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Cleaning a Smelly Washing Machine

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Smelly Washing Machine

Stubborn odors sometimes develop in clothes washing machines. This guide is about cleaning a smelly washing machine.


Solutions: Cleaning a Smelly Washing Machine

Read and rate the best solutions below by giving them a "thumbs up".

Tip: Keep Washing Machines Free of Detergent Build-up

Hello, I live in Australia. We use litre measurements here.

Turn machine on, fill with warm water (full load level) and add a bit more than 1/2 gallon of the cheapest vinegar available. Let the machine finish its cycle. I sometimes move back the timer to wash again.

Do this twice a year. It takes out soap scum build up and also disinfects and deodorises interior. Go ahead as usual with your next wash.

    By gethelena [2]

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    Here are questions related to Cleaning a Smelly Washing Machine.

    Question: Cleaning a Smelly Washing Machine

    Just recently my three year old machine has begun to smell really disgusting on the hot wash. I ran Calgon through it, no good. My daughter suggested trying a biological detergent in an empty machine ( I can't wash with a bio, it makes me itch). No good. I've also checked the drain. I don't want to buy a new one if I can avoid it, but doing the washing in the sink is hell. I'm desperate. Any ideas?

    By Marg


    Most Recent Answer

    By Dorothy [79]07/02/2012

    I know the soap used for a dish washer does work.

    Question: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I am getting smelly washing from a Bosch washing machine. Any advice?

    Glyn from Birmingham, UK


    Most Recent Answer

    By Virginia03/31/2011

    I have the same problem with this smell with my Bosch. But I am very sorry to say, I wipe the rubber part of my machine dry after every wash and I leave the door open after every wash, in just thinking (have never heard of this problem before) to keep the rubber part dry, just in case it might cause mold some day. And still my machine has developed this odor. I purchased the Affresh tonight at Sears and im hoping this works. If not, I do plan on checking for water storage (if I can find the drain plug & ect and possibly using the baking soda and vinegar. Thanks so much for everyones help.

    Question: Removing Odors for Washer and Dryer

    I moved into a long term rental in September with a state of the art HE washer and dryer. The previous owner loved using extremely scented detergents, scent boosters, etc. I am very very allergic and I have not found anything that has worked in getting the conflicting scents out of the washer and dryer. We don't use the washer and dryer because every time we run the washer, I have another allergy attach. Please help.

    By Katie from San Francisco, CA

    Question: Smelly Washing Machine

    I cannot get rid of the smelly odor coming from my washing machine.

    By dndfox1998

    Question: Cleaning a Stinky Washer

    My washer broke and I thought all the water was out of it. Well the landlord told me he would go get it fixed and now I have nasty build up and a nasty stink. Please help. I have three kids and need to do laundry. lol

    By Sandra


    Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.

    Archive: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I have a Bosch washing machine and it's started to smell and make the wash smell after it's washed it of 'nappies'. I have cleaned all the rubber bits around the drum and the soap drawer. I have tried using different soaps, I don't use conditioner. I have run it on it's own with a bit of bleach and whilst that works for a day or two the bad smell comes back very quickly. Any ideas?


    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    Try running vinegar or baking soda through on an empty cycle, usually that will kill any odors in machines. I used to run a 1/2 of vinegar in the rinse cycle with diapers, it helps keep them soft on little behinds too! You can also use the downy ball with vinegar. I couldn't belive how well it worked! If the smell persists I'd check the water lines running to the machine, there might be something built up on the insides of the hoses that's causing the smell!

    Good Luck! (07/26/2005)

    By Madelynnsmama

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    It would help to have someone clean the pump. Usually it is a matter of opening a hose clamp and pulling it off the pump. Clean the inside and put the hose back on. If something is stuck in there you can put a water hose in the drain hose and force water back up into the machine. Be sure you have the hose back on the pump though. In fact try this first. (07/26/2005)

    By siris

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    Thanks for your replies... I will try the vinegar and baking soda solution this weekend. After reading bits from this site I never realised how many uses vinegar has!! (07/29/2005)

    By Deb

    Archive: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I am getting smelly washing from a Bosch washing machine. Any advice?

