Why does my washer smell like fish?

Sarah
by Sarah

I've noticed a fishy smell coming from my washing machine. What is the reason for this and how can I clean my washer to get rid of the odor?

Washer smells like fish



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  20 answers
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Feb 21, 2023

    Use a Calgon tablet in the wash on it's own without clothes. Probably a build up of calcium in the machine.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Feb 22, 2023

    Front loaders have a common issue with odors. Clean with Afresh and remove the odor. Then make sure you prop the door open to prevent it in the future.

  • Janice Janice on Feb 22, 2023

    I'd recommend running your washer with 2-3 cups of white cleaning vinegar, when finished, wipe any rubber gaskets well with vinegar as well.

  • GrandmasHouseDIY GrandmasHouseDIY on Feb 22, 2023

    We have a front loading washer as well and one thing I always do that seems to help a lot is to always leave the door open when we're not using it. We also use white vinegar instead of liquid fabric softener and that helps keep it clean and keep is smelling good all the time. Here's how to thoroughly clean it, "Sprinkle 1/3 cup baking soda in an empty washer drum. Pour 2 cups white vinegar in the detergent tray. Run a cleaning cycle or regular wash with hot water. For persistent mildew, pour 2cups bleach in the bleach dispenser and run a second wash cycle."

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Feb 22, 2023

    front loaders have to be cleaned - you have to clean the seal and the rubber gaskets regularly to get rid of the fishy smell.

    don't use bleach it will cause the rubber to break down use white vinegar


  • Front lad machines are notorious for odors. Be sure to wipe the gaskets after using and leave the door open for it to dry.

  • Dee Dee on Feb 22, 2023

    There is a cycle on the washer to clean it. You can use bleach or white vinegar. Never close your washer, let it dry out.

  • Hi Sarah. Electrolytic capacitors make a fishy smell when they are going bad. So maybe the control electronics are breaking down. Or you may have a lint build-up under the tub that stays damp and has mold or bacteria growing in it. Also, If your washing machine smells like fish, it's likely due to a build-up of dirt, grime, and bacteria.

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Feb 27, 2023

    I would use this product and then agree with Kathy, make sure you always leave the door wide open when not using it to make sure it dries out!

  • Sarah Sarah on Feb 28, 2023

    Thanks for the advice everyone

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 01, 2023

    We have a front loader and to avoid smells, wipe out the rubber gasket where it meets the door, go all the way around it with a clean dry rag and leave the door open always. Another hot spot where mold and bacteria can grow is the sliding dispenser part of the washer, dry that out as well and leave open.


    To clean your washer, put 1-2 cups plain white vinegar and your hottest wash cycle, then wipe down when done.

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 02, 2023

    Pour two cups of white vinegar into the drum, then run a normal cycle at high heat—without any clothes, of course. The baking soda and vinegar should break up any residue stuck to your drum and kill any mold that might be present. They'll also help remove any foul odors.

  • Deb K Deb K on Mar 12, 2023

    Hi Sarah, hope this helps you out, front load machines can get smelly if you close them up after each load, I keep mine open all the time except when washing a load. Hope this helps you get it cleaned pout and smelling fresh again! Also use a microfiber cloth and some straight white vinegar to wipe down the rubber door gasket thoroughly.

    1. Sprinkle 1/3 cup baking soda in an empty washer drum.
    2. Pour 2 cups white vinegar in the detergent tray.
    3. Run a cleaning cycle or regular wash with hot water.
    4. For persistent mildew, pour 2cups bleach in the bleach dispenser and run a second wash cycle.


    • See 1 previous
    • Deb K Deb K on Mar 20, 2023

      So happy to help!

  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 03, 2023

    It helps to leave the door to the washer ajar after using it. This allows fresh air to come in and help dry it out.

  • Dee Dee on Dec 11, 2023

    Your rubber gasket is dirty and maybe the lint trap on the bottom of the machine. Clean both of these with white vinegar and water. Run your machines tub cleaner with bleach only.

  • Annie Annie on Dec 12, 2023

    Here's a video on washer cleaning that will hopefully help! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWhW0AAVyxk

  • If you shut the door all the way after use, it doesn't have a chance to air out and dry. After running an empty load with either just some bleach or some vinegar, make sure you leave the door propped open every time you're done.

  • Pollyyy Pollyyy on Apr 08, 2024

    did you solve it ? try to find more

  • Dee Dee on Apr 09, 2024

    Check your drain cleaner on the bottom of the washer. There is a tube to take out and drain the stale water. Also a filter that needs to be free of lint and dirt. Wash the filter with dawn and hot water.

  • It's often the gasket around the opening of the machine. I would run a damp paper towel around it to remove any ick and then run the machine with vinegar. We used to have that issue all the time. I finally got a top loader and it doesn't smell at all. https://www.exquisitelyunremarkable.com/2023/04/why-i-love-my-top-loader-washing-machine.html