This one hack will stop your washing machine from smelling

Smelly washing machine
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Have you ever opened your washing machine door to be hit by a musty and damp smell? It’s not an unusual problem — even if you have one of the best washing machines, it can smell over time from a build-up of mold and mildew. It’s enough to put you off washing your clothes in there. 

Cleaning your washing machine is an immediate solution, but while this helps in the short term, it will soon start smelling again. Luckily, there’s a simple hack that can put a stop to it, whether you use a front load or top load washer— and it only takes seconds of your time. 

If your washer is smelly, it's a sign that it's not being well-maintained, which can lead to costly repairs. Check out how to make your washer last longer for further guidance. 

Why does my washing machine smell?

Your washing machine runs water through itself with every cycle, after which, some residual or ‘sitting’ water will always be left behind. Stagnant water is ideal for mold and mildew growth, not to mention bacteria, which is what you can smell. This will build up with each wash, not just in your drum, but in your detergent drawer as well as the pipes.   

How to stop my washing machine from smelling 

If stagnant water is the problem, you need to get rid of it. This is easy to do — just open up your washing machine door and detergent drawer between cycles. The wider you open these, the better, but even just cracking them open to let the air in will make a difference. As the air ventilates, the stagnant water will dry and this will prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. 

Washing machine with door open

(Image credit: Future)

Try to get in the habit of doing this immediately after every cycle, rather than shutting the door. If you have a top-loading washing machine, simply prop the door fully open. The same technique works for clothes dryers and dishwashers too, if you’ve noticed these appliances are starting to smell. 

It might look neater to have a closed door, but it’s what’s causing the problem. If your machine still smells with regular airing, you might need to give it a deep clean to remove what’s already built-up in there. Follow our method on how to clean a washing machine to do this, and then continue leaving the door and detergent drawer ajar between cycles. You can also run an empty wash on the hottest temperature possible to flush it through. 

Your washing machine should smell a lot fresher in the future if you follow this simple tip!

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive.