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Musty Smell in a Washing Machine

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

Washing Machine
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April 20, 2010 Flag
12 found this helpful

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

July 20, 2010 Flag
0 found this helpful

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

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August 8, 20160 found this helpful

stop using any pod type detergent used powder only pods or just powder, after a while ( short time) the smell goes its the liquid that does it The pods are the worst but arm and hammer have pods that are just powder inside

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September 12, 2011 Flag
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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?


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December 7, 20150 found this helpful

Switch to powdered HE detergent. All the liquids are petroleum based and stick to the plastic hoses and gaskets and other parts. Hint given to me by a repairman. Worked for me. Use only a tablespoon for an average load. Don't use liquid fabric softener either. Eventually same stink.

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July 16, 2011 Flag
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My front loading washer has the worst sour smell. I need some help. I bought the washer cleaner, but it did not phase the smell. I used Clorox bleach and used the hottest water and ran it through two loads, but that still did not fix it. I need help immediately, please.

By Betty from Hurricane, WV

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August 17, 20110 found this helpful

I have a front loading HE washing machine as well. The cause of the odor is using too much detergent! We are all used to using too much detergent because of the older style top loading machines. These use less water and need less detergent. The detergent companies love us for these old habits.

The solution is to get down and dirty and clean out the mold from the rubber gasket. It is smelly and gross but you need to get rid of it. It is behind the gasket, under the folds of rubber or silicone whatever. Get an old washcloth, dampen it with water and scrap it out using the washcloth as your scraper. Next, use white vinegar and go over it all again.

Next, run the washer through a regular cycle or quick cycle with a quart or so of white vinegar. Make a habit of leaving that door open when you are finished with a load. Above all, learn to use less detergent so the mold doesn't have anything to grow on. You should hate having to clean out that disgusting mold. It is dangerous to your health and the health of your family. The clothes will be clean with less and your pocketbook will love you for it as well with a savings in detergent. Best wishes to all.

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June 24, 2011 Flag
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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.


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June 28, 20111 found this helpful

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.

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October 28, 2013 Flag
1 found this helpful

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!

September 13, 2014 Flag
2 found this helpful

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...

front load washer with bungee cord keeping it open

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March 16, 2012 Flag
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Any tips for ridding a washing machine of a foul odor would be helpful.


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March 18, 20120 found this helpful

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.

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April 3, 2010 Flag
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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

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December 16, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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September 8, 2011 Flag
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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

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September 13, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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December 24, 2010 Flag
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My top loading washer has a very musty smell. How do I get rid of it?

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