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How to Get Rid of Smelly Washing Machine Odors

  • Synopsis: Published: 2014-04-12 (Revised/Updated 2015-01-23) - Tips and hints to clean and eliminate the odor from dirty washing machines that cause your clothes to smell - Disabled World (Disabled World).

Main Document

Quote: "Run a hot wash cycle with a couple of Milton sterilizing tablets in it, then leave the machine door open overnight."

There can be many causes for a smelly washing machine. Odors can be caused by a build-up of bacteria, slime, mildew or soap scum, accumulating in the internals. Odor can also be due to poor drainage from the washer which will cause the dirty water to become stagnant in the machine, allowing bacteria in the water to grow.

By performing a regular monthly service wash the build up of limescale and detergent, which is often the cause of a smelly washing machine, will be kept at bay greatly increasing the life of your machine. Use a good quality limescale and detergent remover such as the Indesit Company Professional Home Care Product. Simply empty the contents of a sachet (there are 10 sachets in a pack) in to the drum of the washing machine, add 2 large older towels, select the hottest wash cycle on the machine and turn it on. Don't select pre-wash or the machine will empty before the main wash starts.

Tips for Cleaning Smelly Washing Machines:

  • According to a washing machine service tech leaving the door or lid slightly open when not in use stops mold from occurring in the machine. Always soak up any water that collects in the bottom of the door seal as it rots the rubber.
  • A musty or mildew smell in or around your washer, or on your clothes, is indicative of mold growing in your washing machine. If the smell is a musty mildew odor from a front loader try using clorox full strength around where you can see mildew, and then run the machine with two cups of clorox in it, putting it on a soak cycle before washing. After treatment, leave the door open instead of closed as it helps to dry it out.
  • Pour some bleach in the powder draw and run the machine on a 60 wash cycle.
  • Run a hot wash cycle with a couple of Milton sterilizing tablets in it, then leave the machine door open overnight.
  • Try placing some domestos in the tray where the washing powder goes and give it a cycle run. This can clean away the smell from any stale water that is trapped in the hoses.
  • Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to 2 cups of white distilled vinegar. Begin a wash cycle using the machine's hottest setting and as the water rises, add the baking soda and vinegar mixture. Let the machine complete a full cycle. Run a cold water cycle to complete the process.
  • Try running an empty wash cycle with Eucalyptus Oil in the water, this can help in removing fat and sludge deposits in the hoses of your machine. Start the wash off for a minute or 2 and then leave it soak in the machine overnight and finish the wash the next day.
  • If it is the washing machine that seems to be the problem odor then try adding a cup of white vinegar to the washer and run on Normal cycle with no clothes in it. Wait until the washing machine has been filling for about 30 seconds and then pour the vinegar into the soap drawer to let it wash down into the machine. That will clean out any old soap scum or dirt that is collected inside the machine.
  • Try to clean inside the washing machine using soda crystals which dissolve grease. Putting half a packet inside the drum and washing on a boil wash. Use this method every month or so, you can also use ordinary detergent if no soda crystals are available.
  • Place a few handfuls of washing soda and dissolve it in a jug of hot water, pour some of the mixture on the soap box like you would liquid detergent and the pour the rest in the drum. Put the machine through a hot wash cycle with no clothes in it.

Commercial Products for Cleaning Washing Machines:

  • Fresh Wave - If you have a front-load laundry machine, you could be plagued by front-load washer smell: a sour, mildew stink that gets worse the more you wash your clothes. The problem isn't your clothing or your detergent. It's the laundry machine. A design flaw in some machines causes mold and mildew to develop around the seal, and that smell gets transferred into your clothes. But a few ounces of Fresh Wave Fresh Wash can remove the smells, leaving clothes smelling clean and fresh.
  • Oust Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaner - Removes the odors, grease, food and limescale deposits that build up in dishwashers and gets rid of the detergent and limescale that build up in washing machines, leaving them fresh and clean.
  • Smelly Washer - Uses natural ingredients to remove odor, fungus and mildew from your washing machine. If your washing machine stinks, simply follow the instructions and add some washing machine cleaner to its cleaning, or hottest, cycle. For tougher odors, repeat the process. Use a washing machine cleaner up to twice a month to prevent mildew from returning.

NOTE: Never use bleach or any detergent containing bleach at the same time as ammonia.

Related Information:

  1. Eliminate Odor from Smelly Shoes and Boots - Disabled World - (Mar 31, 2014)
  2. Getting Rid of Stubborn Odors in Clothes and Fabrics - Disabled World - (Mar 29, 2014)
  3. Get Rid of Refrigerator and Freezer Odors - Disabled World - (Feb 25, 2014)

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