My washing machine basin smells sour

Your washer is a must-have to get your clothes clean without the hassle of hand-washing. Sometimes, however, problems arise with the appliance, like a sour smell in the basin. This musty smell can transfer to your laundry and make it smell sour as well. It's important to realise the causes and solutions for odour in your washer basin so your laundry continues to come out smelling fresh and clean.

The Facts

Washing machines see a lot of use over time. It's estimated that the average household in America washes around 400 loads of laundry per year. In essence, your washer is exposed to dirt and other grime 400 times per year. In addition, each load uses approximately 43 gallons of water. The average washing machine will last between seven and 12 years.


A variety of factors can make your washing machine tub smell sour. Excessive use of detergent can cause the washer to smell, as can bacteria growth that builds up around the door or lid, especially in high-efficiency washers. Improper air circulation throughout the appliance can also contribute to a foul odour in the basin. Mildew growth inside the washing machine or around the rubber gasket on front-loading washers can lead to a musty, sour smell.


To get rid of a sour smell in your washer basin, the appliance must be thoroughly cleaned. For top-loading washers, running a hot water cycle with 3/4 cup of baking soda will eliminate the sour smell, as baking soda is a natural deodoriser. If you have a front-loading washer, fill the detergent dispenser with 1/2 cup of white vinegar and run a hot water cycle to get rid of the smell. Follow the hot water cycle, whether in a top-loader or front-loader, with a complete cycle with just hot water to get rid of any loosened grime in the machine. Wipe out the tub with a rag dampened with white vinegar to further remove any odour. If you have a front-loader, clean the seal around the door with the rag and vinegar as well.


Easy preventive measures can be taken to prevent a sour smell in your washer in the future. Leave the lid or door of the washer open when not in use to allow air to flow throughout the machine. Don't use more than the recommended amount of detergent to help reduce build-up. Remove laundry from the machine within two hours of the cycle completing to keep the laundry from smelling musty, which then transfers to the washer. If you have a top-loading washer, wipe out the rubber gasket after each use to eliminate standing water, which will turn stagnant and fill with bacteria and begin to smell.

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About the Author

Kimbry Parker has been writing since 1998 and has published content on various websites. Parker has experience writing on a variety of topics such as health, parenting, home improvement and decorating. She is a graduate of Purdue University with a Bachelor of Arts in organizational communication.