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Front loading washers in particular can develop a musty odor. This is a guide about how to remove and prevent musty smells in your front loading washing machine
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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 Loverink from Le Sueur, MN
Try wiping the inside the drum with some white vinegar.
The Maytag Man told me to run powdered dish detergent (any brand) through my machine once a month (with no clothing in it) and it would do away with the smell. It has worked for me. Hope it works for you!
If it's a front loader there is another outer container that some water sits in so it gets gross. A top loader tends to spin out more of the water so it doesn't keep as much in the washer as a front loader.
Anyway, leave the door open. It helps big time. Run an empty, small load with bleach and use the larger amount.
For the past week I have added 1/4 cup of baking soda directly into the washer before adding the clothes. After just two days my washer has had no smell. I also keep the door slightly ajar after each use to dry the interior.
Any tips for ridding a washing machine of a foul odor would be helpful.
For me switching to powdered HE detergent got rid of the smell in my new front loading washer. And no more liquid fabric softener either. A repairman told me the liquids are petroleum based and they cling to the outer plastic drum causing smells.
Last year I bought a front loader washer and dryer. It wasn't long before my washer started smelling. Rather than buy the stuff they advertise to clean your washer, I just leave the door open for a couple hours (or longer) to let it completely dry out inside. Just inside the door is a large rubber ring. My guess is that the rubber is causing the smell. Anyway, as long as I let it dry out thoroughly, I don't have that problem anymore.
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.
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How do I get rid of a musty smell in my washing machine?
Julie from Cape Cod, MA
I've been using vinegar in my laundry for over a year now, and find my clothes are cleaner and softer and my washing machine seems to be cleaner and odor-free. Just put 1/2 cup to a cup of white vinegar in the rinse cycle. You'd think your clothes would come out smelling like salad. But, no hint of vinegar odor can be detected. I don't use fabric softener in the washer or dryer sheets; this is all you need, so it's cheap. (05/20/2008)
Musty smells are caused from mold. Run your washing machine with hot water and lots of bleach added and it will kill the mold, thus eliminating the musty smell. Blessings. (05/22/2008)
Believe it or not a friend was told to use Tang by a manufacturer. She did, and it smells wonderful now. Run it through empty, of course. (05/23/2008)
By Linda Jones
Is your washer an HE front loader? Affresh will remove and prevent the build-up of odor causing residues in all brands of HE Washers. Bleach only kills the odor causing bacteria, while Affresh washer cleaner removes the root cause of bad odors. Using surfactant chemistry, Affresh is a slow dissolving, foaming tablet that gets underneath built-up residues, breaks it down into small particles, and then washes the residues away. This product will leave your washer and clothes clean and smelling fresh.
Even if you don't want to add the vinegar to your laundry, you can run through a complete cycle and add a cup to a cup and a half of white vinegar to the water, and that should take care of your "musty" smell. I do this periodically and my machine stays fresh. (05/23/2008)
Clean like others have suggested and then leave the lid/door ajar when not using it. That dries up the little excess of water all machines have left after washing. I found if I do this, I do not get that smell. If I forget and close it for some reason, then I start getting that odor again. Also, where is your washer located in your house?
I prevent that by leaving the lid open all the time (when it's not doing laundry). When I brought my washer home from a garage sale, it stank, but one load of water-only solved that. (05/23/2008)
I have the same problem and wish I never bought a front loader. My problem is my towels stink. I have spent a small fortune replacing many of them. I have researched this before and found a solution. Run the longest and hottest cycle your machine allows. (sanitary) After the machine fills with the water, push pause and add more hot water (almost to the lower lip of visible drum) and 2 cups of vinegar. Then continue to run the cycle. This cleans the inside drum where softener accumulates and molds. (08/27/2008)
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?
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. The clothes do not come out smelling bad.
