Unpleasant odor in the washing machine: causes of odor and methods for eliminating it

Evgenia Kravchenko
Checked by a specialist: Evgenia Kravchenko
Author: Dmitry Khramov
Last update: June 2019

In the design of the washing machine there are places where water stagnates. It is there that colonies of bacteria and molds prefer to develop. The accumulation of microorganisms also contributes to the fact that freshly washed linen ceases to smell fresh, and from the drum it smells not at all clean.

What to do if there is an unpleasant smell in the washing machine - how to get rid of it? First, find out what actions provoke the problem.

Causes of the accumulation and development of microorganisms

The most common and common operation error is closing the hatch (horizontal loading) or the cover (vertical loading) immediately after washing. The machine needs time to evaporate moisture, so leave it open after use for at least 2-3 hours.

The second mistake is storing used clothes in a drum. High humidity plus dirty laundry - a breeding ground for the life of microorganisms.

Fresh clothes are recommended to be stored in a special basket. It does not take up much space, and fungi and bacteria have less chance.

Caring for the washing machine
Wipe the drum, the sealing gum inside and out with a dry cloth after each use of the machine, so as not to create favorable conditions for the development of bacteria, fungi

They create a convenient platform for the development of microorganisms and some detergents. If they are of poor quality or are used in excess, this leads to the formation of mold in a washing machine.

Promotes the appearance of fetid odor and washing in low temperature.

Easy Ways to Fix a Problem

If the smell has just appeared, it can be removed from the washing machine by thoroughly washing all internal surfaces. A warm soapy solution is suitable for this. After processing, wipe all surfaces dry and leave the machine open for a day.

Washing at the maximum temperature will also help. Use things that don't shed. At the same time, check whether the machine heats the water to the indicators indicated in the technical specifications. You can add vinegar, it is harmless to health and kills bacteria.

Blue vitriol for a washing machine
Copper sulfate can also help get rid of mold: dissolve literally 1 g of powder (or 50 ml of solution, if any) in 100 ml of warm water, put it in a drum, start a quick wash at maximum temperature, set the rinse and leave the machine open for a day

Run the empty machine on the longest mode and maximum temperature. In the powder container, load the bleach or tablet for the dishwasher. When the full cycle ends, put another short rinse.

Usually these manipulations are enough to remove the cause of the unpleasant odor from the washing machine. If he remains, you will have to find the source and solve the problem by more radical methods.

Stages of cleaning events

Let's try to disassemble the machine and check all the available parts of the mechanism for the presence of various unpleasant microorganisms on them.

Stage # 1 - disassemble the washer

To do this, disconnect it from the mains, supply and drain water, provide access to equipment from all sides.

After disconnecting the washing machine from electricity, wait 15-20 minutes for all devices to turn off. It is advisable to move the machine from its place and check the space under it: dirt on the floor, stand can also be a source of unpleasant odor.

We will prepare the necessary tools:

  • pliers, pliers or pliers;
  • Phillips and slotted screwdrivers;
  • hammer;
  • keys - carob, heads;
  • marker;
  • old toothbrush;
  • brush (better Kevlar);
  • Lantern.

First, remove the top, bottom and side covers of the washer. Look at the design: we unscrew the panels fixed with self-tapping screws, we pull the rest towards ourselves.

The control unit, wires, drum, engine do not need to be touched. If there is dirt on them, carefully clean. Look inside the machine, illuminate every detail with a flashlight, remove debris, dust, where possible.

More details on how to disassemble a washing machine are written in this stuff.

The main components of the washing machine
Study the main components of the washing machine before disassembling, look at the instructions: the design features of your model are described there

Take pictures or take pictures of your actions on the camera, it’s easier to put the details back in place. Now we will deal with individual elements, where colonies of microorganisms prefer to live.

Stage # 2 - clean or change the cuff

The sealing gum is constantly in contact with moisture and is not able to self-clean due to its shape. The stagnant fluid in it leads to the formation of rot.

Black spots can be removed with any chlorinated solution diluted with water - the usual “White” or “Domestos”, “Toilet duck”.

The algorithm of actions is as follows:

  1. Wear rubber gloves.
  2. Rinse the boot cuff with the chlorine-based solution.
  3. Close the typewriter.
  4. After 30-40 minutes need to enable rinse. But the machine we have disassembled and turned off, do it later.

If it is impossible to wash the cuff or it has become unusable, it can be removed and replaced with a new one. The sealing gum is attached to the tank body with two clamps.

First you need to bend the front edge and remove the first plastic clamp from the latch. If the metal clamp, it is moved away with a screwdriver.

How to remove a metal collar
There is a spring on the metal clamp, it needs to be pulled back and loosened, the screw (if any) is unscrewed, then the ring can be easily removed

Next, carefully pull out the first part of the cuff and make a mark with a marker so that it is then easy to insert a new elastic band. It will then need to be combined with a mark on the tank itself.

In the same way, we release the other part of the cuff from the second clamp and thread the elastic into the drum.

