How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Washer

Your washing machine is essential to enjoying clean laundry, but even it needs a little care every once and a while.

Nothing is worse than opening your washer to discover that it smells worse than your dirty laundry.

Mildew smell can take up residence in your washer because mildew thrives in warm, wet environments. Luckily, we’ve done the research, and learning how to get the mildew smell out of your washer is easy with a couple of common household items and some cleaning efforts.

What You’ll Need

You will need a few simple things to get that nasty mildew smell out of your washer.

Now that you have everything read on to learn how to get mildew smell out of your washer.

Getting mildew smell out of your washer is easily done if you follow these four steps.

1. Scrub all Washing Machine Dispensers

This is an additional step, not included in the video below, but very effective in removing mildew smell from the washer.

Remove all the dispensers from your machine and clean them with your cleaning cloth and a mixture of one part water, one part vinegar.

I recommend using Lucy’s Family Owned – Natural Distilled White Vinegar.

Lucy’s is family-owned and family-run plus gets outstanding reviews on Amazon.

Scrub well to remove any trace mildew or other grime that contributes to mildew smell.

I recommend using Amazon Basics Blue, White, and Yellow Microfiber Cleaning Cloth for your cloth scrubbing.

These microfiber cleaning cloths can absorb eight times their own weight, clean with or without chemicals, and be reused 100s of times; plus, they are wonderful to use in all kinds of other cleaning jobs.

Pro tip: To help you get into the corners of the dispensers, use an old toothbrush.

It is smaller than a cleaning cloth, which allows you to scrub out the corners and difficult to reach sections more effectively.

2. Pour Baking Soda Into Your Detergent Dispenser

Mix together ¼ cup of water with ¼ cup of baking soda.

Pour this mixture into your detergent dispenser.

The baking soda will help to neutralize any mildew smells inside your washing machine.

3. Pour Vinegar into the Washing Machine Drum

Pour 2 cups of white distilled vinegar into the drum of your washing machine.

Vinegar effectively kills many types of mold and bacteria that create mildew smell.

Now that you have your baking soda mixture in your detergent dispenser and vinegar in your washer, run a wash cycle with hot water to clean out your washing machine.

Pro tip: When cleaning your washing machine, don’t add any detergent or laundry.

Washing your machine with detergent will not remove the residue that may be feeding the mildew and bacteria.

Use only vinegar and baking soda to cleanse your washer of mildew smell thoroughly. 

4. Scrub Remaining Grime, Including the Gasket

Once the wash cycle is done, check your washer for any remaining spots of mildew and grime.

Scrub these with your cleaning cloth and water and vinegar mixture.

Remember to check the gasket, especially if you have a front-loading washer.

The gasket tends to be a place where water and grime can sit, making a perfect environment for mildew to grow.

Take your gasket out and clean it thoroughly to remove any lingering mildew smell.

Video of How to Remove Mildew Smell from Your Washer

Here is a video demonstrating how to get mildew smell out of your washing machine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my washing machine smell like mildew?

Washing machines can be prone to smelling of mildew.

Mildew grows best in warm, wet environments, and your washing machine certainly qualifies.

It is easy for water to splash into a corner and never fully dry.

This gives the mold and bacteria a place to grow and produce a mildew smell.

How do I prevent my washing machine from smelling like mildew?

You can prevent mildew smell from settling into your washing machine with a few simple habits.

First, you should use the correct kind of detergent for your washing machine.

If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you should only use a high-efficiency detergent.

High-efficiency detergent is meant to clean in less water, so it does not leave your washer coated with unused and unrinsed detergent.

This film can encourage mildew growth, so it’s best to prevent it if you can.

Second, you should remove your clothing as soon as possible.

Don’t let moisture sit in your washing machine.

This will prevent mildew from settling into your washing and into your clothes.

To help keep your front-loading washing machine as dry as possible, leave the door open slightly whenever it is not in use.

This will allow moisture to dissipate.

You can also increase the air circulation in your laundry by leaving the door open or by using a fan.

Finally, it would help if you cleaned your washing machine regularly.

Please don’t wait for it to start smelling like mildew.

Instead, you should wipe your washer down regularly and take special care to clean the gasket.

This will prevent mildew from taking hold in your washer and will prevent mildew smell in your washing machine.

Can I use bleach to clean my washing machine?

Yes, you can use bleach to clean your washing machine instead of using baking soda and vinegar.

Bleach also kills mold and bacteria and can be used safely in your washer.

Just make sure not to combine it with other chemicals and keep it out of reach of pets and children.

If you choose to use bleach to clean your washer, pour two cups of bleach into the drum of your front-loading washer, and run a wash cycle with hot water.

If you have a top-loading washer, you should pour in four cups of bleach and run a cycle on hot water.

Let the drum fill, and then pause the wash cycle for 30 minutes.

This will allow the bleach to disinfect the entirety of your washer before you finish the wash.

Rinse your washing machine afterward to remove all traces of the bleach.


I hope you have enjoyed learning how to get mildew smell out of your washing machine.

Mildew smell is easy to remove with baking soda and vinegar, both common household items, and mildew smell is easy to completely prevent with a regular cleaning habit and a little preventative care.

You no longer need to worry about your washing machine smelling worse than your dirty laundry; instead, you can now enjoy a clean washing machine free from the stench of mildew.