Washer smells like mildew? Don’t worry; we’ve all been there!
Try this simple DIY cleaning solution using only two ingredients. It’ll leave your washer smelling fresh and clean in no time. Follow along with me for step-by-step instructions.
Of all the smells in the household list of chores – a washer that smells like mildew is pretty grim (I’m sure you agree.)
But we all have to face it at some point. So …. let’s get to it!
There are loads of mass-produced washing machine cleaning solutions out there, but why waste money when you don’t need to?
A DIY washing machine cleaner is just as good (if not better) and far kinder to the environment.
Combining simple ingredients you probably have in your home – it really is easy when you know how to clean a washing machine using a homemade option.
Read on to discover how to get that mildew smell out of the washer and back to a fresh-smelling machine in no time.
Why does my washing machine smell?
It’s natural for a washing machine to smell sometimes.
All that dirt, dust, and mold builds up due to the moisture and heat from the washing cycles.
Another possible reason is if the door of the washer is closed and not left to dry out properly after a wash – this allows mold and mildew to form on the inside.
And the worst? Leaving a load of wet, washed clothes in the washer overnight (we’ve all done it!)
The sill of the washer is another problem area – being prone to collecting lint and grime (baby socks, anyone?)
So, all in all, a washing machine is a mold creator!
This is why it’s essential to clean it regularly and maintain it for the sake of clean clothes and a healthy washer.
washing machine smells
The main issue with a smelly washing machine is that it makes clothes smell bad too. This is the opposite result of what we’re after when washing our clothes!
Another concern is the underlying damage of mold and mildew, as well as soap suds and lint build-up.
These can block pipes and damage the inner seal, amongst other things. So it’s important to clean your washing machine regularly to maintain its best usage.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Get my full disclosure HERE.
How to get mold smell out of washer
Below you’ll find step-by-step instructions for how to clean a washing machine using a DIY homemade cleaning solution (white vinegar and baking soda) along with a deep cleaning routine.
This method is helpful when the mildew smell is noticeably bad.
It involves giving the drum a good scrub and running a deep clean cycle.
More often than not, simply adding vinegar to the drum and running a hot cycle on empty (with no clothes in) will do the trick – if the smell is not too pungent.
Otherwise, follow along for a really deep clean that will get rid of bad smells, mold, mildew, and soap scum in one operation.
You will need:
Scrub/coat the inside of the washing drum with a cup of baking soda (use a soft sponge for this.)
Run a hot cycle – empty with no clothes in.
Clean inside the front seal with a vinegar/water mix (for front loaders only.) This bit can be particularly dirty with lint build-up and soap suds, so wear gloves!
Add 2 cups of white vinegar to the detergent port and run another hot cycle.
Wipe down the dispenser and exterior with the vinegar water mixture – you can add this to a spray bottle or use my DIY all-purpose house cleaner.
clean washing machine seal
This is the ickiest part of cleaning a washing machine. The seal continuously collects so much dirt, and mold seems to breed there with zero difficulty!
I recommend wearing gloves and using a sponge or cotton pads to clean the seal.
Expect there to be a lot of muck that comes off when you do wipe the seal and, of course, open up the creases so you get all the dirt and mold out.
clean detergent drawer
This is easier to clean as the drawer on most washers can be removed. Did you know you can pop your washing drawer in the dishwasher?
Make sure you check out my DIY dishwasher soap tabs recipe for this!
Otherwise, simply give the drawer a wash with some warm water and washing up liquid – a good sponge down will do the trick.
tips for keeping washer smelling clean
The best thing you can do is to keep the door of your washer slightly open after every wash to ensure the washer dries completely.
I also like to run a hot cycle every so often to burn off any mold and mildew, and when I do, I add a cup of vinegar directly to the drum.
This keeps my washer clean and prevents me from needing to give it a deep clean all too often (I add a cup of vinegar about once a month).
Lastly, pay attention to the hose at the back of your washer. Every so often, it can get blocked due to smaller items getting trapped.
So, to prevent blockages, I recommend checking your hose every month and giving it a wipe-over clean (warm water and homemade cleaning solution only).
I hope you find this DIY washing machine cleaner recipe helpful and that it gets you a fresh-smelling washing machine in no time.
It’s worth the effort on this one, as once you’ve done a proper clean, you’ll only need to give it a top-off clean once in a while.
If you loved this post, I recommend reading one of these next.
- Powdered laundry soap
- Natural dryer sheets
- Homemade fabric softener
- Soap bar for making laundry soap
- How to deodorize garbage disposal
- Coat the inside of the drum with baking soda.
- Run a hot cycle - empty, no clothes
- Clean the front seal (front loaders only) using a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water. I use a spray bottle for easier application.
- Add 2 cups of vinegar to the detergent fill port and run another hot cycle - empty, no clothes.
- Finally, wipe down all surfaces, including the detergent port and the front glass.
If the smell is not too pungent, adding 2 cups of vinegar to the drum and running a hot cycle is often enough.