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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 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. It is hard to find powdered, but using so little it goes a long way. Most people think more is better and use way too much detergent.
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. 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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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)
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)
Livi from MI
I have a top load Maytag. It has a cylinder in the center of the washer that houses a receptical for the fabric softener. I don't use fabric softener at all. I noticed a horrible smell, took the fabric softener holder out and found the worst yick and black stuff you have ever seen. Seems to have cleared my problem. Could it possibly be that easy? Hope this helps! Mitzi (05/31/2007)
To solve my musty washing machine problem, I sprayed Lysol cleanser around the top of the tub (you have to push it back and pull it forward to get the entire surface covered), then I used a small brush to scrub the rim and get all the "gunk" out. I also took the fabric softener cup off and soaked it in hot soapy water to get the "gunk" off of it too. Instead of waiting for it to start smelling again, I do this process about once a month to avoid the smell all together. (06/02/2007)
My odor started when I switched to environmentally safe detergents, and stopped using chlorine bleach.
A small amount of vinegar is effective. Also, in reading these posts, beware of "professionals" that tell you to stop using liquid detergents. Powdered detergents build up over time inside of your pipes and narrow the openings dramatically. I'd say that all things considered, it would be more cost effective to address the smell with something that you find will work for you, and eventually replace an old machine, rather than be faced with major plumbing issues in the future. (06/05/2007)
By PA Resident
I always leave my top load washer open when not in use, and yes a sock or small article of clothing can "jump" the load if you aren't careful in loading.
I leave the washer open so any water can evaporate.
I use oxi-clean in every wash, plus chlorine bleach in the whites, and I've never had a smell. (06/30/2007)
Please don't forget that in some models, mold and mildew can collect outside the drum, in which case no amount of cleaning or cleaning agents will get rid of the problem. This happens when small amounts of water splash/splatter between the top of the drum and the inside of the metal machine cabinet. To see if this is the problem, push the drum to one side as best you can shine a flashlight down into the area between the drum and the outer metal housing. In my case, mold was covering this outside housing, where water had splashed on it. I could not get rid of the problem and bought a new washer. (07/01/2007)
By Mold can collect outside the drum!
Thank you Tara9 for the post about purewasher! We were close to buying a different washer because of washing machine smell! I even called for service to take the machine apart to get rid of that gross FUNGUS ODOR. $165 later my washer, towels, and clothing STILL smelled like mildew. As a last resort I ordered purewasher. $16 and 7 months later everything still smells really CLEAN! (07/26/2007)
By Ellen D
I just bought a front loader machine from a friend that could not get the smell out for more than a day. I searched the internet including this page gathering everyones info and tips. This is what I have compiled. First, it is not a defect with the machine. It seems to be in the nature for the new HE washers. Removing the smell can be very easy or difficult, be patient.
1st, clean the detergent tray very well with vinegar or bleach, or put it in the dishwasher with a load of dishes. 2nd, clean the seal in all of its cracks and crevasses very good with bleach and a Brillo pad. 3rd, if you're using liquid and or non-HE detergent, STOP. This is a major factor in preventing the mold smell as well as keeping your washer running "efficient." Use HE-powder, I use Tide. Softener is also very bad because it contains wax which builds up in the machine over time and starts to grow mold and smell. Now, start a load as usual with HE-powder and warm or hot water. Add 1-2 cups of white vinegar to the wash. Also fill up the softener tray with white vinegar. This will become your new wash routine for every load. Remove the clothes immediately and most importantly leave the door open as much as possible when the washer is not in use. This allows air to circulate which hinders the growth of mold and mildew tremendously. After several washes like this you will notice the drastic decrease in smell.
Now its time for a bleach wash. Clothes optional. Start by adding 1-3 cups of bleach to the detergent tray. Start the longest wash cycle (no prewash) with hot water and let the machine get to its stable wash cycle (when it's done adding water) and add 1-2 gallons of hot water through the detergent tray. Select an extra rinse cycle to make sure the bleach is out before adding a colors load again. So, leave the door open, use HE-detergent and vinegar, and do not use softener. It solved my problem, hopefully it will solve yours. "Purewasher" also sounds like a wonderful product. It cleans out the washer of all of its build up, mildew, and mold. However, it does not prevent it from returning therefore, it will eventually return. Once the smell is gone the key is preventing its return.(07/27/2007)
I am so excited to tell everyone that I have resolved my smelly towel problems. I have been battling this problem for quite sometime and I was ready to throw them all out and start over. A friend of mine was helping dry the dishes one day in our camper when they commented on our stinky dish towel. I explained to them that it is a battle that I have been fighting for a long time.
