Why does my washing machine smell bad?

By Martin Driver 09 Apr 2018

From time to time, most people find that their washing machine starts to smell.

This guide explains the most common causes of the odour, helps you get rid of it, and shows you how stop it from coming back.

Clogged filter


Your washing machine has a filter that catches the small bits of lint and dirt that come off your clothes.

Hair, dirt, coins, and other bits from clothes and pockets can build up and can cause water to get trapped. If this happens, the water can stagnate and give off a horrible smell.

Washing machine smelly

To sort it, you should give your filter a check every now and then and remove anything stuck inside. The filter access is normally on the front of your machine underneath the door, but check the user manual if you're not sure.

There might be some water in there when you open the door, so have a towel ready to catch any spills. Then, just slide the filter out and give it a good rinse.

Low temperature washes


Most washing machine and detergent brands recommend lower temperature washes to save energy. However, this can cause problems, as lower temperatures might not kill all the bacteria left in the water. If it survives and grows, your washer will start to smell.

Washing machine smelly programes

The easiest way to prevent this is to run a hotter wash every now and then to clear out any bacteria that's survived. So, every month or so, wash a couple of old towels at the hottest temperature your machine can manage.

Most washers go up to 90°C which is ideal, but if your doesn't, just use the hottest it has.

There's an added benefit of this - the hot water will flush the water outlet pipes to prevent blockages and smells coming from there too

Liquid detergents


Liquid detergents can be easier to use, and because they don't contain bleach, can be more gentle to your clothes. However, no bleach means bacteria isn't completely removed.

Smelly washing machine detergent

The best thing to do if you normally use liquid detergents or liquid tabs is to run a wash every couple of weeks with a powder detergent with bleach in it. Bleach, and a hotter than usual wash, will kill the bacteria and help keep smells away.

Hard water


If you live in a hard water area, the extra minerals in the water can build up inside the machine and cause blockages. To stop this happening, you can buy water softening products that help to cut down the amount of minerals that get stuck in the pipes.

Smelly washing machine hard water

Most supermarkets in hard water areas sell water softners, so you shouldn't have any problems tracking some down.

Hopefully, these tips will help to stop the bad smells coming from your washer.

But, if you want to talk to us about your washing machine or any other appliances, you can always contact us here.

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