    Glyn from Birmingham, UK

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    One thing I noticed with my washing machine was if I closed the door as soon as I'd taken the wash out, I seemed to get a smell in the next wash. That disappeared as soon as I stopped closing the door. I don't know if it will help, but try to make sure that the drum is airing out and not staying damp. (03/10/2007)

    By kittie84

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I have the Bosch front load machine and it began to stink after about 4 months. Upon removing the service door I noticed a drain plug and when I removed it I clearly found the source. This is the lowest point in the drain and dirt and water sits in that area and begins to smell. I removed the plug, rinsed it out and the smell was gone. Certainly a problem, but now about every 3 months I remove the plug, wash it out and no more problem. I am not a repair person, but this worked for me. (10/04/2007)

    By Charles

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I had/have the same issue with my Bosch. My wife got a product called Washer Genie at a trade show and it worked really well. Most importantly for us it didn't leave any residual odor on my clothes. The people I bought it from said you can get it on Amazon. (10/08/2007)

    By Phil

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    Try Using less soap. (01/22/2008)

    By h2ohobo

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    You mentioned your eyes watering when you open the door. Are you keeping it closed when not in use? Front-loading washers are air tight. Keeping the door closed is what is causing the mildew to grow. You need to leave the door open all the time. If your machine is in really bad shape you need to let all the washing machine cleaners soak overnight. My machine had that nasty musty smell and soaking was the key. I know other people that have had their door seals replaced because the musty smell permeated the rubber. I hope all this helps. (02/04/2008)

    By John

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    Not only did my Bosch washer smell bad, some of my clothes, especially towels, were starting to reek too. I did a lot of research online on various sites and found this one to be the most helpful. I basically combined several suggestions and I am happy to report that my smell is gone, my clothes smell fresher, and the washer does not vibrate anymore during the spin cycle (an added bonus that I did not anticipate). Here is what I did: I only use 1-2 tablespoons of HE detergent per load along with 1/2 cup borax and about 1/4 cup baking soda. I fill the softener dispenser with white vinegar to the line. I do "not" use softener or dryer sheets anymore.

    My clothes immediately started smelling cleaner and felt softer and amazingly, there is only a hint of vinegar smell, sometimes none. I then bought Purewasher via the internet and followed the directions exactly. I did not use the washer for 3 days. I left the door ajar. After 3 days, the smell was completely gone! The window was covered with gunk which I cleaned off. I then scrubbed the rubber gasket both on the outside and on as much of the inside as I could reach. There was a lot of gunk in there. The white vinegar is an amazing softener and so much more environmentally friendly. I just wish I would have known this when I bought the unit so that I could have done this from the beginning. Good luck to all who suffer from this front loader problem! (02/08/2008)

    By Helen

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I bought a Bosch because I loved the dishwasher, but this has been the worst product I have ever purchased. It has turned me off on all front loaders. I even had mold forming on the gasket. I just today purchased a new top loader and I am getting rid of this 2 year old piece of junk. (08/09/2008)

    By Gale

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I have read numerous websites on this issue and I called Bosch today to see if they can enlighten me on how to wash my clothes so they do not smell (this is the third time I am calling in 1 year and this person actually sounded like she knew what she was talking about, we will see).

    Clean your clothes: Use only 1 Tablespoon of HE detergent. Ignore what the HE detergent says and only use 1 tablespoon. She said you can use stain removers and fabric softener as usual, but dilute the fabric softener before you put it in the chamber.

    Clean your washer: Use Affresh or Washer Magic every 3 months. Bosch says this is critical to keeping the smell and gunk out of the machine. Bleach is a temporary solution and only covers up the smell. According to Bosch, Affresh or WM will help get rid of the buildup behind the drum.

    Wish me luck. (08/22/2008)

    By Ali

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    I too had problems with a mold smell with my Bosch axxis washer. I contacted the company and they recommend a product called "Washer Magic". I Googled the product, and it's website said where to find it in my area. I used it (you empty the bottle in and run the wash on hot with no clothes in the washer) and it worked very well at removing the odor. (10/09/2008)

    By Leigh

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    Just keep the door open for 1 day after use and dry the rubber gasket. It will keep the problem from starting in the first place. I love my washer! (11/23/2008)

    By Claire

    RE: Bosch Washing Machine Smell

    You need to put washing machine on a boil wash at least once a month. This washes all old soap powder away. 95 degrees (03/01/2009)

    By Dan Jones appliance