Tips to Cure a Stinky Washer

Washer SmellI just finished reading a Facebook thread on front loading washers and top loader washers. I am amazed, there were over 300 comments and I read every single one. If there is anything that women are passionate about, it’s laundry. If you don’t want to read all of the comments, the conversation leaned more to positive comment about top loaders and quite possibly how front loaders are the spawn of Satan (that’s a lie but many people hated them. Same thing right?). Many people also raved about how much they loved their front loaders. My simple conclusion is that those who hate front loaders with a passion may not be taking care of their machine correctly. I have a few tips to keep the washer clean and stink free.

  1. Use the recommended amount of soap or less
    Front loading washing machines require much less soap than top loaders, i.e. 1-2 tablespoon max. HE soap is usually concentrated and will not suds up. If you see suds in your front loader, you’re using too much laundry detergent. When you use too much soap, it begins to build up becoming the perfect food for bacteria, hence the smell. These bacteria can build up in the drum, seal, filter and the washer hoses. Once the buildup occurs in the washer hoses, it becomes much harder to remove the smell without replacing the hoses or cleaning them out.

    Tips to Clean the Washer
    I would not fill past the first line; that should be plenty for a large load and halfway to the line for a small load.
  2. Use Vinegar as Fabric Softener
    Alternatively you could cut out any type of softener altogether. I personally use vinegar as a fabric softener because it’s cheaper and it helps keep the stink away. Vinegar will help get rid of any soap residue remaining in the washer and  cut down on current build up. Regular fabric softeners contain a type of wax that coats your clothes making them feel soft and your towels less absorbent. Guess what, it also coats the inside of your washer aiding the soap build up and stink. The wax will also slowly coat the lint trap in your dryer making it a fire hazard; vinegar will not.
  3. Check the Filters and Hoses
    Even after deep cleaning your washing machine, the filters and hoses can still be a cause of the stink. The tablets that companies sell to clean your washer will not clean these other areas leaving you with a “clean” but stinky washer. Ideally, you’ll want to check and clean your filter every 6 months to a year. Shine a light on the hoses while checking the filter to check for mold growth. After cleaning the filter and hoses then following the previous two suggestions will help keep them stink free.
  4. Leave the Washer Door Open
    This is the most obvious one and the most important. Mold and bacteria thrive in dark, damp places. Leave the door and soap dispenser open to increase the airflow within the washer to dry it out. My suggestion is that if you cannot leave the washer door open because of pets or small children then get a top loader. Closing the washer door seals the washer and does not allow airflow, making it the perfect place for mold and bacteria.  I live in Texas, it gets fairly humid here, and my washer still dries out if I leave the door open all week long.

    Clean the Washer Smell
    If build up happens here, it will happen in the hoses.

My washer does not stink because I do each of these steps religiously. Is my front loading washer a little high maintenance? Not really, I do check the filter and hoses occasionally but that’s as high maintenance as they get. Using less detergent and switching to vinegar was easy and since I have made this switch, I only run a cleaning wash once or twice a year. If you don’t give mold and bacteria a chance to build up, then your washer won’t stink and you won’t have to clean it out. For me, taking these steps are the same amount of effort, if not less, to maintain a top loader.

Happy Cleaning!

What are your absolute musts to keep your washer stink free?