Musty Smell in Washing Machine

Updated on October 24, 2008
A.S. asks from Castro Valley, CA
34 answers

I have a GE front loader washer (2 yrs old) and it smells really musty inside. I just tried running an emptly load with hot water and vinegar & the smell is still there. Does anyone know what causes this smell & how to get rid of it?

2 moms found this helpful

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C.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Someone told me that you have to leave the door open when not using to let it "dry out". And when I bought mine (from Home Depot) it was recommended.
CB

1 mom found this helpful
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C.C.

answers from San Francisco on

did you get an answer I have the same problem but mine are Kenmore that I bought at Sears and they tooo are not that old. please email me [email protected]____.com my name is C..

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N.C.

answers from San Francisco on

Leave the door open on the washer to dry out between loads. I've had an LG front loader for 3 years now and have never had the problem.

Hope this helps!

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A.C.

answers from Sacramento on

Hello,

Along with checking for socks, you have to pull that gray rubber seal back and clean it out with Simple Green occasionally. Also, make sure you always leave the door open between loads. One more tip that someone gave me is running a 1/2 to 1 cup of Cascade dishwasher detergent in with a load of rags with hot water. If you do this, put the Cascade directly in the washing machine, not in the dispenser. This seems to help.

A.

1 mom found this helpful
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N.D.

answers from San Francisco on

I had the same problem and yes, do all the suggested fixes--but first, check inside the rubber door seal for loose socks. I found three of the grossest socks ever in there, and when I cleaned them out (and threw them away!) the smell was gone...

1 mom found this helpful
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K.Z.

answers from Sacramento on

HiAmy,

I have the LG front loader that has a huge thick rubber "boot" where the door meets the machine to have secure suction. That boot allows water to drain through it -just recently was told by the service gentleman that if you don't wipe it down mold will form over time. There is a product that you can get that you run through a cycle (without) clothes. It's called "Affresh" they are tablets that you use once a month to clean the washer out of residue that is left. Their number is 800-643-0961- it's made by Whirlpool but I would call them to see if it's okay to use in your GE's. If you have a filter on your machine make sure that is clean too. He also told me to make sure I wasn't using too much soap because that can also build up and smell. Hope this helps-If not call GE and make them clean it!

1 mom found this helpful
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K.T.

answers from Fresno on

My friend has these, but I think her's are maytag, anyway it is probably mold. They own and appliance repair store and that is what they have been finding. She said that if she leaves a load of clothes in there for even and hour she has to rewash everything. The only solution she has found is to take the clothes out right away and leave the door open when not in use.

1 mom found this helpful
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G.R.

answers from Sacramento on

I have a kenmore front loader and from time to time have the same problem. I wipe down the rubber sealer around the door, making sure to get into the creases. The manual recommends not keeping the door closed all the time too so that it has time to dry and not get moldy. (Doing laundry all the time, but happy when thinking about my grandmother doing it with a hand agitator and wringer and line drying for six kids).

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A.C.

answers from San Francisco on

using a baking soda paste to wash off the drum, seals and door might work. I don't know for sure, but if it works on a mildewy fridge I'd think it would work on a washer also.

Good luck.

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D.D.

answers from San Francisco on

Like Tracey mentioned, they sell tablets specially made for front loading washers. I can't remember the name, but they were just on sale at Best Buy - located in the appliances section. Even on sale, they were $20 for 2 tablets, to use once every 6 months.

I tried the vinegar, baking soda, etc & the tablet has been the only thing that keeps the smell away.

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G.B.

answers from Sacramento on

I have a LG front-loading washer and there is a tub clean cycle. I discovered it in the owner's manual after I couldn't take the smell anymore. I dry the door and the rubber part inside, then add bleach and run it on the tub clean cycle.

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S.K.

answers from Merced on

I have a similar washing machine with the same issue. I found a film on the door and the rubber seal on the machine. I used a cleaner (clorox spray)on the door, rubber seal and the smell went away.

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D.F.

answers from San Francisco on

Hello A.,

The manufacturer is aware of this problem and there actually was quite a fuss over it about two years ago. I remember they said they would correct this situtation under warranty, but there was a time window for doing so. It did have something to do with the rubber ring. Try giving GE a call and see what happens, because you are many of hundreds with this same problem.

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L.H.

answers from San Francisco on

It could be what some of the other people have responded with: washer isn't properly draining or the seal is in need of replacement. It can also be the water itself-- if the water is hard it can cause that smell on a consistent basis. The best product I've found to clean the washer that doesn't ruin the seals like running an empty washer with bleach can, is Smelly Washer. You can get it from smellywasher.com . It's a powder and it works really well, even in HE washers.... It can also be used in a laundry load itself. For front loaders, just disolve it in distilled water before dumping it in the dispenser.

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E.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Once in a while maybe you have to leave the door open.

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J.H.

answers from Salinas on

Hi A.,

I had that problem too, now I leave the door open when the machine is not in use and since it gets a chance to air and dry out, it no longer smells. I hope this works for you. I tried the vinegar wash too. Also, check in the folds of the gasket in front, make sure nothing is stuck in between.

