How To Eliminate Musky Odors From a Clothes Dryer

Fred's Appliance
November 4, 2014

Do you notice a damp, musky odor on your clothes after removing them from the dryer? It’s frustrating when you invest your time and energy into doing laundry, only to discover a foul odor covering your garments. You can run them back through the washing machine, but the odor will likely return unless you identify the cause.

Lint Filter

The first thing you should check is your dryer’s lint filter. Pull out the filter and wipe away any lint covering the surface. While the filter is out, place a vacuum cleaner wand attachment down inside to suck up any remaining lint, fiber or debris. It’s not uncommon for lint to settle here, obstructing the normal flow of air and subsequently promoting the growth of mold. After cleaning it, replace the lint filter and run a “test” load of laundry to see if the foul odor persists.


Foul dryer odors are usually the result of blocked/obstructed airflow. Most dryers work by blowing hot air over the clothes, and then exhausting this hot, humid air outside. If the exhaust duct is blocked with lint, debris, a sock, or anything else, the humid air will linger inside the unit, causing mold to form. Turn your dryer on and check the outside exhaust vent. You should see and feel the air blowing outside. If there’s something obstructing it, however, you may see little-to-no air flowing.

Clean The Drum

The next step in eliminating foul dryer odors is to clean the inside of the drum – the basket that holds the clothes. After disconnecting your dryer from the wall outlet, fill a spray bottle with filtered white apple cider vinegar and spray down the inside of the drum. Let is sit for about 5-8 minutes, at which point you can wipe it off. The apple cider vinegar will kill odor-causing germs on contact, leaving your dryer smelling fresh and clean.


Another possible cause of foul odors is sulfur-rich water. This shouldn’t make your dryer smell bad, but it can carry odors from the washing machine over to the dryer. If you’ve followed all of the steps previously mentioned, have your water tested for chemical and mineral composition. Certain impurities can literally cook inside the dryer, creating the perception that your dryer is to blame when it’s actually the water.

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