Fighting Mildew Odors in Your Washer: Solutions and Prevention


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Have you noticed that your washer smells like mildew? You’re not alone. Washers, especially in humid climates, can be prone to mildew growth and musty odors if they aren't properly maintained. Mildew has the potential to cause serious water damage and health risks in your home, so it's important to understand what causes washer smells like mildew and how best to prevent or remove them from your appliance. In this blog post, we'll discuss common causes of a smelly washer, signs of mold growth inside the machine, and tips for prevention and removal methods when dealing with a musty smell from the washing machine.

Causes of Washer Smells Like Mildew

Poor ventilation is one of the most common causes of washers smelling like mildew. When a washer does not have adequate air circulation, moisture can become trapped in the machine and create an ideal environment for mold growth. To prevent this from happening, homeowners should ensure their washer has access to plenty of fresh air by leaving the door open after use or installing a vent fan near the machine.

Improper maintenance can also lead to musty odors coming from your washing machine. If you don’t regularly clean out lint traps and hoses, dirt and debris can accumulate over time which will cause bad smells to develop. It’s important to check these areas at least once every few months and remove any buildup that may be present.

Partially clogged drains are another potential source of unpleasant odors in your washing machine. Over time, hair, soap scum, and other debris can build up inside drain pipes, causing them to become blocked or slow-draining, leading to water backing up into your washer and resulting in foul smells emanating from it. To avoid this issue, you must periodically inspect all drain lines connected to your appliance for blockages or clogs that need clearing, so they do not cause problems down the line.

Understanding the common causes of your washer, and the dryer smelling like mildew is essential to preventing future problems. It's also important to be aware of the signs that mildew may have already developed, which we'll discuss in the next section.



Signs of Mildew in Your Washer

Musty Odor

A musty odor is one of the most common signs that mildew may be present in a washing machine. This smell can linger even after the washer has been used and can become more intense if not addressed. It is important to note that this smell does not necessarily mean mold growth, but it could indicate a problem with ventilation or other issues within the machine.

Visible Mold Growth

Visible mold growth on the walls, door seals, rear panels, and a washing machine's drum are all indicators of mildew. Mold spores thrive in warm, damp environments, so any areas where water accumulates or leaks should be checked for signs of growth regularly; plus, any leaks should be repaired. If you notice any discoloration or spots on your washer’s surfaces, it’s best to take action immediately, as these can spread quickly and cause further damage to your home if left unchecked.

Discoloration on the Drum or Tub of a Washing Machine Can Also Indicate Mildew Presence

Mildew can cause odors, discoloration, and mold growth in your washer. To prevent mildew from forming, it is important to clean the washer regularly and use high-efficiency detergents and softeners. Let's look at how to do this next. Mildew is a blanket term for mold, and some think “mildew” is not mold, while some think it's only mold, but that's far from the truth and scientific fact. What we refer to as mildew is a mix of bacterial and mold growth, and all of them have the potential to cause health issues. We have a more detailed article on the differences between mildew and mold that can explain this in more detail.

Here's a prime example of what you're looking for.

Washer Smells Like Mildew, here's why!
This is a picture of a compromised washing machine that needs to be cleaned up or removed from the home. Source of image:

How to Prevent Mildew in Your Washer

Cleaning the Washer Regularly

This is one of the most important steps in preventing mildew from forming. It’s best to clean your washing machine at least once a month with vinegar. Make sure to wipe down all surfaces, including the lid, drum, and door seal. If you notice any dirt or debris build-up in these areas, use an old toothbrush to scrub it away. Make sure you have a spray bottle to apply the cleaning solution.

Run an Empty Load with Hot Water and Two Cups of Vinegar

This will clean any mold and bacteria from within the system, but this is not usually where the mold and mildew grow unless you leave stagnant water in the machine. It usually grows due to excess humidity in the laundry room, so cleaning the washer surfaces will eliminate most of the odor. Remove the rear panel and clean what you can reach from the back. Bring a vacuum cleaner to clear out any lint ad direct that has taken up residence inside the body of the machine, then wipe down what can be reached.

