Eliminating Washing Machine Mildew Smell: Effective Tips to Banish Odors

by Jennifer Sergent
how to get rid of washing machine mildew smell

How to get rid of washing machine mildew smell?

Washing machines are essential appliances in our homes, but a common issue many of us face is the unpleasant mildew smell that can develop over time. This musty odor not only affects the cleanliness of your laundry but also creates an unwelcoming environment in your home. 

A mildew smell in your washing machine can be both unpleasant and frustrating. This common issue not only affects the cleanliness of your laundry but can also signal the presence of mold and bacteria within the machine. Fortunately, there are effective strategies to tackle and eliminate these odors, ensuring your laundry remains fresh, and your washing machine functions optimally.

Understanding the Causes of Washing Machine Mildew Smell

Excess moisture in a washing machine can lead to mildew growth, causing unpleasant odors.

Leaving wet laundry sitting in the washer for an extended period can also contribute to mildew smell.

Too much detergent or fabric softener can leave a residue that traps moisture and fosters mildew growth.

Mildew smell in washing machines often results from neglecting proper cleaning and maintenance routines. 

By understanding the causes behind this issue, you can take proactive steps to prevent it from recurring. 

Regularly cleaning your washing machine and allowing it to dry completely after each use are crucial steps in eliminating mildew smells.

Importance of Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Prevent Mildew Build-Up: Regular cleaning and maintenance are crucial for preventing mildew build-up in your washing machine. Mold and bacteria can thrive in damp, dark environments, leading to that unpleasant mildew smell in your laundry.

Extend the Lifespan of Your Machine: Regular cleaning and maintenance can extend your washing machine’s lifespan. Neglecting regular upkeep can lead to mechanical issues and breakdowns, costing you time and money in repairs or replacements.

Ensure Clean and Fresh-Smelling Laundry: Clean machines produce clean clothes. Properly cleaning and maintaining your washing machine ensures that your laundry comes out smelling fresh every time. Don’t let a musty odor ruin the cleanliness of your clothes, stay on top of regular cleaning to banish odors for good.

Tips for Cleaning the Drum and Gasket

Regular Maintenance is Key: To prevent mildew smell, cleaning the drum   and gasket of your washing machine regularly is essential.

Use Vinegar or Bleach: A simple solution of vinegar, water, or bleach can effectively eliminate mold and mildew buildup.

Scrub Thoroughly: Make sure to scrub all areas of the drum and gasket, paying special attention to any crevices where mold may hide.

how to get rid of washing machine mildew smell

Using Natural Remedies to Eliminate Odors

Vinegar: Distilled white vinegar is a versatile natural remedy that can effectively combat the washing machine’s mildew smell. Simply pour two cups of vinegar into the detergent dispenser and run a hot water cycle without any laundry. The acidity of vinegar helps break down mold and bacteria, leaving your machine smelling fresh.

Baking Soda: Baking soda is another powerful natural odor eliminator. Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda directly into the drum of your washer and run a hot water cycle. Baking soda neutralizes odors rather than just masking them, making it an effective solution for banishing mildew smells from your machine.

Lemon Juice: Lemon juice adds a refreshing scent to your laundry and acts as a natural disinfectant. Squeeze the juice of one lemon into the detergent dispenser or drum before running a hot water cycle. The antibacterial properties of lemon juice will help kill mold spores and eliminate lingering odors in your washing machine.

Cleaning the Detergent Dispenser and Filters

Empty the detergent dispenser and remove any leftover residue. Then, use a mixture of hot water and vinegar to clean it thoroughly.

Remove any filters in your washing machine, such as lint traps or drain filters, and rinse them with soap and water. Make sure to scrub away any built-up grime.

Once cleaned, allow the detergent dispenser and filters to air dry completely before returning them to the washing machine.

Regularly cleaning these parts of your washing machine can prevent mold and mildew from building up, ultimately banishing that unpleasant odor for good.

Preventing Mildew Smell in Front-Loading Machines

Keep the Door Open: After each wash, leave the door of your front-loading machine ajar to allow air circulation and prevent moisture buildup.

Use Less Detergent: Excess detergent can lead to soap residue that fosters mildew growth. Follow manufacturer guidelines for the correct amount to use.

Clean Gaskets Regularly: To stop mildew from forming in gaskets, wipe them down with water and vinegar and dry them thoroughly.

Implementing these simple steps into your laundry routine can effectively combat the mildew smell in your front-loading washing machine.

how to get rid of washing machine mildew smell

Cleaning the Gasket and Drum

To maintain your washing machine, wash the soap dispensers with warm, soapy water to remove any residue or buildup. This ensures that detergent and fabric softener are dispensed properly during each cycle. Next, run an empty wash cycle with water to thoroughly clean the drum. 

Add distilled white vinegar to a wash cycle for a deeper clean and to eliminate any strong odors. The vinegar helps break down any lingering mold or mildew. If you still notice unpleasant smells or performance issues after these steps, contact the manufacturer or a repair company for professional assistance.

Preventing Moldy Odors

Always use a high-quality liquid detergent specifically designed for your appliance to prevent moldy odors in your washing machine. This helps reduce soap scum buildup that can harbor mold. Instead of liquid fabric softener, opt for dryer sheets that don’t leave residue. 

After each load, leave the washing machine door open to allow the interior to dry out, preventing the growth of mold and mildew. Additionally, remove wet clothes immediately after the cycle ends to avoid musty smells from developing. These simple steps will help keep your washing machine fresh and odor-free.

Tips for Keeping Your Washing Machine Smelling Fresh

Clean the Gasket: Wipe down the rubber gasket with water and vinegar to remove mold and mildew buildup.

Leave the Door Open: After each wash cycle, leave the door ajar to allow airflow and prevent mold growth.

Use High-Efficiency Detergent: Opt for high-efficiency detergent to prevent soap scum buildup that can lead to odors. Regular maintenance is key in keeping your washing machine smelling fresh. 


Dealing with a mildew smell in your washing machine can be frustrating, but you can effectively banish these odors with the right tips and strategies. Regularly cleaning your machine, using natural odor-fighting solutions, and allowing proper ventilation can prevent mildew from taking hold and causing unpleasant smells. 

Additionally, implementing good laundry habits, such as using the correct amount of detergent and leaving the door open after each use, can help maintain a fresh-smelling washer. Remember that consistent maintenance is key to keeping your washing machine odor-free. Take action today to eliminate the washing machine’s mildew smell for good, and enjoy clean, fresh-smelling laundry every time.


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