My friend simply told me to run out and purchase CLOROX BLEACH FOR COLORS. I put that in the javex dispenser along with my Tide HE and Downy. When they came out they smelled perfect. I hung them out on the line to let them dry just in case. PERFECT! Apparently the Javex will kill the bacteria in them.
I then ran a load of white vinegar through a wash cycle and that took care of the smelly washer.
Good Luck! (08/21/2007)
I too recently was having trouble with all of our clothes smelling like mildew and mold, especially towels! I just ran two loads of hot water and vinegar and switched back to the powder Tide detergent. What a difference. I do about 4 loads of laundry a day and my clothes smell clean again. I will definitely keep up with the vinegar rinses. I was ready to get rid of this so-called high-efficiency washing machine! I also keep my door open when it's not in use. I had used bleach and that didn't get rid of the smell. I am glad I came to these postings to learn that other people were having the same problem. (08/24/2007)
I had a smelly washing machine that really frustrated my wife and I. We tried numerous suggestions that I found here, including the PureWash, nothing worked. I especially noticed the smell when I worked out at the gym. One day folding laundry I looked at the label of one of my workout shirts and I noticed it said DO NOT USE FABRIC SOFTENER. I told my wife and we decided to separate all of my workout shirts/shorts which are the UnderArmour / Nike DryFit type into a separate load and not use the softener. Sure enough, the smell was not only gone from my shirts but from the washer as well.
Now many of you may already know not to put FS on these types of clothes but I certainly did not and wanted to share this as an FYI as we were very close to buying a new washer to replace our 3 year old front loader. (09/20/2007)
I have the Kenmore Elite HE3 with the same smell problem and have used the purewash powder which seems to help. But I also found that there is a removable filter located behind the front lower panel that needs to be cleaned. Unplug the washer and remove the 3 screws to remove the panel. The filter is right in front. Turn the white plastic knob, (have a sponge ready, since a small amount of water will come out) and clean this filter. Mine was black and full of lint. This filter is not in the owners manual, a Sears repairman showed me this.
ollie2308 at yahoo dot com (09/25/2007)
After washing up the water that's on the gasket and leaving the door open, this took care of my problem after paying sears twice with no luck. (10/01/2007)
By FRANK PORTER
PUREWASH works like magic. I used it and a few days later the odor was completely gone. The washer now actually smells sweet from the fabric softener, instead of nauseatingly musty from the residue build up in the washer. Another step is to make sure there are no little articles of clothing, like baby socks, stuck in the drainage tube trap. Mine is behind the faceplate of the washer, and was easy to get to. That can add to the build up by reducing the drainage water flow speed, leaving behind deposits of gunk in the washer and tube to cause odor problems. (10/11/2007)
By Joe in Woodbridge
Listen, this Affresh product is a really good product. It gets underneath the residue that builds up in your washer and breaks it up. The rinse cycle washes all that nasty smelly gunk right out of your washer.
Here's a link to the washer repair tips from apwagner.com that talks about smelly washers. http://www.apwagner.com/appliancerepaircenter/Washers.htm#Q37
Thank you to Ollie for your advice! The past few weeks we have noticed a worsening moldy/mildewy smell coming from the washer. I removed the front lower panel as Ollie suggested and checked the filter. It was absolutely disgusting. I found an old breast pad that had slipped into the drain and it had found its way into the filter where it was clogging the "system". It was black and moldy. Yuck. I cleaned out the filter and as far up the hose as I could reach. The smell is gone. I wouldn't have ever thought to look here had I not read Ollie's advice. (10/20/2007)
Try Borax with your regular detergent. It's supposed to be a fungicide which should help with the mildew. It's also fairly cheap.
When the wash is done, leave both the washing-machine door and the detergent tray open to allow the inside to dry because mildew needs moisture to spread. (11/03/2007)
By J A
We had a smelly washer like many of the posters here. As a matter of fact, when I googled washer smells, this is the fist link it offered. We own a Maytag Performa that we purchased in 2000. The smell was horrible. I took the front off the machine and the top and as soon as I looked at the outer drum of the washer, which is plastic, I could see the ring of mold and gunk around the top.
