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Get the Stench Out of Laundry Day: 7 Smelly Washing Machine Solutions

Get the Stench Out of Laundry Day: 7 Smelly Washing Machine Solutions

You’ve been putting off laundry for days. But you’ve finally run out of clean T-shirts, and your dirty clothes pile is beginning to take over your bedroom. The task simply can’t wait anymore. You trudge to the laundry room, open the washer door, and a sour smell immediately hits your senses.

Laundry can be enough of a chore without a rank smell assaulting your nose whenever you need to start a load. If you have a smelly washing machine, there’s no need to plug your nose every laundry day and risk all that stink transferring to your clothes. Keep reading to learn how to eliminate that funky washer smell — and keep it away.

Why Does My Washing Machine Smell?

Washing machines are constantly full of warm, soapy water, so they basically clean themselves, right? Not quite. The same way you still need to clean your shower even though it only sees soap and water, your washing machine needs some regular TLC.

All that warmth and moisture create the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and bacteria to flourish. Soap scum, dirt, and debris can also hang around your washer after a cycle. As all this gunk builds up, things start getting smelly.

How to Clean a Smelly Washing Machine

If your washer smells musty, moldy, or otherwise dank, cleaning it can help banish the stink. Here’s how to clean a moldy washing machine (and keep it clean) to get rid of those smelly laundry day woes.

1. Run a Cleaning Cycle

Looking for the best way to clean a smelly washing machine? Start with the drum, where detergent residue, mold, and bacteria can accumulate. Newer models might have a washing machine feature like a service cycle setting that automatically sets the right time, temperature, and agitation to clean your washer. If you don’t have this setting, you’ll just run a cycle at the hottest temperature you have.

You need to add a cleaner before starting the cycle. You can either use bleach (which is great for disinfecting), a mix of vinegar and equal parts baking soda and water (for removing stuck-on residue), or a store-bought washing machine cleaner. If you use bleach, do not mix it with any other cleaners, ensure you have proper ventilation, and run a rinse cycle to thoroughly flush it out.

2. Scrub Down the Soap Dispenser

The detergent, bleach, and fabric softener dispensers are a surprising source of washer stank. Residue and standing water can leave these dispensers with a more than unpleasant smell.

Thankfully, most washing machines have dispensers that pop right out. Remove the dispenser and soak it in hot water to break down any residue and mildew. Then, use a cloth to wipe it down and a toothbrush to get into the nooks and crannies. If you can’t remove the dispenser, wipe it down using warm, soapy water.

3. Get the Gunk Out of the Gasket

If your front-loading washing machine smells when running, pay special attention to the rubber seal around the door, called the gasket. This seal can trap detergent, dirt, debris, and water, leading to mildew and a stinky smell.

Use a rag and soapy water to wipe down the gasket, making sure to clean around and underneath the rubber. If you’re having trouble wiping away gunky buildup, you can use a toothbrush to scrub it off. Once it’s clean, use a dry towel to wipe away any remaining moisture.

4. Check the Drain, Hose, and Filter

If you’ve cleaned every surface of your washing machine but the smell still won’t go away, you could have a clogged drain or hose. You especially want to check these parts if you notice water still in your washing machine after a cycle finishes.

If you feel comfortable and have the DIY skills, you can try unclogging the hose or drain yourself. However, it’s usually best to call in a professional to take a look and diagnose the problem. If the issue requires expensive repairs to get your washer back to a stink-free state, it could be time to replace your washing machine.

5. Let the Drum Dry

Mold and mildew need moisture to grow, so it’s important you keep the drum as dry as possible. Always remove your wet laundry as soon as you can. Then, either dry the drum with a towel or leave the door open for it to air dry.

6. Use the Right Detergent and the Right Amount

If you have a high-efficiency (HE) washer, you need to use an HE detergent. Non-HE detergents usually create more suds, which leave behind more residue. You also need to make sure you aren’t using too much of your detergent because this can cause smelly residue to build up even faster.

7. Add “Cleaning the Washer” to Your Chores List

The easiest way to keep washing machine smells from returning? Regularly cleaning! About once a month, you should wipe down the surfaces (including the detergent tray) and run a cleaning cycle. If you stay on top of cleaning your washing machine, you shouldn’t have to worry about facing another smelly laundry day!

Refresh Your Washer with Rent-A-Center

Dealing with a smelly washing machine can be frustrating and unpleasant. Fortunately, there are effective cleaning options and troubleshooting steps you can take to resolve the issue. However, if the problem persists or repair costs outweigh value, consider renting-to-own a washing machine or laundry set from your local Rent-A-Center.

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