No one wants to open their washer and get hit with the smell of mildew. Even worse, when your washer smells bad, it’s only a matter of time before your clothes start smelling less than fresh.

A smelly washer can be caused by mildew, soap scum, and bacteria. Poor drainage can lead to stagnant water in your washing machine, which can cause foul odors as well.

What to do When Your Washer Smells Bad

Your washing machine works hard to remove dirt by combining motion with detergent and water. Most of the dirt from your clothes is drained away during a rinse cycle, but some can remain inside your washer.

In front-loading machines, a rubber gasket around the door prevents leaks. Unfortunately, this can also be a catchall for dirt.

Dirt from your clothes isn’t the only thing that sticks around after a washing. Over time, oils, soapsuds, and other byproducts can build up.

Mold can grow quickly in the warm, moist environment of a washing machine tub. Before you know it, your washer smells bad.

washer smells bad

Photo Credit: Today Show

How to Clean a Washer that Smells Like Mildew

Fortunately, there is an easy intervention when your washing machine smells like mildew. Use dispel foul odor and destroy mildew when your washer smells like mold.

The citric acid in Lemi Shine washing machine cleaner works to break up mold and other buildup to leave your washer clean and smelling fresh. Best of all, it uses naturally based ingredients instead of harsh chemicals to clean the hard-to-reach places in the washer tub.

Follow these steps and your washer will smell so fresh and so clean in no time:

  1. Pour the Lemi Shine washing machine cleaner into the empty washer tub
  2. Run a normal clean cycle using the hot water setting
  3. Enjoy your fresh-smelling washer!

How to Clean Front Load Washer that Smells Like Mildew

Front-load washing machines are prone to bad smells from mildew, soap scum, and more. The rubber door gasket in front load washers is also a perfect hiding place for the build-up of bacteria. Cleaning a front-load washing machine that smells bad can help improve the overall performance and lifespan of the appliance. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Empty the washing machine: Remove any dirty laundry and any items that may be left behind in the washing machine.
  2. Clean the gasket and seal: Use a cloth or sponge and a mixture of warm water and mild detergent to clean the gasket and seal it around the door of the washing machine. Pay extra attention to nooks and crannies where dirt and grime may accumulate.
  3. Run a cleaning cycle: Follow the instructions in your washing machine’s manual to run a cleaning cycle. Some washing machines have a specific cleaning cycle option, while others may require a specific cleaning solution, such as white vinegar or a commercial machine cleaner.
  4. Clean the detergent drawer: Remove it from the washing machine and rinse it thoroughly under warm water. Wipe down the inside of the drawer and the area where it sits in the washing machine with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent.
  5. Clean the inside of the drum: Use a cloth or sponge and a mixture of warm water and mild detergent to wipe down the inside of the drum, paying extra attention to any stubborn stains or marks.
  6. Leave the door and detergent drawer open: After cleaning, leave the door and detergent drawer of the washing machine open to allow it to air out and dry completely. This will help prevent any future odors.
  7. Repeat the process as needed: Depending on how frequently you use your washing machine, you may need to repeat it every few weeks or months to keep it fresh and clean.

How to Clean a Smelly Top-Load Washer

Luckily top-load washing machines aren’t prone to as much mildew and other odor-causing bacteria as front-load washing machines. Still, over time, soap scum, dirt, and other debris can build up inside the dispensers and drum and start causing foul smells.

To clean a top-load washing machine, follow these steps:

  1. Empty the washer: Remove any laundry or other items from the machine.
  2. Add Cleaning Solution: Fill the machine with hot water, and add a quart of white vinegar and a quart of baking soda to the water.
  3. Start the Cycle: Let the machine agitate for a few minutes to allow the cleaning solution to circulate.
  4. Let Cleaning Solution Sit: Stop the machine, and let the cleaning solution sit for an hour. This will allow the vinegar and baking soda to work their magic and loosen any dirt or grime.
  5. Restart Cycle: After an hour, restart the machine and let it complete its cycle.
  6. Wipe Out Inside of Washer: Once the cycle is finished, wipe down the inside of the machine with a soft cloth or sponge, paying particular attention to the rubber seal around the door and any other areas where dirt or grime may have accumulated.
  7. Rinse Out Leftover Cleaning Solution: Finally, run the machine on an empty cycle with hot water to rinse away any remaining cleaning solution.

Not only is cleaning your washing machine important but taking precautions to prevent odors is one of the best ways to keep it clean.

How to Prevent Washing Machine Odors

Now that you know why your washer smells bad and how to correct it, here are some washing machine maintenance tips to help you avoid a smelly washer altogether:

  • Wipe down the washtub after each use to remove moisture and residue.
  • For front-loading machines, wipe the rubber gasket off after each cycle.
  • Consider using a laundry detergent booster to improve your detergent’s performance.
  • Pretreat stains by dabbing some detergent on the spot and allowing them to sit before washing. This will help lift dirt and grime before the garment enters the washer.
  • Use a washing machine cleaner such as Affresh monthly to destroy mold and dispel any lingering odors.
how to clean a washer that smells like mildew

Photo Credit: Affresh

A little upkeep and some easy interventions can go a long way to prevent smelly mildew and eliminate the need for professional washer repair.