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My washing machine smells and so do the clothes, why?

FAQ Catagory: 

Smelly washing machine and clothing

The smell is unmistakeable, every time you open the door or handle the wet washing you can smell that bad odour. Instead of that fresh clean smell of freshly laundered clothing you have that bad smelly odour that you hope will disappear as the clothes dry..........

Why do washing machines develop that smell?

Washing machine smells can develop because of bacteria breeding on residue left behind after a wash. The residue is made up of soap detergent, softener and soiling (from the clothes) all clinging to surfaces within the inner tub/drum compartment. The damp, warm and dark conditions within the tub are an ideal enviroment for bacteria to start growing, and the bacteria give off that smell. The more they grow the stronger the smell.

Years ago much higher temperature washes were performed as the norm, 60*C and 90*C were often used for white cottons and boil washing. In these modern times we do lower temperature washing, 40*C even 30*C are enough to get modern clothes clean because of the advancement in detergent technology. Unfortunately this does not "clean" the washer as well, it in fact helps the bacteria to survive and breed, increasing the problem.

Soiling is a common sight within washing machines in hard water areas, the strenghening ribs of the drum backplate provide the ledges for residue to settle on, and its where the bacteria breed. Hard water requires extra dosing of detergent, a common failure is to underdose with detergent in order to save money, thus increasing the problem. The advice and guidance for dosing detergent is usually found on the packaging, its well worth following that guidance, even in soft water areas. Underdosing with detergent can lead to this problem regardless of your water hardness.

Your normal detergent contains water softners, dose correctly and there is no need to add anything else to your wash. After market extras do work, but you already have softners in your detergent. Why buy more?

What you can do to get rid of that smell

A couple of simple steps to do

  1. after using your appliance dry the door seal off and leave the door open
  2. dry the seal, in the lowest section water collects even if the seal has a drain hole, dry this and help prevent black mold from forming. Dry it before you remove your laundry.

    Leaving the door open and drying the seal helps the inside dry out and that reduces the chances of bad smells.

  3. Once a month perform a service wash. Whats that? A hot wash 60*C or 90*C cycle with a detergent that includes an oxygen bleach, that means a powder detergent as liquid detergents do not have oxygen bleach in them.


The combination of hot water and bleach will remove the bacteria that are causing the smells. If your washer has been smelling for a while the problem will only be solved by repeated Service Washes, once the problem has been solved a 4 weekly/ monthly Service wash will keep the smell in check.

If you have a removable lint filter remember to keep this clean also.

DAR (Rotherham) Ltd,
The Grange,
Sandhill Road,
South Yorkshire
S62 5NT

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