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Musty Smell in a Washing Machine

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Washing Machine

Front loading washers in particular can develop a musty odor. This is a guide about a musty smell in a washing machine.


Solutions: Musty Smell in a Washing Machine

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

Tip: Prevent a Smelly Washer With Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

I have a great tip for making a smelly clothes washer smell fresh and clean, given to me by a Maytag repairman. Simply run dishwasher detergent powder, not liquid, through your machine with no clothing in it, about once or twice a month.

It works and it is cheaper than the specialized products that do the same thing. Use the same amount you would use of laundry detergent for your particular machine.

Source: Maytag repairman

By Diane H. from Louisville, TN

Tip: Airing Out the Washing Machine

Some high efficiency washers have a bad smell inside. Rather than leave the door hanging open to air out (and risk hitting into it or a pet or child climbing inside and having it shut) I thought, for safety, that looping a bungee around the hinge and hooking it to a suction cup might allow you to keep the door open to air and not automatically snap shut.

front load washer with bungee cord keeping it open

    By Donna [227]

    Tip: Front Load Washing Machine "Doorstop"

    Those of us with front load washing machines know how important it is to keep the inside of the machine dry between uses to avoid unpleasant smells. Leaving the door open is one way to do that, but many machines don't let you just leave it ajar to dry out. I personally didn't like the leaving the door completely open where it would be in the way of traffic in my laundry room.

    So to solve that, I put a plastic coat hanger in the opening to the machine, letting a little bit of it extend beyond the gasket and door frame, and just let the door close up against it. It leaves about an inch to an inch and a half opening, just enough to let moisture evaporate from the machine. No more smells!

      By Ginny [26]

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      Here are questions related to Musty Smell in a Washing Machine.

      Question: Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

      I have a LG Tromm front load washer. The clothes smell musty after washing. I have used Affresh to clean it several times. The clothes are briefly OK, then after a few days the musty odor comes back. We are on city water so I don't think its that. I was told not to use fabric softener any more and to use HE detergents. Still no improvement. Please help.

      By Mark from Tyngsboro, MA


      Most Recent Answer

      By biguggy06/21/2011

      I am largely a firm believer in "do what works for you"! That being said I also like to know, as far as is possible, what could be the consequence(s) could be should I follow a certain course of action. To that end, on 27, June 2010, I forwarded the following message to Church and Dwight, the owners of the manufacturer's of OxiClean and the owners of the Arm And Hammer brand, concerning OxiClean: -

      Your website states that the PH for this product is up to 11.0 when it is diluted. Is this correct?
      I understand that the principal ingredients are:
      Sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate, is this correct?
      I further understand that when mixed with water the sodium percarbonate breaks down into hydrogen peroxide (for the cleaning) and sodium carbonate, is this correct?
      MSDS's for both these chemicals rate their pH at well above 8.0
      It is a well-known and well-established fact that aluminium is corroded when immersed in an aqueous solution with a pH above about 8.0. As the MSDS's for the subject chemicals available 'on the web' almost all make reference to the corrosive capabilities against aluminum, some do just say 'metals'.

      I would be interested in your comments on the performance, in this regard; of your product on the aluminum spiders found in front loading washing machines. There are numerous reported incidents of spider corrosion and failure on the internet and/or although most of these seem to claim it is galvanic corrosion I do not agree. For it to be galvanic corrosion one would expect the majority of the corrosion to be at the junction of the dissimilar metals and on none of the photographs, or from the written descriptions, am I able to find one instance of this.
      Thank you in anticipation.

      To date I have received no response except, coupons and offers for Arm And Hammer products in my email.

      The MSDS for OxiClean can be found at: -
      (Note the pH value). Orange Glo is totally owned by Church and Dwight.

      Some Arm and Hammer MSDSs can be seen through: -

      Question: Top Load Washer Smells Moldy

      I have a top loader washing machine that I purchased that is a terrible design. It is almost new, but it has this horrible smell of mold. I have tried everything I know to get rid of it. I was hoping someone could help me. I have tried bleach and baking soda. Neither worked and my clothes smell awful. I would appreciate any advice you could give me.

      If I didn't think it would be inappropriate I would indicate what brand of washer and dryer and encourage people not to purchase this set. The dryer has a terrible lint screen that is so hard to get the total lint out of it so I have problems with it also. Thanks everyone.

