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Why does my washing machine smell?

Posted on 7/21/2020

When your laundry smells worse coming out of the washing machine than it did going in, it’s time to do something.

In this article we’re going to look at why it might be happening and what you can do to fix it.

Why does my washing machine smell?

Cool washes

While cooler wash cycles use less energy and are therefore better for the environment, they’re not as good at killing bacteria as hotter washes. The lower temperatures make it easier for mould to build up which can begin to smell.

Too much detergent

If you use too much detergent, some could be left behind after each wash. Left over detergent can be an excellent agent for bacteria, over time this can build up and start to smell.

Smelly clothes post wash could actually be due to using too much detergent, not too little

When your clothes smell, it may cause you to consider using more detergent, but this could easily exacerbate the problem.

Dirty water

It’s an obvious one, but if you’re cleaning clothes with dirty water that’s going to be a problem. Dirty water is often caused by the drain hose not being installed in an upwards loop down into the spigot trap under the sink. If one of the spigots drops downwards, wastewater from the kitchen sink could be getting into the machine.

Dirty water from this cause is likely to require a plumber to properly fix.

What’s the best way to clean my washing machine?

Here are five simple steps to stop a washing machine smelling:

  1. Clean the drawers

    After every wash, wipe the drawers with a damp cloth to stop detergent building up. Every couple of months, take the drawers out, clean them in hot, soapy water and leave them to dry in the sun before putting them back in the machine.

  2. Run a hot cycle

    Once a month, run a hot cycle (60°C or higher) without any laundry or detergent in the machine. Every three to six months use a proper washing machine cleaner. There are many brands of cleaner available and should be available at most hardware stores and even some supermarkets.

  3. Every three to six months use a washing machine cleaner to keep your machine running clean

  4. Check the filters

    Your washing machine should have a built-in drain hose to clean the filter. Lower the end into a large bowl to collect the water, go slow and make sure there are towels around to absorb any excess water.

  5. Disinfect the drum seal

    Wipe the drum seal with diluted bleach to stop mould and bacteria building up. Really get deep into that groove!

  6. Leave the door and drawers open

    When you aren’t using the machine, leave the door slightly ajar and the drawers open. This allows air to circulate and prevents bacteria growing.

Still a bit funky?

If you’re still having problems then it could be time for a plumber – particularly if you think the issue is with the water supply - or an appliance engineer if you think there's an issue with the machine itself.

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