We’ve all been there. We take out our laundry after it’s done, expecting the delightful scents of the laundry detergents, but instead, we’re hit with a musky odour that is disgusting the least.

But what exactly can be the cause of the problem? Washing your clothes with detergents is supposed to produce the opposite result – nice smelling clothes.

Well, smelly clothes after washing can be because of numerous reasons, so let’s take a look at how you can battle the odour your washing machine is causing and how to prevent it.

What Causes Smelly Clothes?

Clothes smell after washing because of one of two reasons – the fabric or the washing machine (maybe even both). If your clothes only smell after washing them in the washing machine, then the problem is coming from there. There can be multiple reasons as to why your washing machine smells. Some of the most common are:

  • Dirty washing machine
    Dirt buildup in the washing machine is the perfect place for smelly bacteria to develop. It thrives in dark and moist conditions. With time this may cause skin irritation.
  • Hard water
    If the place where you live has hard water, there is nothing really that you can do about it. The only way you can prevent smelly bacteria buildup in your washing machine is through regular cleaning.
  • The clothing itself
    If the smelly clothes are your gym gear or generally garments that you’re sweating regularly in, then there isn’t something that you can do about it.

How to Eliminate Washing Machine Smell

Luckily, when the smell is coming from the washing machine there are ways that you can combat it.

With the use of the proper cleaning detergents, the right maintenance and understanding how the washing machine works you can keep it smelling fresh and in good operating condition for a long time.

How to fight and prevent limescale buildup in washing machines

Limescale buildup is one of the most common, yet overlooked reasons why your washing machine smells bad.
The reason limescale appears is because of ‘hard water’. The white, chalky substance usually clogs the draining holes, often causing the smell of stale water inside your washing machine.

Fighting limescale deposits happens in two ways. You can always go with the safe method and use off the shelf detergent. If you don’t mind using harsher detergents you may be able to see results immediately after using.

Keep in mind that some detergents have to be used multiple times before any effect can be seen.

The second way to fight limescale buildup in your washing machine is trough adding natural ingredients to ‘soften’ the water.

How to clean a washing machine naturally

Thankfully, washing machines can be cleaned easily. Both front loading and top loading washing machines can be cleaned in the same way.

For top loading washing machines set the washing machine to a full load warm water cycle to make sure you can use. For front loading machines a medium warm water cycle would be sufficient as the drum is a bit smaller than the one of a top loading washing machine.

Supplies needed for cleaning a washing machine:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Water

Step by step washing machine cleaning:

  • Add the baking soda to your washing machine detergent container.
  • Pour vinegar into the washing drum;
  • Launch a warm water cycle.

Leave the machine to do the work for you. The combination of vinegar and baking soda will break up any limescale deposits in combination to eliminating mould.

After the washing cycle is completed, clean the door inside out. Deposits often build up on the door resulting in smell emanating from the washing machine.


Clean thoroughly the slimy build up in the detergent container. It often has water staying inside it, thus creating the smell of stale water. This would later transfer to your clothes. This is some text.

How to Keep Your Washing Machine in Top Condition

There is one secret to keeping any machine working well and having a long life – maintaining it correctly.

In order to keep your washing machine in top condition and avoid odour build up, make sure to perform a cleaning cycle every two to three weeks, depending on usage

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Image source: Shutterstock/ThamKC

  • Last update: June 14, 2019

Posted in Cleaning Guides

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