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Why Does My Washing Machine Smell? (And some super easy fixes)

Picture this – you hear your washing machine’s distinct chime and make your way, ready to see your fresh, like-new clothes. Or so you hope... When you open the machine’s door, you’re greeted by a smell that hits you like a brick. Heavy-heartedly, you run another washing cycle. You even use your super fragrant detergent, hoping that solves the issue.

But it doesn’t 🙁 It looks like your washing machine has a serious case of BO!

A washing machine that smells is like a gun that doesn’t fire. So the million-dollar question is: why does my washing machine smell? And more importantly, how to fix this. We’re here to help you do just that.

Why it smells

To understand how you can say goodbye to smelly washing machines for good, it’s important to understand what exactly makes your washing machine reek so bad.

There could be a few reasons for this:

  1. Rotting detergent: isn’t it ironic how the super fragrant, lab-tested detergents that help your clothes smell and feel ultra fresh might be one of the causes of your washing machine’s odour? The detergent, along with all the gunk it has taken off your clothes, can sometimes get accumulated in and around the drum or filter. This combined with the damp environment inside the washing machine makes it a breeding ground for smelly bacteria.
  2. Trapped water: sometimes, front-loaders can trap some water inside the drum which can become smelly over time thanks to all the nasty stuff in there with it. If you keep your washing machine door closed (especially for front-loaders), it can trap a lot of humidity and moisture which can make your washing machine smell off.
  3. Dirty filter: this is perhaps the most common culprit if your washing machine is smelly or not cleaning your clothes well. All washing machines have filters which trap all the dirt and residue from clothes. Oftentimes, these filters can sit uncleaned for months or even years and they can make all the difference.
  4. Drain tube/hose/filter: if your washing machine smells like sewage, there’s a good chance that the problem lies in the drainage department. Just like the filter inside the machine, the drainage hoses, filters and tubes can get clogged up with gunk over time which reduces the efficiency of your washing machine by a lot, not to mention making it smelly

How you can fix it

Now that we know what causes a smelly washing machine, let’s explore a few ways which can help you get rid of the funk, depending on what the cause of your problem may be.

  1. There are a few different methods to clean rotting detergent in your washing machine.
    • One method that many professional repair workers recommend is to alternate between liquid detergent and powdered detergents. This is because liquid detergents can sometimes leave a nasty residue which powdered detergents are great at removing. So you could use powdered detergent every fourth or fifth wash to remove all the residue once it starts accumulating.
    • Another good method of removing the gunk that’s called your washing machine home is to use the classic baking powder & vinegar technique. First, make sure your washing machine is empty. Then, mix equal parts baking powder and water in the detergent container, 1/4th cup each. Pour some vinegar in your machine, around two cups or so, in your washing machine. Now, run a cycle at the hottest setting you can, and wait for the magic to happen. Our homemade washing machine cleaner will evict all the rigid gunk and give you your trusty old washing machine tub back, sans the odour.
  2. Moving to the easiest fix of them all – keep your washing machine’s door open! When not in use, make sure the door is open or, at the very least, ajar. The ventilation will allow all trapped moisture to escape and leave your washing machine smelling fresh again. It’s a small change but it’s massively helpful. The best part about this fix is that it works as a good preventive measure, too. Even if your washing machine is fresh, leaving the door open will keep it fresh longer.
  3. Clean your filter, as simple as that. Your washing machine’s filter can be found somewhere in the tub, and most of the time you can pop it out without any special tools. Once done, wash it under running water and give it a good scrub. Boom, you’re good to go. It’s ideal to clean washing machine filters frequently and because it’s so easy and barely takes a few minutes, it’s another super easy fix.
  4. This one can be slightly tricky, but you can still fix it at home by yourself. Check your model’s specifications and find where the drain filter is located in your washing machine. Then it’s just a matter of removing it (might require a standard screwdriver) and cleaning it as you would a normal filter.

Bonus tips

Prevention is better than cure. Here are a few bonus tips that will keep your washing machine running fresh:

  • Use HE (high efficiency) detergent. It can go a long way in keeping your machine running like new.
  • Opt for commercial cleaning products. There are a lot of good quality washing machine cleaners available in the market. Use them occasionally and it will help you prevent a case of the smelly washing machine.
  • Say no to liquid fabric softeners if you have a front-loading washing machine.

 

Not only will this help fix your washing machine smell, but it will also help you prevent the issue altogether. And let’s be honest, the feeling of freshly washed clothes is worth it 😉

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