Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Bad?

Jul 18, 2023, 16:23pm

Bad odors from your washing machine can come from regular use and without maintenance of your appliance. Indeed, detergent residues and bacteria accumulate and create bad odors in a washing machine.

To get rid of these odors, you will need to clean various elements:

  • the door seal,
  • the product bin,
  • tank
  • and the washing machine drain filter.

The tub can be cleaned by running an empty wash cycle with vinegar.

Some grandmother’s tips for eliminating bad odors from your washing machine:

  • Use white vinegar: Launch a hot cycle without empty while adding two tablespoons of baking soda and a glass of white vinegar. These two products will disinfect your washing machine while deodorizing it! This is a basic and natural tip for the regular maintenance of your machine.
  • Use boiling water: To effectively eliminate bad odors and the microbes that generate them, you can use water that you have boiled beforehand. Thus, you pour the quantity of water directly into the detergent drawer and you carry out a washing cycle. Simple and quick to clean your washing machine without any product.
  • Air your washing machine more after use,
  • Adjust the amount of detergent
  • Check your waste water disposal by looking at the pipes and the siphon.

Discovering a foul smell coming from your washing machine can be unpleasant and concerning. A washing machine is designed to clean your clothes, so it’s natural to expect a fresh and clean scent. However, over time, various factors can contribute to a bad odor emanating from the machine. Understanding these causes can help you troubleshoot the problem and find a solution. In this article, we will explore the common reasons why a washing machine may develop a bad smell and provide possible solutions to address the issue.

Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Bad?

1. Residue Buildup

One of the main culprits for a smelly washing machine is the buildup of detergent residue, fabric softener, and dirt over time. This residue can accumulate in various parts of the machine, including the drum, gasket, and detergent dispenser. The warm and damp environment of the washing machine provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and mold, leading to unpleasant odors.

2. Moisture Retention

If your washing machine doesn’t dry completely between cycles, moisture can linger inside the drum and other components. This excess moisture can contribute to the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria, resulting in a musty smell.

3. Clogged Drainage System

A clogged drainage system can also lead to a foul smell in your washing machine. Blockages in the drain hose or pump filter can cause water to stagnate and create an environment for bacteria and mold growth. This stagnant water emits a bad odor that can transfer to your clothes.

4. Using Low-Temperature Wash Cycles

Washing at low temperatures, such as cold or eco-friendly cycles, is energy-efficient but may not effectively kill bacteria and mold. These organisms can survive and multiply, leading to odor problems. It is recommended to periodically run hot water cycles or use a washing machine cleaner to eliminate the buildup of bacteria and mold.

5. Improper Cleaning Practices

Neglecting to clean your washing machine regularly can contribute to the development of a bad smell. Many people assume that the machine cleans itself with each cycle, but regular maintenance is still necessary to keep it odor-free.


Drainage can be a source of bad odors when your sewer drain is clogged with residue for a long time.

Clean your drain pipe with white vinegar or a cleaning product.


Add essential oil to the detergent drawer and run a relatively hot wash cycle with no load to eliminate bad smells. This washing with essential oil will destroy mold odors.

Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Bad?

Troubleshooting Steps

Here are some troubleshooting steps you can take when your washing machine smells bad:

  1. Run Empty Hot Water Cycles: Periodically run empty cycles with hot water to help remove residue, kill bacteria, and eliminate odors. You can add a cup of white vinegar or baking soda to enhance the cleaning effect.
  2. Clean the Drum and Gasket: Wipe the drum and rubber gasket with a damp cloth to remove any visible residue. Pay close attention to the folds and crevices of the gasket where mold and mildew tend to accumulate. Use a mild detergent or a mixture of vinegar and water for stubborn stains or buildup.
  3. Clean the Detergent Dispenser: Remove the detergent dispenser tray and clean it thoroughly with warm soapy water. Scrub away any residue or mold growth, and ensure that it is completely dry before reinserting it.
  4. Check and Clean the Drainage System: Inspect the drain hose and pump filter for any clogs or obstructions. Remove any debris or buildup, and clean the filter regularly as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Leave the Door Open: After each wash cycle, leave the washing machine door open for some time to allow air circulation and prevent moisture buildup.
  6. Use Washing Machine Cleaner: Consider using a commercial washing machine cleaner or a homemade mixture of vinegar and baking soda to deep clean the machine. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer or use the recommended dosage.

By following these steps, you can often eliminate the bad smell and keep your washing machine fresh and clean. Regular maintenance and cleaning practices are essential to prevent the buildup of residue and the growth of bacteria and mold.

In conclusion, a bad smell in your washing machine can be caused by residue buildup, moisture retention, clogged drainage systems, low-temperature wash cycles, and improper cleaning practices. By understanding these common causes and following the troubleshooting steps mentioned above, you can often identify and address the issue effectively. Remember to maintain regular cleaning routines and take preventive measures to keep your washing machine smelling fresh and performing optimally.


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