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Cleaning a Smelly Washing Machine

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


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By 4 found this helpful
June 13, 2017

I wipe down the inside rubber gasket of my washer thoroughly dry immediately after each use with a cotton towel to prevent mold, mildew, and smells. If you do not, bacteria and mold will grow.


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By 5 found this helpful
September 12, 2013

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.

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January 25, 20170 found this helpful

Frequently musty odors are associated with front loading washers, however a top loading model can also develop a musty smell. This is a guide about top loading washer smells musty.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
June 29, 2012

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


June 29, 20120 found this helpful

Two thoughts. Both ideas are run with no clothes in the machine. What I use is Tide washing machine cleaner available in the soap isle of your grocery store. Also try some vinegar. Maybe some other posters have more ideas.

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June 29, 20120 found this helpful

Foxum41 had a good idea with the vinegar. I was thinking baking soda. Again, with no clothes as Foxum41 had said.

Another thought I just had was you need to make sure the smell is from the machine and not from the drain the machine uses. Take the exhaust hose off the drain pipe and give the pipe a sniff. It could be you have odors in the pipe and they are coming up into the machine. I don't know what you would do in that case. I'm not sure baking soda or vinegar would help in that situation. You might need to talk to a plumber.

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July 1, 20120 found this helpful

Fill the washer with water, add a full bottle (l liter, 1 quart) of white vinegar and run thru a cycle.

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July 2, 20120 found this helpful

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

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By 0 found this helpful
March 10, 2007

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

Glyn from Birmingham, UK


March 31, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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January 28, 20160 found this helpful

There is an access door front bottom right corner face of the washer. After completing "all" your weeks wash with machine turned off openthe door inside is a black hose with plug. Get a catch pan , put it under the hose and pop out the plug ... smelly water will come out. Replace the plug empty the catch pan and then put it under the twist ring by the little hose. Turn the cap till it opens .... more smelly water .... if you do this exercise at the end of each week the waher is used and dry the rubber seal ring inside the load door you will be smell free. do not use bleach, vinager or chemicals cause they will corrode the piece parts ....

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December 17, 20130 found this helpful

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

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By 0 found this helpful
August 19, 2013

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

By dndfox1998

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February 16, 20130 found this helpful

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

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

February 26, 20110 found this helpful

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

Glyn from Birmingham, UK


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

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

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

Bosch Washing Machine Smell

Try Using less soap.

By h2ohobo

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

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

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

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

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.


By Leigh

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

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

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March 10, 20070 found this helpful

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?



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!

By Madelynnsmama

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.

By siris

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

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