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A washer smell should be refreshing, clean, and nothing like what yours is smelling like right now! Whether it has the faint aroma of rotten eggs or the nose-grinding scent of sewer, here are the five most likely causes of your washer smell AND ways to fix it!

Build-Up in the Dispensers

You wouldn’t think about it, but the dispensers for your bleach and detergent can sometimes get water splashed into them. This can lead to undisturbed puddles of water (also called “standing water”), which eventually leads to mildew and your washer smell.

Thankfully, the fix is very easy and results are instant if the washer smell is from the build-up in the dispensers.

Solution: Scrub out the dispensers.

Remove the soap, bleach, softener, and any other dispensers your washer may have and scrub away! To get inside every crack and crevice, use a pipe cleaner or an old toothbrush. Do not scrub with vinegar or any cleaner, especially for the bleach dispenser!

With front-load washers, take a moist towel to the rubber seal and pipe cleaner around the gasket to pick up any excess dirty water.

Washer Smell from Mold, Mildew, or Bacteria

washer smells

Whether it’s mold, mildew, or bacteria, all three love to be in a dark, humid environment. And wouldn’t you know it, your washer checks both of those boxes!

The most likely cause for your washer smell is one of these three culprits, but thankfully you can wipe out all three possibilities with a quick bleach-washing method.

Solution: Run a full bleach wash and destroy the mold, mildew, or bacteria!

  1. Set your washer to the hottest temperature it can go. You want something above 140°F (or 60°C) to ensure none of the spores survive.
  2. Add bleach to the cycle. If you have a top-loading machine, add 4 cups; if you have a front-loading machine, add 2 cups.
  3. Let the cycle run as normal, until the agitator mixes with the bleach. The agitator is the part that actually does the spinning. If your washing machine doesn’t have one of these, let the cycle run until you see your washer fill up with about 1/4 of the water.
  4. Stop the wash cycle and let it sit for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Resume the cycle, then run it one more time to remove the excess bleach.

This should help remove that nasty washer smell!

TIP: You can leave your washer open between uses so water can evaporate and not stay inside the washer.

Hard Water

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, hard water is determined by how much dissolved calcium and magnesium are in the water. Those minerals can get soaked into your clothes and cause a mild soiling smell. And if that’s what it’s doing to your clothes after a quick wash, imagine what it’s doing to your washer for every load!

If you live in an area with hard water, it could be the cause of your washer smell. To help combat this, try these steps to flush out the excess mineral buildup:

  1. Set your washer to its highest setting. There’s not a specific temperature for this one, but hotter is always better!
  2. Add white vinegar (no balsamic or apple cider). You’ll want 4 cups for top-load and 2 cups for front-load. Do not add any laundry detergent!
  3. Let your tub fill with water and run the cycle for a bit. You want enough time for the vinegar to fully mix with the water.
  4. Stop the wash cycle, and let it sit for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, let the wash cycle finish.

Unless you’re going to immediately do a bleach cycle next, you don’t have to run another cycle to get the excess vinegar water out.

Clogged Drainpipe

drain pipe

Remember how we said bacteria, mold, and mildew love dark, humid environments? The same goes for your washer’s drainpipe. If anything, even as small as some leftover fibers, gets stuck in there, it can cause a serious washer smell.

The easiest solution to a clogged drainpipe is to get in there with a plumber’s snake to remove whatever is blocking it from draining completely. Thankfully, if this was the cause for your washer smell, you should have instant results!

Plumbing Issue

This is the big one. If you can smell your washer from another room or it has that distinct scent of sewer, then you might have sewer gas being pumped into your laundry room. It’s not only gross but dangerous! The sewer gas contains methane, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide which are all highly flammable AND damaging to you.

If you’re smelling sewer gas, you’ll most likely get the following symptoms:

  • eye irritation
  • nausea
  • find it hard to breathe

Solution: Open a window and call an expert fast! This one goes beyond what a DIYer can handle and needs to be seen by a technician.

Call in the Experts

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When you do need to call in the experts or want that professional second opinion, call Home-Tech! Our technicians are trained in-house and NATE certified, so you know you’re getting the most knowledgeable people to handle the situation.

Submit a washer repair request here and ask about how our service agreement can save you on the service call!

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