The Secret To Keeping Your Washing Machine From Stinking

When you think of a washing machine, you likely envision fresh, clean-smelling laundry. However, you might find that every once in awhile, you go to do a load of laundry, and your machine stinks — either like mildew, must, or something else entirely unpleasant and sour. And no one trusts a washer to properly clean when it isn't clean itself. But why does this happen? It turns out that front-load washing machines are more likely to build up stink over time (via USA Today). These machines are designed to be more efficient, meaning they typically don't use as much water as top-load washers do. This becomes an issue if you don't use high-efficiency detergents, because the smaller amount of water prevents the soap from properly rinsing out of the machine at the end of a load. In turn, this soap scum allows dirt and other debris to stick to it, which attracts bacteria and mold and causes that horrid stench. The rubber ring around the door of the machine is another perfect breeding ground for nasty particles.

If you have a top-load washer, you may still notice unpleasant odors from time to time, but you are far less likely to encounter the perpetual stench that front-load washers build up over time since top-loaders use more water, ensuring soap residue gets properly rinsed out. Regardless of which washing machine you own, you'll want to take advantage of these tips on how to get rid of the stink and prevent it from happening.

The tried and true method to getting rid of washing machine odors

If you notice an odor when you open your washing machine or find that your clothes and towels come out smelling like mildew or slightly sour, it's time to give your machine a deep clean. Real Homes reported that you likely already have the cleaning supplies for your washing machine at home. You'll want to start by running a cycle without clothes or other items, and crank that water temperature up as high as possible. This will help dissolve that excess soap build-up that has likely been contributing to the smell. 

If hot water doesn't get rid of the stench, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. In a front loader, add two cups of white vinegar into the detergent drawer, make sure its set on its hottest cycle, and let it run (via Real Homes). Then, follow up with half a cup of baking soda directly in the drum and another hot cycle. You'll want to wipe out the machine — including the rubber stopper on the door — when the cycle finishes. For a top loader, the only difference will be to add the vinegar to the drum during the first cycle.

It's always important to clean down the rubber seals along the door between washes. A damp cloth with soapy water will wipe away any mold, dirt, and soap build-up. You should also air out your washing machine, including leaving the door and detergent drawer open.