How to remove odor from a washing machine

Updated February 21, 2017

There are some disgusting things that go into a washing machine. Dirty socks, filthy underwear and soiled baby clothes can all find their way into the washing machine. Over time, you may begin to notice an odor reeking from the machine caused from a build up of residue. This is a signal that it is time to treat your washing machine in order to keep your family's clothes fresh.

Decide on the source of the smell. Typically the cause is the machine itself, but occasionally the water being used in the washer can be the source of the problem. If the smell resembles rotten eggs, you may need a water filtration system installed. After you eliminate any other possibilities, you can begin the treatment process.

Create a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to 2 cups of white distilled vinegar.

Begin a wash cycle using the machine's hottest setting. As the water rises, add the baking soda and vinegar mixture.

Let the washing machine complete a full cycle. If you notice any residue that has been loosened, use a cloth to wipe the surface clean.

Run a cold water cycle to complete the process. You should immediately notice that the smell has been neutralized.


Washing your clothes on a cold water cycle can help reduce the amount of residue that builds up inside of your washing machine. If you do not have vinegar available, lemon juice may be substituted.


Avoid using too much liquid or powder detergent in your washing machine. This can cause the washing machine to smell over time. Empty the washer as soon as a cycle is done to avoid smelly odors. Leaving damp clothes in the machine can cause a build up of bacteria.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
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