What To Do When Your Washing Machine Smells Like Mildew

Nothing worse than a smelly washing machine. You want your washing machine to smell nice because you want your clothing to smell nice.

washer stinks

We have gathered a few helpful tips to keep your washer from smelling like mildew, moldy, or just plain sour.

So Why Does My Washer Smell?

How can something whose job it is to make something clean and smell excellent get to be so nasty smelling?

Well, it all starts with what type of washer you have.

The main culprit for a smelly washer is the High-Efficiency ones. More importantly, the front-loading ones. The top-loading washers that are HE (high efficiency) still can get smelly, but the front loaders are more likely.

The main reason why the front-loading HE washer smell is the way they’re set up.

Clothes are tumbled, which is much better and does less damage to the clothing. The drum rotates on the horizontal axis, and in doing so, it needs some seals or gaskets to keep the water from coming out.

washer he gasket rubber seal

The solutions we go over also work on HE Top Loader Washers too.

With the heat and some detergents, you have the perfect place for mold or mildew to grow. The worst factor is the use of the wrong detergents. Using the wrong detergents means you don’t fight the bacteria that can build up. Make sure you buy HE detergents.

The hot water, detergents, and fluids that come out of the clothing find there way around the seal of the door. The smell gets trapped in the gasket of the door.

To prevent this, you must leave your door open!

Many modern washers have a spring door holder to allow airflow in. Make sure you pay attention to your manufactures recommendations.

What Can We Do?

This problem has a ton of different solutions. Honestly, the best solution is already being sold. You can buy Washer Cleaners like this one and have a clean washer in no time. These cleaners work best for Front and Top load washers. On top loaders, I would only use the tub cleaners due to the nature of a top loader.


Avoid This

I would avoid bleach. Yeah, I know momma says it works great, but it’s just not worth it. Bleach can be deadly if used wrong or mixed with the wrong stuff. So it’s best to avoid it.

Home Remedies

Some natural or home remedies is to use vinegar and baking soda. Do one part water to one part baking soda with two parts vinegar. You don’t need much, maybe a cup or even less of the stuff. Just place it in the tub. Make sure its very liquid or you’ll have a mess of goo. I’m not a fan of this method either, but others say it works great.

Some have told us that they do straight vinegar only. Then allow the drum to air out all night.

Just run the washer on a regular cycle with some hot water, and it will be good as new.

I’m not a fan of vinegar or baking soda. That’s why I recommend using stuff that’s made for cleaning the tub of your washer out instead. Plus, you don’t need to do it often, just every month or two.

The Back-Up Solution

If the Tub Cleaner and the vinegar and baking soda don’t work for you, then I do have a secret solution. Simple Green. Put about a 1/4 cup of this stuff in the washer’s tub and set the washer for a normal cycle with hot water.

If you don’t have a bottle of simple green around the house, then I highly recommend you get one.

You can read more about using Simple Green to clean your washer here.

How To Keep It From Happening Again!

Your washer is going to smell again. We don’t live in a perfect world. The good news is that we can slow it down by following some best practices.

  • For example, always use HE detergent. It’s not a marketing strategy. This stuff works the best for a HE waster, especially the front-loading ones.
  • Also, make sure you allow your washer to dry out after every use. You should never close the door unless you’re washing something. Allow air to get into the drum is critical to keep the mold away. Once your clothes are done washing, make sure to remove them right away. Keeping damp things in the washer will attract mold and mildew. Also, if you have a ceiling fan near your machine, make sure it is running to allow air circulation.
  • Probably the best idea is to wipe the gasket every time you wash something. The rubber seal around the door is where most of your smell is coming from. Once you wipe the gasket dry, don’t throw it in the washer, but instead place it far away as it contains moisture. I noticed that people would neglect the seal and never wipe it. Pull the seal back, and you’ll see hair and goo from the detergent. Make sure you thoroughly get into the seal wipe it clean.
  • I have noticed that many people will use too much detergent. Having too much detergent can mean it’s not all being used when you wash clothing, thus leading to it sticking around and smelling. Try to use half of what you usually use when doing laundry. People can get carried away with the soaps. Trust me; you only need a little.