How to Clean Stinky Washing Machines

Written by ashley kurz
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How to Clean Stinky Washing Machines
Clean your stinky washing machine with vinegar. (Martin Poole/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Over time and with repeated use, your washing machine can take on its own odour, which is often unpleasant. Dirty clothing, cloth diapers, wash rags and throw rugs contribute to the stinky odour. Leaving clothes in the washer for too long after the cycle finishes also adds a mildewy smell to the mix. While the stinky odour of your washing machine does not directly affect its ability to clean clothes, it is unpleasant. Clean your washing machine to remove the stinky odour.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • Bucket
  • 1/4 cup washing powder
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Clean cloths
  • Cotton swabs

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  1. 1

    Turn the water temperature of your stinky washing machine to hot and start a delicate cycle.

  2. 2

    Pour 2 cups white distilled vinegar into to the washing machine and close the lid. Allow the cycle to run completely through. Vinegar removes odour-causing build-up, as well as soap residue and leftover dirt or grime that did not wash away during previous rinse cycles.

  3. 3

    Remove the receptacles for the fabric softener and bleach. Depending on your model of washing machine, they should snap in and out. Refer to the owner's manual for removal instructions if they do not.

  4. 4

    Place the fabric-softener receptacle into a bucket of hot water and add 1/4 cup of your usual washing powder. This soaks away any trapped dirt and mildew particles, as well as any fabric-softener residue. Leave it to soak for about 20 minutes, then rinse it with cold water before putting it back in the washing machine.

  5. 5

    Spray the bleach receptacle with all-purpose cleaner and wipe it down with a clean cloth. Use a cotton swab to clean the corners and hard-to-reach areas. Rinse it with cool water before putting it back in the washing machine.

  6. 6

    Wipe the inside of your washing machine with a clean cloth soaked in all-purpose cleaner. Wipe the entire interior, including the drum and the area above the drum between the rim and the outside of the washer.

  7. 7

    Run one more short, hot cycle. Add the cloths used for cleaning the stinky washing machine if you like, but nothing else.

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