Zazz4 from Oroville, WA
I bought a used front loader. Got home and smelled. Pulled out the dispenser tray and sprayed vinegar water blend until all the gunk came apart. You may want to put a rag to filter the gunky chips from going into the lines to the washer. When done, just throw away the rag. I cleaned the rubber gasket around the door. It was nasty. I ran a vinegar drenched towel along the seam of the rubber and the door where I spotted the gunk. The smell reduced but I can still smell some in the drum. I am not going to take it apart. I will try running a cycle with Cascade, vinegar, baking soda, and hot water individually to see what happens. Bleach did nothing. To prevent, I will not use liquid fabric softener and make sure I use about 1/4 capfull of laundry soap instead of a capful now that I have a front loader. (07/12/2006)
Oh Gosh... wish I had read all these before getting my Maytag front loader less than a year ago. So far no problems, but I do know this, when we were shopping we did have one salesperson tell us about the problem with the Neptune and that it had been discovered that it was smelling due to water collecting in the gasket and not draining completely and that they have since changed that feature.
We bought a Maytag, newer model, against my better judgment... having had numerous problems with other Maytag applicances recently.We will be buying NO MORE MAYTAGS!Wish I could have a bumper sticker to that effect. (02/17/2007)
Bleach should have taken care of your problem, try vinegar next time, about 1 cup, see if that works (02/17/2007)
I have the same gross smell. The service man that came out explained that water gets trapped and stored then reused. That's what makes them efficient. He also explained that detergent companies changed the way they make detergent to be safer on the environment. That is why everything stinks. Humm. Not bleach or vinegar or hot water works. There is some stuff called Bromine that is used for bottles in making beer. We use that stuff to get the stink out of our kayaking clothes and maybe that would work. (02/28/2007)
We bought a Frigidaire Gallery front loading washer 8.5 years ago and the only problem I've ever had with it was the latch lock on the door. They are plastic and when they get worn, the door won't lock and you get the buzzer. After 2 hours on the phone with "service representatives", I was finally directed to a store up the street from my house. 20 minutes and $3.42 later, It was fixed. I've never had a smell...ever. I only use a powder soap called Persil. It is low-sudsing for efficiency washers. I live in Ontario, Canada and our friend from the Nederlands recognized it right away. They've had it in UK and such forever. I tried (once or twice) other HE or liquids but they are slimy. See info at www.persil.com Hope I helped! (03/03/2007)
The Sears Repairman just came by our house to help us with the smelly "rotten egg" washing machine. He charged us $72.95 just to ring the doorbell. He was inside the house for 23 minutes and charged an additional $34.50. He told us to stop using liquid detergent. He told us to run a couple of cycles on hot water with only a tablespoon of dishwasher powder. Bottom-line, don't call the repairman. Just get rid of the liquid detergent and switch to HE powder. Then, only use a tablespoon for your loads. (03/09/2007)
By Ontario Gary
It's been 6 months since I used Purewasher to clean inside washer to remove fungus odor. It still smells as fresh as the first day! I forgot the website but if you do a search on purewasher it will come up. (03/12/2007)
The problem that some have touched on is our overuse of detergents. The required amount of detergent to clean a load of wash is much less, as low as 1/4 the amount suggested by the detergent manufacturer. They are in the business of selling detergent, not saving you money.
After getting rid of the smell, by whatever means, try a load using 1/4 the amount you used to use and observe the results. Are your clothes clean and good smelling? If so, stick with that amount. If not clean, add 1/4 more and observe. You will probably be able to get your clothes clean with much less than you expect! It requires you to readjust your assumptions of "more is better."
Also, if you have a septic system, keep in mind that powder detergents have fillers that can, after time, block drainfields. Be careful!
The "rotton egg" odor is caused by chemicals or bacteria in your water supply that are attacking the magnesium rod in your hot water heater. This is usually a problem with well water, but we have it in our municipal water here. You have to determine the source and have it treated. (03/21/2007)
By Frank Newkirk
I had a bad smell in my washer for about six months. I recently had the washer serviced and had the timer and the belt replaced. The smell has vanished! The repairman explained to me that when the belt is going bad, the machine doesn't spin as forcefully. When this happens water doesn't completely spin out of the machine, and sits in the drum, causing a bad smell. Maybe you need to have your washer serviced. (04/02/2007)
Will Glisten work? I've tried Washer Magic twice and CANNOT get rid of this fungus smell. Aren't Glisten and Washer Magic both liquid? Would it matter if the cleaner is a powder form versus liquid form? Also, I wonder if the liquid detergent versus powdered detergent makes a difference? (05/04/2007)
Citric Acid? NO, THANK YOU! I used Citric Acid to try to get rid of odor in my washer. It worked for about two days - after it discolored and ate away the rubber door boot on my washer so bad that it had to be replaced. I just hope it didn't ruin any seals on our new washer!! I gave up and am putting up with the smell! (05/04/2007)
By Karen R.
