Smelly Odor In Your Washing Machine

If there is a smelly odor in your washing machine, it’s coming from mildew, fungus and mold. If you have a new HE front loading washer, you will eventually have a tendency to have a stale or foul order come from your machine. Older top loading machines often have the same problem. Once the washer has a build up of mold, it’s nearly impossible to have fresh smelling clothes… especially towels and rags

The gals who have front-loading HE machines love them because they can do a batch of laundry in no time at all and… they claim, their clothes are cleaner. However, some gals complain their towels eventually begin to have a moldy smell, which does not revel itself until they dry off after a shower and the towel becomes damp.

The density of the fabric is what makes the difference. The more dense and heavy the fabric, the more it holds mold spores. Personally, I’ve found my micro-fiber rags are the worst. Even though the rags are thin… they are very densely woven.

Regular clothing doesn’t seem to have the same problem… at least not in the beginning. However, if the problem is not nipped in the bud, in time, all of your clothing will have a bit of a moldy smell.

There are several reasons why this problem occurs in the new HE machines.

1. Water gets trapped between the washer drum and intricate parts of the washer. Some models are more predisposed to this problem than others. The seal around front-loading washers can be very tight and water gets trapped under the seal and can’t dry out.

2. A build up of fabric softeners and detergent under the seal and other parts of the washer become a breeding ground for mold and fungus… which leads to smelling clothing.


1. Remove clothes from the washer as soon as the cycle is over. Leaving wet clothes in the washer over night or for long periods of time can begin to create mold spores.

2. Reduce the amount of detergent you’re using. Several sources say you can use ½ of the HE detergent suggested on the container and still have clean clothes. Use a dry detergent rather than a liquid. Liquid detergent has properties that cause build up.

3. Avoid fabric softeners. I know, you want wonderful smelling clothes… but fabric softeners are the biggest culprit for builds up. Use dryer sheets… but wash your dyer filter often.

4. Leave the door ajar after doing a batch of wash. This will allow the interior of the washer a chance to dry out. On a top-loading washer, this is especially important.


1. Pull back the seal to examine whether you have a built up of detergent, softener and mold. Remove build up with a solutions of water and bleach.

2. Run a 1/2 cup of Cascade Complete through a hot water cycle…no clothes of course. (Top loading machines only)

3. There are products that you can purchase on line which are effective in helping over come this odor problem. claims their product is for front-loading machines. seems to be recommended the most. These products will run you about $20.00 and will provide around 20 cleanings.

4. After you’ve cleaned your washer… add a couple of teaspoons of soda to your wash and it will keep your clothes and towels smelling fresh. Borax is also wonderful… because it whitens as well as gives your clothes a fresh aroma.

5. If your smelly washer problem persists, call the manufacturer’s hotline or service department. I wouldn’t go though the store where you purchased the washing machine. I really don’t think salesmen know how to remedy the problem anymore than you do. If you feel apprehensive about using any product, always call the manufacturer of the product first.

Till Later

Kathy Griffiths
Insightful Nana

P.S. On the Q.T. In my research, the Whirlpool, the Bosh, and the LG… in that order… had the most consumer complaints in the smelly washer area. Kenmore had the least.

P.S.S. If you have any suggestions or homemade remedies that work for smelly washing machines and towels… give us a comment. We welcome all of your ideas.