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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. This helped some, but the smell is still there. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Janus from Gainesville, GA


Top Loaders

I have been married 30 years and never had this problem. I've only owned two washers in that time...only top loaders. I probably wash in warm the most and not in hot all that much. I don't think you have to wash in hot to kill germs if the load will end up in the hot dryer and the hot water shrinks and fades. I guess the only thing I wash in hot is white undies and washcloths.

The only two washers I've owned have both been Kenmore's. To hear about these really expensive washers having these problems makes me think I never want one of them. (09/06/2006)

By Debbie52

Top Loader

Our two year old top loader stinks! We bought a Maytag top loader after years of frustration and mold with the Neptune. Consumer Reports rated very highly and never dreamed we would have trouble. The store where we purchased thinks it's the liquid soap/warm water/Chicago area water that causes the problem. I think it's the liquid soap as well since never had a problem in 20 years before. Switched to liquid in last few years. Thanks for all the advice. By the way - nothing has worked so far so will probably have to get it professionally cleaned. (09/10/2006)


By M Burke

Liquid Detergent

Good news, if you are using liquid detergent with your front loader, STOP. I have a front loading washing machine and initially used powder detergent. I switched to liquid and had the same problem, smell, gross buildup in the black rubber boot. Called the manufacturer and received the "run a cup of bleach" answer. This did no good.

While cleaning the gross buildup, I inadvertently slipped the boot spring off. Called the repair man to fix it and after some discussion he said stop using liquid detergent.

I cleaned the boot and started powder detergent and the problem is GONE!

Unbelievable that the manufacturers don't tell you this.

By Melinda


I have a top loader and have mildew smell. I called Whirlpool after reading many of your comments. First of all I told her I only wash in cold water. We have well water and extremely cold! She said run your hottest water in tub with bleach, do it couple times. For cold water to break down it has to be at least 60 degrees, Cold water wash doesn't break down the detergent and it gets gross and smelly. I stood and watch while hot cycle rinsed out and oh the smell was bad, along with a lot of lint, I had poured baking soda and vinegar in both tub and dispenser. Now I am redoing in hot with a cup o bleach in tub and cup in dispenser. I never had smell before with other washers, but had always used warm or hot water. I am sure its all from cold water and liquid soap. (09/15/2006)


By Mrs. Minnesota


Be careful what chemicals you put in your washer! Too much bleach, vinegar, ammonia etc. will dry out seals and cause leaking! Not to mention dangerous gases that can form and cause lung damage. (09/16/2006)

By motsbc


I had the same mildew smell problem with my Frigidaire front loader. I tried several of the ideas from this site (i.e., empty bleach load, Cascade) and it still smelled. I took out the soap dispenser and cleaned it thoroughly (totally disgusting) as well as inside the machine where it is inserted. I quit using Downy and now use white vinegar in the softener dispenser. I dry inside and around the rubber gasket after the final wash-load and leave the door open for a while to let things dry out. I haven't had any smells since either from the washer or in my clothes and towels. (09/17/2006)


By daisy8


i had a neptune. The smell was horrible and I used everything and nothing worked. Finally, the circuit board when on fire and scorched my wash room. Of course this did not get me a new machine right away. The problem had to happen again and again and again. Then the cycle went terrible wrong and the drum broke. Finally after having to have a repair man to my house approved by maytag and having to waits months, the insurance company decided it was not worth it anymore. The repairs exceeded the cost of the machine. I now have a whirlpool and there is a smell. I am going to start to not use Downy anymore and also HP Tide. I am going to use a small amount, as we are not to use a lot in a front loaded, just fill to max allowed, with vinegar for the rinse, as suggested on the web page, and I am going to dilute washing soda in water and add that to my machine and see what happens. Any of you out there with a Neptune, good luck and watch the circuit board. The reason i had to wait months was there were not anymore in stock. i was not the only one with the problem. Do not go outside and leave your machine alone. I did not know there was a fire until i came in from the yard and smelled the smoke and saw the scorching. (09/19/2006)


By theresa


I have a top of the line Kenmore HE washer. We have had it for 5 years. In the past 6 months we got the dreadful musty smell. We noticed it most on our towels when they got wet. We do laundry all the time, clothes do not sit too long, we leave the door open, use vinegar/baking soda in the wash and for no reason the smell appeared after 4-5 years. It was so bad we were ready to buy a new washer. I cleaned out all hoses, the rubber gaskets with bleach and ran bleach, Cascade, baking soda and vinegar through at the hottest setting. The bleach cleaned out the washer and gunk, but the smell remained.

