Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

Does anyone know how to get the musty smell out of a front loading washing machine? I have tried cleaning the rubber seals, bleach, vinegar etc., and nothing is working. I am also leaving the door propped open.


Darlene from WI


Washing Machine Smell

I have owned a Kenmore front load washer for about six years and have never had a problem. I keep the detergent/bleach/softener drawer open and the washer door open when not in use. I know some people can't do this due to space.

I have hard water and use Borax in every load. I use about 1/4 - 1/2 capful of Wal-mart brand liquid clothes detergent. The amount depends on the size load. I use warm or hot water, at times I will use an extra rinse depending on the load. I very seldom use diluted liquid softener. Most of the time, not always, I use diluted white vinegar.

I never leave any clothes in the washer for long lengths of time. When I do use bleach, I dilute it and use a small amount. I do wipe the bottom of the front gasket before I remove the clothes with a washcloth.


I never fill any of the dispensers up to the fill line. My clothes come out clean and fresh. I would like to add that majority of our clothes are 100% cotton, because we like the feel of cotton. (08/29/2008)

By Ellen

Washing Machine Smell

Warning: vinegar will help; bleach will help more, but NEVER mix these two. The acid base of vinegar will turn the chlorine in the bleach into chlorine gas. Poisonous gas; very deadly. Chlorine bleach (and products containing it) should never mix with anything, but water. (08/30/2008)

By Lesliv

Washing Machine Smell

Front load washers do not drain the same way as traditional top loaders. So if you leave change or paper in your pockets it doesn't lay in the tub when your done. It cost me allot of money to find such a simple answer to the terrible smell. Find out where the drain is in your machine. Ours was so plugged full after several months of an odor I started reading web sites for answers, but nobody looked in the obvious place, it's where the water leaves the machine (neither did I).


Our machine from Sears had a lower front panel under the door that came off with with a screwdriver and some patience. As advised by an employee of Sears's contracted repair service we found the drain full of paper candy wrappers and change the kids left in their cloths and other assorted items. We were washing our money, it plugged the drain and cost us allot more money to get it fixed.

Do yourself a favor, forget all the other ideas posted and check out the drain first. And forget about the little bit of mold that builds under the boot, it's likely not source of the odor. (09/14/2008)

By no common sense

Washing Machine Smell

When I complained to my local appliance store, I was told it was a design flaw in all HE machines. Does not matter on the brand. The sales person recommended a product called WasherFresh, use on hot water setting, and the mold and mildew residue is gone. (10/03/2008)

By Victoria

Washing Machine Smell

And don't forget to clean your filters every couple of months too. (11/01/2008)

By Maria

Washing Machine Smell

I was having problems with a mildew smell coming from my front load washer for over a year (Whirlpool Duet). I tried several recommendations, but finally found one that worked for me on one of the morning shows.

The first thing I did was wipe down the rubber around the door opening with petroleum jelly to remove any mold buildup. Make sure to get underneath it. They recommended a cotton cloth, but I just used paper towels.

The second step was to add 1 gallon of vinegar to the washer and run an empty load on the hottest setting. I poured the vinegar in through the detergent dispenser.

It has been about a month and the smell is still gone. I use a liquid laundry detergent, but only about half of what they call for. I also leave my washer door open in between loads.

I hope this helps. (11/03/2008)

By Allieg

Washing Machine Smell

We tried everything for our Maytag Neptune washer: ran separate loads of vinegar, Affresh, bleach, you name it. Scoured the machine and was ready to ditch it. Then, stopped using the liquid fabric softener and tried an HE powder (Tide) and it worked. At the beginning, combined the Tide HE powder with Clorox 2 (go figure). Have been using the Tide powder for 8 months now: the whole laundry area smells fresh, the once horrible smelling towels smell fresh. Occasionally I do run a load with hot water, just to make sure. Thrilled with the results. (11/03/2008)

By guest nancy


Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

Use a scoop of dishwasher powder instead of laundry detergent in a hot water wash (without any laundry in the machine). Apparently, dishwasher powder has a mold-cleaning chemical that the manufacturers of clothes-washing detergents are not allowed to add. I have heard that this will clean out the moldy smell as well as Affresh, etc. does. (11/30/2008)

By Susan

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

Thank you, for the information about the trap door and the filter on the Whirlpool Duet. I have been complaining for about 8 months about this smell and was ready to loose my mind. My husband took the door off and opened the trap and the amount of water that came out was amazing and the smell was horrible. In the trap was change, a piece of duct tape and lots of gunk. It was disgusting. I did the clean wash cycle after that and now the smell is gone. I will do this monthly to make sure this does not happen again. Thanks for the information, it really helped. (12/13/2008)

By Lisa

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

Go to this stuff works great. (01/05/2009)

By Dawn

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

I have tried almost all of the recommendations made here and the one that finally worked was Simple Green. I cleaned the filter trap, which was not very dirty, no help. Tried Smelly Washer, no help. Tried bleach, no help. Tried Borax, no help. Finally ran two cycles with a cup of Simple Green per load and the smell was gone. You can find Simple Green at Home Depot or Lowe's for $10 per gallon jug. Try it.

