How to Get Rid of the Smell From Washing Machines

Raise you hand if your washing machine has ever suffered from stinky washing machine syndrome! This is a very common condition {especially if you have a front loader} but with a few adjustments to your laundry routine, you can once again have clean, fresh smelling laundry!

How to get rid of that stinky smell from washing machines.
Four years ago, we purchased a new front loading washing machine.  All was wonderful for about the first 6 months but then I started to notice a not so pleasant smell every time I opened the door.  Over time, I also started to notice that my laundry was also not smelling so fresh….

How to get rid of that stinky odor in washing machines!

Even Connor was upset! :)

So I did a little research and discovered that, due to their design, front loaders don’t completely drain every time a load of laundry is done. The volume of suds produced by regular detergents can also act like sludge to water draining out of the tub and the fragrances will mix with the mildew-y water. The result? My nice stinky washing machine!

I am happy to report, however, that with a few adjustments, my washing machine is now stink-free and my laundry is once again clean and fresh!  Just follow these simple tips and you too can get rid of that stinky washing machine syndrome…

  • Change your laundry detergent.  The brand of laundry detergent that I use definitely seems to have one of the biggest impacts on how my washing machine smells.  Detergents with more fillers and added fragrances tend to be the worst culprits as they will leave more residue behind.  I use Norwex detergent - it is super concentrated with no fillers or perfumes and  I only use about 1 tsp of it per load {1-2 tbsps. are required for top loaders}.  If you have a HE machine, make sure that you are using detergent that is designed for a HE machine!  UPDATE:  I also like Nellie’s Laundry Detergent for our regular washing and use Caldrea laundry detergent for my towels just so there is a little light scent.
  • Avoid using too much detergent.  Just because you have an extra dirty load of laundry does not mean that you should add a lot of extra detergent.  If you are concerned about extra stains, pre-treat them or soak them in the sink prior to washing.  Adding more detergent can lead to more residue build-up and actually decrease your machine’s cleaning efficiency!  I often find that the recommended amounts of detergent are much higher than needed.  So play around with the amount of detergent you add to get the right amount for your machine.
  • Add some vinegar.  Vinegar is great for removing odors from both your clothes and your washing machine and will also help to soften your clothes.  Use this in place of fabric softener - it is cheaper, will not leave behind a residue, and does not have any added chemical ingredients.  Add 1/2 -1 full cup of vinegar per load - I promise your clothes will not smell of vinegar when they are removed! {NOTE: NEVER combine bleach and vinegar together}
  • Give the rubber gaskets a swipe.  After each load of laundry, get in the habit of checking the rubber gaskets for any small clothing items {my kids socks love to hang out there} and quickly wiping them down with a dry cloth to get rid of any excess water.
  • Leave the door open.  Leave your washing machine door slightly ajar to allow air to circulate and help to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Remove wet clothes promptly.  Okay I know that this does not always happen, but try to do this as much as possible.
  • “Deep clean” your washing machine on a regular basis.  You can find a tutorial on this HERE.
So there you have it!  Hopefully these tips will help your washing machine out as much as they did mine!
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Comments

    • Jenn says

      You can put it right in the machine to help get rid of odors and in the fabric softener dispenser to actually work as a fabric softener!

  1. Michelle McCallister says

    Hey Jen, just found your site. Love it! Have you used a product called Freshana Organic Solutions? Just wondering. Thinking of giving it a try. Thanks.

  2. STACEY says

    BEST WAY TO REMAIN STINK FREE (speaking of washers) is to use two small bungee cords ( hooked to each other) Attach one bungee to a magnetic towel rack on right side of washer and the other bungee hook to the washer latch, leaving the door ajar at whatever gap you need/prefer. This avoids mold/mildew accumulating and prevents anyone walking by from accidentally catching the latch on their pockets and/or painters loop (happened twice to my husband, before I wised up and came up with this solution…………………..

  3. Moira Chapman says

    Hi, I have been reading your tips today and wondered if you are talking about using normal vinegar (used in the UK on chips) or a special sort? Many thanks

  4. tori wilson says

    You said never mix bleach and vinegar. Just out of curosity because I’ve never heard not to mix them, what happens?

    • says

      Bleach and vinegar, when combined, produce toxic chlorine gas which {worse case scenario!} can actually kill you. There’s no point risking your health for the sake of cleaning! ;)

  5. Jackie says

    Thank you for your tips!! Just cleaned the gasket (gross)! Looks alot better now! Now running the vinegar through the machine!

  6. Amye says

    I did all the steps today! I completed my first load without a yucky smell in forever! Lots of water still gathering in the gasket after a load – I wonder if I have too much gunky backup. Hopefully it will clear up now that I’ve cleaned everything! Thanks for the great tips!

  7. Kik says

    I’ve had my front loading machine for 10 years now. The smell is horrible even with bleaching the machine or running the additional product through made specifically for that problem and leaving the door wide open. You would think that if they can send a man to the moon, they could actually fix their DESIGN FLAW in 10 years time. Apparently they would rather sell more useless products than fix the problem.

      • Julie says

        I just did the 1st step to clean the gasket. I put the bleach/water soaked rags in the gasket and left there for 40 minutes. Then I scrubbed with a toothbrush. Still no luck……the mold/mildew won’t come off! A little bit came off but there is still a lot of visible mold. Any tips?

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