How to Eliminate Musty Washer Smell: Easy Maintenance Tips

Tired of that lingering musty smell coming from your washer? Ever wondered how to freshen it up and get rid of that unpleasant odor? Imagine doing your laundry and having everything come out smelling clean and fresh, without that musty aftertaste.

You’re not alone in facing this common laundry dilemma. A musty washer smell can be frustrating, but fret not – we’ve got you covered! In this article, you’ll discover simple yet effective tips to banish that musty odor from your washing machine for good.

Say goodbye to the musty washer smell and hello to a laundry room filled with freshness. Get ready to tackle this issue head-on and enjoy the sweet scent of clean clothes once again.

Understanding the Cause of Musty Washer Smell

Musty odors in your washing machine can be bothersome, but understanding why they occur is essential to effectively tackling the issue. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Dampness: Leaving the lid or door closed after a laundry cycle traps moisture, creating a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
  • Residue Build-up: Detergent and fabric softener residues can accumulate in hard-to-reach areas, contributing to the musty smell.
  • Low Temperatures: Washing at low temperatures may not kill bacteria and fungi, leading to odor development over time.
  • Clogged Drain: A clogged drain filter can harbor stagnant water and debris, emitting unpleasant smells.

To banish the musty odor, you’ll need to address these underlying causes effectively.

Cleaning the Interior of Your Washing Machine

To combat that musty washer smell, it’s essential to regularly clean the inside of your washing machine. Here’s how you can freshen things up:

  • Run a Cleaning Cycle: Fill the drum with hot water and add a cup of white vinegar or baking soda. Let the machine agitate for a few minutes, then pause and let the solution sit for an hour. Afterward, let the cycle complete.
  • Wipe Down Surfaces: Clean the door seal, detergent dispenser, and any other areas prone to mold or mildew buildup with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar.
  • Inspect the Drain Pump Filter: Locate and clean the drain pump filter, where lint, debris, and odors often accumulate. Refer to your machine’s manual for specific instructions on locating and cleaning this filter.
  • Leave the Door Ajar: After each use, keep the washing machine door slightly open to allow airflow and prevent moisture buildup that can lead to odors.

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Dealing with Residue Buildup in the Machine

  • Inspect the detergent dispenser: Remove it and wash it with warm, soapy water.
  • Clean the drum: Mix equal parts water and vinegar, run a cycle on the hottest setting.
  • Scrub rubber gaskets: Use a cloth soaked in a vinegar solution to clean mold and residue.
  • Check the seal: Look for cracks or residue and clean them to prevent leaks.
  • Run an empty cycle: Add baking soda to a cycle to eliminate odors and residue.
  • Repeat cleaning: Perform these steps regularly to maintain a fresh-smelling washer.
Statistic Data
Washer Odors Reported 72%
Regular Cleaning Helps Prevents buildup and smells

Using Natural Remedies to Freshen Your Washer

When dealing with a musty washer smell, natural remedies can be effective and gentle on your machine. Here are some easy and eco-friendly tips to freshen up your washer:

  • Vinegar: It’s a versatile cleaning agent. Pour a cup of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser and run a hot water cycle to help eliminate odor-causing bacteria.
  • Baking Soda: Known for its odor-absorbing properties, sprinkle half a cup of baking soda directly into the drum and run a long hot water cycle.
  • Essential Oils: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil, like lavender or tea tree oil, to a cleaning cycle for a fresh scent.

Remember, using these natural remedies regularly can help maintain a clean and fresh-smelling washer.

Preventing Musty Smells in the Future

Musty washer smells can be prevented with simple routines and maintenance. Follow these practical tips to keep your washing machine fresh and odor-free:

  • Leave the door open: After each wash cycle, leave the washer door ajar to allow air circulation and prevent moisture buildup.
  • Clean the dispenser drawer: Regularly remove and clean the detergent dispenser drawer to prevent residue buildup that can lead to odors.
  • Empty the drum: Always empty the drum promptly after each cycle to prevent dampness and mold growth.
  • Run maintenance washes: Periodically run a cleaning cycle with hot water, white vinegar, or specialized washing machine cleaner to eliminate any buildup and bacteria.
  • Use less detergent: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for detergent usage. Using too much can lead to soap residue, contributing to unpleasant smells.
  • Check for leaks: Regularly inspect your washing machine for leaks or standing water, as these can lead to mold and mildew growth.
  • Dry the gasket: After each use, wipe down the rubber gasket around the door to remove any water or debris that can cause musty odors.
  • Inspect the drain pump filter: Check and clean the drain pump filter regularly to prevent obstructions and foul smells caused by trapped debris.

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Keep these simple practices in mind to prevent musty smells from reoccurring in your washing machine. Regular maintenance will not only keep your washer smelling fresh but also extend its lifespan.


Keep these simple maintenance practices in mind to prevent musty smells in your washing machine. By incorporating these tips into your routine, you can ensure a fresh-smelling washer and avoid mold and mildew growth. Remember to leave the door open, clean the dispenser drawer, empty the drum promptly, run maintenance washes, use less detergent, check for leaks, dry the gasket, and inspect the drain pump filter regularly. These small efforts can go a long way in maintaining a clean and odor-free washing machine. Happy washing!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent musty smells in my washing machine?

To prevent musty smells in your washing machine, try to leave the door open after each wash to allow air circulation, clean the dispenser drawer regularly, empty the drum promptly after use, run maintenance washes with hot water or vinegar, use less detergent, check for leaks, dry the gasket thoroughly, and inspect the drain pump filter for any blockages.

Why is it important to prevent musty smells in washing machines?

Preventing musty smells in washing machines is important to avoid odors, mold, and mildew growth. By following simple routines and maintenance practices, you can ensure a fresh-smelling washer, prolong its lifespan, and maintain clean and hygienic laundry.

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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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