Our site uses cookies to give you the best experience. Manage your cookies here or continue shopping if you're happy.

Accept & close

Why does my washing machine smell?

Find out what could be causing your washing machine to smell and how to prevent it with this helpful guide

Although it can be pretty unpleasant, having a smelly washing machine is a problem that’s often really simple to fix. Our troubleshooting article has some top tips for banishing any nasty odours, as well as stopping any smells from coming back again.

Why does my washing machine smell?

If your clothes aren’t smelling fresh when they come out of your washing machine, it’s probably down to a buildup of detergent, dirt or limescale inside your machine. The biggest symptom of this is your laundry smelling damp or musty, even when dry, as well as an unpleasant smell coming from inside your machine.

Give your drum a maintenance clean

If your drum has a build-up of dirt or detergent, it can smell musty inside. Most washing machines have maintenance wash settings, or you can run it on a hot was whilst it's empty. Adding half a cup of distilled vinegar to your drum before the maintenance wash is a great way to neutralise any odours. If your drum is particularly dirty, it might be worth running a hot wash more than once.

Clean around your door seal

The little nooks and crannies in your washing machine’s rubber door seal can let water in and cause mould and mildew to build up. If it looks a little grubby, it can be scrubbed with warm soapy water or a bit of distilled vinegar. If it still smells, mould may have got into the porous rubber. If you think this may have happened, you can contact your manufacturer for a replacement.

Soak your detergent drawer

If your detergent drawer isn't regularly cleaned, soap residues can get stuck and go mouldy and smelly. Most washing machines will let you remove the drawer, which you can then soak in warm soapy water before wiping down with a cloth. Using an old toothbrush will help you get really stuck in.

Check for drainage or plumbing issues

If you’ve tried cleaning and checking for blockages and you’re still getting unpleasant whiffs from your machine, it might be worth giving a professional a call and asking them to check for any drainage or plumbing problems in your home.

How do I stop my washing machine from smelling in the future?

There are some easy things you can do to make sure that lingering smells are banished for good from your washing machine:

  • If you do a lot of cool washes, run a hot wash every now and then to get rid of bacteria
  • Air your washing machine by keeping the door open after you've used it
  • Using non-bleach detergents will stop soap from building up in your machine
  • Invest in a washing machine cleaning pack, available at ao.com or from your manufacturer

For more information on this, take a look at our article on how to look after your washing machine.