Why Your Washing Machine Smells, Home Remedies That Works

A smelly washing machine is uncomfortable - everyone wants the laundry to be clean and not come out of the machine stinky. But don't worry, you can quickly restore a stinking washing machine to shape. In our guide, we explain where the odor comes from and how you can combat it effectively.

Washing machine stinks: what to do?

  • Bacteria and mold make the washing machine smelly.
  • The stinking washing machine must be cleaned so that the musty smell does not carry over from the machine to the laundry.
  • Chemical agents are expensive, environmentally harmful, and often less effective than home remedies.
  • We did the test: The best home remedies for a smelly washing machine are citric acid, vinegar, and baking soda.
  • You should clean it every three months. It will prevent odors.

Why does the washing machine smell?

smelly washing machine

Bacteria and molds are responsible for smelly washing machine.

When you open the washing machine door, a foul odor comes out of it, which is very uncomfortable. Everyone expects from a washing machine that our laundry should be squeaky clean and perfectly scented. 

But now and then, you may find bad smells in the laundry machine and the smell then carry over to the clothes. And that's no wonder that the washing machine's warm, humid climate causes the smell. Besides, there is hair, dirt, grease, and standing water stuck in the washing machine.

Bacteria often cause a musty smell in the washing machine. Since laundry is usually washed at a low temperature, i.e., 30 or 40 degrees, grease and dirt are not loosened adequately by the water.

These easy-care or delicate programs are suitable for the textiles and the environment due to the low temperature. Besides grease, dirt is also deposited in the washing machine over time.

The deposited fat and dirt piled up inside washing machines are the leading cause of a smelly washing machine. Because dirt and grease are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold, they survive without any problems at temperatures below 60 degrees.

These bacteria and mold cause the machine's unpleasant smell and, ultimately, on your clothes, your babies cloths, bed linen, or freshly washed towels.

What helps with a smelly washing machine?

Does the freshly washed laundry smells musty and not fresh at all? Then it's high time to give your stinking washing machine a thorough cleaning. To prevent the stench from being carried over to the laundry, you should do something quickly to counteract the smell of the washing machine.

To get rid of it, you first need to find the cause. Once you find the cause, use the following methods to ensure that the washing machine is clean and free from smelling:

Adjust the water temperature

Nowadays, high efficiency washing machines tend to have low water temperature to save energy. But, the low washing temperature allows the germs to remain in the washing machine and prevent the detergent from being dissolved. The consequence is a smelly washing machine. So you should do a boil wash now and then—provided that the laundry allows these high temperatures. It mostly happens with bed linen or with washing towels in the case.

Cleaning the detergent drawer

Remains of detergent and fabric softener stick in the detergent drawer. If the room's climate is still quite warm and humid, bacteria often develop in the detergent compartment and cause unpleasant smells. The detergent drawer should be soaked and cleaned in the sink at regular intervals. Then dry the drawer.

Clean the fluff filter

Everything gets caught in the fluff filter, from animal hair to lint and detergent residue—a disgusting conglomerate of leftovers that forms the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Mold and bacteria ensure a musty smell. Make sure you clean the lint filter regularly. It is hidden behind a flap. If it is clogged, it can even happen that the Washer no longer draws water.

Cleaning the rubber seal

The rubber seal in the washing machine could be one reason for unpleasant odors. Grease and dirt tend to accumulate in hidden places, such as under the rubber seal - and make the washing machine stink. You should therefore clean the rubber regularly.

Washing Machine Smells - the best home remedies

When it comes to our laundry and washing machine, we only want the best. People are reluctant to use the chemical to clean washing machines, but one can do it without chemicals. Common household remedies, which almost everyone has at home, help against the musty smell in the washing machine and even gentler on the device, people, and the environment.

Practical, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly: These are the best home remedies for a smelly washing machine


Vinegar is a popular household remedy, reliably dissolves stubborn limescale deposits and is also an all-purpose weapon when cleaning the washing machine. Use Vinegar to Clean the detergent compartment only because Vinegar is too aggressive for the washing machine. It can damage the seals and hoses.  

Remove the detergent compartment and place it in the sink. Fill the compartment with warm water and a dash of Vinegar. Then let the compartment work for a few hours and then clean it with an old toothbrush or a cleaning sponge. Rinse with water and dry.

Baking soda

Baking soda is a gentle home remedy to clean a smelly washing machine. Put 40 grams of baking soda in the prewash and main wash compartments and another 10 grams in the drum. Then let the washing machine run at maximum temperature without any contents and then open the washing machine door and the drawer for the detergent.

Citric acid

Citric acid works very similar to vinegar but is much less aggressive. Besides, Citric acid gives off a fresh, lemony scent in the machine. Put four tablespoons of citric acid in the washing drum and four tablespoons in the detergent drawer. Then let the washing machine run at 95 degrees without laundry.

Washing machine smells: How to prevent odors

To avoid odors in the washing machine, you should clean your device approximately every three months.  The laundry is guaranteed to be perfectly clean and smells fresh.

You can take other measures to prevent unpleasant smells from developing in the first place. You can use these tips to avoid odors in the washing machine:

Check the drain pump

Another reason for odors in the washing machine can be a leaking drain pump. Check the pump from time to time whether any leak presents.

Descale the washing machine

Everywhere where water is involved, calcifications are inevitable, just like in the washing machine. So It is important to descale the washing machine from time to time with a decalcifying agent from the drugstore or using home remedies. Germs and bacteria are killed in this process and can therefore not even cause a smelly washing machine.

Open doors 

If you want to avoid unpleasant smelly washing machine, it is best to leave the washing machine door, and the detergent drawer opens after each wash. It allows residual moisture to evaporate.

Bonus tip: laundry scent

Although it is not a solution for a smelly washing machine, a laundry scent is still great to ensure wonderfully smelling clothes. You can even make it yourself from all-natural ingredients. You will feel even more comfortable in your laundry, and towels and bed linen smell good too. Caution: Chemical laundry fragrance products often cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. So it's best to make the scent yourself. There are these options:

  • Orange peel for the wardrobe: To make your laundry smell fresh and subtle, all you have to do is put a couple of dried orange peel into a pair of socks and then hang them in the wardrobe. The scent of the oranges will spread quickly.
  • Lavender for the wardrobe: If you have one lavender sachets, hang it up in the wardrobe; not only will the laundry be enveloped in the fragrance, but you too. Lavender has a remarkably calming effect and helps you fall asleep.

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