Skip to content

How to Get Rid of Damp Smell in Your Washing Machine

washing machine with damp smells

A washing machine that smells bad can be an unwelcome issue. Instead of smelling fresh and clean, your clothes come out smelling mouldy and damp. On top of that, your machine also emits the same odour.

What possible reasons could there be behind this smell and what can you do to get rid of it? Let’s explore some of these reasons and tips below. By the time you get through this, you will be able to figure out solutions and apply them to get rid of that bothersome smell.

Do you have a front loading washing machine that has lost its smell of “newness”?

Does it seem like no matter how much great smelling fabric softener, washing powder, tabs – and those Fragrance Pearl Boosters – you use, you just can’t get that gross smell out of your laundry?

Well, read on because I have the secret to getting rid of that odour and a maintenance plan to keep it fresh! So let’s get rid of that nasty damp smell from your washing machine today!

Pew! That mildewy, musty gross damp smell that just lingers… Well, I have the secret on how to get rid of it and a maintenance plan to keep it fresh!

Oh, the Washing… Oh, the Washing! Some weeks it feels like a never-ending chore. Basket after basket of dirty linens and stinky socks. You often think ‘Yikes! How on earth can one family get so many clothes dirty?’ If you have boys? Just forget it!

It’s no wonder with the workout your washing machine gets, it’s a little funky on its own. We have all taken that whiff and thought pew! That’s a bit rank!

Front loading washing machines and washer dryer combos are notorious for that wet musty smell. The hot soapy water doesn’t drain as easily as top loaders. The round shape of the drum makes the perfect home for a mouldy swampy mess.

Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Bad?

There can be several reasons behind the bad smell coming from your washing machine. Some of these reasons may include:

  1. Accumulation of Dirt (bacteria)
    Due to frequent washes in your machine, it is possible that dirt, dust and lint from your clothes may have accumulated inside the drum of the machine. In combination with detergent, this accumulation may lead to an unpleasant smell.
  2. Heat and Water
    Humidity from the laundry room might also waft into the washing machine, leading to a mouldy smell. The temperature of the water also adds to this mouldiness. For instance, while it is more energy efficient to wash clothes at lower temperatures, this may also cause bacteria to build up.
  3. Issues with Drainage
    If the water from the washing machine is not draining out properly as it should, it will end up remaining inside the machine. This water could stagnate and result in bacteria, mould and grime which emit a bad smell.
  4. Dirty Seal
    Since the doors of washing machines tend to come with a rubber seal, it becomes easier for dirt, detergent, lint and humidity to get stuck here. This causes the rubber seal to become a common source of odours.
  5. Other External Sources
    In the absence of the aforementioned issues, it is possible that there might be an external source that may be causing this odour. Make sure you carefully examine every part of the machine to determine this source so that you can figure out how to get rid of it.

How to Get Rid of That bad Smell

Just as you clean your clothes regularly you need to clean your washing machine. Even a top loader needs a good cleaning and deodorizing every now and then. Think about your shower door. That film that soap leaves on the glass door is not unlike that in your machine.

If you have a very remarkable smell that you are having trouble getting rid of you may need to do the cleaning step twice to really clean it out. It could be that you have mildew in the pipes and it will take a few times to clear it out.

First, you are going to clean it out really well and then move on to weekly maintenance.

Top Loaders need to be cleaned also and you can use these steps on any machine.

Give your washer a good clean. Wipe down the drum and the door with a white vinegar and water mixture. I use 1/4 cup vinegar and 1 cup water with a clean damp towel. Pull back the rubber gasket seal on the door and wipe it out all around. You are going to be surprised at the gross black gunk you will wipe out. That is the major source of your smell. GROSS!

Set your machine to the hottest temperature. Fill softener tray with bleach. I use concentrated bleach that has lavender added to it to help with that harsh bleach smell. Place 1/4 cup baking soda in your powder detergent tray and run a full cycle.

When finished wipe the drum, door, and gasket with a clean dry cloth. Be sure to clean the detergent drawer and cups also.

The heat and bleach will wash away the mildew and the baking soda will kill the odour. No more musty damp stink!

Now you need a plan to keep the smell away. Every time you run a load of laundry make sure that you are wiping out the water that collects in the rubber gasket. Leave the door and the detergent drawer open to air dry. Just doing these 2 steps will go a long way to keeping the smell at bay.

I run a bleach and baking soda cycle once a week and I give it the vinegar treatment once a month. It’s been close to a year now that I have been doing this and we have nothing but fresh clean laundry!

Related: Top Washing Machines List

More Cleaning Tips

Clean the Lint Filter

If your washing machine has a lint filter, clean it out after every wash to prevent mould formation. This will also make it easier for the air to circulate.

Find a Different Detergent

It is possible that the detergent you use is not of high efficiency. This can lead to the accumulation of detergent inside your machine, on the seal and 0n your clothes. Do your research to find a detergent and softener that will work well and try to maintain uniformity in the brands you use.

Ensure Sufficient Ventilation

It is easy for dampness and humidity to collect and remain inside the washing machine. Make sure the laundry room is ventilated well. Keep the washer door open for a while, install a dehumidifier or fan and allow for good air circulation.

Bottom Line

It would be a good idea to try to clean up parts of your washing machine on a regular basis. The conditions that your machine is faced with making it easy for the dirt, mould and lint to collect and emit an odour. This becomes even worse when it combines with the dampness and humidity inside the laundry room.

Apart from cleaning, ensure that you run regular maintenance washes. You can decide when to do this and how frequently, but once a month should generally serve the purpose.

An important thing here is also to clear out all the pockets of your clothes before putting them in the washing machine. Things you accidentally leave behind in the pocket may also lead to dirt and grime.

Run through this guide whenever you face such an issue. Follow the steps enlisted above to get rid of the odour. Remember—clean and wash regularly and prevent the smell from spreading.

I hope this helps you. I would love to know what tips do you have for a clean washing machine?