I just went through the same problem on a Maytag top-loader. I removed the front panel of the machine; then removed the drain hose from the machine and where it enters the waste pipe. The drain hose was full of "sludge" comprised of detergent buildup and mold/mildew. I hung the hose in a U-shape and filled it with bleach and let this sit for 2 hours. Afterward, I thoroughly rinsed it and re-installed. I then ran the machine with the hot water setting with 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Baking Soda and the now the machine is clean and fresh again. Hope this helps! (05/06/2007)
Recently noticed that our towels would start smelling after just being used once. I'm positive that it is the liquid soap that we switched to about 2 months ago (our top load is almost 5 yrs old). Will be switching back to powder as several posters have recommended. (05/13/2007)
To the poster who recommended citric acid. Please don't post unless you know what you're talking about! My glass front is permanently cloudy from washing with citric acid. Hopefully the seals are not damaged! (05/13/2007)
If you are on well water that rotten egg smell is typically due to hard water (excess minerals etc). The only way to rid of it is getting a water softener installed. My parents had the same problem until they installed a UV Scale Ban system that purifies and softens the water...just a suggestion. (05/16/2007)
Thank you to JDW and everyone else who posted info about their smelly washers on this site!
We have a Maytag Performa top loader. For the past year it has had a really bad, funky smell coming from it. To me it smelled like rotting stinky socks and/or sort of like sewage. However, we checked ALL the hoses, drains, traps, etc., and nothing - no problem with them. Still, the smell persisted and was driving me absolutely crazy. My husband says I have a nose like a blood-hound. I say I have an unusually sensitive nose and stinky smells bother me ALOT.
We tried running extremely hot wash with bleach in it through the machine. We tried running extremely hot wash with 1 cup Cascade through the machine. No luck with either in getting rid of the smell. It seemed to work for a day or so, and then the smell was right back.
We finally decided we were going to just have to get rid of the machine. As a last ditch effort, I decided to search "washing machine smells" on Google and thank goodness this website popped up as one of those listed. Thanks to all the helpful info posted, we decided to take our washer apart today to see if we too had the horrid soap scum and lint build up that others spoke of. Boy did we ever. The soap scum and lint build-up was 1/2" thick or more all the way around the top inside of the drum assembly, and since there are 3 layers to the assembly, the scum/lint build up was caked on all three layers. Completely disgusting. We have now cleaned everything off and wiped it all down with hot soapy water with bleach in it.
My husband is an instrument mechanic by trade (e.g. he can fix pretty much anything (BreeMar Services 604-302-2416) so he didn't have a problem with it. Our problem has just always been trying to figure out exactly where the smell was coming from. For awhile we thought it might be the pump (wrong). Thankfully, the washer is now spic and span. We will never use liquid soap again (we usually use Zero for gentle wash) and will cut down on amount of powdered soap we use. We've also decided to do our white loads last when we're doing laundry, so that the last wash we do is with extremely hot water with bleach in it. We have also taken note of the Borax tip, and plan to use that occasionally too. Hopefully, we won't have this problem again. If we do though, we now know how to fix it. It takes awhile to take machine apart and clean it out, but is much better than the expense of having to go out and buy a new washer or call a repairman who charge huge $$$ just to show up at your house, never mind the expense of actually servicing the machine after that. Also, dealing with 1-800 Customer Service is a complete waste of time. If you don't have a warranty don't bother, and even with a warranty they just give you the run around and treat you as if YOU are the problem, not their poorly designed machine.
Again, thanks to all who have posted their stories on this website. You really helped us A LOT.
By Jeri, Mission, BC
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.
My washer is about 8 years old. Recently it has started to smell AFTER I wash a load of clothes.
I have a problem with my washing machine, it has a musty/mildew smell inside the machine itself.