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Why Does My Front Load Washing Machine Smell Bad?

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What’s that smell? Have you ever asked yourself this question when doing laundry? If you notice, your front load washing machine smells like rotten eggs, mildew, or other foul odors, you aren’t alone. Unfortunately, front load washing machines tend to have serious issues with mildew buildup and they trap the smells inside.

Front load washer during cycle

The Reason Behind The Front Load Washer Smell.

There are various reasons why washing machines start to smell. For starters, we are always taught to use MORE! Too often we don’t measure how much detergent and fabric softener is being used. When clothing is overwhelmed with too much detergent and water, it doesn’t clean correctly. The result is a sludge and buildup that sticks to the tub, hoses, and pumps that creates odors and poor performance.

Sludge Causes Odors

The sludge in the washing machine is trapped in a machine where it is always exposed to warm water and harboring a moist environment. Left alone and with the door closed it can promote growths and odors. This buildup can manifest itself with smells and smudges on the clothing.

Front load washer with door open

How Do You Clean a Stinky Washer?

If you have ever placed clothing in the washing machine only to have them come out smelling worse than when they went in, it is time to clean your washing machine! So how do you clean a stinky washing machine? Start by looking at your washing machine’s manual to find instructions on how to clean your washing machine.

Faulty Appliande?

There are various cleaners that can rid your machine of the buildup and smell. One of which is Affresh; Many major manufacturers such as Tide produce these type of products.

Try Distilled White Vinegar

If the smell isn’t improved by the use of the cleaner, pour a few gallons of distilled white vinegar in the tub with hot water and let it sit for several days. The vinegar will dissolve much of what causes the smell and will help get the smell out. Be sure to run a cycle to rinse the unit of any cleaners used.

Scrub Off Detergent

Remove the detergent drawer and soak it in hot water. Take note of any pieces that you remove so they are reinstalled back in the same position. Use a small brush or a toothbrush to scrub off the extra detergent that may be stuck to the walls. Rinse the detergent drawer well and carefully reinstall back into the machine.

Check The Rubber Seal

The rubber seal of the washing machine needs to be cleaned as well. A damp cloth can be used to wipe around the rubber seal of the machine to clean off excess detergent and any mildew or mold that is growing on it. When you are cleaning it, wipe off the surface areas to remove any extra dust and detergent that may collect on the machine over time. These rubber seals are very porous and stain very easily.

Avoid Stains on The Seal

Don’t try and scrub off any stains because that may damage the seal. After cleaning the seal, scrub off the glass on the door. Small hairs and buildup can cause a poor seal and allow the unit to leak during operation. If you notice small drip lines under the door on the front of the machine you likely have dirty door glass.

Ventilation Helps

To reduce odor issues, you need to provide plenty of ventilation to the washing machine. Open the door between washings to give extra air to the washing machine and allow it to dry. Wiping off the door seal is also recommended.

Front load washing machine dripping

How Much Detergent Be Used In Front Load Washers.

When it comes to using a front loading washing machine, you must adhere to the proper detergent amounts for the load. Far too often people will pour excess detergent into the machine drawer. Use the cap that comes with the detergent to measure the proper amount. If you do not use the right lid, it can end up causing too much or far too little detergent for the laundry load. Some detergents are 2x concentrated or 10x concentrated causing issues with a prescribed amount needed.

Watch Detergent to Water Ratios

Using more detergent, bleach, and softener doesn’t mean your clothes will be cleaner! These machines are designed to use less water, which means less detergent, bleach, and softener should be added. Always use the directed amount to obtain clean, fresh smelling clothing. Some detergents are 2x or up to 10x concentrated. So a bit more can actually be a lot more product.

Front load washing venting door

Cleaning the Drain Pump in Front Load Washers

Another reason why washing machines start to smell is due to debris stuck in the drain pump in the machine. Cleaning out the drain pump will help get rid of things that are blocking proper water flow within the machine. Front-load washers normally have a filter or trap within the drain pump. Hair, lint, hairpins, and coins are some of the most common items that get trapped inside. By not allowing debris to get trapped within the washing machine, you will be able to reduce one of the issues that cause odors.

Loading front load washing machine

Using a Front Load Washing Machine

Many issues customers have with front load washers can be avoided by checking the pockets of the clothing before they are placed in the machine. Also, make sure you are following the manufacturer’s instructions on the proper operation and cycle selection of the unit. There are many benefits to the use of front load washers:

Water Efficiency.

A front load washer uses only 20-25 gallons compared to 40 gallons of water with a top-load washer. Front load washers will spin clothes faster, reducing the amount of time it takes to dry the clothing. If you have never used a front load washing machine, it can be shocking to see just how little water there is during the washing cycle. The clothing will start to absorb the water and the machine will begin to add enough water to maintain the correct water level.

Using Detergent.

Washing machined use far less water and therefore you want to use less laundry detergent. It is important to make sure the detergent is formulated for a high-efficiency washing machine. High-efficiency washing machine detergent always has an “HE” logo on it. The logo is blue and white and on the front of the product. The detergent is designed to produce fewer suds, which aid in preventing excess foam. The wrong detergent will end up causing suds and causing the unit to malfunction.

Loading the Washer.

For the clothing to wash properly, you need to load it correctly. Front load washers need to be loaded by the amount of space they consume in the drum. To wash the clothing the right way you need to avoid overfilling with clothes. Simply load them in loosely to allow them access to water. It is best to have clothing of like size and weight to ensure a proper balance of the clothing in the wash. If the clothing is not balanced the right way, it will cause vibration, noise, and needless wear on the machine. Loads of heavy towels should be smaller which will allow smoother operation. A good rule of thumb, towels with towels and jeans with jeans. Wash blankets or other large items alone.

Avoiding Odor.

Front load washers can end up with a poor smell, it is important to properly maintain your washer. Run a quarterly batch of hot water and cleaner to clean out excess detergent and debris from inside the machine. Periodically running a cleaner through will help with odors. If the machine has a “tub clean” cycle use it to maintain the machine.

iFiX Tips

If you want to get the most out of your machine, use our simple tips guide to keep your clothing clean and your machine smelling great.

  1. More is NOT better! Use the lid or cap of HE approved laundry detergent for proper measuring.
  2. ONLY use HE approved laundry detergent.
  3. Avoid using liquid fabric softeners if you do not measure.
  4. Open the washer door to allow for proper ventilation and drying of the unit.
  5. Clean out the rubber seal in the washer to reduce smells and avoid tearing of the seal.
  6. Run a “tub clean” or “heavy” cycle with hot water and cleaner through the machine quarterly.
  7. Load laundry evenly to allow the washer to be able to balance the load.

Monthly Cleanings Help Keep Odors Out Of Your Machine

By using these suggestions, you will be able to prevent mold from building up within your front load washing machine. Monthly cleaning will help fight the mildew issues that start to cause odor issues. Keeping your washing machine clean is the best way to improve its longevity. Did this post answer your question? If you have additional problems with your front load washing machine smelling bad, call iFiX today!



2 Responses

  1. General and the first thing to check is your vent screen and or the ventilation system to the outdoors itself needs cleaning because of a build up of lint. If you are in a condo setting and the dryer vent goes through the common walls and you can’t blow it out yourself, you may need to hire someone because it is also a fire hazard to have a build up of lint.

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