I removed the top cover that connects the inner and outer drum and cleaned all the mold off the parts. I am running bleach through the washer right now to make sure I kill all the little pieces of mold that fell down to the bottom of the drum. I think part of the problem is that the manufacturers are using more plastic and not metal and the mold grows better on the plastic. I hope this works and I don't need to buy a new washer. (11/04/2007)
Directly from the Manf. I sell appliances, and speak with manf. about the smell. The worst out on the market are the LG's Frigidaire's, samsungs and GE's in front loaders, the whirlpool brands (kenmore whirlpool, and maytag, the new ones, are the least smelly) In top loaders avoid one with a Plastic wash tub. (old maytags, GE's frigidaires) According to the Manf.'s and the instructions that came with your washers, you are to leave the door, or lid open after the final load. This lets the seal dry out and avoids the mold and must smell.
Here are some tips:
Front loading machines: After a load of laundry, look at the seal. If you notice water in the seal (ge, frig, LG samsung), wipe it out and let the door open. The whirlpool branded products will not collect water in seal due to their design. If after this you are noticing an odor problem, run your (b)RINSE DRAIN SPIN(/b) cycle with 2 cups of bleach on COOL OR WARM WATER, DO NOT USE HOT, hot breaks down the bleach defeating the purpose of the bleach. Now this should eliminate the smell problem with the use of the bleach and open door. IF you have your machine in the basement, and are still noticing a smell, then you need a (b)dehumidifier(/b) Reason is, your basement contains too much moisture in the air to allow the seal to dry properly.
Top Loading Machines(NON HI_EFFIECENCY MODELS) Fill the wash drum with WARM WATER, add about 1/2 gallon of bleach, allow the bleach rinse to run, and spin out. Then take a rag dipped in a 50/50 bleach solution, and wipe the under part of the lid, seals, dispensers, and if you can get under the ring of the washer, run it there as well. Leave the lid open to dry. Here again, if after doing this, you notice the mold/must smell comes back, YOU NEED A DEHUMIDIFIER!
TOP LOADING HE MACHINES:
Repeat the rinse drain spin with 4 cups of bleach on warm water. Then follow the instructions for the conventional top loader.
Remember folks, a washing machine is just like your shower stall. If the tiles don't dry, they collect mold and mildew. Your washer needs to dry out after the last load. This is especially true for basement machines. Like I stated, if you have the machine in your basement, and these fixes don't work, you will need a dehumidifier. The machine can't dry out because the air is too humid. A mildewy machine means a mildewy basement.
Hope this helps. Xavier
PS. I have had my Kenmore he3 for 5 years now and have yet to smell any mold. My unit is on the second floor and I leave my door open after the final load of the day. To this day my washer smells brand new. (11/05/2007)
After reading through these posts, I decided I had had enough of the moldy smell in my washing machine. It is now midnight, and for the last 5 hours, I have been cleaning my washer. I raised the top of my washer, secured it with a bungee cord, took the front panel off, and nearly gagged on the amount of mold I saw between the "plastic" outer tub and the inner metal tub.
I scraped all the black mold off, sprayed with bleach, took the rim off the tub and scrubbed it with a tooth brush. In the morning I will put it all back together. I guess until I get a new washer this will be a yearly chore. (11/07/2007)
I just purchased a used Kenmore a few days ago and of course, it smelled pretty awful, but the price was right. It was a rather nauseating smell, mildew and something else, just not pleasant at all and it rather rapidly filled the kitchen area where the washer resides. I had read these reviews before I purchased the machine so I knew what was in store and the possible fixes. The thought of major disassembly didn't work for me. The fixes unfortunately didn't work so well.
First, I cleaned out the soap/slime/mildew mix from the door seal. Then ran an empty load with bleach, and it still smelled bad. Then vinegar, then oxi-clean, still bad. I then took off the bottom front panel and removed the accordion rubber "tubing" connecting the drum to the pump. That was caked 1/16-1/8 inch with old soap residue and smelled nasty bad. I washed all that out in the sink, found some loose change and a closed safety pin at the bottom of the tube. The tube was constructed to collect those types of things so they don't go into the pump and break it. I wiped the tube with bleach, it still smelled, but it was much, much better. This led me to believe the weird smell had something to do with the soap residue in my machine. While I was inside the machine, I detached the eject hose on the other side of the pump and found a rubber backwash valve that had accumulated a bunch of hair and misc. around it. I cleaned it off and re-attached the hoses. I had to assume there was much soap residue and mildew/mold forming around the outside of the drum and the inside of the drum housing that encapsulates the drum, judging from what I had seen in the tube, and from what has been posted here.