I was on this web site and there was 1 person who said that they were a repair man and there was only one thing that would get rid of the smell. I wasn't sure if it was true or not? I decided to order a powder from "". The product is called "PureWash". It comes in a plastic zip lock baggy in a brown envelope and I got a double bag for $20.00. I turned up the heat on my hot water heater and used the product. It really worked and the smell was gone from the washer. We used 2 Tablespoons (suggested max). We put in 3-4 towels as suggested to get more water in the drum. We added 3-4 more gallons of hot water through the detergent drawer. Do not fill too much or washer will drain automatically as a safety feature of the washer.


Our towels still smelled so we washed them with some smelly washer powder once and then again with detergent. The towels now smell fresh again!

I suggest cleaning the hoses, gaskets, drum with bleach to clean out mold spots. Make sure that your hot water tank has the temperature hot enough so that bacteria is killed during all hot washings. Leave the door open after washing.

Use the Purewash on the hot cycle and follow instructions. Was all towels with 1 Tablespoon of PureWash and then re-wash with detergent.

Smelly Washer advised to use less detergent and not to use liquid HE Tide as the liquid caused residue in the washer and can smell. It said to switch to Tide HE Powder available at Target.

We also are adding Borax powder 1/2 cup with the detergent as it helps kill any bacteria. I read this tip on this site as well.

Anyway, we are stink free and our washer, towels and clothes smell fresh again like the detergent.

Thank you to all!! (10/10/2006)



I have a crummy Kenmore Series 80 top loader that came with my new house. I hate it! It's only 9 months old and started to smell a few months ago. I tried everything. The service man came out and cleaned it with water and it still smelled. Another came a week later and did nothing insisting it wasn't the washer smelling. When I called Sears again the woman on the phone told me to try filling the machine with the hot water setting then adding 2 gallons more of boiling water and a cup of bleach (I added more bleach). During the rinse she said to add vinegar. So far so good no smell. She said the liquid soap and fabric softener contain wax and the hot water and bleach break it down. Why would you produce a washer that stinks when you use soap and fabric softener in it? I'll never get that, but I am glad that the smell is gone...for now at least. (11/27/2006)

By Lacey

Too Much Detergent

My repairman said many of these problems happen because folks use way too much laundry detergent, then way too much fabric softener and a water temperature that is too cool. The ingredients in the things you're adding to the water usually need a warmer/hotter temperature to dissolve properly. Most folks could wash their clothes without adding detergent and would find that there is detergent coming out of their clothes in the washer! Then leave the washing machine lid open when you're finished and allow it to air out! It's often not the machines that are the problem, it's the operators! (11/29/2006)

By Grandma Margie

The Smell Is Back

The smell is back. Any more suggestions? I like the way the repairmen blame the operators. Why do they put cold water settings and dispensers for fabric softener if it's not made for that? I always wash in cold water because warm or hot will fade your dark clothes. I now use vinegar for fabric softener, but the smell is still there. (12/04/2006)

By Lacey


If you don't have good luck with vinegar, ammonia or bleach (be very careful not to mix them) there is a cleaner called purewasher that is only sold at / This cleaner will clean inside your washer and remove mildew or musty smell from towels and clothes. All you'll need is one tablespoon. The smell hasn't returned yet! (12/16/2006)

By Tara9

Rotten Egg Smell

I'm responding to the "rotten egg" smell. We've recently moved into a new home and bought a front load washer and have experienced this smell. The washer drain hose is connected to a drain pipe by a rubber coupling with two ring clamps. Our shower drain, in an adjacent room, has a short run before the washer drain pipe ties into it.

What I've found is that during the spin cycle, the washer drains very quickly. So quickly, in fact, it siphons the shower trap... thus, allowing the gases from our septic tank to enter the house resulting in the smell. If your piping is exposed in the basement, separate the two drains... or pipe over a new vent line to between where the two are connected to the common line. Or, in my case, I could just run the shower for a few seconds after each wash (not ideal). In any case, it should be addressed so carbon monoxide isn't entering your home. (01/19/2007)

By Ryan


I have a new LG 1812 washing machine that has a terrible odor inside the machine as well as in the clothes once they are washed. Especially noticeable in the towels. I have tried everything. I ordered the Purewash from Smelly Washer and am hoping it will do the trick. Do not buy the LG! (01/21/2007)

By Yana

Powdered Detergent

I switched back to powdered detergent from liquid and the smell has gone and remained gone. Can't hurt to try. (02/09/2007)

By Lacey


The "purewasher" does work! We had a terrible fungus smell from mold in our washer and switched to powder. It helped a little but our clothes and towels still had a mildew smell. Our neighbor gave us 2 tbsp. of purewasher. We did one cycle with a tbsp. and ran a "soak" cycle with the other tbsp. I COULDN'T BELIEVE THE FUNGUS THAT CAME OUT! I ordered some and soaked all of our clothing and towels with a tbsp. and everything smells fresh again! It's kind of expensive but 1 order lasted my neighbor a whole year. (02/11/2007)

By emmygal

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