How to clean a dryer that smells?

by Abby

My dryer smells so bad. How can I clean it?

  17 answers
  • Oliva Oliva on Jan 14, 2019

    Hi, Pat,

    Wipe interior drum with a damp cloth, then wipe dry.

    Wipe all gaskets to insure they are clean and free of moisture. Wipe reverse of glass door, and door gasket, also.

    Open detergent compartment, remove insert, wipe out both with a wet rag, using Q-Tips for crevices, if needed. Replace the insert. Leave compartment door and dryer door open between uses.

    Once yearly, disconnect the vent piping and using a shop vac, clean out all accumulated lint, making sure you vacuum the entire vent length. Reconnect piping and seal with heat resistant tape.

    Many dryer manufacturers advise against use of fabric softeners, as they leave a residue in your dryer, and lengthen drying time. Better to use felted wool dryer balls which you can make or purchase. They will last you an average of 5 years.

    Remove lint from lint trap after every load. If you find lint trapped at the bottom of the lint trap section, remove the trap and use a vacuum extension or sticky tape on a flexible yardstick or similar to remove accumulated lint in this area.

  • Landsharkinnc Landsharkinnc on Feb 27, 2018

    be sure your lint trap is clean, and all the VENT PIPE is also cleaned -- lint accumulates and will hold odors as it builds up - it is also a terrible fire hazard ... you will need to pull the dryer out from the wall to clean the vent tubing - and it's very inexpensive to replace with the flexible kind if you need -- and use your vacuum cleaner to get into where the tubing connects to the dryer -- there are also long flexible brushes to use from the 'door' side of the dryer --- bet it' stuffed up with a ton of old lint!

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jun 12, 2019

    I'm a bit confused as to how the wool balls left the smell. Regardless of that point, you could try Odo-Ban which is a disinfectant as well as odor eliminator. It has a light eucalyptus scent. White cleaning vinegar would be the other option I would try.

    Perhaps there is something trapped in the shell of the dryer. You can remove the panels and check around the outside of the drum. It seems more likely that is where the smell is originating.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 12, 2019

    Clean the filter really good, wiping it out with some bleach.

    then put in some charcoal pieces that are used in a grill and close the door for a few days.

    Have you tried spraying in some Febreez and turning it on to let it circulate through the system?

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 12, 2019

    Hello Marsha,

    Have you cleaned out the Fluff Gatherer Filter and the Water container?

  • Lindsay Aratari Lindsay Aratari on Jun 15, 2019

    I would run the dryer with essential oils on the wool dryer balls. We use wool dryer balls as well and apply 3 drops of essential oils to them for each load of laundry. It makes our clothes and the dryer smell very nice

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Nov 15, 2018

    Clean inside the lint trap area(pull out lint trap and use dryer cleaning lint brush) and the dryer hose that runs to outside take the clamps off and clean it out(you should do this regularly anyway can cause fires). fabric softener causes more lint to get stuck and it may be musty smelling.I use vinegar in the rinse cup for laundry it's a natural softener maybe you could wash some towels like this and put them in dryer and see if they smell when they are dry. I also quit using fabric softener because of the build up in dryer. I use Woolies dryer balls they help with static from lanolin in wool and I put real essential oil on them if I want scented laundry like lavender in my bedding.Leave your dryer door open like washer

  • Oliva Oliva on Nov 15, 2018


    Have you cleaned the dryer drum? Better Homes and Gardens and Angie's List websites have articles addressing how fabric softeners can cause a film build up on dryer drum and in some cases impede dryer efficiency/operation.

  • you may need your filter ducts to be thoroughly cleaned. Even though you probably clean the lint trap, the tubing and ducts that lead to outside need to be cleaned out occasionally. there are professionals who can do it or you can try You Tube to see if you want to try it your self.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Nov 03, 2021

    when your hose to the back of the dryer gets clogged up it will sometimes hold water or moisture and will cause smells in your dryer- unhook hose from back and blow out with a leaf blower (this is the hose that goes to outside or attic wherever your dryer is attached to) and you should be fine- if that doesn't unclog it or you have never cleaned it then you can get someone to come out to do it for not a lot of money and they run a long brush down the pipe/hose to unclog it.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 03, 2021

    Here you go:

    How To Get A Bad Smell Out Of Your Dryer

    Are you wondering, “Why does my dryer smell bad?” That odor emanating from your dryer is usually due to lint that has accumulated in the lint trap. Dirty lint can smell absolutely horrible. But, once you remove it your dryer will be fresh as a rose. Here’s how to clean your lint trap in just a few minutes:

