What Are the Causes of a Moldy Smell in Washing Machines?

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What Are the Causes of a Moldy Smell in Washing Machines?
Routinely clean and dry the washing machine. (Martin Poole/Lifesize/Getty Images)

Whether you have a top-load or front-load washing machine, it may eventually produce a mouldy odour. The foul smell can transfer to freshly-washed clothing and make the laundry room have a stale, unclean odour. Routine cleaning and maintenance of the washing machine drum reduces the chances for a mouldy odour.

Mouldy Odor Causes

When the washing machine doesn't fully drain or is left damp between washing cycles, the residual water in the drum takes on a musty odour. Moisture that gets trapped in the rubber gaskets and seals of the washing machine may stay trapped for a week or more. This stagnant water grows bacteria, eventually letting off a mouldy odour. Wet clothing left in the washing machine for several days can also cause a musty odour.

Eliminating Odor

Routine cleaning and drying of the washing machine will reduce mouldy odours. After each wash cycle, wipe down the interior of the drum with a dry towel. If you have a front-load washing machine, dry the rubber seal around the front of the washing machine. Water gets trapped between the layers of rubber and causes a musty odour.

Once a week, perform a hot wash cycle. Don't add clothing or detergent. Add one full load measurement of bleach to the wash cycle. As soon as the cycle completes, dry the washing machine drum and all rubber components with a dry towel.

Preventing Future Odors

After you've cleaned and dried the washing machine and have finished with laundry for the day, leave the washing machine door open to allow the appliance to further air dry without trapping tiny drops of water in the washing machine.

Washing Machine Safety

Leaving the door to a washing machine open can harm pets and small children. Place a lock on the laundry room door to prevent children from playing in the room. If unattended, children may get trapped when the washing machine door unexpectedly closes or another child pushes buttons on the appliance. Pets may accidentally fall into the washing machine and become trapped.

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