How to Eliminate Mildew Smell in Your Washer: Essential Maintenance Tips

Understanding the Cause of Mildew Smell

Mildew smell in your washer machine can be a common issue, but understanding the cause can help you effectively tackle it. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Moist Environment:

  • Dampness in the washer machine provides the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew.
  • This can happen if the machine is closed when not in use, trapping in moisture.
  • Residue Build-Up:

  • Soap scum, fabric softener, and dirt can accumulate in the machine over time.
  • These residues can mix with moisture, creating an unpleasant odor.
  • Clogged Drainage:

  • A clogged filter or drainage system can lead to standing water in the machine.
  • Stagnant water promotes bacterial growth and contributes to the mildew smell.
  • Low Temperatures:

  • Washing at low temperatures may not kill all the bacteria and mold in the machine.
  • Over time, this can result in a musty odor lingering in your laundry.
  • Not cleaning your washer machine regularly allows mold and mildew to thrive.
  • Regular maintenance is essential to prevent and eliminate the unpleasant smell.

Understanding these causes can help you take targeted actions to get rid of the mildew smell in your washer machine.

Cleaning the Rubber Gasket

The rubber gasket in your washer machine is a common spot for mildew to develop due to its damp environment. Regular cleaning of this part is essential to eliminate the mildew smell. Here’s how you can effectively clean the rubber gasket:

  • Wipe: Start by wiping the gasket with a cloth soaked in a mixture of equal parts water and white vinegar. This helps to remove any visible mold or mildew buildup.
  • Scrub: For stubborn spots, use an old toothbrush or scrubbing brush to scrub the crevices of the gasket. Focus on areas where mold tends to accumulate.
  • Dry: After cleaning, ensure the gasket is thoroughly dried. Leaving it damp can contribute to mold regrowth.
  • Preventive Measures: To prevent future mildew, leave the washer door ajar after use to allow air circulation and minimize moisture buildup. Also, consider using a washer cleaning tablet periodically to maintain freshness.

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Cleaning the rubber gasket regularly is a simple yet effective way to keep your washer machine smelling fresh and mold-free.

Running a Cleaning Cycle with Vinegar

To tackle the mildew smell in your washer machine effectively, running a cleaning cycle with vinegar can be a game-changer. Here’s how you can do it:

  • Preparation: Before starting, ensure the washer is empty.
  • Vinegar Mixture: Mix 2 cups of white vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
  • Start the Cycle: Set your washer to the hottest water setting and let it run with the vinegar mixture.
  • Pause and Soak: After a few minutes, pause the cycle to let the vinegar solution soak in.
  • Scrubbing: Use a cloth or brush to scrub any lingering mildew spots during the pause.
  • Complete the Cycle: Let the cycle finish completely for a thorough clean.

Step-by-step guide: Running a cleaning cycle with vinegar helps eliminate mildew odors effectively. Remember, regular maintenance is key to a fresh-smelling washer.

Using Baking Soda and Distilled White Vinegar

To combat mildew smells in your washer, try Using Baking Soda and Distilled White Vinegar. Here’s a simple method to help freshen up your machine:

  • Sprinkle 1/4 cup of baking soda into the detergent drawer.
  • Pour 2 cups of distilled white vinegar into the drum.
  • Run a hot water cycle to allow the mixture to clean your washer’s interior.

This technique helps eliminate odors and leaves your washer smelling fresh. Remember to wipe down the rubber gasket after the cycle to prevent mildew buildup.

Preventing Future Mildew Smells

  • Regular Maintenance: Ensure you clean the rubber gasket and interior of the washer every few weeks to prevent mildew buildup.
  • Leave the Door Ajar: After each wash cycle, keep the washer door slightly open to allow air circulation and prevent moisture accumulation.
  • Use Less Detergent: Overloading the washer with detergent can leave residue and contribute to mold growth. Follow manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Remove Wet Clothes Promptly: After the cycle is complete, promptly transfer damp clothes to the dryer to prevent moisture in the washer.

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| Washer Maintenance Tips |

Tip Details
Clean the gasket Every few weeks to prevent mold.
Leave door ajar After washes to allow air circulation.
Use less detergent Follow guidelines to avoid buildup.
Promptly remove clothes Prevents moisture from lingering.


That’s it! By following these simple maintenance tips, you can keep your washer smelling fresh and mold-free. Remember to clean the rubber gasket, leave the door open after each wash, use less detergent, and promptly remove wet clothes. These small steps can make a big difference in preventing that pesky mildew smell. Keep up with these practices, and your washer will thank you with a clean, pleasant scent every time you do your laundry. Happy washing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean the rubber gasket and interior of my washer?

It is recommended to clean the rubber gasket and interior of your washer every few weeks to prevent mildew smells.

Why should I leave the washer door ajar after each wash cycle?

Leaving the washer door ajar allows air circulation, reducing the likelihood of mold growth and mildew smells.

How can using less detergent help prevent mildew smells in the washer?

Using less detergent helps avoid residue buildup, which can contribute to mildew smells in the washer.

Why is it important to promptly remove wet clothes from the washer?

Promptly removing wet clothes prevents moisture from lingering in the washer, reducing the risk of mold development.

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Charlie Thomson is Appliance Mastery's expert on laundry appliances. With a degree in mechanical engineering and over 8 years of experience in the appliance repair industry, Charlie is a go-to resource for homeowners who want to tackle common issues with their washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers.

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