Home and Garden Question: Washing Machine Odor

I recently received the following question:

Does your washer ever have an odor? Mine does. The smell isn’t real strong but it is unpleasant and like musty. What can I do to to get rid of it and keep it from smelling? Any ideas?

The good news is that this problem is usually easy to resolve. First, try leaving the lid to the washing machine open after washing a load of clothes. Letting the drum air out after each load instead of closing the lid will help prevent odors.

Another thing to consider is that washing machines do get dirty. It’s something we don’t often think about, since the appliance is intended for cleaning. We pull out clean clothes, so why is there an odor? Well, the clothes contain germs when they go in. To help prevent odors, wipe down the inside of the lid area, the top of the washer, and the inside of the drum regularly. You can use vinegar or a mild cleaning solution preferably one with germ killing or disinfectant properties.

Also, be sure to remove clothes soon after the cycle ends, especially during hot or humid weather. Allowing wet clothing sit for even a little while can lead to mildew and musty odors. If you find that a load of damp clothing has been sitting very long, run it again or at least run it through the rinse cycle. Then, either run some vinegar through the rinse cycle or wipe down the washing machine and air it out before reloading.

*During hot/humid weather, be sure to check clothes in the dryer quickly as well. If they aren’t completely dry after one cycle, clear the lint screen, and turn the dryer on for a few more minutes. Alternatively, you can hang up the items that are still damp. This will help in two ways. It will protect clothing from mildew damage and odors and will also help prevent odors in the dryer.

Laundry Basics: A Few Tips for Clothing Care