Why does my front-load washer smell bad?

Man with a baby strapped to his chest loading a front load washer with laundry.
(Image credit: Getty)

Ah, the question that plagues washing machine owners from time to time: why does my front load washer smell bad? A nasty smell coming from your washer is more than an annoyance in the home; it’s a sign that something is amiss. But don’t despair. We’ve got expert guidance on what’s causing that bad smell and how to fix it.

Not only that, but we also have the tips you need to keep it from happening in the first place. The best front loader washers can be safe from musty odors with just a few simple changes to how you use your washer.

Why does my front load washer smell bad?

What the expert says...

Cleaning expert Kaylie Ross recommends, “To deep clean a washing machine, always wipe the drum out with white vinegar and a cloth. Afterward, I pour a small amount of vinegar into the drawer and put it on a hot cycle to clean out the machine.” 

Follow these expert-approved tips, and you’ll never be asking, "Why does my front load washer smell bad?" again. 

1. Wipe the drum

Giving the drum a manual wipe with white vinegar and a cloth is a good first step to sanitize the drum of the machine and strip away unwanted build-up.

2. Focus on the rubber seal 

Next, wipe out the rubber seal of the machine with white vinegar to remove any black mold spots forming on it.

3. Run an empty cycle

Most of the best washing machines have a dedicated antibacterial wash for them. Use this setting or simply select a regular hot wash cycle and add a cap full of bleach to the detergent drawer.

4. Remember the detergent drawer

Don’t forget to remove your detergent drawer and wash it under hot water to remove any product build-up there.

5. Air out

To help stop musty odors in their tracks, leave the washing machine door open when not in use to allow air to flow into the machine.

Tanisha Fletcher

Tanisha started her career in commercial retail buying for one of Amazon UK’s Top 10 revenue grossing online homeware retailers. Years spent obsessing over homeware products made it an easy career switch to writing about them. Her freelance career has seen her craft customer-focused web content for brands big and small, as well as writing articles in the health, lifestyle, home and retail sectors.

With contributions from