Why Does My Dryer Smell Bad?

Jul 25, 2023, 15:25pm

When using the tumble dryer, the drying of the fabric may generate fluff which may infiltrate the entire appliance and damage it. That’s why it’s important to clean your dryer regularly and change the filter.

If you smell a bad smell in the dryer, then you will need:

  • check your installation
  • check door and duct filter
  • check the drainage of condensation water in the water tank.

Indeed, the bad smell of the device can come from a problem with the filter of the device. Its function is to protect the resistance during the laundry: it retains the strings, the fibres, the bits of fabric or even the dirt. If the filter is damaged or has holes, clothing residue and dirt can fall through the holes. The filter will then need to be changed.

When you put your clothes in the dryer, you expect them to come out smelling fresh and clean. But sometimes, an unpleasant surprise awaits you: your clothes, or the dryer itself, emit a bad odor. This unpleasant smell can be quite vexing, and the problem might not be as straightforward as it seems. Below, we delve into some common causes of a smelly dryer and how to remedy them.

Why Does My Dryer Smell Bad?

Built-up Lint

Lint is a common byproduct of drying clothes and, if not regularly cleaned, can build up in your dryer, causing a musty smell. Lint can accumulate in the lint trap, but also in the venting system and even the drum of the dryer. When the dryer heats up, this lint can produce a foul smell.

Tip: Regularly clean the lint trap, ideally after every cycle. Consider a periodic, deeper clean of the vent system, or hire a professional to do it.

Mold and Mildew

If your clothes sit in the washer or dryer for too long after the cycle ends, it can create a breeding ground for mold and mildew. These fungi thrive in damp environments and emit a distinct, unpleasant smell. Additionally, if your dryer isn’t venting properly, humidity can build up and contribute to the growth of mold and mildew.

Tip: Don’t let wet clothes sit in the washer or dryer. Make sure to transfer them immediately after the washing cycle and remove them promptly after the drying cycle. Ensure your dryer vents properly to the outside.

Forgotten Items

Small items left in pockets can lead to bad odors when heated in the dryer. Things like tissues, paper, or food wrappers can contribute to unpleasant smells. In addition, if an item of clothing was stained with a strong-smelling substance like oil or food and wasn’t thoroughly cleaned before being put in the dryer, it might cause the dryer to smell.

Tip: Check all pockets before loading your washer and dryer. Treat stains promptly and thoroughly before washing.

Gas Leak (For Gas Dryers)

If you use a gas dryer and the smell resembles rotten eggs or sulfur, it could be a sign of a gas leak, which can be dangerous. Most utility companies add a smelly compound to natural gas (which is odorless), to alert users to gas leaks.

Tip: If you notice this kind of smell, stop using the dryer immediately and contact your gas company or a professional to inspect it.

Burning Smell

If your dryer smells like something is burning, it could be due to several reasons. One is the lint build-up that has gotten too close to the machine’s heating element. Or, it could be a result of a worn-out or jammed part causing the motor to overheat.

Tip: If you notice a burning smell, switch off your dryer immediately and inspect it for lint build-up. If the problem isn’t obvious, consult with a professional. A burning smell could indicate a serious problem that requires immediate attention.

Why Does My Dryer Smell Bad?


Drying out or odor problems in clothes dryers are often due to lack of maintenance of lint filters. If your filter is clogged, the light may come on or flash, and the dryer will go into safe mode and stop working. In addition, the drying cycle will be longer and the appliance will consume more.

The dehumidifier is usually equipped with several filters placed in different places:

  • The door filter can be easily removed to remove fluff by hand or with a vacuum cleaner.
  • You can also find foam filters, especially for dryers equipped with heat pumps. This filter can be washed under water but will have to be replaced if it is too dirty.
  • Also clean the air duct filter. It is located at the end of the porthole and is very easy to remove.


A water tank, or a water collection tray, or even a condensate tray is used to collect condensed water vapor resulting from the dampness of the laundry. Indeed, the vapor passes through a condenser to be converted, the resulting liquid is then collected in a tank or pumped out through a pipe.

That’s why it’s important to empty the tank regularly: standing water can cause bad odors. Empty this container after each use of the tumble dryer: if it overflows, the tumble dryer may go into safe mode and stop working.

In conclusion, a bad smell from your dryer could be a symptom of a variety of issues, from something as simple as lint build-up or forgotten items to more serious issues like mold, mildew, or even a potential gas leak. Regular cleaning and maintenance, as well as prompt attention to any out-of-the-ordinary smells, can help ensure your dryer stays in good working condition and your clothes come out smelling fresh.