So, I needed something that would cut through or dissolve that gunk, and also a way to get it everywhere in the washer, sides, top, etc. Foam was the answer I came up with. I happen to use this liquid stuff found at the 99 cent store by the name of LA Awesome. I have been using it to clean just about everything these days. It was bought as a last ditch effort to clean the outside of an old pinball machine, which it did exceedingly well when nothing else would. This stuff cuts through everything, so I tried it on some soap scum beneath a bar of soap. Loosened it right up. The stuff is as amazing as microfiber cleaning cloths. I poured 8 or so ounces (from 20oz bottle) in the machine on warm, and let it go. It sudsed up quickly and filled the machine with thick dense foam. The machine ran a full cycle, with me watching to make sure no foam came out to the floor, which it didn't. When the full cycle had finished, there was no mistaking it smelled so much better. Ran another round of bleach, and another of vinegar. Plus, I have been adding white vinegar to the subsequent loads of laundry since yesterday. This morning the kitchen had almost no smell. The cleaned clothes smell great.
There is still some smell inside the machine, so I am thinking of adding bleach to some good sudsing detergent to get the bleach all over the machine also. I will probably do the LA Awesome stuff again in a week or two, depending if the smell comes back. By the way, buy and use the HE soap. It is different and it leaves the door seal free of any residue. I also have a hunch that using liquid fabric softener contributes greatly to the build-up of soap residue found in the machine, but have not done any test to prove it. It could be they have a special softener for HE machines. I don't know, but if it's soap, and doesn't say HE on it, I won't use it. I am leaving the door open and pulling the soap tray halfway out too. I hope this helps all of you to some degree.(11/08/2007)
Try using "buffered bleach" to clean out the smell as follows:
1) Let washer fill with water.
2) Add 1 cup of bleach and allow washer to mix with the water for 1-2 minutes.
3) Add 1 cup of vinegar and allow washer to complete cycle.
It is important to include bleach and vinegar together. The reason is that bleach, in and of itself, is a relatively weak disinfectant. However, the power of bleach is enhanced enormously when the pH is lowered, and this is what the vinegar does. A bleach solution will have an alkaline pH and little killing power. Do not mix the bleach and vinegar and then add, as you will get a dose of chlorine gas, this is why they are added sequentially. A bleach/vinegar solution as described has enormous killing power and can kill even difficult-to-kill spores (e.g., Anthrax).
Hope this helps. (11/10/2007)
Something that, so far, has taken care of the smell is leveling the washer. For 2 yrs I have been trying the cleaning. The repairman came again and leveled the washer and it helped some. So my father got under there and noted the rubber gone from one side of the leveling legs. He tilted the washer a little more back to drain, then replaced the leveling legs' rubber. It has been 1 week, and so far there isn't a smell. My first load after the leveling was bleach, then followed by regular laundry. I do continue to leave the door open because of the wet seal. I hope this may help some of you.
Try this: Check the discharge hose to make sure it is not pushed too far down in the drain pipe. It can go through and trap. If that happens, you will get sewer gas smell, it happened to me. (11/15/2007)
We have a 2-year old Kenmore HE4t front-loading washer. The smell started over a year ago, so we just left the door open. It recently got worse, so we ran a cycle (normal) with bleach, but the smell returned quickly. Then we read one of the posts that suggested using the "Sanitary" cycle (2 hours with extra hot water). We ran the first cycle with a few old towels and 1/3 cup bleach. Then another cycle with the same towels and 1/2 cup white vinegar. Voila! The smell is gone and has been gone for 3 days. I ordered some PureWasher just to try it out, but it seems the "Sanitary" cycle once a month may be the answer. By the way, our laundry area is a small closet on a room temperature floor. I hope this info is of some help to those of you with the same problem. Jim (11/19/2007)
I also tried a product called Whirlout, from Home Depot, that really helps to manage the smell. It is designed to eliminate hot tub soap scum and smell. (11/21/2007)
I just received a Kenmore HE2t today. The installer and my very close friend both said to use the "self clean" feature on the washer at LEAST once a month to prevent the smells. If your washer has a "self clean" feature, USE IT! It saves a lot of money in cleaners for your Washing Machine. (12/03/2007)
By Guy from Long Island, New York
Thanks for the great advice. I found another solution of running baking soda through the machine. Purewasher I've heard is good here. www.washing-machine-wizard.com/ (12/11/2007)
