A smelly washing machine is a common issue faced by many homeowners throughout the UK. And such an issue is becoming more frequent due to many of us opting to wash at lower temperatures which results in the bacteria not being killed off.
Cleaning your washing machine to remove the dirt and the odours isn’t a difficult task – and below, we explain why your washing machine smells and share our top tips on how to clean a smelly washing machine.
Why Does My Washing Machine Smell?
When you consider the amount and type of dirt your washing machine faces on a regular basis, it shouldn’t come as any surprise the appliance can suffer from unpleasant smells. However, the dirt from your laundry isn’t the sole reason your washing machine smells.
The build up of bacteria is often the primary reason for a smelly washing machine, although using too much detergent can also increase the risk of unpleasant odours building in your appliance. We therefore recommend with each wash you only use the amount of detergent outlined on the packaging – even if your laundry is looking particularly grubby.
How To Clean a Smelly Washing Machine:
To clean your smelly washing machine and to ensure odours are removed, there are a few key areas you need to focus on and these include:
- Soap Dispenser Drawer
- Drawer Housing
- Door Seal
- Drum / Internal Parts
Soap Dispenser Drawer:
The dispenser drawer may house the detergent when the washing machine is in use, but it can also harbour mould and bacteria – particularly if it hasn’t been left open to dry once the wash cycle has finished.
We recommend you clean your soap dispenser on a regular basis and doing so is relatively straightforward. Simply remove the dispenser drawer by pressing a release clip before giving the drawer a sharp pull.
Once the drawer is out of its housing place it in the sink with hot soapy water, and leave it to soak whilst you clean the drawer housing (as per the advice below). After soaking, scrub it clean using a long handled dish brush, before drying completely.
Once your dispenser drawer is out of its housing, you may be surprised as to how dirty the housing is. Unfortunately the build up of mould here has the potential to cause leaks from your washing machine, as well as unpleasant odours, due to hindering the performance of the jets.
To clean and remove the bacteria / mould and dirt from this particular area, we recommend using a solution of white vinegar mixed with water. Spray the solution liberally into the dispenser drawer housing, ensuring it soaks into the dirt before scrubbing clean with a long handled dish brush.
Dirt may not automatically be evident on the rubber door seal, but if you pull the seal slightly back you’re likely to see a build up of dirt and mould, which will be contributing to your smelly washing machine.
Cleaning the rubber door seal is a straightforward task, and again we recommend you use a solution of white vinegar mixed with water. Simply spray the solution onto the seal and then thoroughly rub clean with a cloth.
Alternatively, if the seal is looking considerably dirty or is showing signs of damage, it is often easier to purchase a replacement door seal and to fit this, by following the guidance in the video below.
Drum / Internal Parts:
When it comes to cleaning a smelly washing machine, some recommend using white vinegar in all areas. At eSpares, whilst we are keen advocates of using household items to clean where possible, we recommend for the internal areas of your washing machine, you use a specialist washing machine cleaner.
With your washing machine cleaner to hand, clean the drum and in turn the internal components of the appliance, by pouring the entire contents of the sachet into the drum, before placing the appliance onto an empty hot wash and running the cycle.
It is important when carrying out such a wash, you do not use any other detergents during the process as this will hinder the effectiveness of the cleaning product.
With the internal parts of your washing machine clean, you should also consider cleaning the exterior – and this is just as simple. Use a bucket of hot, soapy water and a clean cloth, wipe down the appliance, and then dry it with a dry, clean cloth.
Reduce The Risk of a Smelly Washing Machine:
The best way to prevent your washing machine from smelling is to clean it on a regular basis, and this involves carrying out a maintenance wash, which incorporates a washing machine cleaner, on a monthly basis.
But cleaning the washing machine isn’t the only way to keep those unpleasant odours at bay, other steps include:
- Using only as much detergent as suggested on the packaging. Excess detergent can build up inside the machine, resulting in the build up of bacteria and unpleasant odours. It’s also worth noting that liquid detergents are often sourced as being detrimental for your appliance.
- Rinse excess dirt from your laundry before washing. This will prevent the dirt from becoming lodged in your appliance, which will help to keep unpleasant odours at bay.
- After each wash cycle, leave the door and soap dispenser drawer slightly ajar. This will allow fresh air to run through the appliance, but more importantly will enable the appliance to dry out, preventing increased amounts of bacteria and mould from forming.
If the unpleasant odours continue to come from your washing machine, despite following the advice above, there may be a partial blockage in the sump hose. Due to dirty water leaving your washing machine via the sump hose, sludge can build up in this area.
Tackle the sludge and the unpleasant odours associated with it by cleaning it with a homemade cleaning product which incorporates a 1/4 cup of baking soda and ½ a cup of white vinegar. Simply pour the baking soda into the drain, followed by the white vinegar and leave the solution to work its magic.
Taking your time to regularly clean your washing machine by following the guidance outlined above will help to keep unpleasant odours at bay. It will also keeping your washing machine working to its peak performance for longer.