      By MLS


      Most Recent Answer

      By Beth [5]06/28/2011

      I run an empty load with bleach or vinegar and that takes away the bad smell. For the lint trap, we clean ours out after ever single load and once a month, I hand wash the screen with Dawn to remove the oil buildup from the fabric softener. I hope that helps you.

      Question: Musty Smell In Front Load Washer

      My 2008 LD front loading washer and the cloths washed in the machine smell very bad, like mold. We also have several pets and I am unable to get to where the dog and cat hair lodge in the washer.

      I paid a lot of money for what I thought would be my last purchase of a new washer and dryer as most of my previous appliances over the last 40 years have served me well. I also have a Master Protection Plan that we purchased at the same time as the purchase of the washer and dryer.

      I had nothing but trouble with a washer that didn't work most of the time until Sears finally declared the washer unfixable and let me pick out another replacement washer. This one smells terrible. Even with the Master Protection Plan I could not get anyone out to assist me and was told to periodically throw in a cup of bleach and run a cycle. That didn't work.

      After spending a thousand bucks on a washer that I hate and being a good constant customer for more than 40 years, I was finally able to get a tech out to look at smell my washer. He said this was a problem with all the front loaders. He then laid a bath towel across the front of the washer to keep the door slightly open. That was his solution! How and where do I go to find some resolution regarding this matter?


      Most Recent Answer

      By Amanda Carroll [13]09/27/2011

      I clean houses and almost all of my clients have a front loading washing machine as well as my brother. My brother and his gf never dried their washer or the gasket or left the door open so the whole entire washer smells like mold and all the clothes get washed and come out smelling moldy even after being dried. They don't care but that's another story:) Not one of my clients (14) are happy with their front loaders.

      After each load, you need a towel handy to dry the inside and completely dry the rubber gasket rim thing where the door seals as well as the door. Then the door has to be left open to avoid mold issues and the moldy smell. Then you have to have a place to hang your towel so that you can use it again unless you want to use a clean one every time and then there's a whole load of towels for you to wash:)

      This is what you need to do. Wash the inside with soap and water. Pull the seal out and clean all the mold and dog hair out of there. You may have to use a little clorox cleanup on the mold. Clean the door and leave it open from now on unless it is in use. Wait a couple hours and come back and smell it. If you still have an odor you can buy the washing machine cleaner packet. It works great. Always always always dry the inside when you are finished and leave the door open.

      Not everyone has a huge laundry room and in most cases this is a royal pain, but it is the only way. Not one of my customers likes their front loaders. I don't care how much water it saves. I would never purchase something that requires so much upkeep. Good luck!

      Question: Getting Rid Of Musty Smell In Washing Machine

      How do I get the moldy, mildewy smell out of my washing machine? It makes the clothes smell awful.

      By Patricia from Le Sueur, MN

      Most Recent Answer

      By robertv12/16/2010

      The rubber gasket around the door turned out to be the problem I had. I now use a cleaning product once a month to keep the washing machine clean. I got the idea from The site has a bunch of good info.

      Question: Getting Rid of Washing Machine Odor

      Any tips for ridding a washing machine of a foul odor would be helpful.

      By KO

      Most Recent Answer

      By Mary Lou [4]03/18/2012

      Everything suggested did not work for my machine, but someone mentioned using less detergent so I cut back to 1 1/2 teaspoon - way less then what I had been using. The clothes get just as clean and no more odor. I even accidentally purchased soap that was not HE so I mixed it half and half with the HE and cannot tell the difference. I do not have grubby work clothes or little children but do have soft water so I guess you would need to experiment? I had previously switched from liquid fabric softener to dry sheets, which did help some.

      Question: Smelly Front Load Washer

      How do I get rid of the moldy/musty smell in my front load washer? It smells like wet towels that have been sitting in the damp basement of an abandoned house! Please help.

      By Hunter

      Most Recent Answer

      By syntoniser [5]09/13/2011

      I had the musty smell whether I closed the door or left it open. I was about to throw the machine away even though it was only two years old. A repairman told me to stop using liquid detergent, use only powdered, and no liquid fabric softener. The liquids are petroleum based and leave a residue on plastic pipes and rubber gaskets etc.

      Powdered HE detergent is hard to find, but worth the effort. Also, he said not to use as much as recommended, he said most people use way too much soap. There is absolutely no smell in my machine now, and amazingly the clothes are just as clean. For two people washing a small load of clothes I use only a rounded tablespoon of HE powdered detergent. Try it... the only thing you have to lose is a moldy smell.

