How To Cure A Smelly Washing Machine: Tips & Guide

If you smell something terrible or your washing starts smelling bad, then there may be bacteria growing inside the machine.

There are several reasons why this can happen, but fortunately, the problem can be fixed.

Some of the reasons your washing machine can smell bad

Below are the 5 most common reasons your washing machine can smell bad:

  • You regularly wash filthy laundry at a low temperature; bacteria breed in warm temperatures, and washing at 40 degrees, for example, can promote bacteria growth and which can affect your laundry
  • Limescale deposits may have built up inside the drum, fabric softener has left viscous deposits, or excess washing powder has clogged the machine
  • The tray has become mouldy
  • Waste has accumulated in the flexible seal of the drum
  • The door has been left closed for too long

How To Cure A Smelly Washing Machine

To clean the machine, take the following steps:

#1 Clean the filter

The filter will catch any loose objects running through the washing machine, but these items can become problematic if they build up over time.

Removing and cleaning the filter is an easy task and will help.

If the filter is at the bottom of the baseboard, you will first need to prepare a mop and a basin or tray that you can place under the filter to catch any water that leaks out (trust me, there will be some!).

Once everything is in position, you should then unscrew the filter a little bit without removing it completely, to allow the water the drain first.

Once the water has completely drained, fully remove the filter and clean it under running water. This will get rid of dirt and any items that may be trapped, such as buttons, stones, coins etc.

Once cleaned, secure the filter back in place.

If the filter is at the bottom of the drum, remove it following the instructions of the washing machine.

#2 Clean the tray

Leftover or excess detergent and fabric softener can build up in the tray and quickly turn to mould.

The tray should be easy to remove – there’s usually a little button to press down on – and this can be cleaned easily using hot water, and sponge, and some detergent.

#3 Clean the seal

Peel the seal back slightly and run a cotton swab around it.

If the seal is mouldy, clean the rubber with a soft toothbrush dipped in a mixture of hot water, a little dishwasher salt, and a drop of ammonia.

Once cleaned, rinse thoroughly with a damp sponge, and then dry the area using a clean cloth.

#4 Use cleaning chemicals to wash the drum

A washing machine that smells bad may have dirt and limescale deposits in the drum. Luckily, these can be removed using special cleaning detergents, or other household cleaning products.

To rid the drum and pipes of bad smells, add any one of the following cleaning agents directly into the drum and run a full wash cycle on the hottest setting available on your machine:

  • 8 tablespoons of Citric acid
  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of bleach

Remember to only use one from the above list (my personal choice if white vinegar).

#5 Check the water inlet hose

As a last resource, you may need to check that anything has not got through the filter and blocking the water inlet hose.

Turn off the water supply to the machine and check that the drain hoses are in good condition and not obstructed by dirt.

Tips for keeping your washing machine clean and smell-free:

It is advisable to follow all of the previous steps at least once every six months, to avoid the different parts of your washing machine becoming clogged with dirt.

Do not use too much laundry powder or detergents, as the excess powder may deposit in different parts of your machine.

Following each wash:

  • Leave the door of your washing machine open after each use (you can even drape a dry cloth over the door to absorb excess moisture)
  • Give the drum a quick clean using a sponge
  • Check the seal has not trapped any dirt or loose items

You may also find that smelly laundry may be caused by how you air the clean laundry, rather than as a result of a smelly washing machine.

Remember the following tips when dealing with clean laundry:

  1. Do not leave laundry in your washing machine for an extended time after the cycle has finished
  2. Don’t overfill your washing line or drying rack; leave enough space between each item to allow it to dry thoroughly
  3. If hanging laundry inside, use a spacious room with proper ventilation
  4. Do not hang laundry in the bathroom or any other places that can get steamy
  5. Be patient and do not put away your laundry until it is totally dry

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