How To Get The Mildew Smell Out Of Your Dryer

The end of every dryer cycle should have you feeling like you are starring in a laundry detergent commercial, inhaling the scent of fresh mountain air, but what happens when that fantasy does not reflect your reality?

What happens when you are left with clothes that smell worse than when they went into the wash? 

You might have a nasty mildew-smelling problem on your hands.

So how do you get the mildew smell out of your dryer? 

Follow the steps down below to allow yourself to jump into that newly laundered pile of clothes with abandon! 

What You’ll Need

To get the mildew smell out of your dryer, you will need the following items:

  • Gloves
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Scrub brush
  • Clean towel
  • Vacuum
  • Spray bleach
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Bleach or white vinegar (If someone in your household has an allergy or aversion to bleach or if you prefer to use more natural solutions, use white vinegar in its stead)
  • Baking soda
  • Water

Step By Step Instructions For How To Get Mildew Smell Out Of Dryer

1. Unplug Dryer And Spray Around It

First, be sure you have unplugged your dryer so that there is no electricity connected.

This is a safety precaution that needs to be addressed before completing the following steps.

Using a bleach spray, spray around the outside of the dryer for any mildew that might have grown behind or around the dryer unit.

If you don’t have any in the home, we recommend Clorox Clean-Up Cleaner Spray with Bleach because it is a powerful bleach and has a smart tube inside that will allow you to spray every drop, thus eliminating any wasted product.

2. Vacuum Vent Hose

Use a vacuum to vacuum the vent hose to remove any dust or debris that might have been trapped.

Be sure to also check the vent access to the outdoors for the same buildup.

It is good practice to check the vent hose and outdoor access to the vent periodically as a buildup of debris or dust is a fire hazard.

3. Remove And Clean Lint Trap

Remove lint trap from your dryer.

While wearing rubber gloves, create a solution of hot water, bleach, or white vinegar.

Use the solution to wash the mesh screen of the lint trap. Allow the lint trap to air dry.

Also, clean the area around the vent trap, using a vacuum and the cleaning solution where necessary.

As in step two, it is good to check and clean the lint trap periodically to avoid a fire hazard.

4. Identify Source Of Odor

Smell around the dryer to attempt to identify any areas that seem to contain the mildew odor.

This might be a source of mildew odor and should be the main area of concern.

5. Spot Treat Sources of Odor

Create a paste out of baking soda and water.

In locations that you identify as possible sources of the mildew odor, apply the baking soda paste.

Leave the paste on for half an hour to an hour. 

Wipe off the baking soda paste with a damp towel.

If the smell persists in this area, repeat as needed.

6. Scrub Insides Of Dryer With Solution

While wearing rubber gloves, mix between 1/2-1 cup of bleach OR white vinegar with a gallon of water in the bucket.

If you need to pick up a pair of cleaning gloves, we recommend these Reusable Kitchen Cleaning Gloves With Latex Free, Cotton Lining that get excellent reviews on Amazon.

Soak the sponge in the bleach/vinegar solution.

Scrub the insides of the dryer. 

Keep an eye out for the door, hard-to-reach places, such as crevices, the door well, and the rubber on the door.

Be sure to scrub those well.

Let the solution air dry in the dryer.

If the dryer still has the mildew odor after air drying, use undiluted bleach or white vinegar and repeat this step.

7. Dry Towels And Baking Soda

Grab a couple of clean towels and soak them in cold water and vinegar. 

Run the towels through the dryer on the lowest setting.

This should help remove any lingering mildew odor as well as possible bleach or vinegar solution odors.

Instead of using baking soda, it is possible to replace the baking soda with white vinegar and water.

Run the towels in the dryer as above.

8. Check Water Quality

If the mildew odor is still present, check to see if you have hard water or if your water has sulfur in it.

Minerals and hardness of water get heated up in the dryer and will cause a more pronounced odor than when wet.

A water softener or filtration system may be necessary to address this issue.

Commonly Asked Questions About How To Get The Mildew Smell Out Of Your Dryer

Shouldn’t my dryer always be clean since clean clothes are put in it?

In theory, yes, but often clothes get left in the washing machine or between cycles in the dryer.

Those damp clothes will become a breeding ground for mildew!

If you do have a problem with a mildew smell in your clothing, check out our article dedicated to teaching you how to get the mildew smell out of your clothes.

Will vinegar harm my dryer?

If you use a large amount of vinegar and use the vinegar solution frequently, over time, it will damage the rubber seal.

For cleaning the dryer, however, you will not be using enough to harm the rubber seal or any other part in the dryer.

Will vinegar make my dryer smell worse?

No, vinegar is a natural deodorizer.

Its strong smell dissipates once it dries.

It is less harsh than bleach and is a good choice if anyone in your household is sensitive to bleach.

Can I use both vinegar and bleach to strengthen the solution?

NO! Do not mix vinegar and bleach.

A vinegar and bleach mixture will create chlorine gas, which is toxic. 

What if none of these steps help remove the mildew odor?

If the problem still persists, the problem may not be your dryer but instead your washing machine. 

Your next step would be to clean your washing machine to remove any mold or mildew.

Check out our article dedicated to teaching you how to clean and get the mildew smell out of your washer.


I hope you enjoyed learning how to get the mildew smell out of your dryer. 

Do not go through the effort of doing your laundry only to end up with a mildew odor on your “clean” clothes.

Getting the mildew smell out of your dryer is a fairly simple process.

The more frequently you do it, the less elbow grease you have to put into it down the line!