Our clothes, especially jeans and towels, had a horrible smell. We tried everything. Finally, one day I was thinking about using baking soda to get the smell out of our clothes (we thought we were going to have to get rid of some of our clothes the smell was so bad). I was looking for something to help and I saw Arm & Hammer Laundry detergent. It worked great. The clothes do not smell anymore and it is inexpensive. I tried Purewasher to clean the washer and to deodorize the clothes, but the Arm and Hammer detergent worked better and so much easier. (12/20/2007)
I have had this same problem for about a year...finally searched the web for advice...found a site (repairclinic.com) that showed an exploded view of my washer (maytag top loader). I was able to figure out how to open my front panel, and got a look at the drums. After taking off the circular top that lays over both drums, I found a gross sludge around and under this top and in between the drums. My husband and I took it apart, cleaned all the sludge out, and put it all back together. I ran the washer on a rinse cycle to clear out any residual sludge. The washer no longer smells moldy and I will be buying new towels, with hope that this thorough cleaning will take care of our moldy smelling towels. Hope this helps! (12/30/2007)
I wiped down the inside with Clorox and switched to powdered detergent. No problem since. (01/03/2008)
You may want to check the drain plug first to see if anything is caught in there. I have an LG and mine is on the lower front of the washer. It is behind a compartment. Then using the sanitary cycle, use 1 c. bleach and 1 c. vinegar. Also, make sure the rubber ring is cleaned thoroughly with bleach. It can become moldy. Someone told me it is best to leave the door open after every wash so it can properly dry. Hope this helps. (01/05/2008)
I have an LG front loader that also had a smell. We have had it for 3 years and it has had minor smells until this week, it smelled like someone died in there. First, I ran bleach and hot water through a cycle, but it still had the smell. Then, I put some drain enzymes through a cycle, and it still had the smell. I then put Lime-A-Way (or any lime and scale remover that can be used in a washer) in, ran it through a cycle, and the smell is now gone. I'll see how long it lasts, but it looks and smells brand new now. (01/19/2008)
By Steve M.
Stop using liquid fabric softeners and fabric softener sheets. They are made with animal fat, which is food for mold and mildew. It mixes with the wet lint that collects outside of the drum (like several people have mentioned above) and that is the perfect environment for mold and mildew. I stopped using all fabric softeners and within a few loads, my mold smell problem went away and has not returned. I'm sure my machine probably has collected gunk over the years, and I have not cleaned that yet. Regardless, the absence of softener "food" has solved the smell problem. I heard this tip from someone at work, and a Sears salesperson admitted this as a huge problem that people don't know about. He said people don't want to give up their fabric softeners. (01/24/2008)
We have a top load Maytag that had been smelling sick of rotten egg smell for about 6 months. My husband and I tore this monster apart. After 3 hours, we found GROSS gunk all around the drum and even in the plastic part where the water gushes into the drum. YUK! Everyone on this post is talking about liquid laundry detergent.
What I do is water down my liquid Tide or Cheer in a 5 gallon Igloo cooler with a spigot. I've found that a 4 (part water) to 1 (part detergent) works just as well as full strength. Same suds, same fragrance. Also, at $10 per gallon for these, I've saved $40 by watering down. That $40 goes in my retirement account. "BE FRUGAL ON THINGS THAT DON'T MEAN A LOT AND EXTRAVAGANT ON THINGS THAT DO" THEN YOU'LL NEVER FEEL POOR! (01/30/2008)
By Kim in Georgia
Yep, mine had the smelly washer syndrome too! I thought it was the well water though, guess not.
My washer is a Bosch front loader.
I just started spraying Lysol on the rubber ring in the front. Or sometimes I spray it and then wipe it out due to the amount of water that accumulates in the rubber ring. That works...it takes that nasty smell away. (02/05/2008)
I am so glad I found this forum. About 2 years ago our laundry started smelling moldy. We thought it was because our washing machine was old and not cleaning very well anymore (it was very old). We bought a front loader type machine a few months ago, and we still have this problem! The washer doesn't smell, but the clothes do. I tried everything, bleach, vinegar, ammonia, oxi-clean, and a few others. I decided to check the internet to see if others have this problem too. Well I guess so! After reading most of these posts, I decided it is not the washer, it is the detergent. Somebody mentioned manufacturers took out an ingredient for environmental reasons. The absence of that ingredient is what is causing the moldy smelling clothes. As per a few suggestions here, I went out and got some 20 Mule Team Borax this morning and did a load of my smelliest towels. They came out smelling fresh! I am so excited! So, for those of you with the moldy smelling towels & jeans, get some Borax.