Good luck

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T.Y.

answers from Sacramento on

We just moved from one house to another and had the same issue in our washer. We pressure hosed the inside getting into each hole and then used bleach directly into the tub, ran a quick prewash cycle to put water in and then a rinse cycle to get all the water out and that seemed to help. Also, cleaning the back of the washer and inside the buckets where the fabric softener goes can help.
Good luck!
T.

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V.A.

answers from San Francisco on

The best thing is to keep the door open when not in use. Washers that have high rpm are air tight, which is a breeding ground for mold because they can't air out.

Regards,
V.

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T.L.

answers from Sacramento on

I agree with all of the previous responses, I just wanted to add that they sell something at the store to refresh your front loader. I had to have mine repaired and the repair man told me that you are supposed to use the refresher a couple of times a year. It is a tablet that goes inside the washer. Good Luck!

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A.D.

answers from Sacramento on

There is a special detergent and/or additive that you can put in front loaders to help with the smell. I don't remember the name, but you should be able to find it where you got the washer (or Sears, Lowe's, or Home Depot).

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M.L.

answers from Redding on

it is most likely the floppy rubber seal that the door fits into. The rubber kind of makes a flap that if you pull the flap up and look on the inside underneath part you will probably find gunky residue. Spray those crevases with vinegar and wipe out with a paper towel. I notice the smell more when my husband does laundry because he completely closes the door when finished. i usually leave the door cracked a bit so it can air dry.

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Y.R.

answers from San Francisco on

unfortunately that smell is one of the more unfortunate facts of life and points to a bacteria build- up. i used full strength "citra-solv" and it worked. use about half a cup for the smallest wash load capacity. use hot water.
this worked for me. Citra-solv is all natural and pricey but it did work.
good luck!

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J.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Run a wash of baking soda, lime juice (or Bac-Out) and leave the lid open after every wash session.

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M.B.

answers from San Francisco on

I have no advice except to use bleach but I had to laugh about the knee deep in laundry because that is how I feel and I only have one hahahaha!

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C.M.

answers from Chico on

Front washing machines need to have the door left open to dry out in between washes or they get musty. Also, on mine, there is a small door on the front with a filter that needs to be drained and cleaned out monthly...not sure if your model has a filter to clean.

If you check the appliance section of any store, they make special cleaning tablets. I'm surprised that the vinegar didn't work though...it works for most smells. :0)

Good luck with it!

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L.M.

answers from San Francisco on

The instructions that came with my Whirlpool warned of this, and yes it's happened to me too! Anyway, what I've found and also what the manual said was to leave the door open until it's dried out. Like mine ever gets to sit that long!

I also once a month run a load of bleach through it, I tend to use it to whiten socks or other such, but it kills the smell. I definitely notice when I forget a month.

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D.C.

answers from Fresno on

Have you tried running a cycle on the machine cleaning mode with just bleach? We do that whenever we start to get any odor and it goes away.

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Y.S.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.:

Front load washing machines are known to develop mold because the drum is at a slight back tilt and water collects, thus the musty smell. Run bleach and hot water through a cycle and leave the door open at all times to help dry out the inside. You may want to examine the door seals fo mold as well and spray with a bleach water mix. My brother goes through this with his and deterred me from buying a front laod machine.

Y.

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K.R.

answers from San Francisco on

Hi A.,
You are not alone regarding the musty smell with a front load washer. My sister & I has the same problem. At present our only solution has been to leave the washer door open between washes. This helps to reduce the smell some, but the smell never goes away completely. I've thought about calling sears, but just have not made the time.
K.

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J.O.

answers from San Francisco on

Keep the door open after every wash to keep from mildew growing. Hope that helps

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A.S.

answers from Sacramento on

If you haven't already, pull the gray rubber lining back (there's a small space of separation that runs along the entire thing) around the opening and see if any small socks are stuck in there. I usually find one in there after a couple of loads and it may be the source of your smell.

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P.C.

answers from San Francisco on

If you still have the original manual, check to see if there are instructions a "cleaning cycle" (the manual might be online as well - mine was). I have a GE front loading washer that recommends that you run a cleaning cycle once a month - it involves adding bleach and then pushing a random bunch of buttons on the panel (you really need the manual to do it), and that supposedly deep-cleans the washer. So far so good, but I do also keep the door of washer open *and* the drawer that takes the soap open when I'm not using the washer. With my washer, the worst thing I can do is leave clothes in the thing overnight - they end up stinking and need re-washing. Good luck!

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L.P.

answers from Sacramento on

A.,
I had the same issue with a top loading machine. i kept smelling moldy/musty smell. I found that it was the drain tube. Mine was clogged with debris/hair etc so that the water was not draining comepletey & the remaining water woould sit in there & start to smell....Check your drain hose....
Hope this helped...Good Luck
L.

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J.M.

answers from Fresno on

We bought a really nice front loader and got the same smell after a couple of weeks, we called a repair man and he said all front loaders have that problem. They get a mold around the seal by the door because it stays moist all the time. Some of the things that work are wiping the water out of the seal after you finish with the all the loads so that it is dry, and using bleach wipes on the seal gets rid of the smell. proping the door open in between loads keeps the smell away but you have to be very careful with small children in case one tries to crawl in. we have to fence off our laundry room. I would not buy a front loader again after my experience. they do use less water, but you spend a lot of time dealing with the smell.
J.

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