We switched to dry detergent and use dryer sheet fabric softeners instead of Ultra Downey liquid. (01/11/2009)

By Rick D

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

I have a Kenmore HE3 that had a mildew smell only when the washer drained after not being used for a day or so. I did not have a smell in the clothes or the washer itself. The post about the filter behind the front panel of the machine did the trick for me. However, also clean the tube the drain is inserted into. I had a penny not in the filter, but in the tube itself, so it was constantly sitting in water. Have several towels ready, I got several cups of water when I pulled the drain. (01/23/2009)

By suemd

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

If you use Borax (which I highly recommend, it solved my problem), do not use it with cold water, and do not put it in the dispenser: sprinkle two tablespoons directly over your clothes for each load. Otherwise you risk finding a big clump, hard as rock, in your dispenser after the machine cycle. And that's if you're lucky, if your unlucky the crystal will form inside the pipe leading to the drum, blocking it and causing a massive flood. I know because it happened to me (but luckily hot water does dissolve Borax crystals so I was able to fix the problem with a little poking and a hot empty cycle). (01/25/2009)

By Neptune user

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

My husband used to work for a service company. 9 out of every 10 issues he came across from front load smell were caused from user using regular laundry soap. In front load machines you have to use HE soap. Clean out the smell, then try High Efficiency Soap. It will work. (01/29/2009)

By Paula D.

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

Use hydrogen peroxide to kill the mold and mildew that is causing that bad smell. Plus, you can add this while washing your clothes. It will kill the mold and mildew and any spores left behind. The hotter the water the quicker it works. Don't be afraid to dump an 8 ounce bottle in a wash cycle. (02/05/2009)

By Walter

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

Our Maytag Performa stunk for over a year before we figured out what was wrong. We tried running empty loads or towel loads with vinegar, bleach, etc. and the smell would go away for maybe a week. Then husband finally took it apart and viola. He found tons of nasty, stinky, moldy gunk that had to be cleaned out of everything behind the tub. We have a dog and a cat and I guess the mixture of pet hair and lint was too thick for the "automatic lint filtering system" to flush down the drain.

You have to take the machine apart and just clean it out (really good - with bleach) and then put it back together and run an empty hot bleach or vinegar cycle. It's a pain, but it doesn't take too long and it's the only thing that will really get rid of the smell. Running hot empty or towel loads with additives will only kill the smell for a little while: you'll still be washing your clothes with all the gunk behind the tub. Gross, right? Good luck. (02/25/2009)

By H Lincoln

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

In the Whirlpool Duet manual it has a monthly maintenance on page 19. You hit a series of buttons and stops with an empty washer and it adds more water you add bleach when the display says Ab and it runs a cycle that cleans. The first time you add one cup and after every month you run it with 1/3 of a cup. It works. (04/11/2009)

By brothermj

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

You might want to check if your make and model of washer had a recall on the rubber seal. My parents had the same problem with their washer, brand new, and my dad researched it and found out online that they were replacing rubber seals for that model because a certain mold was growing inside the rubber and nothing kills it. I am not sure what make and model they had, however. But it is the consumer's responsibility to contact the company for a new seal. Good luck. (06/20/2009)

By emahist09

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

I've had the same issue for awhile. I talked to the people at Lowe's and they have a product called "Afresh". The smell comes from the rubber seal being so tight. Wipe down with bleach on the seal and then follow the directions on the bottle. (09/09/2009)

By Dee Marie

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

I made the mistake of reading up on my front loaders after I bought them. So this is what I started doing not too long after we got them. I use only organic liquid washing liquid, vinegar in the softener cup and a scoop of Oxyclean and when I need bleach I use the one for HE machines. So far, so good. I will also use all the advice posted on here about taking it apart and cleaning. I love my front loaders, can wash 12 pairs of jeans at a time. Gotta love that. (11/20/2009)

By Stuff64

Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

I finally found a solution to the smell in my LG front load washer. I switched from Tide liquid to Tide powder and I drain it if it starts to smell. This was absolutely the worst purchase I have made. Wish I had my top load washing machine back. (12/20/2009)

By dclarance


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