The rotten egg smell comes from using fabric softener. I once got a used washer from a friend, and it smelled like something died in it. I took it apart and it was caked with brown waxy foul smelling fabric softener. It was not easy to clean. It was totally disgusting. I learned from that experience to never use fabric softener. It was so thick and gooey, that this stuff NEEDS to be removed from your washer in order for the smell to go away. You can't just stop using fabric softener. Or, run purewash or anything else through to get rid of the smell.
My recipe for fresh smelling clothes and a fresh smelling washer:
NO fabric softener ever!
1/2 cup borax
1/3 the recommended amount of powdered detergent (02/10/2008)
Check the pipes and the drain. Maybe it's in the underground pipes and not your fault. (03/06/2008)
I sell a completely natural washing machine cleaner at www.smellywasher.com /
The reason that washers get odor is almost invariably because of overuse of detergent and fabric softeners. They will build up on the inside of the plastic outer tub and are a food source for fungus to grow on. Bleach will make the fungus invisible but won't remove it. This fungus is a health issue and won't come back if the washer is cleaned and detergent habits are changed.
All the testimonials on my site are real. I have received more than a few emails from customers who state that their health problems or the children's health problems were cured after cleaning their washers. These problems include respiratory problems, colds, allergies and skin rashes.
UNLESS YOU HAVE A MORE EXTREME CASE all that is normally needed to remove the fungus buildup is just one tablespoon of cleaner added to the hottest setting and no clothing. Allow the washer to finish the cycle. You may also re-agitate or soak for longer treatments. If you go to the blog page at smellywasher.com there is more information on the odor problem, use of smellywasher cleaner and also other advice on appliances.
We are so confident that this will take care of your odor problem that we have a money back guarantee on smellywasher cleaner. THERE IS ENOUGH IN ONE ORDER FOR 24 TREATMENTS.
Paul Flynn/smellywasher.com/ 952-465-6444 (03/08/2008)
By Paul Flynn
I tried everything, but nothing really worked until I found SIMPLE GREEN (anti-fungal/anti-viral). It works great. Home Depot carries it ($16/gallon). The bottle will last you a year. Just run 1 cycle w/ Simple Green about once a month, then run a rinse cycle after. The first time I used it, I ran 3 cycles back-to-back. After that month, it seemed to do the trick. (03/09/2008)
By Mike S
I have discarded one front loading machine because of the horrible smell problem. It was three years old and I could find nothing that eliminated the problem. I believe all of these problems are related to the removal of phosphates from our laundry detergents. In the "good ole days" all laundry products were phosphate based and were very effective as phosphates cause dirt and oils to remain suspended in the wash water and rinsed away instead of being redeposited on the laundry. Well, since the environment doesn't like phosphates, they've been removed, gradually and now completely, from laundry products. Less effective but more environment-friendly chemicals have been substituted and so now, we get dingy laundry and deposits of yucky stuff on our machines. It's the yucky stuff that grows mold and smells so awful.
What to do? Well, I think anything we can do to keep the laundry grime suspended in the wash water is a good start. I used to be able to buy a phosphate additive for my laundry (I lived on a farm and the wash water was used to irrigate pecan trees which need phosphorous as a nutrient). Now that I live in a city, super phosphate additives aren't an option. I'm trying a product called "Swirl Away" which is a product for cleaning the plumbing of hot tubs and spas, to remove the same kind of grimy build up that we're getting on our washing machines (Available at pool supply or on eBay). I think it is definitely helping to remove any fabric softener build up. I run the cycle with very hot water and add a couple of tablespoons to the water.
I'm also adding Borax to my laundry and occasionally Calgon water softener (from the grocery store). These both act as aids to boost the effectiveness of the detergent. The detergent has to be able to disperse oils to be effective and these products help. That also helps remove and wash away the fabric softener residue. I don't add these to every load, but they are both safe for all fabrics.
