Washing Machine Smells Worse After Cleaning? (here’s why & what to do)

So, you’ve just given your trusty washing machine a good clean, hoping to banish any unpleasant odours. But, to your dismay, it now smells even worse than before. 

What’s going on? There could be several reasons for this unpleasant situation, and we’re here to help you get to the bottom of it. Whether your machine needs a second cleaning or has an underlying issue, we’ll guide you through the steps to bring back that fresh laundry scent. 

What To Do If Your Washer Smells Worse After Cleaning

If you find that your washing machine smells even more foul after cleaning it, there’s a simple explanation: you’ve dislodged the gunk that has been silently accumulating in your washer. 

This grot could be a nasty mix of soap scum, hair, and murky residues, which, when disturbed, release an odour that resembles rotting rubbish. Fortunately, the solution is relatively simple.

How to Fix It:

  1. Run an empty hot wash cycle with a cup of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser. This will help break down and wash away the loosened grime.
    white vinegar going into washing machine
  2. Since you’ve stirred up the sludge, it might take 2 to 3 empty hot wash cycles to completely eliminate the smell.
  3. Check the filter for brown, stagnant water, as this could indicate the accumulated grime breaking down.
  4. If the smell still lingers, inspect specific parts of your washing machine, like the detergent drawer, drum, filter, and hose, to identify the source of the foul odour.

What Are The Reasons Why A Washing Machine Is Smelly?

There are numerous factors that can make your washing machine smell less than pleasant. 

The moist environment inside your machine creates the perfect conditions for organic matter, dirt, and residue to combine and become a breeding ground for mould, mildew, and germ growth. 

Sadly, this unpleasant odour can also transfer to your laundry, leaving your clothes with a musty smell. 

person smelling clothes

Here are the main culprits behind your machine’s bad odour:

Detergent Residue

Residue from your detergent and fabric conditioner can accumulate over time, especially if you’re using the wrong products or using an excessive amount of them. 

This residue turns into a breeding ground for mould and bacteria, leading to an unpleasant, sour odour.

How To Fix This:

  1. Consult your user manual for instructions on removing the detergent drawer.
    Washing Machine Drawer Compartments
  2. Soak the drawer in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes to soften the soap scum.
  3. Create a mixture of white vinegar and warm water, then use a microfibre cloth to scrub the drawer’s surface.
  4. Don’t forget the corners or hard-to-reach areas; use a soft-bristled brush such as an old toothbrush.
  5. Rinse the drawer with warm water and dry it thoroughly before replacing it in the machine. Also, wipe the drawer slot clean before reinserting it.

NOTE: Always use the right amount of detergent; more is not better as not only will it clog your machine, but also make your laundry smell sour.

Clogged Drain Tube Or Hose

When your washing machine smells like rubbish, the culprit might be the drain tube or hose. This is where soapy, dirty water passes through, possibly containing stagnant moisture and gunk. 

Stagnant water can emit a foul odour, so it’s crucial to address this issue.

How To Fix This:

  1. Follow the user manual’s instructions for identifying, disconnecting, and draining the tube.
  2. Prepare a tray to catch excess moisture when you disconnect the waste pipe.
  3. Check for any blockages and use hot water or a mixture of hot water and white vinegar to flush them out.

NOTE: Ensure the hose is straight when reconnecting it to prevent future blockages.

Blocked Filter

The washing machine’s filter can easily be the main culprit behind the foul odour. 

Lint, debris, and other foreign objects clog the filter, creating a residue buildup that emanates a stench resembling rotting rubbish.

How To Fix This:

  1. Remove the machine’s filter according to the user’s manual instructions.
  2. Wash it under warm running water and use bicarbonate of soda and a soft-bristled brush to scrub away the gunk.
  3. Use a microfibre cloth to dry the filter, then replace it in the washing machine. 

Excess Moisture

Washing machines’ moist environments provide an ideal breeding ground for mould and bacteria, which leads to a musty odour. It can also irritate sensitive skin conditions for you or your family.

How To Fix This:

After each wash, use a clean, dry cloth to wipe away excess moisture from the machine’s drum. Leave the door ajar for at least an hour to ventilate the space.

washing machine drum

Keep Your Washing Machine Smelling Fresh

If you want to ensure your washing machine smells fresh in the long run, prevention is your best approach. Here are some tips to keep bad odours away:

Clean Your Washing Machine Regularly

Regular cleaning is key to preventing bad odours in your washing machine. Pay special attention to parts that tend to get dirty easily, such as the drum, detergent dispenser, and the control panel’s knobs and buttons.

Schedule A Deep Clean Every 2 To 4 Months

Deep cleaning your machine every 2 to 4 months is essential for keeping it running efficiently. Go for natural products instead of harsh chemicals. Run a hot wash cycle with a cup of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser to eliminate mould and bacteria causing foul smells.

Wipe Your Drum And Door Seal After Every Use

After each use, take a few minutes to wipe down the drum and door seal with a clean microfibre cloth. This simple act prevents the accumulation of moisture and grime, ensuring that your washing machine continues to smell fresh.

cleaning washing machine exterior

The Key To Good-Smelling Clothes Is  A Great-Smelling Washing Machine

A smelly washing machine is a common issue that can easily be tackled with the right maintenance and cleaning routines. 

Hence, don’t be discouraged if your washing machine smells worse after cleaning; it’s just a sign that you’ve disturbed the hidden gunk. 

With a little extra effort and regular maintenance, your washing machine can be odour-free and ready to tackle your laundry once again.

Do you have questions or tips to share? Feel free to leave a comment below!

SEE ALSO: How To Clean A Washing Machine Like A Pro: Quick & Easy Guide

5 Tips To Keep Your Washing Machine Smelling Fresh

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I get the rotten smell out of my washing machine?

To get rid of the rotten smell in your washing machine, run an empty hot wash cycle with a cup of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser. This will help break down and wash away the loosened grime.

How do I deep clean my washing machine?

For a deep clean of your washing machine, run a hot wash cycle with a cup of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser every 2 to 4 months. This helps eliminate mould and bacteria causing foul smells.

How do I get my laundry clean and smelling good?

To get your laundry clean and smelling good, use the right amount of detergent, avoid excessive use, and regularly clean your washing machine. Also, wipe down the drum and door seal after each use to prevent moisture and grime buildup.

How much bicarbonate of soda do I put in my washing machine?

To clean the washing machine filter, you can use bicarbonate of soda along with warm water. There’s no fixed amount; just use a small amount to create a cleaning paste and scrub the filter.

Is bicarbonate of soda or vinegar better for washing machines?

Both bicarbonate of soda and vinegar can be used effectively for cleaning washing machines. Bicarbonate of soda is good for scrubbing and removing grime, while vinegar helps break down and wash away residue. You can use them together or separately based on your preference.

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