There is nothing worse than opening up your machine, taking out your clean clothes, and noticing they STINK. Maybe your washing machine itself has a nasty smell. Laundry odor is very frustrating, but it happens to everyone! So, let’s look at why your laundry smells bad and what you can do about it.
Causes of Laundry Odor
Before you figure out how to get rid of the stink, you need to know what causes it in the first place. Here are a few common causes of laundry odor:
Your washing machine has everything bacteria loves: heat and a damp environment. Add in any leftover detergent or softener, and you have a breeding ground for bacteria. These bacteria can leave your laundry with a lingering smell.
Mold and Mildew
If you leave damp laundry sitting in your machine for too long, mold and mildew will start to grow. This can also happen if you don’t properly dry out your machine after every use (more on that later). These fungi have a musty smell that can cling to your clothes for days.
Over time, detergent, fabric softeners, and dirt can build up in your washing machine’s drum, hoses, and/or filters. This buildup can turn into a bad smell that gets into your freshly washed clothes.
How to Prevent the Stink
Now that we’ve figured out the culprits behind stinky laundry, let’s see how to get rid of the smell and keep your laundry smelling fresh:
Dry Out Your Washer
After every wash cycle, leave the door and any detergent drawers open so they can dry completely. Yes, every single time. Letting the leftover water evaporate out of your machine will prevent mold and mildew.
Clean the Machine
Before you do anything, check out your machine’s manual for specific cleaning instructions. Wipe down the inside of the detergent drawer and around the rubber seal (for front-loading machines). You should also wipe down the inside of the door to remove any built-up residue. You can do this using a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and water on a soft rag. Based on your machine manual’s instructions, clean out your filter.
Once that’s done, run a cleaning cycle with an empty machine to clear out the tubes and drum. If your machine doesn’t have a setting for this, just pick the longest and hottest one you have. Add some white vinegar to the drum (where the clothes go) and to the detergent/softener compartments to combat any bacterial growth. You can also add any washing machine cleaner you want, but it’s not strictly necessary.
Remove Wet Laundry Quickly
Don’t let wet/damp laundry sit in your machine for too long. Doing this traps the moisture and heat inside the machine, which we know now will cause bacteria, mold, and mildew to grow. Set an alarm on your phone so you don’t forget when your clothes are done if you can’t hear your machine.
Measure Your Detergent
Using too much detergent can leave a soapy residue on your clothes and the inside of your machine. This is especially true if you have an HE (high efficiency) washing machine, as they use a lot less water. You don’t need as much detergent as you might think, so carefully measure every time to avoid overuse.
Skip the Softener
While fabric softener makes your clothes smell good, the buildup it leaves in your machine certainly doesn’t. Only use softener occasionally to help prevent this from ruining your machine and your clothes.
A smelly washing machine and bad-smelling clothes are frustrating. To keep your clean clothes smelling fresh, follow these easy tips to kick that odor out for good. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to issues like this. Taking a few simple extra steps to keep your machine in tip-top condition will make sure your clothes always come out smelling good. So, clean that machine and say goodbye to laundry odors!