🕑 9 minutes read

We all love the fresh, clean scent of our laundry after a good wash, but what happens when your washing machine becomes the source of an unpleasant odour? This is a common yet pesky problem faced by many homeowners and landlords. It can be a head-scratcher — after all, isn't the washing machine supposed to leave clothes smelling good?

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the variety of reasons your washing machine might be wafting unsavoury aromas through your laundry room.

Let's find out how to troubleshoot, fix, and prevent these odours from becoming a recurring nuisance.

Understanding the Origins of the Washing Machine Smell

The unpleasant smell from your washing machine can stem from various sources. As a homeowner, understanding the root cause is crucial to finding the right solution.

When figuring out how to tackle a smelly washer, the type of washer you have matters—top-load or front-load. Front-loaders excel in cleaning and efficiency, but they're prone to odours and mildew if not cleaned properly.

The front-load design contributes to washer odours, soap scum, and mould.

These washers use less water, tumbling clothes efficiently. The detergents are a must with this design. Regular detergents leave residue, creating a breeding ground for mould.

The rubber gasket in front-loaders can also trap dirt and odours. Keeping these areas clean is vital to prevent unpleasant smells.

Why Does My Washing Machine Stink?


To bid farewell to smelly washing machines once and for all, it's crucial to grasp what causes the unpleasant odour in the first place.

Detergent Buildup Residue-accumulation-in-a-washing-machines-detergent-tray

Have you noticed a strange, unpleasant odour coming from your washing machine lately? It may not be a coincidence that your chosen detergent boasts a refreshing fragrance. Ironically, the same fragrant detergents that freshen your clothing may contribute to the unpleasant scent emanating from your washer. Residue from detergent and dirt can build up in the drum or filter, helping to foam a moist environment where bacteria thrive.

Say goodbye to the stinky situation by regularly cleaning your machine and choosing a fragrance-free detergent designed specifically to prevent odours.

Trapped Water

This is a common problem and one that can make laundry day a dreaded event. The culprit? Trapped water. Front loaders are especially prone to this issue, as water can become trapped in the drum and mix with all the dirt, grime, and detergent residue hanging around in there.

But here's the thing -

keeping your washing machine door closed can actually make things worse. It traps humidity and moisture, giving bacteria the perfect environment to thrive and stink up your appliance.

So, if you're feeling trapped by smelly laundry, try leaving the washing machine door open between washes to let it air out and keep that pesky water from getting a foothold.

Dirty Filter An-appliance-repair-engineer-is-checking-the-washing-machine-filter

Uncleaned filters are a common cause of smelly or inefficient washing machines. It's happened to all of us - you go to throw your laundry in the washing machine, only to be hit by a pungent odour. And even worse, your clothes just don't seem to be coming out as clean as they used to. You might be inclined to blame an old machine, but the truth is, the problem could be as simple as a dirty filter.

Over time, the filters in your washing machine collect all sorts of dirt and residue from your clothes, and if left uncleaned for too long, it can be the primary cause of that unpleasant smell emanating from your machine. Taking the time to clean the filter can make all the difference, leaving you with fresh-smelling clothes that come out sparkling clean.

Drainage Issues

Sewage-like smells may indicate drainage problems.

Drainage hoses, filters, and tubes can become clogged with grime, reducing efficiency and causing odours.

Over time, these components can accumulate all sorts of gunk and debris that can not only affect the washing machine's efficiency but can also leave behind a foul smell.

If you've been wondering why your washer smells like sewage, then it's time to check these vital components and thoroughly clean them. Doing so can help restore your washing machine's performance and eliminate any distasteful odours lingering behind it.

Moisture Buildup

Insufficient ventilation can result in moisture buildup inside the drum, encouraging the growth of mould and mildew and causing a musty smell.

While these spores are not usually harmful, they can cause an unpleasant, musty odour that can make it difficult to enjoy your freshly laundered clothes. So, if you're thinking to yourself, "My washer smells," it's time to take action and ensure proper ventilation in your laundry room to avoid this unsavoury situation.

Residue Accumulation

Detergent, fabric softener, and dirt buildup in the drum and pipes can create a breeding ground for bacteria, resulting in unpleasant odours.


Loading the washing machine with too many clothes can overwhelm the machine and lead to inefficiency. Many people experience unpleasant smells from their washing machines. Sometimes, the culprit could be overloading. While it may be tempting to cram as many clothes as possible into one load, it can result in poor washing results and potentially damage your machine.

Stick to the recommended load size to ensure your clothes are properly cleaned, and your machine stays fresh and clean.

Don't let an overloaded machine ruin your laundry day./p>

For expert washing machine repairs in London, schedule a serviceteam engineer to ensure your peace of mind.

