My Washing Machine Drain Smells Like Mildew

Written by kay wagers
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Your laundry area should smell of fresh, clean clothes, not the earthy reek of mildew. If you've traced the bad odour back to your washing machine drain, it only takes a little bit of effort and a small part of your day to get rid of the odour. Proper maintenance will prevent it from coming back.

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Odour

You are most likely to notice an odour of mildew from a drain for a washing machine that is not hooked up to any appliance. If you smell mildew even if your washer is connected, then the thick, musty odour is very strong. The smell fades when you run a load of laundry, but returns in a day or two. The odour won't get into your laundry, but if you are sensitive to mould or mildew, being around it could make your eyes water and your nose run.

Cause

The cause of the mildew smell in your washing machine drain is mould or mildew growing just inside the drainpipe. Laundry rooms and closets tend to be humid, thanks to both the washer using water and the dryer pulling moisture from wet laundry. If dirty and other organic material have built up inside the pipe, the mildew has both a place to grow and a food source to sustain it. Mildew can also grow in drainpipes that are unused, attracted to the water inside the drain's trap.

Solutions

Get rid of the mildew in your washing machine drain to get rid of the smell. Pour ½ cup of baking powder into the pipe. Wait 15 minutes, then follow it with 1 cup white vinegar. Both baking powder and vinegar act as deodorisers to get rid of the smell Vinegar contains acetic acid, which is strong enough to kill mildew but won't hurt the pipe. Wait another hour, then pour a few cups of just barely boiling water into the drain to wash away any lingering dead mildew and organic build-up.

Considerations

Take steps to prevent mildew from returning to your washing machine drain. If you are using your laundry room often, install an exhaust fan and run it whenever the washer or dryer are in use. It will pull excess moisture from the air, making the room less inviting to mildew. Pour 1 cup vinegar down the drain every month. It will kill any mildew starting to grow and deodorise the drain all over again. To be sure all build-up is washed away, follow up by pouring more hot water into the drain an hour later.

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