Why does my washing machine smell bad?


Ever go to switch a load of laundry from the washer to dryer and realize how bad your washer smells?! Don’t worry! Washer mildew and odors is a common complaint among homeowners and sometimes it’s caused by the detergent we use. However, it isn’t hard to get rid of the smell, through a few simple steps and changing your maintenance habits for your washing machine you can have it smelling brand new!


Identify why and where you’re Washing Machine Smells

The biggest cause to a smelly washing machine is bacteria or mold growing in your washing machine. YEW! Since the washer tub is moist and dark it is easier for bacteria to grow there. One way to prevent this from happening is using less detergent and fabric softener. All washers, regular or front and top loaders have a buildup of residue that’s why an excess use of detergent can cause bacteria to grow faster and remain in your washing machine. Inside your washer is a moist and constantly wet area and decaying matter (bio-film) can start to stink over time and can spread to your clothes or even your laundry room! Before attempting to remove the mildew odor, you must clean your washing machine first.


55744475 - clothes in washing machine


Where is the smell coming from?

Here are some parts of your washer that may be the source of the smell.


Sump Hose: this is where dirty water is emptied from the washer, sludge can accumulate in this area giving off strong odors.

Drums: Limescale, dirt, and detergent can build-up around the drum causing a collection of smelling bacteria.

Tub: over time the tub can suffer from a build-up of limescale, dirt, and detergent.

Detergent Dispenser Drawer: fabric conditioner, detergent, and dirt etc. can cause a build-up black mold and mildew smells.

Door Seal: detergent and dirt residue is build-up here and causes black mold.

Filter/Filter Housing: Detergent, limescale, and dirt can clog this part causing it to smell.


Use a Washing Machine Cleaner

A washer cleaner, such as Washer magic or Tide washing machine cleaner is best to use because they are formulated to remove odors from your washing machine. Using these cleaners is super simple, check out our blog about how to use the washer magic cleaner! Overall, these cleaning products help the water circulation and cleaning efficiency because it’s designed to enhance the performance and life of your washer. If you don’t have time to go buy these products, below is a simple at-home recipe for getting rid of washer odor!


What you need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Sponge


  1. Mix ¼ a cup of baking soda and ¼ a cup of water and add the solution to your machines detergent container.
  2. Run a normal load at a high heat with 2 cups of white vinegar poured into the drum.
  3. Dip the sponge in a solution of half vinegar and half water then, scrub any remaining dirty spots with the rough side of the sponge.


Get right to fixing that bad smell in your washing machine! With these easy tips and steps, you can make your washer smell better than ever and prevent an alternative build-up of bacteria and odor.

Did you find this post useful?  Let us know what you thought in the comments.  Be sure to like and share this post, and subscribe to the 1st Source Servall Blog to get appliance tips, repair guides, and more each week!

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