How to remove odor from washing machine easily

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Does your washing machine smell like sewage? Learn how to remove odor from washing machine in this guide

The main cause of the bad odor in your washing machine is mold/mildew buildup inside your washer primarily due to dampness (caused by some water getting trapped, for example, under the gasket/rubber door seal in a front-loader).

There are other possible causes including bacteria from clothes, fabric softener residue, and more.

The good news is: You can quickly get rid of the musty smell by taking some simple steps.

Below is how to remove odor from a washing machine:


How to remove odor from washing machine – steps and tricks

Solution #1: Clean the washer

The easiest way to eliminate the unpleasant smell is by cleaning your washer.

And there are several ways/methods you can use to clean off the mold/residue.

Here they are:

Run self-clean cycle

If it is there, start by running the self-clean cycle on your washer (Check your manual for proper instructions but you should usually run self-clean without clothes-once or twice to remove odors).

Quick Tip: For the most part, it is recommended that you run the self-cleaning cycle on a machine once a month (at least).


Clean the washer with Affresh

There are good cleaners for front loading washers (as well as top loading washers) that can help.

A good option is Affresh®washing machine cleaner – it works wonders when it comes to removing grime and odor-causing buildup from washers. 

Whether the buildup is hiding behind the gasket (of your front loading machine), in the drum, or under/around the lid (or door) or even in the dispenser, Affresh will get it out perfectly.

Some washers are even designed to use Affresh with the “Self Clean” cycle (make sure you check what your manufacturer recommends and the steps).

Here is a YouTube video explaining how to use Affresh to clean your washer.


Clean it with Bleach

Yes, bleach works too (admittedly not all of us are fans of bleach).

So if your washer came with a “Clean-Washer” cycle, try to run it with bleach.

That can kill the smell.

Now, perhaps the best way to clean with bleach is running a bleach load (Should be full capacity, preferably without clothes).

After you do that, just be sure the two loads you do next are white (or light) loads and you should be fine (That takes care of residual bleach).


Try vinegar

If running the normal self-clean cycle (it’s called clean-the-tub cycle in some models) did not help and your unit is a top loader, try this:

Add 4 cups of white vinegar in and then run the largest possible load (no clothes) with hot water while keeping the lid open to allow it fill up -but not continue this cycle.

Once it is full, let the washer sit 30-60 minutes before shutting the lid and allowing it to finish.

This often works when you notice a terrible moldy or mildew smell from the washer.

Quick Tip: Occasionally, just running your washer a couple of times with white distilled vinegar takes care of the foul smell.


Try borax+ Vinegar

You can as well clean it using a combination of Borax and Vinegar.

Try it and see if it will stop emitting a foul smell.

A good alternative to borax is baking soda so you can try cleaning your washer with baking soda+vinegar if you have not been successful thus far–it might do the trick.


Solution #2: Clean the door seal

If you have not done it recently, you need to wipe your washer’s rubber door seal with bleach – the rubber seal regularly traps water so it’s necessary to wipe it clean with bleach after each wash.

In a nutshell, the best way to fix the smell problem is:

Step 1: Running a few empty washes with bleach and

Step 2: Cleaning the door seal.


Solution #3: Clean the filter

Now, if it is still smelly and it has a cleanable filter, clean the filter thoroughly.

You see, many washers, especially the older models have a filter that traps lint, loose hairs, and so much more and it needs to be clean to prevent a lot of issues including odor- it develops mold and mildew once clogged.

If yours has, check the manual and follow the steps to unclog/clean the filter.

Another thing you can try after that is running an empty wash –with just hot water- or running the self-clean cycle if your appliance has it (many new washers do).


Solution #4: Change the detergent (and use the recommended detergent)

 At times, the issue of the stench occurs when you’re putting in too much detergent- yeah, that’s true.

So try out a different detergent (select a much lighter one) or use less.



How to remove odor from washing machine – Important tips

Use Vinegar instead of standard fabric softeners

Most fabric softener brands are too thick -remember they’re petroleum-based and have animal fat – for modern-day front loaders and are one of the biggest causes of mildew buildup.

Use Vinegar instead (1 cup/load)- it serves the purpose perfectly.


Leave the washer door open 

The door needs to be left ajar after each wash- It’s really vital that you don’t close the door so that the washer can air dry out completely between loads.

Please keep in mind that while leaving it open helps, the smell won’t go away immediately so be patient.  It will, eventually- and it won’t come back (unless you start to close the door again).

Also, it is important to make sure the washer is placed in a well-vented room.


How to remove odor from washing machine -Recap

Cleaning your washer is the most effective way of removing the pungent odor.

So you should run a “self-clean” cycle – or clean it with bleach- and be sure to wipe the door seal clean as well.

And don’t forget to observe the preventive tips we have shared with you if you don’t want the stench to come back.


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