    • Step 1: Turn your dryer off and unplug just to be safe.
    • Step 2: Start by removing the lint trap from your dryer. Scrape off as much lint as you can with your hands. Use your vacuum with the hose attachment to suck out the rest of the lint. If the trap is not perfectly clean, then you can then run it under some running water and use a soft brush to remove any stubborn dirt. Then set the lint trap aside and allow it to dry completely before you put it back in the dryer.
    • Step 3: Use your vacuum with the hose attachment to clean out the hole for your lint trap. Using your vacuum to suck out that dirt is quicker and more effective than using any kind of cloth or brush.
    • Step 4: While vacuuming, take the time to clean the entire area around and under your dryer. Clean out the dryer vent as well. This is extremely important and should be done regularly since lint likes to hide in this area. Cleaning around your dryer helps prevent this dirt from sneaking into various small spaces.
    • Step 5: Take a moment to go outside and vacuum the exterior of your dryer vent. The flaps in the duct should be able to move freely. If not, check for debris that could be causing an obstruction. It’s not uncommon for debris to become stuck but it is important to quickly take action. This is also a good opportunity to check the ventilation system for any signs of wear and tear. Given the high temperatures, it’s not uncommon for vents to require replacement at some point.
    • Step 6: You may have heard that vinegar is a great natural cleaner and deodorizer. It can be used all around the house and you don’t have to worry about harmful fumes like you do with strong chemicals. Take a clean cloth and dip it in some distilled white vinegar. Clean the inside of your dryer with this damp cloth and make sure that you wipe every inch. This includes the door, and the area under the rubber gasket in the door seal. If you find that your cloth is not as damp as it should be, apply more vinegar and continue wiping until you have cleaned the entire interior of your dryer. Leave the door open and open a window to allow air venting.
    • Step 7: Give the exterior of your dryer a wipe down with a clean, damp rag. Do not use a dripping wet cloth and do not use anything that could cause scratches. Take this opportunity to inspect the exterior of your dryer and make sure that there’s no other damage to any of the other parts.


  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 03, 2021

    I would wipe it down inside with OdoBan then put a few drops of OdoBan on wool dryer balls and run a cycle.

    Also, make sure you have cleaned your lint trap out with a long tool that cleans deep inside the dryer. You could have something stuck inside the walls.

    If that doesn't fix it, remove the out casing on the back and make sure you don't have some type of dead animal in it.

  • You can dip a clean cloth in distilled white vinegar, then just run the cloth around the inside of the dryer, including under the rubber gasket that seals the door. It will help deodorize the dryer's interior. Leave the door of the machine open until the vinegar smell dissipates.

  • Wipe it down with vinegar. I always leave it open when not in use to let air circulate.

  • Alex Brown Alex Brown on Nov 04, 2021

    try cleaning the dryer with vinegar spray. I hope it solves your issue. Keep cleaning your dryer on regular basis.

  • Deb K Deb K on Nov 06, 2021

    Hi Abby, Take a clean cloth and dip it in some distilled white vinegar. Clean the inside of your dryer with this damp cloth and make sure that you wipe every inch. This includes the door, and the area under the rubber gasket in the door seal.

    Hope it helps you out

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 13, 2022

    Step 1: Clean the dryer lint screen

    Start by running your dryer lint screen under streaming water. If water pools on the surface of the screen, that’s a sign of product buildup (likely from fabric softener). This means air isn’t able to properly flow through the lint screen, which can become a major fire hazard!

    Wash with soap and water then rinse completely clean. Air dry completely before you place it back in your dryer.

    Step 2: Clean the dryer lint trap

    Use your vacuum cleaner and a narrow hose attachment to vacuum up any lint left behind in your dryer lint trap. You might have to use a cleaning brush or your fingers to loosen some of the lint before vacuuming it up.

    Step 3: Mix your cleaning solution


    If you’re dealing with mold, I recommend using a bleach mixture to clean. Mix 1 cup (or less) of chlorine bleach with 1 gal of water (per CDC guidelines).


    If you’re not dealing with mold, another simple cleaning solution can be created using distilled white vinegar. Mix 1 part distilled white vinegar with 1 part filtered water.

    Step 4: Wipe down the dryer basin

    Regardless of the cleaning solution you choose, grab a cleaning cloth dipped into the cleaning solution and use it to wipe down the dryer basin. Repeat this step until your dryer is clean. Then just wipe down with water and don't forget the base also.