How to remove the boot cuff
To completely remove the cuff, you need to unscrew the bolts from the back, remove the housing cover, pull out the powder container, unscrew the bolts under it, release the latches of the control panel, remove it, remove the lower panel, unscrew the facade and provide access to the sealing gum

Try to wash the removed sealing gum, it may still serve. If nothing can save her, take the old cuff and buy a new one of the same size.

Before installing a new cuff Wash the edge of the tank with warm soapy water. Do not wash the soap film, it will serve as a lubricant. To put the gum in place, attach its upper part to the edge of the tank along the marks and pull the gum with your thumbs.

Tags on the boot cuff
The triangular marks on the drum and the cuff of the loading hatch should match: if the sealing gum moves even a couple of millimeters, there will be leaks

Glide from the center around the circumference. When the cuff snaps into place, check for a snug fit and secure it with clamps.

Stage # 3 - clean the detergent drawer

Removing a part is quite simple with a vertical loading machine - unscrew the plastic screws and remove the tray. For some horizontal loading washers, it is more difficult to pull out. Do not rush to pull and pull out the container.

Look in the instructions for the typewriter - there are models where it is removed with one click on the tongue near the rinse aid compartment. If the container comes out in a fan, it needs to be opened all the way, then lift it, pull it towards you and pull it out.

How to get a powder tray
Consider the tray for detergents, there is certainly a special valve - modern manufacturers make this design simple and easy to remove

How to remove the straight horizontal detergent drawer:

  1. Pull it all the way.
  2. Look at the bottom of the tank.
  3. If cloves are visible in the depths on both sides, grease them with any vegetable oil.
  4. Lift the container up and pull it towards you, it will shift by 1-2 millimeters.
  5. Push down on the tray until it clicks and pull, it should come out freely.

After removing the tray must be cleaned of plaque and mold. Use suitable household chemicals for this. You can fill the tray with soda, vinegar or vinegar-soda hot solution.

The exposure time is 6-8 hours. After this, the dirt will lag behind and will be easily removed. Citric acid is also suitable. Dry the clean tray, put it back into the washing machine compartment.

Stage # 4 - we clean the drainage system

The system can be cleaned without disassembly using special tools that remove deposits. Powders, solutions, tablets are used according to the instructions on the package.

Ordinary soda will do. 150 g of powder should be poured into the drum and scrolled without laundry in the longest mode. But we have the machine disassembled, so we’ll clean everything completely.

To get to the drainage system:

  1. We cover the floor with a soft cloth and turn the washing machine on its side.
  2. Place a lot of rags under the drainage system so that the water left there does not damage the floor covering.
  3. Using a flat screwdriver, remove the bottom panel.
  4. We unscrew the bolts that hold the filter.
  5. Remove the filter.
  6. We use a pair of pliers to unclip the clamp, separate the hose from the pump and housing.

Hose in cars with vertical loading is located on the side. To remove it, release the fasteners, remove the panel, unscrew the clamp, pull out the hose.

When he is already in his hands, we begin to clean him by inserting a brush on one side or the other. We rinse the hose under running hot water and return it to its place.

Replacing the drain hose of the washing machine
If the drain hose is unusable, it is easy to replace it: measure the desired length, buy a part (it’s better to take a regular one rather than a telescopic one) and put it in its place

Now let's get down filter. We clean it of all contaminants, rinse with water. If there is a coating, soak the filter in a solution of citric acid for several hours, after which we remove the layers.

We flashlight the place where the filter was installed and also clean it of debris. We return the item to its place.

Do not forget about the filter for a long time. It is easily accessible from the outside of the machine by simply turning the plug itself counterclockwise.

If the filter is bolted, it is easy to unscrew it indiscriminately. You need to clean the part every 2-3 months or six months, depending on the frequency of washing.

An overview of the best ways to clean the filter in washing machines can be read here.

Another participant in the drainage system is pump. Disconnect the wires leading to it and unscrew the device. The most problematic part is the impeller. It is easy to get by unscrewing the screws that connect the case.

During the operation of the washing machine, the impeller rotates, so it wraps garbage on itself. We remove dirt from it, wipe the pump from the inside, clean the hoses and collect everything back.

Stage # 5 - we clear the water supply channel

If you remove the filler pipe, the inlet filter will open. This fine mesh is carefully removed with pliers. Pull it out with extreme care, it is very fragile. Happened? Now we clean the filter with a toothbrush and rinse with water.

Washing machine inlet filter
Manufacturers recommend cleaning the filters every six months and do not forget about the socket - a flashlight will help to carefully examine all areas

We clean and rinse the filler pipe. Often garbage is collected on its walls, a mud coating appears. Clean with a brush, rinse with hot running water. We connect all parts together and install back.

Stage # 6 - we clean or change TEN

Scale on spirals (TENE) is another source of bad smell. This is not quite a traditional raid, like on the walls of a teapot. It is formed not so much on the quality of water as on garbage, residues of detergents.

