your appliance smelling fresh again.

Understanding the Causes of Washing Machine smells

Knowing the culprit behind the nasty smell can help you choose the most effective solution. Here’s a breakdown of common odor sources:

    • Residue Build-Up: Over time, a mixture of detergent, fabric softener, hair, dirt, and minerals accumulates within your washing machine. This residue creates a breeding ground for odor-causing bacteria.
    • Humidity and Poor Ventilation: If your washing machine doesn’t dry properly after each cycle, trapped moisture becomes the perfect environment for mold and bacteria to thrive.
    • Mold and Mildew Growth: Mold and mildew are common in damp places with poor air circulation. If your washing machine’s internal components stay damp, mold and mildew can take root.

If your washing machine already has a funky smell, it’s time for a deeper clean:

    • Deep Clean with Vinegar and Baking Soda: Combine 1/4 cup baking soda with 1/4 cup water and add it to the detergent dispenser. Pour two cups of white vinegar into the washing machine’s drum, and run a normal cycle on the hottest water setting.
    • Run a Hot Cycle with Bleach: If needed, add a cup of chlorine bleach to your machine’s bleach dispenser and run a hot wash cycle. Be sure to wear gloves and ventilate the room when using bleach, and never mix it with other cleaning products.
    • Clean the Gasket and Dispenser: The rubber gasket around the washing machine door and the detergent dispenser can harbor mold, mildew, and grime. Scrub these areas thoroughly with hot soapy water and a toothbrush.

Sometimes, even with regular cleaning and maintenance, washing machine odors persist. Here’s when it might be time to call professionals:

Tips for Preventing Washing Machine Odors

Prevention is often the best medicine. Here’s how to stop smells before they begin:

  • Regular Cleaning Routine: Regularly wipe down your washing machine’s drum, gasket, and detergent dispenser. A simple wipe with a clean cloth after each wash can go a long way.
  • Proper Detergent Usage: Use only the recommended amount of detergent. Excess detergent often leaves behind residue that contributes to unwanted odors.
  • Leave the Door Open After Use: Keep the door of your washing machine slightly ajar after each cycle to promote air circulation and faster drying.
  • Use Vinegar or Baking Soda: Add a cup of white vinegar or half a cup of baking soda directly to the drum and run a hot water cycle once a month. Both vinegar and baking soda have natural odor-neutralizing and cleaning properties.

Regular maintenance is key to a consistently odor-free washing machine:

  • Check and Clean the Filter Regularly: Your washing machine’s filter traps lint, hair, and debris. Consult your machine’s manual for instructions on locating and cleaning the filter.
  • Inspect and Clean the Drain Pump: The drain pump can become clogged with debris, leading to stagnant water and smells. Clean the drain pump as needed, following the instructions in your appliance manual.
  • Use High-Efficiency (HE) Detergents: HE detergents are specially formulated to produce fewer suds and leave less residue in your machine, reducing the risk of odor-causing buildup.

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Understanding and Addressing a “Rotten Egg” Odor in Your Washing Machine

A persistent odor reminiscent of rotten eggs emanating from your washing machine signals a potential hygiene issue. Here’s a breakdown of the likely causes and practical remedies:

Washing machine smells causes 

  • Microbial Growth: The moist, warm environment of a washing machine provides ideal conditions for mold, mildew, and bacteria to thrive. These microorganisms produce hydrogen sulfide, the gas responsible for the rotten egg smell.
  • Detergent and Fabric Softener Residue: Washing at consistently low temperatures may lead to incomplete detergent dissolution, leaving organic residue on which bacteria can feed.
  • Lint/Debris Build-up: The drain filter or pump can become clogged with lint, hair, and other debris, providing a substrate for bacteria and restricting water flow.
  • Stagnant Water: Many washing machines, particularly front-loading models, retain a small amount of water after a cycle. This stagnant water can become a breeding ground for odor-causing organisms.