Getting the smell out of my washing machine??

Lulu Dubin
by Lulu Dubin
I accidentally left stuff in the washer overnight and naturally when I remembered, the machine and its contents smelled like mildew. I rewashed everything, but now the washing machine still has a faint smell of mildew. How do I get rid of it? Preferably I need something very natural and safe because I'm pregnant and don't want to use any dangerous fumes. Thanks in advance.
  12 answers
  • KMS Woodworks KMS Woodworks on May 12, 2013
    You could add about 1/2 cup bleach to a "empty" load and that should knock it out. Or just keep using it as is a load or two of regular washing (with prompt emptying) will also knock the smell down.

  • If bleach is not an option, I would go with vinegar (1 cup or so of Apple Cider or just plain) - also make sure after you empty the washer that you leave the lid open

  • Annette B Annette B on May 12, 2013
    TRY THIS, IT WORKS: Add 1/2 cup cascade/dishwasher detergent of preference(NOT hand dw soap!)to your dispenser. Pour 1/4 cup table salt on top of that in dispenser and then add a huge load of laundry, towels, etc. and pour 1 1/2gal white vinegar on load and wash at the hottest, longest temp possible. Works amazingly and can be used every several months as needed to ungunk the plumbing in your machine of bacteria and to rid laundry of musty smells. No harsh chemicals.Front loaders and HE washers use little water so bacteria and residue builds up afew afew months in your machine. Do a heavy load for this shock treatment. I have great success with this and do regularly as maintenance now.

  • Marcy Marcy on May 13, 2013
    I would definitely run an empty load (just water) with hot water and vinegar. And if that doesn't work well enough then run a load (just water) with heavy scented liquid fabric softener.

  • Yes, I completely agree with Marcy as you said that the smell is light now, it means it is going, but I must say that suddenly it will not go at once. You need to try one or two more times before it goes completely.

  • Lynn Lawson Lynn Lawson on May 13, 2013
    Leave the lid open! It will air out naturally. Also, if you leave your clothes in the washer overnight, be sure to open the lid as well. I did that with no after effects. The reason I didn't put them in the dryer was it was 3 am and it made too much noise.

  • Judi Judi on May 13, 2013
    Use white is safe and non-toxic.....and cheap....There is not much vinegar won't clean in a natural way.....also baking soda and vinegar for really tough stuff!.....Good luck!

  • Lanelle Kyle Lanelle Kyle on May 15, 2013
    I know of a natural laundry detergent that is totally safe and the clothes stay fresh when left in the machine. I think it is because all of the dirt rinses away instead of resettling on the fabrics or the natural enzymes don't let fungus (mildew) grow.

  • Sia@South 47th Sia@South 47th on May 16, 2013
    Baking Soda and Vinegar as mentioned. Mix it all together & toss it in. Run for a short cycle. Works like a charm! Good luck to you and congratulations on your pregnancy!

  • JEWEL C JEWEL C on Sep 03, 2015
    Tide makes a washer cleaner and if you have a high efficiency washer you should use it periodically . It should get rid of the odor .

  • Theresa Bradshaw Theresa Bradshaw on Sep 11, 2015

  • Carol Carol on Dec 16, 2015
    I found the easiest way to never have that mildew smell from my HE Front Loading machine was to leave the door open just a wee bit at all times you really don't even notice it is open, but my machine has never had that issue since. I agree with the baking soda/vinegar soak then rinse. I normally use vinegar alone as my rinse/softener and that also eliminates the mildew issue on towels etc.and keeps them fresh and soft.