As contrary as it sounds, laundry washing machines can get amazingly smelly. Find out how to keep mold and bacteria at bay, and help make your washer — and your laundry! — smell great again.
Step 1: Leave the door open
In between loads, leave the washer door open — especially if you have a front-loading machine. (“High efficiency” front-loader washing machines seem to be especially prone to smelly problems from bacteria and mold build-up in various parts of the system.)
Step 2: Halve the soap
If your washing machine is smelly, try using less detergent — about half the usual recommended amount — and/or use HE (high-efficiency) laundry detergent.
Step 3: Quit the liquid
Avoid using liquid fabric softener in your washer, as some people have experienced a build-up of “gunk” from its use. If you do use store-bought fabric softener, dilute the mixture with water before adding it to your washing machine.
Step 4: Wash out your washer
Step 5: Keep the hot water hot
Perhaps the problem’s not really with your washing machine, but with your hot water heater. If your hot water is set to below 140 degrees, you might have a problem with smelly bacteria (specifically iron and sulfur bacteria) flourishing in your hot water tank and/or pipes. If you notice an odor with all of your indoor water supply, you may need to flush the tank and pipes to clean them out, and then increase the standing hot water temperature. (Note: There are safety risks — especially to children — from making very hot water available from the household faucets.)
Step 6: Watch for the trap
Get out your owner’s manual and find out how to check your washing machine’s drain trap and drain hose for lint and other gunky build-up.
Step 7: Be smell-smart with your laundry
How you wash and dry your sheets, towels and clothes can affect how much your washer smells… and, in turn, make your problem worse. You need to deodorize! Find out how to keep your laundry from smelling bad here.