Leave the Door Open After Use

Leaving the door open is another great way to keep mildew out of your washer machine. Air circulation will allow for quicker drying times between loads and prevent moisture from collecting inside the tub or drum area, which could become stagnant, leading to possible mold growth over time if left unchecked. This simple step can go a long way toward keeping your washer smelling fresh while helping extend its lifespan. Always use the appropriate cleaners depending on the age and style of the washer you own.

By taking the necessary steps to prevent mildew growth in your washer, you can save yourself from dealing with a nasty smell and potential health hazards. Now that you know how to prevent it, let's look at how to remove it if mildew has already formed.

How to Remove Mildew from Your Washer

For a more natural solution, spray white vinegar on the affected areas of your washer using a sponge or cloth. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes before rinsing it with warm water. This will help remove any lingering odors caused by mildew growth in your washer.

Bleach and water solution is another way to eliminate mildew from your washer. Mix one part bleach with ten parts water in a bucket or spray bottle, then apply the mixture to the affected area of your washer using a sponge or cloth. Let it sit for at least 10 minutes before rinsing it with warm water. This will help kill any remaining mold spores that may be present on your washing machine’s surface, as well as eliminate any unpleasant odors associated with them.

Finally, you can use commercial cleaners specifically designed for washing machines to remove mildew from your appliance's interior surfaces and fabrics if necessary. These products are usually available at most home improvement stores and come in both liquid form as well as pre-mixed wipes that can be used directly on the affected area without having to mix anything yourself beforehand. It is important to follow all instructions listed on the product label carefully when applying these cleaners so you do not damage any components inside your washing machine while attempting to clean it out thoroughly.

Cleaning your washer regularly and using the right cleaning solutions can help prevent mildew buildup.

Professional Water Damage Restoration Services for Mold Remediation

While inspecting and cleaning your washing machine, check the walls and flooring for excessive moisture because it may not be the washing machine causing the odors. It may be from leaks on the hose connections or leaks in and under the washer.

If you see mold or any other substance on the walls or floor in your laundry room, it's time to call professionals in. If you can see mold growth on walls or floors, mold is likely in the walls and flooring, down to the subfloor, and on the bottom plate and studs in the wall. It also may affect the other side of the wall, on the inside or the opposite side.

Professional water damage restoration services can help homeowners address any mold growth or damage that may have occurred from water intrusion. Through a thorough inspection and assessment of the affected areas, these professionals can identify potential issues and determine the best action for remediation.

Inspection and Assessment of Damage

During this process, technicians will inspect all areas where there is evidence of moisture or mold growth to assess the extent of the damage. They will also take samples from various surfaces to test for contamination levels so they can accurately gauge how much work needs to be done. This step is critical in ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to ensure a safe environment free from further health risks.

Removal of Contaminated Materials

Once an accurate assessment has been made, and if needed, technicians will begin removing contaminated materials, such as drywall, insulation, carpets, furniture, etc., that cannot be salvaged due to intrusive mold growth or water damage. This helps prevent the further spread of contamination throughout your home while protecting you, your family, and even your pet's health by eliminating sources of allergens and toxins associated with mold growth.

After removal has been completed, technicians will use specialized equipment such as air scrubbers and dehumidifiers to treat affected areas by reducing humidity levels and forcing the area and materials to dry properly. This helps inhibit future mold growth while helping remove odors caused by bacteria buildup due to moisture accumulation in walls or floors.

Additionally, they may apply antimicrobial treatments and encapsulation on surfaces where visible signs remain after complete removal to reduce chances for re-growth over time.




Mildew in your washer can be a nuisance, but it doesn't have to ruin your laundry day. By understanding the causes of your washer smelling like mildew and taking steps to prevent it from happening in the first place, you can keep your washer smelling fresh and clean.

If you find yourself dealing with a musty smell from your washing machine, there are several ways to remove mildew from your washer and restore its original condition. However, if water damage or black mold growth has already occurred in your home due to an appliance leak or other cause, then professional water damage restoration services for mold remediation is necessary.

If you're dealing with a washer that smells like mildew, don't panic! Damage Control 911 is here to help. We are water damage restoration and mold remediation experts in Orlando, Florida, serving Orange, Seminole, and Volusia County. Our team of experienced professionals can quickly assess your situation and provide comprehensive solutions to eliminate any unwanted odors from your washing machine. Contact us today for an inspection, and let us restore peace of mind by knowing that your home is safe from potential harm caused by water or mold-related issues!

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