      Question: Top Loading Washer Smells Musty

      My top loading washer has a very musty smell. How do I get rid of it?

      By Betty from FL

      Most Recent Answer

      By Carol L Craig [17]12/27/2010

      Hi Betty, Leave the top open on your washer for a few hours after your last wash and you won't have the odor.


      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: Washing Machine Smell

      I have a problem with my washing machine, it has a musty/mildew smell inside the machine itself.


      Archive: Washing Machine Smell

      I have a front loading washer (which I LOVE!) but I have developed a problem. Over a month ago, I left a couple of towels in the machine after washing for a whole long weekend - just forgot they were there. They "soured" and even with rewashing with vinegar they still had an odor.

      That was OK since they are now "shop rags". My problem is the washer still has the odor in it. I have used vinegar, OxyClean, baking soda (for a week!) even Windex-type cleaner both in laundry loads and just to wipe down the interior. I leave the door cracked to dry the drum after a day of washing but the odor remains even after all this time.

      Does anyone have any ideas? Thanks for your help.


      (PS: because of allergies, I prefer methods that are less "bad" chemically but everything is a chemical of some sort!)

      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      Post by homeschoolin_mum
      Try vinegar and baking soda together. Put the soda in as you would your powdered detergent then add your vinegar (I would imagine you have a spout in the top) where your softener would go after the water has started pouring in.
      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      Post by kidsNclutter
      The odor could be from MOLD. Should try liquid chlorine bleach, fairly strong, on the longest cycle (not prewash). Run it through w/ just the water, or maybe will need to put in a load of towels that can be bleached (or those shop rags!) so the water fills to a good level b/c it is a front loader. If the odor is from MOLD it will be killed by the bleach.
      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      Post by beanygurl
      That "soured" smell is from bacteria. I agree with using chlorine bleach to kill it. Use a cup or two with hot water in a full cycle.
      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      Post by Katie A.
      In addition to using bleach, I suggest leaving the door open more than a crack (i.e. even if the towels hadn't molded, leaving it only slightly open might be letting new mold grow). Unless your washer is in a really obvious place, I'd leave the door all the way open on a regular basis. I do that with mine and have never had a moldy smell problem.
      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      Kelly (Guest Post)
      My machine had the same thing, only it is not a front load. I took apart the bleach and fabric softener dispensers and washed them and the interior of the machine (mine has a ledge at the top of the drum where a lot of lint and scum had collected) really well with vinegar and hot water. Then ran a full wash cycle with 2 cups of vinegar and 1/2 a box of baking soda and haven't had an odor since. I had done the vinegar/baking soda load before, but never cleaned out all of the other things and I think the odor was lingering in those areas. Make sure you get all of the crevices, anywhere that scum and lint could build up.
      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      Suzie (Guest Post)
      Try Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. It's an odor absorbing cleaner as well as a laundry booster.
      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      NonaCZ (Guest Post)
      thanks for all of you all's help.
      RE: Washing Machine Smell
      Susan (Guest Post)
      I developed this problem with my Bosch Next washer. I am also having problems with the soap dispenser. After 2 repair visits, I was told by the Bosch rep that They would replace the soap dispenser with a "redesigned" part. For the mildew smell, he recommended wiping out the gasket after each use, washing gasket with vinegar, using a product called Washer Magic, and leaving the door cracked after each use. It is the Maytag Neptune all over agian. Lowes has discontinued this lemon of a machine. Good luck; hope you have better luck than we have had.

      Archive: Washing Machine Smell

      My washer is about 8 years old. Recently it has started to smell AFTER I wash a load of clothes.


      Archive: Washing Machine Smell

      There is a mildew smell inside my washing machine. I've tried leaving it open to let it air out and I've run it without any clothes thru a wash cycle with a cup of bleach.


      Archive: Washing Machine Smell

      My washing machine stinks like rotten eggs almost every time I do a wash. I've put bleach through the wash and it helped for a short time.


      Archive: Washing Machine Smell

      My washing machine stinks like molding cloth. Is it possible for small articles of clothing to wash up over the drum and sit in between the casing and the drum?


      Archive: Washing Machine Smell

      With my first front load washer, I continually had problems with the spin cycle not spinning the clothes properly.