Asked on Jun 08, 2016

Our laundry smells like a wet dog!

by Jahma

We have a front loader washing machine. I have cleaned it according to our manual. I have ran vinegar through it, I have ran bleach with some of the clothes, and nothing helps. I just threw away another small load of clothes because they stink! Anybody know why? Perhaps my machine needs cleaning or I need a specific laundry detergent for odors like this?

  22 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jun 08, 2016
    It sounds like a mildew buildup. Have you cleaned the rubber gaskets inside the door?
  • Jahma Jahma on Jun 08, 2016
    Yes, each time I take a load out I wipe the gasket down and about once a week I clean it with vinegar also. :(
  • Therese Rowe Therese Rowe on Jun 08, 2016
    I have a front loader, too, and I just don't like it NEARLY as well as a top loader. But, it conserves water, so I bought it. I don't know if you've done this but it works for me. Only you can tell if it might work for you. I mix white vinegar and baking soda (a cup of vinegar w/2 tblspoon of baking soda and 2 cups of water. Vinegar can corrode your metal parts, so always mix it with water. It's an overprecaution I take. I use a milk jug) Pour right into the tub of the washer. Don't use the dispensers. Put the washer on small load and WARM water. Small load is enough water to mix with your cleaning mixture. You can even pause your washer in mid-wash and let it sit about 10 minutes, to make sure the cleaning mix is doing its job. Let the washer run a full load, and give it a 2nd rinse, since you've used vinegar. (If this is going to be your routine, then you don't want corrosion over time with vinegar. Always mix it equal parts with water) After the cycle, wipe your tub inside dry. Wipe the rubber gasket area, too, and the door. It's a process, but it works for me. I'm single, so my laundry washing is fairly light. My clothes can smell musty if I don't wash the machine out about every 10th washing. Also, I'm on a well. It's good water but weather and ground conditions affect smell. I find the vinegar mix works for me. Again always mix vinegar with water. Depending on how often you wash, is how often you should clean it. I hope it helps. I'd call the manufacturer of the machine too. They might have a suggestion.
  • Kelli Kelli on Jun 08, 2016
    Never, nevrr allow the door to stay shut if its not in use. Ive had my machine for 18 mo; i have had no odor problem. Try using "Tide with Febreeze" pods on the clothing.
  • Jahma Jahma on Jun 08, 2016
    I will try the tide with febreeze. Thank you, we do not shut the door when it is not being used.
  • Natalia sallam Natalia sallam on Jun 08, 2016
    Add tea tree oil to your machine and run through. Then rewash clothes with a few drops of tea tree oil added That should get rid of any lingering odours
    • Renee Renee on May 02, 2021

      Hi Natalia, where do you add your TT oil? In the dispenser with detergent or do you add it "neet" in the basin?

