How to stop your washing machine from smelling

Clean laundry pulled out of washing machine
(Image credit: Alamy)

Getting a nasty whiff from your washing machine is never a good sign - after all, that's where our clothes are cleaned! It can be from bacteria build-up or poor ventilation, but luckily, there are plenty of ways to figure out how to stop your washing machine from smelling.

Tools & requirements

- Hot water

- Dish soap

- Cloth

- Washing machine cleaner (optional)

- Washer detergent

Even the best washing machines smell from time to time - it's natural for a water-based appliance to need a bit of a clean sometimes. But if your washer is smelling more often than you'd like, it's probably time to do something about it.

Below, we've listed five different ways to stop your washing machine from smelling. These tips are good practice in general, and if you do these regularly, your washing machine can stay odor-free for years.

Quick steps: How to stop your washing machine from smelling

  1. Leave the door open
  2. Run a hot wash
  3. Make sure you’re not using too much detergent 
  4. Take your clean clothes out quickly
  5. Clean the outside of your washing machine

Step by step guide: How to stop your washing machine from smelling

1. Leave the door open

(Image: © Alamy)

The easiest way to prevent your washing machine from smelling is to leave the washer door open once you’ve finished using the machine. If you wash in the evening, leave the door open overnight, or if you wash during the day, try to leave it open for at least a few hours. 

By leaving the washer door open, you’re giving the drum and seal time to dry out and prevent mold and mildew from forming.

2. Run a hot wash

(Image: © Alamy)

Another way to prevent your washing machine from smelling is to run a hot cleaning cycle once a month using detergent or a specific washing machine cleaner like this Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner. Running a wash with just hot water will also help to sanitize the washing machine (but we recommend using a cleaner). 

Many detergents have now been formulated so that they work with lower washer temperatures. This may be better for the environment, but it’s not as effective as killing the germs in the washing machine itself. 

3. Make sure you’re not using too much detergent

(Image: © Alamy)

Using lots of detergent might be tempting if you want your clothes to smell amazing, but you’ll be left with build-up inside your washing machine, in the detergent drawer, and on your clothes too. 

To prevent any smelly build-up, stick to the recommended amount of detergent that is stated on the packaging. Using laundry pods like these Tide Pods at Amazon can also help you stick to the right amount.

4. Take your clean clothes out quickly

(Image: © Getty Images)

We’ve all done it - put a load of washing on and forgotten about it, but it’s important to take your wet clothes out of the washing machine as soon after they’ve finished washing as you can. 

Leaving them in the machine when wet will make them smell and, in turn, make the machine drum smell, too! 

5. Clean the outside of your washing machine

(Image: © Alamy)

Finally, wipe down the outside of your washing machine twice a month using hot, soapy water and a cloth. You’ll be amazed how many things get slopped down the front of your washer. 

How to stop your washing machine from smelling: FAQs

Why does my washing machine smell bad?

When you wash clothes, dirt, hair, oil, and other nasties start to linger in the components of your washing machine. This causes mold, mildew, and bacteria to build up, causing those unwanted smells.

Routinely preventing this build-up is the best way to keep your washer smelling fresh all year round. Plus, you won't have to deep clean it as often!

How do I deep clean my washing machine?

The trick is to clean the individual components of your washer. The drum, detergent draw, door, exterior, and inner parts all need attention for a completely clean washing machine. 

For more info, check out our guide on how to clean your washing machine.

Dan Fauzi
Features Editor

Dan Fauzi is the former Features Editor of Top Ten Reviews, with experience in digital product writing across all sorts - including tech, outdoor living, sports, and homes & gardens. Outside of work you'll find them at gigs, exploring creative spaces, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.