I am starting out with a brand new machine (a top loader this time), and I want to avoid that horrible odor problem. I hate that we have to work so hard to clean the machine that is supposed to clean our clothes, but gone are the days of good ol' sudsy laundry detergents that felt slippery and got our clothes (and our washing machines) fresh and brilliant. Now we have to use second rinse cycles to try to get the re-deposited grime off of our clothes. It doesn't make sense, but that's how it is. What I would give for a truckload of the old, phosphate-loaded Tide or Cheer detergent that worked so well without additives, multiple rinses, or smelly washing machines.(03/09/2008)
I use something called "Nature Clean", it's a hypo-allergenic and natural (and phosphate free) powder detergent. I think alas that it's only available in Canada but you could try checking local green or health-food stores (Mine came from "Grassroots" but I think they only exist in Toronto). I have also seen a lot of recipes for making your own powdered detergents on the internet. They're supposed to be very good for sensitive skin. Googling "make your own washing detergent" will probably do it. Hope this helps!
http://www.apwagner.com/index.php?main_page=page&id=553 Check it out, this stuff is supposed to work great! (04/28/2008)
Well I have dealt with this for a long time and finally figured out the SMELL. Took a little bit to take care of it, but once it was gone it was gone. My repair man told me to STOP using liquid softener, it clings to the underneath of where you put it in at, the pipes, and the drum. He said this is why your laundry mats stink!
Next was a good cleaning, not just the areas you see, but turn the machine around and clean the pipe and the screens and such! Clean as much as you can see! Then I ran 2 loads with white vinegar, small loads to the first drain and finally, I ran washer magic through it. Didn't notice any smell difference, but washer magic cleans areas where you don't see the pipes and such.
The next few loads of clothes, yes, I could still smell (moldy) a little but a massive difference. I ran vinegar once a week for 1 load until I didn't smell it anymore. It took approximately a month, but it's the liquid fabric that gives you that smell, with a combo of not cleaning the machine. Once a month I spend some time with my washer, cleaning it all, including the screens in the back and running a load of vinegar. Thank you maytag repair man! (05/08/2008)
Thank God for this forum. My smelly machine was driving me crazy. Unfortunately it made my bath towels smell too. But only after they were wet. It was disgusting. I tried the bleach like so many suggested and then I came across a post to try Simple Green. Duh it cleans everything else so I gave it a shot. First I sprayed the rubber around the seal and then in every other nook and cranny and used a toothbrush in hard to get places. I then turned up the water heater to it's hottest selection, filled the machine with water, added more simple green and then put simple green in the liquid dispenser. WORKED LIKE A CHARM. I also went out and bought powder detergent. Thanks for all the input and suggestions. (05/26/2008)
I have a whirlpool duet, 3 yrs old that smells. There is a post here from Ollie (9/25/07) with a picture of a removable filter on his kenmore. My duet is exactly the same as that picture and I found 2 infant socks blocking that filter. I did a bleach rinse and a hot water rinse after removing the socks. Smell is gone. Thanks Ollie! (05/30/2008)
We have a kenmore with the same problem. Had several techs look at it until one was smart enough to open the trap at the bottom of the machine. It had several coins and other items that had gotten between the seal and the tub. It is obviously an issue because the OEM put the trap in. Check the trap and see if it is plugged because the washer will not fully drain unless it is, so you keep using a majority of the same water. (06/07/2008)
We have a Whirlpool Duet HT front loader. I spent all day trying to figure out the smell problem. Called Whirlpool and the tech rep said they knew about the problem but there was nothing, that is right, nothing, they had to offer other than maybe going to www.smellwasher.com and buying their product.
I read this website, which was at least the tenth website today. It mentioned the filter in front of the pump. Holy moly, there in the filter was an ugly, moldy, baby sock that must have been there for at least five months! There was no product that was going to clean that out. Thank you very much!
By Tom from Hawaii
Just bought affresh at home depot. I have a LG steamwasher, the red model, and it had the smelly mildew washer too. With the wash cleaning cycle and bleach it would still have the smell. Just tried affresh yesterday when the wash cycle was done, and the smell is gone. I did notice that there was little residue inside the rubber gasket, but very little. I will say that this product works, but expensive for a bag. I believe it was $12 for 3 tablets. I just bought the product from smellywasher.com. I will report back later when I receive the product and try it, and let you know which was better. (06/13/2008)
Being in the industry (industrial side) I can tell you that the one reason your machines are smelling is that when you are done using them you shut the door. Make sure that when you are done using the washer that you leave the door open or cracked so that the cylinder can breath. This will cure your problem. (06/18/2008)
We have a Whirlpool Duet Washer approx 5 years old. Over the years the smell got worse & worse. We tried everything recommended by Whirlpool, cleaners, leaving door open, cleaning seal, etc. NOTHING WORKED! Our clothes, especially jeans and towels smelled horrible! After reading the postings here and on other sites I called Whirlpool and asked them where the filter was located so I could clean it. They told me that our model did not have a filter and offered to sell me some washer cleaner or make a service call at $149.00 for just the diagnosis.
