Newer washing machines whether they are front load or top load are plagued with odors because of the new water saving technologies. Everyone loves saving water but I know I was not alone in dealing with the dreaded “Smelly Washer”.
My Smelly Washer
We got our Kenmore Elite Washing Machine new a little over three years ago. For the first year or so I had no issues. Gradually I started noticing smells in my laundry room. I really did not suspect the washing machine because my clothes were clean and did not smell bad. The odor resembled that of a gas leak. It would come and go and seemed worse when I had not done laundry for a few days. I even had someone out to check for a gas leak but there was none. The handyman suggested that maybe it was sewer gas coming up. We had a plumber check that out and everything was fine. After doing a lot of research I started to suspect my washing machine was the source of the odor. I thought because I had a top load that it could not be the washer. I have a model that looks like a normal upright washer with an agitator. What I did not realize is that all the newer washers have water saving functions that make them ripe for causing odors in between washes.
How I solved my Smelly Washer Problem
The first thing I tried once I was pretty sure that my washer was causing the smell was Tide Washing Machine Cleaner. While it did help, I could not stand the Tide Smell, and after some time the smell started to come back. Next I tried Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner . That worked better and left just a clean smell but still the nasty smell started to come back. After this I started to suspect my laundry detergent. I have been using free and clear type liquid detergents, and while they had no fragrance or color I noticed that they did leave scum behind. I got to thinking that this scum along with lint might be building up inside the washer or the exit hose. The Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner contains chemicals similar to Drano, so it was probably powering through the gunk that was collecting and smelling in my washer.
Changing Laundry Detergents
Since I figured out how to get rid of the smell in the washing machine, next I wanted to figure out how to keep it from coming back. I did not feel comfortable running caustic chemicals through my washer every 3 to 4 weeks so I started looking at laundry detergents. The first thing I tried was 20 Mule Team Borax . I had heard that adding this to my wash would keep the gunk from building up. While I felt it brightened my clothes the smell kept coming back. Next I tried Nellie’s Laundry Soda and I think I hit on a winner. Nellie’s is completely different from the detergents I had been using. I only need about a tablespoon to clean my clothes. I also add the Borax as needed. I noticed right away that my clothes smelled fresher. It reminded me of the smell of laundry off the clothes line. To date I have been using Nellie’s combined with Borax for over two months. I have not had to use the Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner and my Clothes are coming out clean and smell great. These laundry products are both safe for HE washers and have very low or no suds.
Washing Machine Maintenance and Tips
I am confident that I won’t need to use Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner anymore. I am thinking that by washing small loads with detergent that does not leave residue that my normal laundry cycle will keep my washing machine clean. I also remove clothes promptly after washing, and leave the lid open whenever possible.
Remember in addition to your laundry soap, if you currently add fabric softener, this will create a residue that might be tough to get rid of and contribute to odors developing in your washing machine. I do not use fabric softener, but if you feel you need something to help with hard water, add some white vinegar to your rinse cycle. This will help dissolve and rinse away mineral deposits and can even reduce static cling.
Finally, if you ever have a washer smell that you can not get rid of, you may want to call an Appliance Repair Professional to make sure you do not have a small sock or something stuck in the washer or the hose leading out of your washer.