How to clean a smelly washing machine

How to clean smelly washing machine

Have you ever opened your washing machine and realized that the smell inside is awful and that your freshly washed laundry smells awful? Don’t panic, a smelly washing machine is very common thing and the problem can be easily fixed. The smell comes from bacteria and mold inside your washer. Unfortunately after the wash cycle is over, there is always a small amount of water left behind in the washer and that is perfect ground for bacteria and mold. You can’t prevent that but regular cleaning of your washing machine can prevent bacteria and mold from forming. In this article we will show you how to clean your smelly washing machine and how to keep your washer clean and fresh the whole time.

Cleaning the rubber gasket and the washing machine drum

It doesn’t matter if you have a top loading washing machine or a front loading washing machine, the rubber gasket and the drum are the most common places on which bacteria and mold are formed. Because the rubber gasket and the drum are the most common origins of smelly washing machine it is very important to keep them clean and bacteria free. Most of new washers have a self cleaning cycle which is intended for keeping the drum clean and bacteria free. If you have an older washing machine, then you can use highest temperature settings without laundry to clean the washing machine. Keep in mind that simply running the cycle with water will not provide the best results regardless what manufacturer of the washer states in the manual. If you want to thoroughly clean your washing machine and get rid of the smell inside it you will have to use white vinegar and baking soda. The vinegar will disinfect, kill molds and bacteria and clean the soap and detergent residues. The baking soda will kill the funny smell inside your washing machine. If you don’t want to use vinegar and baking soda then you can use cleaning tablets, like this Affresh tablets, which are equally efficient as vinegar and baking soda.




Set your washing machine on the largest load settings and on the highest temperature setting (on new washers set on self-cleaning cycle) and put 4 cups of white vinegar and start the cycle. After 2 minutes stop the cycle and add ½ cup of baking soda. After another two minutes stop the cycle and leave the washer to rest for about an hour. During that time the vinegar and baking soda will kill the bacteria and penetrate the mold and limescale. After an hour continue the cycle and leave it to finish.

 How to clean smelly washing machine - baking soda

Now your drum is clean, but you will have to manually wipe the rubber gasket especially if you have a front loading washing machine. The process is very simple, take a clean piece of cloth or towel, soak it in water and vinegar and thoroughly wipe all the parts of the rubber gasket.

Cleaning the washing machine detergent dispenser

If your washing machine has a detergent dispenser or drawer (all front loading washers have detergent dispensers) that is the second source of smelly washing machine and smelly laundry. During time, the detergent residues build up underneath and in the bottom of the dispenser. It prevents proper dosage and flow of the water and detergent and during time the mold will form under the dispenser and cause the funny smell on your freshly washed laundry.

Remove the dispenser by gently lifting it when you pull it all the way out. You will immediately see detergent residues and black stains in the bottom of the dispenser and inside the washer. Make a mixture of ½ water and ½ vinegar and thoroughly clean the dispenser and the inside of the washer with a hard sponge. If the limescale and residue are hard and you can’t clean them, soak the dispenser in vinegar and leave it to rest for an hour. After that the limescale and residue will come off easily.

 How to clean smelly washing machine - drawer

Tips for clean and odorless washing machine

If you want to keep you washing machine clean and odorless and if you want to prevent smelly washed laundry then we prepared a few simple tips that will keep your washing machine clean and fresh.

  1. Leave the door open after you take out the laundry. This will help the washer to dry inside!
  2. Don’t leave washed or dirty laundry in the washing machine too long!
  3. Don’t use more detergent than necessary!
  4. Repeat the explained cleaning cycle every couple of months!
Thank you for sharing, Handyman tips team!
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