Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Funny?

Fred's Appliance
February 21, 2014

Most loads of laundry come out of the washing machine smelling like fresh spring roses (thanks to all of the wonderful detergents now available). However, you may end up with a load or two that just doesn’t smell right. Upon closer inspection, you realize the source of the musky, foul odor isn’t your clothes, but rather the washing machine. Odors such as this can take your washing machine out of order until the problem is fixed.

Typically, foul odors are the result of mold and/or bacteria growing somewhere in the washing machine. Even if your machine ‘appears’ clean at first sight, there’s probably some cracks and crevasses harboring microbe colonies of mold and bacteria. Allowing this problem to continue will only make the smell worse, which is why it’s important to find and eliminate the source of the odor in a timely manner.

We talk about the benefits of using a front-loading washing machine here, one of which is their ability to wash clothes with 66% less water than a standard top-loader. Since they use less water, however, they also require less detergent. It’s not uncommon for people to use too much detergent in their front-loading washing machine. While most of it is washed away in the rinse cycle, some will linger behind where it creates the perfect breeding grounds for mold and bacteria.

If you notice foul odors originating from your washing machine, try using less detergent. Product manufacturers actually want consumers to use more than the necessary amount, as this forces them to buy more. The truth is that you really don’t need a lot of detergent to clean your clothes. Keep it to a minimum so there’s less chance of bacteria forming.

So, how do you remove the foul-smelling odor coming from your washing machine? Make sure the basket is drained and unplug the electrical cord from the outlet. Next, take a few minutes to closely inspect the washing machine basket for signs of mildew film or old detergent. Some of the old top-loading washing machines catch detergent under the agitator, so check this area as well. Depending on your specific model, you may need to twist the agitator counter-clockwise to remove it.

Spray any areas of mildew and grime you discover with a solution of half vinegar and half water. Let the diluted vinegar sit for a couple of minutes and then scrub it with an old toothbrush or dish brush. When you finished, run two empty loads to flush out any dirt or grime that’s lingering in your washing machine.

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