Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Like Mildew: 3 Factors

You are probably asking yourself “why does my washing machine smell like mildew?” Well, that is one of the common questions asked by most homeowners and laundry shop owners.

The technological advantage of washing machines has been enjoyed by everyone for a matter of time. Indeed, it is a huge time saver and can let you carry out another task while the machine cycles.

why does my washing machine smell like mildew

As a homeowner, you should not just consider the functional condition of your washing machine, but the odor it creates as well. In the same case of a smelly washing machine, grab the opportunity to read “why does my dryer smell like mildew” so you can have a fun time drying.

A smelly washing machine could be caused by soap scum, bacteria build-up, and the center of this discussion, mold and mildews. You must know these factors so that you would not be clueless about why your washing machine stinks.


Factors To Consider Why Washing Machine Smell Like Mildew

It has been mentioned above that soap scum, bacteria build-up, and mold or mildew are the common factors why washing machines produce mildew-like odors. At this point, we will be talking about those factors comprehensively to be able to learn deeply.


1. Soap scum or detergent residue

The common issue that happens most of the time is soap scum or detergent residue which lingers at the bottom of the washing machine. Regardless of what kind of washer you have, it would eventually accumulate soap scum or detergent residue after a series of laundry.

If ever you notice soap or detergent spots on your clothes after your laundry, that is a sign of soap scum build-up in your washing machine. That simple problem sometimes results in unpleasant situations like causing a bad smell on your clothes or from the machine itself.

A probable sign of soap scum accumulation is the slow draining and by letting it build up for a matter of time would result in a mildew-like smell. Therefore, rinsing it thoroughly after each wash would prevent soap or detergent residues from accumulating.


2. Bacteria build-up

Your washing machine was supposed to be clean all the time and undertakes a regular cleaning schedule so that bacteria would not host it. About that, bacteria feast on soap scum and thrive there until you notice a mildew-like smell coming in your washer.

The common problem with bacteria build-up comes from dirty clothes, blankets, sheets, pillowcases, bath and hand towels, and especially rugs. All of those are filled with dirt, sweat, hair, and even germs and bacteria which are too small to see.

In the process of washing such a kind of clothing, you have to make sure that there is no trace of dirt in your washer to prevent bacterial infestation. Usually, you could see a brownish trace at the drain and it simply indicates that the machine wasn’t perfectly clean.

With that, getting rid of it before the problem gets worse is the best that you can do. Also, make sure that you keep your washer dry because bacteria love the presence of moisture.


3. Mold and mildew

It is general information that mold and mildew can grow in different areas in your home where there is high humidity and exposure to moisture. However, these nasty mold and mildew could be hard to trace.

In a specific example, they can grow and multiply inside your washing machine since you are dealing with water. If you’re interested, have time reading “how long does it take for water to mold.”

A mildew smell in your washing machine could be compared to an old book, dank cabinets, or basement. If your washer stinks like those, try searching around the rubber gasket in your front loader machine or at the drain for the top loader.


DIY Mildew Smell Removal

To clean and sanitize your washing machine, you don’t need to call the best home care services to do the job. Thus, this article will provide you with the best and tested do-it-yourself steps in removing mildew smell.


Step #1. Bleaching

Bleach is a homeowners’ friend indeed due to its significant contribution in making our house, things, and other valuables clean and sanitized. However, you should become extra careful when using it because it’s still a chemical.

When cleaning your washing machine, the best bleach to use is chlorine bleach for the reason that it can kill mold and mildew which causes an irritating smell. After that, pour lukewarm water into your washer and run a series of cycles to clean off the bleach.


Step #2. Vinegar and baking soda mixture

The combination of vinegar and baking soda makes an effective cleaner, sanitizer, and deodorizer for various things and appliances like washing machines. The chemical reaction it creates helps to remove dirt, stains, and kills mold and mildew.

For better results, use white or distilled vinegar for a clean and fresh washer.



We hope that this article provides the answer to your question, “why does my washing machine smell like mildew.” Notably, we have elaborated the factors behind a smelly washer and therefore learned easy methods to achieve a clean, fresh, and happy washing.

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