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Why Your Washing Machine Smells and What to Do About It

by glimmradmin - July 6, 2018

Why Your Washing Machine Smells and What to Do About It


Person inside washing machine

‘This washing machine smells!’ If you’ve ever caught yourself saying that, you are not alone my friend. This is a common problem for many households.

So why does your washing machine smell? – The short answer is that it hasn’t been cleaned properly in a long time. As with most things around the house, your washing machines needs to be cleaned from time to time. Not doing this on a regular basis causes a host of germs, bacteria and bad odours to build up within the machine. These can in turn be transferred to your clothes the next time you wear them.

So now that you know why your washing machine smells, you can take steps to clean it and remove some of that bad odour.

How to clean your washing machine

Notepad and pen

1. Cleaning the drawer

Why is this important?

Over time, as your washing machine’s drawer is exposed to a host of detergents and other products. You may find that left over washing products mixed together can create blockages for your washing machine and allow mould to settle in. This provides a place where germs and bacteria collect. Naturally, this can lead to poorer quality cleaning results.

What you need


1. Dishwashing liquid
2. Old toothbrush
3. Clean cloth (optional)

The cleaning process


To begin the cleaning process, we must first remove the washing machine drawer. If you don’t already know how to do this for your machine, follow the guidance on your machine’s user manual.

Next, use an old toothbrush and some cleaning liquid to give the drawer a nice scrub and rinse with clean water. Alternatively, you can leave the washing machine drawer in your dishwasher for one cycle and it should come out as good as new.

Note: If you notice any mould growing inside the drawer, start the process by applying some mould remover on the affected surface and wipe using a clean cloth.

2. Cleaning the filter

Why is this important?

The filter on your washing machine has been created to trap objects such as lint, dirt and other loose particles to give you a better wash. With continued use, blockages occur in the filter, which often result in water leakages that can cause damage to both your washing machine and the surrounding floor area.

What you need


1. Bowl
2. Old kitchen towels

The cleaning process


First, locate and remove the filter from your washing machine. This is usually found in the front of the washing machine, behind a small hatch. If you can’t find your filter, consult your washing machine’s manual.

Next, remove all the items that are stuck to your filter and give this a thorough clean.

Note: If your filter was largely blocked, it is possible that there could be a waterlog behind this. If you suspect this to be the case, it can be a good idea to have a bowl and some old kitchen towels on hand to collect some of this water.

3. Cleaning the drum

Why is this important?

You might think that since the washing machine drum looks so clean and shiny, it must be so, right? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. There are usually some hard to reach places and ridges within the drum of your washing machine that become the breeding ground for all sorts of germs and bacteria.

The cleaning process


Empty out your washing machine, insert a washing tablet and run the empty wash on a high heat setting (60 degrees usually does the trick). Doing this once every couple of months will help ensure your washing machine stays clean and fresh all year round.

4. Preventing bad smells

Why is this important?


Since our goal is to remove the variety of washing machine smells plaguing our home, this step is especially important.

The cleaning process


The solution to this problem is as simple as leaving your washing machine door partially open for a few minutes after washes. This helps ensure that clean air circulates the drum and helps reduce the dampness that results in bad smells.

5. Cleaning the rubber door seal

Why is this important?


Your washing machine’s rubber door seal helps ensure that the water from your wash doesn’t leak out of the machine. In carrying out this important task, the seal becomes a hiding place for remnants of detergent and dirt. As this builds up over time, it can result in a mould build up, making it even more difficult to clean the area.

What you need


1. Solution of 1 part vinegar and 1 part water
2. Microfiber cloth (any other cloth works fine too)

The cleaning process


Apply some of the cleaning solution to the surface of the rubber and seal and wipe this using your microfiber cloth.

How to keep your washing machine smelling fresh


Baby in a tub

Now that we’ve removed the host of bad washing machine smells from our home, the next step is to make sure that our washing machine stays smelling fresh. This can be done in 3 steps:

1. Routine cleaning

There’s 3 main areas we want to target here:
1. The rubber door seal – The rubber door seal of your washing machine can collect dirt and other particles over time. To deal with this, you should regularly remove any particles you see stuck to this and wipe it down with a solution of 1 part vinegar and 1 part water.
2. The filter – It is a good idea to clean out the filter of your washing machine every 1-2 weeks.
3. The drum – Cleaning this just involves running an empty washing machine (with just detergent) on the highest heat setting every 1-2 months.

2. Keeping the drum dry


This is very important in order to keep our washing machine smelling fresh. Nothing brings about bad washing machine smells the way warm, stagnant water does. This also encourages a host of bacteria and mould to make itself home in your washing machine.

To avoid this there are 4 things you can do:
1. Take you laundry out of the washing machine shortly after your cycle ends
2. Keep the door open for a short period after washes to ensure air can circulate the drum of your washing machine
3. Consider running a fan in the room where your washing machine sits. This will help improve airflow
4. Consider investing in a dehumidifier.

3. Using better quality washing products


Do yourself and your washing machine a favour and only use high quality detergents. These may sometimes cost more than the bargain detergents, but this is a small price to pay to keep your washing machine smelling fresh.

Wrapping it up


Now, when your washing machine smells, you will know that it’s overdue for a good clean. However, it doesn’t need to ever get to that point if you just follow our tips above to keep the washing machine smelling fresh.

If you need a little help cleaning your washing machine, book one of our trusted cleaners for a time that suits you!