How To Clean A Smelly Washing Machine

How To Clean A Smelly Washing Machine

Whether you have a front load or top load washing machine, they will both get smelly at some point. This is usually due to the build-up of limescale and natural oils that cannot fully be washed away by the cleaning cycle. A smelly washing machine can be an unpleasant experience for anyone using it and also poses health risks due to the growth of bacteria inside. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to clean a smelly washer. With the right techniques and essential tips, you won’t need to put up with that musty smell for much longer. In this post, we will give you some easy steps on how to clean a smelly washer in your home so you can use it again with confidence.

How To Clean A Smelly Washing Machine

Use a Smelly Washer Detergent

Limescale is the main culprit that causes the smell in your washing machine. Limescale forms when minerals and soap residue build up on the inner walls of your washer. It also contains bacteria that can cause serious infections if they get into your laundry. There are many ways to remove limescale from your washing machine, but one of the easiest is to use a special detergent designed for cleaning hard water stains and limescale build-up. These detergents are available at most supermarkets or online shops. You can also use a natural homemade solution which works well too. Add some baking soda to the water and mix it well before putting it into your washer as this will help with the cleaning process.

Use a Water Softener

If you have hard water, you will have to use a water softener in order to prevent soap scum from building up on your washer’s internal parts. A good way to do this is by using distilled or RO (reverse osmosis) water in your machine as it will be free of minerals and other impurities that can cause smelly washing machines problems in the first place! If you use distilled or RO water, make sure you buy distilled or RO tablets as these will allow you to easily adjust how much salt is being added during each wash cycle so you don’t end up with too much or too little salt when performing automatic cycles.

Clean the Drain Hoses

Drain hoses are a major cause of smelly washing machines. Over time, they can accumulate soap scum and other debris, which eventually leads to a dirty washing machine that smells terrible! To clean your drain hoses, pour some white vinegar down into the drain hose and let it fizz for about 15 minutes before using the washer again. You can also use baking soda to help get rid of any residue that is clogging up your drain hose. Mix together one teaspoon of baking soda with two cups of water and pour it down into your drain hose. Let it fizz for a while and then use your washer again. To ensure you don’t have a build-up of residue in the future, you should put a solution of one cup of vinegar down into the drain hose every month or so to prevent this from happening again! If you have hard water, you may want to leave this solution in place for longer as hard water can be much harder to remove than soft water!

Clean the Lint Filter

Another common cause of smelly washers is lint getting caught up in the lint filter on top of your washing machine after each cycle. This may be due to pets or children playing around with it and making a mess! There are several ways you can clean this filter depending on whether or not you have an electric or gas model, but in both cases, there is a way to clean it. If you have an electric model, you can simply remove the filter from your washing machine and wipe it down with a rag or sponge. If you are using a gas model, turn off the gas and then remove the lid from your gas washer and use a wire brush to clean away any lint that has built up. Once this has been done, turn the gas back on and let it run for about 30 seconds before turning it off again. This will help get rid of any remaining lint so that you don’t end up with smelly washing machine problems again!

Clean Your Lint Trap

If your lint trap is clogged, this can cause your washer to have smelly washing machine problems due to all of the soap scum that builds up in there! You should check for this once a week by lifting up on the top of your machine and looking around for anything stuck in there. If you find anything, make sure that you take out all of it because if it is not removed then this will cause more soap scum to build up in there which will lead to smelly washing machine problems again!

What Causes A Washing Machine To Smell?

Build up of Limescale

If you have a washing machine that smells of a musty odor, then the most likely culprit is limescale. Limescale is a build-up of mineral deposits that can form on any metal surface, including the inside of your washing machine. This build-up can occur even if you do not use it for long periods of time, such as during the summer months when you don’t tumble dry clothes or wash them in high temperatures. The cause is that limescale forms when water sits in the water and airless conditions for extended periods of time. The longer it sits in the same location and with no action, the more likely it is to re-deposit itself on different surfaces.

Build up of Natural Oils

Another common cause of smelly washers is natural oils from your clothes seeping into their inner workings as they are washed and rinsed through the drum and spin cycle. These oils are often left behind after laundering because fabrics absorb them during this process. The natural oils can also be absorbed by your machine if it has not been cleaned properly after being left unused for some time or if you are using different detergents every time to get rid of stains. If an oil-based stain has formed inside your washing machine, then this will be difficult to remove with normal cleaning methods since they cannot penetrate into hard-to-remove stains deep within its inner workings due to their nature.

Build-up of Bacteria

It is also possible that your washing machine has been contaminated with bacteria that have caused the smell. This could happen if you haven’t cleaned your machine properly after it has been used, or if you have left it idle for too long and let the bacteria grow under its drum and inside the drain pipe. If this is the case, then cleaning your machine will be unsuccessful as most of these bacteria are resistant to normal cleaning methods. You can, however, use a bleach solution to disinfect your machine and remove any traces of bacterial growth from its inner workings. You should also clean out any debris that may have accumulated in the drum and around its drain pipe to prevent future bacterial growth.

How To Clean A Smelly Washing Machine Naturally

Use Vinegar

Vinegar is a great natural cleaner. It is an acid, so will break down the build-up on your washer, but it also has some essential oils that will make your washing machine smell fresh and clean. The best thing about vinegar is that you can use it for any type of cleaning. All you need to do is mix one part vinegar with three parts water in a spray bottle and spray the mixture onto the washer. Leave it for a few minutes before rinsing with hot water and then use your regular cleaning cycle on your washing machine.

Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is another great natural alternative to clean your smelly washer. All you need to do is add one cup of baking soda into a large bowl filled with 1/2 cup of white vinegar and 1/4 cup of liquid soap. Gently stir the mixture together until all the baking soda has dissolved, then add two cups of hot water into the mixture and stir again until all the baking soda has dissolved again. Place this solution inside the washing machine followed by two full loads of clothing, ensuring that you do not get any solution on any exposed surfaces such as hoses or electrical connections within the machine. After adding in two full loads of laundry, turn on the washing machine and run through a rinse cycle before ending with a normal wash cycle as usual. You should find that after this treatment, your washing machine smells fresher and cleaner, as well as being a lot less smelly.

Add Essential Oils to the Wash Cycle

Using essential oils in your washing machine is another great way to clean it naturally. You can use any essential oils that you have in the house, from lavender oil to lemon oil or tea tree oil. Adding a few drops of essential oils into your washing machine will help to eliminate any lingering smells that might be present in your machine and leave it smelling fresh and clean. For best results, use an oil that has been distilled so that you get the best results without any unwanted additives making their way into the wash cycle itself. 

Use White Vinegar for Odour Removal

White vinegar is another natural alternative for removing odors from a smelly washer. All you need to do is add one cup of white vinegar into a large bowl filled with 1/2 cup of white vinegar plus 1/4 cup of liquid soap. Gently stir together until the vinegar has been completely dissolved in the liquid soap. Place this mixture into the washing machine and run a normal cycle to remove odors.


Cleaning a washing machine is not difficult and hopefully, you’ve found the above guide helpful. The most important thing to remember is to use non-toxic cleaning products that are safe for your machine. Be sure to clean the outside of your machine regularly to avoid any grime and dirt building up. If you follow these steps, you should be able to get that smell out of your machine and be able to use it again with confidence.

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