This article looks at how to get rid of mouldy, musty or bad smells from washing machines, and points to the causes so as to protect from the problem in the first place or prevent re-occurrence.
There are various products available online and in supermarkets claiming to freshen up washing machines and get rid of bad odours. My personal experience with these products (which are also aimed at dishwashers) is that they do a good job of freshening up a relatively clean washer or dishwasher but are not so good at curing a genuinely smelly one. If your appliance is seriously smelly, especially if coated in black mould or greasy gunge, then it can be very difficult or even impossible to cure but there are some things worth trying..
Carry out one or more maintenance washesNot many people use hot washes any more, and this is partly to blame for the bad smells because hot water helps to kill bacteria and cut down grease. (Causes of grease, slime and black mould inside washing machine). One of the first things to try is to put the washing machine on a boil wash cycle (90° or 95°) with detergent inside – but no laundry. You may need to try this more than once.
Also, you could try to clean the washing machine inside using soda crystals which dissolve grease. I recommend putting half a packet inside the drum and washing on a boil wash (or follow instructions on the packet). Using this method every month or so, or using ordinary detergent if no soda crystals are available can help prevent smells from your washing machine. If your washing machine is badly affected by grease and slime, it may be very difficult to remove it.
This is particularly important if you mostly use low temperature washes and (or) liquid detergent, and other washing machine detergent which doesn’t contain bleaching agents such as colour friendly detergent. If you do, then buy some detergent that does, and use it for your maintenance washes. This will help kill off bacteria and prevent black mould and grease. Tip: Look for something like, "bleaching agents" in the ingredients.
Don’t put chemical cleaning bleach in the washing machine, there are certain types of bleach (eg. oxygen bleach) that are appropriate for laundry.
Get rid of washing machine odours using vinegar
White distilled vinegar has an array of uses. Try putting half a cup of white (distilled) vinegar inside an empty machine and put it on a boil wash. Note that because the first bit of water goes into the sump hose and is sealed off, I recommend that you wait until the washing machine has been filling for about 15 seconds before pouring the vinegar into the soap drawer where water is running in to let it wash down into the machine. I've had reports back from people that this does actually work.
More articles related to the subject
- what causes Grease, gunge and black mould in washing machines?
- Black slimy jelly and mould inside soap dispenser
- What temperature should you wash bed sheets at?
- Low temperature washes are part of the smelly washing machine problem Washing at 30 degrees?
(This is a completely revised and updated article first published in 2002 on my other site Washerhelp )