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My tumble dryer smells

Updated November 21, 2016

Pulling fresh smelling laundry out of the clothes dryer is one of life's small pleasures. If your dryer smells bad, your clothes might take on the same odour, ruining that pleasure. You can troubleshoot why your dryer has an odour in a few simple steps.

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If your tumble dryer smells musty or earthy, then mould or mildew are to blame. They can grow on the inside or outside of your clothes dryer, according to Jennifer Viegas in her 2004 book "Fungi and Moulds." If the dryer smells of smoke, then a clogged lint trap is the problem. The lint overheats when you run the dryer, which results in a smoky odour.


You can get rid of mould inside and outside of your dryer by washing it away. Wear rubber gloves and use a mixture of 118 ml (1/2 cup) bleach in 3.8 litres (1 gallon) of water. To get rid of a smoke odour, remove any built-up lint inside the trap. You can also run a lint-collecting wand inside the door of the dryer to remove any lint inside of it. Washing down the inside of the dryer with the bleach mixture should take care of the odour.


You can stop mould from growing on your tumble dryer by installing an exhaust fan in your laundry area and running it when your dryer is in use. Avoid putting damp clothes that have been sitting for a while in your dryer, because they could carry mildew spores. Prevent a smoke odour from returning by cleaning out the lint trap after every load you run in the dryer, according to "Green Up Your Cleanup."

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