If you rarely use the machine and turn it on at minimum temperature, the coating begins to rot, emitting a characteristic “aroma” in the process. But the high washing temperature does not save - there is a smell of burning.

There are two ways to remove scale: physical and chemical. Physical involves manually removing plaque with hard objects.

Doing it yourself is not recommended, there is a risk of damaging the spiral. Let’s do chemical, we use a solution of citric acid. But more on that later.

Let's see in what condition the heating element. Remember, at the very beginning, when washing at maximum temperature, you had to check - is the water warm enough? Maybe the machine erases without heating, and this is precisely the reason for the unpleasant odor?

Then you need a replacement heater. In most models, it is located at the back, so it’s easy to find.

The heating element of the washing machine
How to understand that the heater requires replacement: visually there is a lot of scale on it, which citric acid can no longer cope with, plus you can measure the resistance with a multimeter - the working device will show 24 Ohms

We consider in detail the process of replacing the heating element:

  1. Remove from the heating element of the wire.
  2. Scroll the fixing nut in the middle of the heater (let it stay on the edge of the thread, do not remove it).
  3. Press the nut inward, you can tap with a hammer.
  4. We get the heater. If it doesn’t come out, pry it with a slotted screwdriver, knife.
  5. We put the old part aside and install a new one, repeating the algorithm of actions in the reverse order.

If nevertheless replacement of the heating element was not needed, the amount of scale is not critical, we return all the parts to place, close the machine, tighten all the bolts, connect it to water and electricity.

Pour 150-200 g of citric acid into the powder container, set the longest mode at maximum temperature and drive the washer out without laundry.

If you cleaned all the places where microorganisms could develop your life activity, replaced the parts that had become unusable, but there was an unpleasant odor, the problem is hidden in communal utilities.

This is evidenced by the smell of rot from the sinks. Contact your service company.Well, if the unpleasant odor has disappeared, but how to prevent such a situation in the future?

Odor protection methods

Check pockets before washing. Paper napkins, crumbs, sweets are an excellent substrate for the development of mold. Place things with pile or small parts in special bags, nets.

Liquid detergents for a washing machine
Do not use liquid detergents for washing clothes with oil-grease stains (sweat, food, skin particles): they do not remove them and all the dirt remains in the machine

And a few more recommendations:

  1. Leave the machine open between use.
  2. Remove washed laundry from the drum immediately after the end of the selected program.
  3. Set the washing temperature to at least 40 degrees.
  4. Use the extra rinse mode.
  5. Dry the inside of the machine.
  6. Remove, rinse and dry the detergent drawer.
  7. Do not forget to clean the filter - one of the dirtiest places in the washing machine, often it becomes a source of unpleasant odor.
  8. Do not use cheap and low-quality powders, balms, bleaches, conditioners.

Load detergents in quantities specified by the manufacturer. Residues will not settle on the walls of the tank, creating a breeding ground for the life of microorganisms.

Proper operation is the key to the faithful and long service of the washing machine. Wipe it, ventilate, periodically clean places where bacteria, fungi love to settle, and linen will always smell fresh, not swamp mud.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

A clear demonstration of the removal and replacement of parts will help you better understand the processes.

The nuances of replacing the heating element are discussed in the following video:

Cleaning the drain filter:

The unpleasant odor from the washing machine is transmitted to things, penetrates into living quarters. It’s easier to get rid of it than to endure “aromas” all the time.

To eliminate odors from the washing machine, use high-quality detergents, rinse and clean work items - and washing will bring only positive emotions.

Have questions about the topic of the article? You can ask them in the comment box below. There you can share your own experience in dealing with unpleasant odors from the washing machine.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Sofia

    There is some kind of trouble with my washing machine. In addition to the unpleasant smell, gum leaks. I can clean and drive the washing machine with bleach at maximum temperature. What to do with an elastic band, tell me. Where can I buy a new one? Will the husband cope with the replacement or is it better to call the master? Warranty removed for a long time. Maybe another reason for the leak?

    • Expert
      Evgenia Kravchenko

      If under the rubber band you mean cuffs, then it is quite realistic to replace it yourself. Let her husband watch the video, they are full on the Internet. Nothing complicated there.

  2. Sveta

    Think before you use citric acid, I got it. I decided to drive the machine for prevention at 90 degrees with a special tool for washing machines Tiret, which includes citric acid. Now some rotten smell spreads from the machine. Now I do not know how to get rid of it.Before this “prevention” everything was fine. They write on the Internet that the source may be a gum in which dirt has accumulated, I will try to remove and clean it.

    • Expert
      Evgenia Kravchenko

      I do not think that this is due to citric acid. I suppose that there were significant contaminants, mold or fungus and one cleaning cycle dissolved them, but did not bring them to the end. In such cases, they usually drive away more, but recently there are a lot of complaints about Tiret, and a little expensive for citric acid. Try the variant with copper sulfate outlined in the article or drive it away again with an ordinary lemon.