  • MN Mom MN Mom on Jun 08, 2016
    I have a top loading machine and never keep,the lid closed after a load of wash. I've never had an odor issue in 23 years of laundry and three children. Try keeping the door open.
  • Susan Susan on Jun 08, 2016
    The best thing I have ever used for mildewed laundry is Pine Sol. It has natural pine oil which will kick any strong odor (including the worst odor of pee! lol). Just add about a quarter cup with your liquid detergent or thru the liquid detergent dispenser if you use pods. Rinse twice. Pine scent will disperse quickly if there remains any scent at all. Off-brand doesn't seem to work well at all.
    • See 1 previous
    • William William on Jun 08, 2016
      @MN Mom Me too! My washer went out two years ago. I did my research and bought a top loader. Only thing I can say is front loaders look cool but that won't clean clothes any better!
  • Suellen Hintz Suellen Hintz on Jun 08, 2016
    I was lucky in that my front loader didn't start to smell until we had it for 9 years or so. Our repairman took it apart expecting to find a slimy glaze from using too much detergent. He didn't find that and had no other suggestions. The washing machine cleaners work the best of all things I've tried. Also, never let a wet load of clothes stay in the washer, but move them to the dryer, the top of either machine or even a plastic basket if you're not able to dry them immediately. I unscrewed the lightbulb but left it in place for safety so I can leave the door open all the time. This smelly appliance should have a better design; I've had front loaders before that ever had odors.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jun 08, 2016
    I just got rid of mine too. Hated the machine from day one.Sorry...
  • Jan Munroe Jan Munroe on Jun 08, 2016
    Clean the gasket in the front regularly, slime collects there. I also leave the door ajar when not in use. When I wash I put a couple of glugs of vinegar in the softener dispenser. I don't like what softener does to towels(making them less absorbent) so it is a win win situation. Don't let clothes sit in them overnight!
  • 9530106 9530106 on Jun 09, 2016
    If you get the smelly washer problem resolved, but still have some malodorous clothes, wash them with some vinegar. No need to throw away your laundry. Good old fresh air and sunshine will help, also.
  • Shellygilley Shellygilley on Jun 09, 2016
    I know this sounds weird but use Vegetable Wash. It not is eco friendly but takes all the "gunk" out. I use it on my hands after planting, getting paint on them, etc. It's a great bathroom cleaner too. If you've used it, you know the difference in the veggies, it takes the chemicals, wax and any other junk off of them. I discovered by chance to try to clean a window, it worked!!
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jun 09, 2016
    Change out your hoses.
  • Rebecca Motsch Rebecca Motsch on Jun 09, 2016
    Mine has a clean out under the front bottom panel Don't know why they didn't put a door there but I have to remove panel to access We found it by accident when moving unit While moving it We turned on side and yucky smelly water ran out of hoses After that no more smelly clothes I always wipe down door and gasket and leave open overnight to air out Hope this helps
  • Kcama Kcama on Jun 09, 2016
    Wash an empty (or full) load with 2 cups Nature's Miracle. Works on the machine and also removes smoke smell from clothes). It's expensive to buy a big gallon, but if you have a pet, you know it's worth it. My mother gave me a raincoat she hadn't worn much, but it still reeked of smoke from her house. No amount of washing/airing/soaking would take out the smell. One wash with Nature's Miracle did it.
  • Brenda G Thomas Brenda G Thomas on Jun 09, 2016
    When you clean it use hot water and bleach only. Then take a clean cloth and wipe between the seal in front of the washer. Then leave the door open between washes to prevent the smell from returning.
  • Dee Dee on Jun 10, 2016
    I don,t have a front load but i seen a show that had told people about how dirty the cleanest house was, if there is a rubber ring when you open the door pull it back there may be mold growing there. Also leave the door open after a wash so the inside can dry.
  • Shari Shari on Jun 11, 2016
    This is a subject I am passionate (and very opinionated) about. This all-too-common complaint of front load washers developing mold, mildew and funky smells is what made me procrastinate almost 2 years before I finally broke down and bought a front loading washer. In the meantime, I did a ton of research and now I am making it my mission in life to spread the word about what I believe is the major cause of all these front load washers developing mold/mildew, based on that research. I bet you use liquid laundry soap and/or liquid fabric softener, right? It is my opinion that front load washer owners should never, EVER use liquid laundry products in their washers. From everything I have read, liquid laundry products (liquid soaps AND fabric softeners) seem to play a major role in contributing to the smelly FL washer problems. Apparently, the oils these liquid products contain are not adequately washed away because of the energy-saving low water levels. The oily film left behind on the washer's internal parts is thought to be enough to trap moisture and in turn, cause mold and mildew and unpleasant smells that can even permeate your clothes. I only use 1-2 tablespoons of powdered laundry soap per load. For several years, I have been using a homemade powdered recipe I got from this blogger: ) She wrote an eye-opening post on how her smelly washer problem went away after she switched from liquid soap to this homemade powdered version. A couple years ago, I had an appliance repairman come out about my refrigerator. He was using my laundry room door to go back and forth to his truck. On his way out he asked me about my front load washer, what kind of soap, and how much of it, I was using. He also asked whether I had experienced any mold/mildew problems. I told him my theory about liquid soaps and fabric softeners and he confirmed I was right. Interestingly, he also said he can always tell when someone uses liquid dishwasher soap in their dishwasher because it leaves a sticky film. ( I immediately stopped buying those gel packets for the dishwasher and now only use powder!) One other thing he said about the front load washers that I had not really thought about was using primarily cold water washes also contributes to the mold/mildew problem. For years, it has been drummed into our heads that we should only use energy efficient cold water washes but the truth is, front load washers actually need at least a few warm, but preferably hot water loads every week. Quite coincidentally, ever since I got my FL washer, all my laundry has been done in warm or hot water, and I use the steam feature my washer has on all towels, bed linens and my husband's dirty work clothes. I also use bleach in at least 2 loads per week. Additionally, I never leave wet clothes in the washer. Whenever I think about it, I check the folds of the gasket for hair, threads, lint or anything that can possibly trap moisture. After I finish doing laundry, I don't generally bother to wipe the door seal/gasket dry (I've read that too much pulling on that gasket or "boot" as the repairmen call it, can cause it to stretch out and fail to seal tightly against the door), but I do always leave the washer door wide open (not just cracked) and open the detergent dispenser so they can dry out. Beyond that and the powdered soap, I don't do anything special to keep my washer clean and odor-free. I don't run the "clean" cycle with those expensive "cleaning" tablets, vinegar or bleach. If you ever find mold on that gasket, you likely also have it on the internal parts of the machine that you cannot see. During my research, I came across a site that sells a little washer fan that easily installs on the back air vent of your washer. It circulates air through the interior to dry it out. Watch the videos on their site to see how the washer fan can help eliminate mold/mildew that is already in your machine. (I have no affiliation with this company--I've just read good reviews about the product. After more than 5 years of front load washer ownership, I my machine and laundry smell fine and there is no visual evidence of mold. However, if I ever see (or smell) any indication of it, you can bet I will be purchasing one of these water fans pronto! Here's the link: Switch to powdered laundry soap and discontinue liquid softener (if you use it) and I'm willing to bet you will see a marked improvement, if not total elimination of the odor.
  • Jahma Gray Jahma Gray on Jun 13, 2016
    Wow this is very helpful! I am going to make a batch of this powdered soap and see if this helps! Thank you!
  • Deborah Shaw Deborah Shaw on Jun 13, 2016
    I have had front load w and d for 14+ years, live in Central (humid) Florida, never close the door on the washer, and have never had this problem. :)