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Why Your Washing Machine Smells Bad And What You Can Do


Timberwood Park Plumbing Experts Give The Down and Dirty Reasons for Washing Machine Smell

What is that Washing Machine Smell?

If you’ve ever done a load of laundry and caught a smell other than your detergent’s “field of daisies,” know you’re not the first to encounter this sensation. Washing machine smells can hit any washing machine in any household, regardless of the year, make, or model of the machine. The fact is, that smell is caused by something specific, and it’s often easily fixed and prevented.

So what can you do to get rid of that awful odor, and what can you do to keep it from returning? Read on for three tips to get rid of foul smells in your washing machine and prevent them from coming back.

Soap Scum Buildup and Your Machine

All washing machines come with specific instructions regarding the type of soap or laundry detergent that is considered safe for that machine. If the wrong soap is used, soap scum will build up.

What is soap scum? It’s the residue of soap that mixes with minerals in hard water. If the soap doesn’t fully dissolve into your clothing and wash out by the end of your regular wash cycle, it will leave soap scum deposits behind.

Often, if there is soap scum, mildew isn’t far away. When scum and mildew build-up, it results in a terrible smell. Using the right soap will eliminate this problem before it starts.

Leaving Wet Clothing in your Machine

Everyone does it. You throw a load of laundry in your machine before you go to bed, and it sits there all night. If that load gets forgotten for a few days, and when you open the washing machine door, you’ll likely get hit with the nasty smell of wet clothing. Wet fabric left clumped together for an extended period will always result in a musty smell.


The smell comes from rapid mildew growth forming in the clothes or wet items left in your machine. If this happens, you’ll need to rewash the entire load at least once to get rid of the smell. The simplest way to prevent this from occurring is by removing wet clothes after they go through the wash cycle. Either hang them to dry or place them in your dryer until they are dried.

A Hidden Clog Could Be the Culprit

What if your machine is free of soap scum, and you regularly remove wet clothes after the wash cycle is complete, but you still have a smell? Your issue could be a hidden clog. If there is a clog behind the washing machine, dirty water can get caught and trapped.

Dirty water exiting the washing machine is filled with bacteria, dirt, and oils removed from your clothing by laundry detergent. If that water gets trapped behind your machine, bacteria growth will multiply, mildew in the surrounding area can build up, and the stagnant water will cause a foul odor.

To check for clogs, you’ll need to disconnect the drainage pipes and inspect for proper draining. Ensuring clothing is free of stuck-on debris before you place it in the washing machine is also essential for adequate drainage of your machine.

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