Smell From the Washing Machine Drum

A musky or mildew-like smell from the drum is often a sign of moisture retention and a significant presence of bacteria, mould, and mildew. This problem is commonly caused by:

  • Overuse of Detergent: Excessive detergent can create a film on the drum and trap odour-causing bacteria.
  • Using Fabric Softeners: While they make our clothes soft and smell nice, these products can create a gunky residue in the machine, leading to odour.
  • Low-Temperature Washes: Washing at cooler temperatures doesn't completely kill bacteria, which can thrive in the warm, damp conditions of a washing machine.

Looking For a Professional Washing Machine Repair Service in London?


Smell From the Washing Machine Drain Pipe

If the smell is more on the sewage side, the drain pipe might be the culprit. This is usually due to a dry p-trap that allows sewer gas to flow into your laundry area.

Smell From the Washing Machine Waste Pipe

The waste pipe is where the water drains out of your washing machine and into the main sewage line. If this pipe is clogged or damaged, it can cause a variety of smells to enter your home.

How To Stop Smell From Washing Machine?

Getting out of the washing machine stinks is essential to keep your clothes fresh and your appliance running smoothly.

Here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Clean the drum
    Set your washing machine to the hottest temperature and the longest cycle to remove any residue and kill bacteria.
  • Clean the detergent dispenser
    Remove the dispenser drawer from the washing machine and wash it using warm, soapy water to wash it to avoid bacterial growth.
  • Check the filter
    Clean your washing machine's filter to remove lint, hair, and debris that can cause odours.
  • Use a suitable detergent
    To avoid residue buildup, use a high-quality detergent and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Don't overload
    Stick to the recommended load size to ensure proper washing and prevent odours.
  • Leave the door open
    After each wash, leave the washing machine door open. It allows air circulation and prevents moisture buildup.
  • Use a washing machine cleaner
    If the smell persists, use a washing machine cleaner according to the instructions to eliminate odours effectively.

By following these steps, you can keep your washing machine smelling fresh and clean, ensuring your clothes come out smelling great every time.

Once you've identified the source of the stench, it's time to clean your machine. Not only will this remove the odour, but it will also prevent it from returning.

Cleaning the Drum


To tackle smelly drums, you'll need to clean your machine thoroughly.
Here's how:

  • Run a Hot Cycle With Vinegar
    Add two cups of white vinegar to the detergent compartment and run a hot wash without any laundry.
  • Clean the Seals and Dispensers
    Wipe down the rubber seals and the detergent drawer with a solution of equal parts vinegar and water.
  • Leave the door Open
    After each wash, leave the door ajar to allow the drum to dry out, preventing future odours from developing.

Cleaning the Drain and Waste Pipes

Smells from these pipes can be a bit trickier to address and may require plumbing expertise if the issue is complex.

However, there are a few basic steps you can take:

  • Inspect the P-Trap: This curvy section of pipe just beneath the washing machine should always contain some water. If it doesn't, pour water down the drain to refill it.
  • Use Drain Cleaners: These Chemical cleaners may be effective for mild clogs. However, use caution and follow all safety instructions.
  • Professional Maintenance: If the problem persists, it's best to call a professional plumber who can inspect and clean the pipes thoroughly.

How to Prevent Washing Machine Smells Coming Back?


Cleaning is only part of the equation. Regular maintenance and good laundry hygiene are essential to keeping your washing machine smelling fresh.

  • Maintain a Regular Cleaning Schedule
    Make washing machine cleaning a routine as often as once per month, especially if you frequently wash at lower temperatures.
  • Use the Right Amount of Detergent
    Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines for the correct detergent amounts. Using too little may not clean properly, and too much can lead to odours.
  • Opt for High-Temperature Washes Occasionally
    To keep things sanitary and odour-free, add white vinegar or a specialised machine cleaner and run a hot wash cycle.
  • Maintain a Proper Ventilation
    Ensure your laundry room is well-ventilated to allow moisture to escape. By taking this simple step, the likelihood of mould growth can be reduced.

Beyond DIY: When to Call a Professional


There are instances when the smell in your washing machine is a symptom of a more complex issue, and DIY solutions may not be enough.

  • Persistent Smells: If you've tried multiple cleaning methods with no success, there could be a deeper problem requiring professional attention.
  • Sewage Smell: A rotten egg or sewage smell strongly indicates a more serious issue, often related to plumbing or ventilation.
  • Visible Leaks: If you notice any water leaking out of the machine or pooling around it, stop using the machine and call a professional immediately.

Don't hesitate to contact a serviceteam professional engineer if you suspect a more serious problem underneath.

Remember that promptly addressing odours keeps your home smelling fresh and maintains your machine's performance and longevity.

However, a smelly washing machine shouldn't be the reason your laundry day is less than pleasant. By identifying the source of the odour, adopting proper cleaning practices, and seeking professional assistance when needed, you can enjoy the aroma of clean clothes once more.