how to clean a smelly washing machine
Laundry

Smelly Washing Machine

There's nothing worse than a smelly washing machine, making your home & laundry smell too! Read our guide on how to prevent & remove washing machine build-up.

If your washing machine smells musty, don’t worry. Just a few simple steps can get rid of the smell, leaving your laundry and washing machine fresh and clean again.

How to Deal with a Smelly Washing Machine

Washing machines work hard, what with all those loads of stained and dirty laundry. It’s not surprising that sometimes a musty smell in the washing machine can build up, affecting clean clothing and other items as well as the machine itself. Never fear, though, these easy-to-follow instructions will thoroughly cleanse your machine, leaving it clean and fresh.

  • Unclog the filter

If your washing machine smells musty, it may not be draining properly. Remove the filter and clean it thoroughly using detergent and hot water. Filters vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, so it’s a good idea to check the user manual for precise instructions. Cleaning the filter, especially if your washing machine smells musty, can get messy – so you may want to wear gloves or an apron, and put a bucket underneath to protect the floor. Unclogging the filter will get rid of any build-up of fluff and cloth fibres that may be trapping detergent and dirt particles and causing a musty smell in your washing machine.

  • Clean out the detergent drawer

Use hot water and a damp cloth to clean any sticky detergent residue from the detergent drawer of your washing machine. You can also use an old toothbrush for any hard-to-reach areas. Again, it’s a good idea to wear gloves and old clothing if you’re worried about getting dirty.

  • Clean your washing machine’s seals and interior

If you have a smelly washing machine, dirt, mildew and detergent residue may have built up around its rubber seals and inside the drum. Clean these areas with hot water and detergent, paying particular attention to the rubber seals and surrounds. After applying the solution, wait ten minutes and then wipe with a clean dry rag. It is important to then run an empty cycle to rinse the drum clean of detergent before using it to wash clothes and other items.

  • Run an empty cycle on the hottest setting

Run your washing machine empty on the hot wash setting, with some washing-soda crystals or clear vinegar, to thoroughly flush out mildew and dirt residue. Again, running another quick rinse cycle afterwards – also at a high temperature – will ensure no detergent or vinegar remains for your next load of laundry. Doing this regularly will ensure your washing machine remains pristine and smell-free.

A clean and fresh washing machine, in four simple steps. Enjoy!

Top Tip


The best way to clean a smelly washing machine is to do a maintenance wash – an empty wash on the hottest setting. It’s a good idea to make sure that you’re using the correct amount of detergent when washing clothes – if you use more detergent than directed, it can build up in the drum and contribute to a musty smell.