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Why does my washing machine smell?

In the good old days, our clothes were almost always washed in very hot water. Although even a few generations ago some type of machinery was used, an automatic washing machine was a pipe dream. Now that we use machines and a variety of washing detergents are available the washing environment has changed.

Very hot water kills bacteria, but those eco-friendly thirty degree washes create an environment that is perfect for bacteria to grow. The modern washing machine is an ideal breeding ground for smelly bacteria. Combined with modern water treatment which often causes limescale to build up in our appliances, our machines are doomed to a shorter lifespan and avoidable breakdowns.

If your machine is smelly there are several places where the smell could be coming from. The detergent and softener drawer, the drum and the rubber seal at the door are the usual culprits.

How to clean a smelly washing machine

When you’ve reached the point that you can no longer tolerate the smell emanating from your machine, you don’t have to worry either about the clothes that you put in the machine or even that you may need to replace the machine. There is something that you can do about it and there are two tried and tested methods that are known to work well.

With both methods, start by putting your machine on a very hot wash. The boil wash will help to kill living bacteria that are currently in the machine. Don’t forget to do this with an empty machine.

Degreaser and limescale detergent method

The degreaser and limescale method is possibly one of the most popular methods in urban areas. Urban water supplies are notoriously problematic with limescale and hardened water. What’s worse because of the hard water some households are inclined to add extra fabric softener which makes the problem worse.

Degreaser and limescale detergent

There are many descaling products available in your supermarket. Use one of these while running the machine empty (again). This will help to remove limescale that provides a perfect habitat for bacterial growth. It will also remove limescale from parts of the machine that you cannot reach when cleaning it.

  • Run a wash with a descaling product from your supermarket
  • Scrub the drum and clean the seal. The amount of gunk that builds up in the seal will astonish you, once you lift it and clean it out.
  • Use hot water and some lemon juice and prepare for the smell to get worse as you expose the dirty areas. Old toothbrushes are very handy for those hard to reach areas
  • The drum should be scrubbed own thoroughly as the limescale will attach easier to where the residue from detergent and softener has started to build up. This in turn creates the bacterial breeding ground that you are keen to remove.

Soda and white vinegar method

The Soda and white vinegar method is a method that has been in use since automatic machines first came out and is a traditional method that works well.

White vinegar

For this you will need bicarbonate of soda and white vinegar. Bear in mind that machines are different sizes, so if you have a machine that carries a load of more than 5kg then you may want to increase the amount you use.

For a standard 5kg washing machine use a ratio of one to one in the drawer.

  • Place one quarter of a cup of bicarbonate of soda to one quarter of a cup of white vinegar in the drawer.
  • Put two cups of white vinegar in the drum.
  • Run a very hot cycle, with no clothes added of course.
  • Scrub any leftover residue on the inside of the drum.
  • Clean the detergent and softener drawer
  • Scrub underneath and around the seal at the door

How to keep your washing machine fresh

Cleaning a smelly machine is not the most pleasant of tasks. You can avoid having to do this frequently by leaving the door to the machine open so that it dries out quickly after a wash. Also, do not leave wet clothes in the machine for an extended period as this encourages bacterial growth.

Review the detergent you are using. Often the detergent will build up suds that cause the problem in the first place. Try using a combination detergent and softener product too. Fabric softener is the biggest culprit when it comes to slime build up in machines.

Regularly wipe the drum and the areas surrounding and in the seal that you can get to. You will find that your machine lives longer and you are less likely to experience inconvenient breakdowns.

We hope you find the article helpful. Whether you need expert advice or if your appliance is in need of a repair, our customer service is here to help.

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