My husband and I at our wits end with this expensive, stinky, piece of junk decided to take it apart and investigate. What did we find? A FILTER! Go figure, Whirlpool said it did not have one! In the filter we found a sock, a dryer sheet, a couple of paper clips, a couple of toothpicks and LOTS of scum! I cleaned it out in the sink with bleach and also very carefully cleaned the pump assembly parts that were covered in scum. I was very careful not to get bleach or water near the electronics portion of the pump.
We are now going to run it with some CLR just to make sure everything else is clear. We'll see, my husband is now putting it back together but I am sure this will help as the smell inside that filter was horrible. It made me want to vomit! Now that all that stuff is clear I'm sure the pump and drain will work much better. THE MORAL OF THE STORY---CLEAN THE FILTER, EVEN IF WHIRLPOOL TELLS YOU YOUR WASHER DOESN'T HAVE ONE! (06/28/2008)
We had exactly the same problem believe it or not. But the cause was the use of a well known brand of Biological washing powder. It took several months after we changed to a non-biological powder for the smell to go, and it has never returned. (06/30/2008)
I had a bad smell coming from my 2 year old Kenmore front loading washer and read the info below as well as some from other sites. I had checked the rubber seal around the door and some grime does build up there, but not such a bad smell. On the Kenmore, there is a "filter cap" (not what I pictured, but I guess that's the best way to describe it and what Sears calls it) attached to the pump. You can see the exploded view on Sears' web site.
To get to this part you have to remove 3 screws at the bottom front side of the washer and then remove the cover below the washer door. The "filter" is a white plastic piece almost directly in the center. All you see is a handle you can unscrew. BE FOREWARNED - quite a bit of water poured out when I removed the filter. I'd say at least 2 cups, maybe 1 quart. I found 2 quarters and some pretty gross looking green stuff, but the water that came out smelled really bad. I just did this last night so I'm not sure it fixed the problem overall, but I have to believe it helped. (07/03/2008)
Thank you Gerry! We just did the same thing on our Kenmore front loader and I seriously started to dry heave from the smell when I unscrewed the filter. I can't believe I've been washing my clothes in there with all that slime for the last few years. This is easy to do, I'm not very mechanical and I was done in 5 minutes. I also had a lot of water come out so be sure to UNPLUG the washer before you do this! (07/05/2008)
By Brian in Ventura
Just an FYI, we had the same nasty, offensive, foul smell from a used 7 year old Inglis top loader we recently purchased. We tried several of the same bleach/vinegar concoctions many other people wrote about but the smell always came back. As a last resort I pulled out the agitator & drum to find them coated with a brown waxy grime. After a good scrubbing and a hosing off in the driveway - the washer smells like new. This stuff was so disgusting we re-washed anything that may have been previously washed in it.
During disassembly I found signs the previous owner may have been using liquid laundry detergent which some people suggest may be the cause of the slimy build-up? I had our old washer apart several times over the years and never seen anything like this before (and we have always used powdered detergent). Sorry to say, but after seeing this I doubt anything but disassembly & elbow grease will remove it. (07/30/2008)
My wife and I found that if you leave the door open when the washer is not in use it helps with the smell, also put a small moth ball in the seal seam. It totally eliminates the bad odor and as long as you use dryer sheets, your clothes won't come out smelling like moth balls/they smell squeaky clean! The Pearsons, W.R. Ga (08/24/2008)
By Mr C. Pearson
Hi there. I work at Whirlpool, and I know that both Whirlpool and Maytag washers recommend a product called Affresh to help eliminate washer odor. If your washer really stinks, you might have to do three straight cycles with just an Affresh tablet in the washer in order to get rid of the odor. Otherwise, you just use one tablet per month to keep the odor away.
Right now they're running a promotion on whirlpool websites that will get you free shipping on a 3 pack of Affresh tablets. You just enter EAF822 as the promo code and you dont have to pay the shipping.
This last post looks suspiciously like spam. Whirlpool and Maytag are now one and the same as WP bought Maytag at least a couple of years ago. We've used Affresh (2 packages) and it worked, for about 3 days, and the odor was back. Bleach and vinegar will do the same thing. I don't feel comfortable giving money to a manufacturer of a washer that shouldn't be smelling in the first place! (08/26/2008)
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.
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.