Eliminate Washing Machine Odor for Good!
Washing machines are a perfect place for mold to grow. Mold can make your machine and your clothes smell bad. Come learn how to get rid of that stinky washing machine odor for good!
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Why Washing Machines Get Stinky
Washing machines are nearly always wet. Warm, moist air and the organic material (from clothing, hair, and body oils) make a perfect environment for mold to grow. Front loading washing machines are especially susceptible to mold growth because of the seal required when washing. If you look inside the rubber gasket of your front-loading washing machine, you will probably find slimy mold growing there. Top loading washing machines are also susceptible to mold growth.
Mold usually has a distinctive musty smell caused by something called MVOCs or Microbial Volatile Organic Compounds. MVOCs are compounds created by fungi and bacteria during their metabolic processes. The smell of MVOCs has been compared to stinky socks, locker room odor, wet dog, or old cheese. They give off a distinctly musty, moldy smell. There are over 200 compounds that have been identified as MVOC’s. MVOCs can be dangerous and even toxic! If you smell odors like this, you may have a mold problem in your home or office, or in this case your laundry room.
To learn more about MVOCs and the health problems they can cause check out our post: What’s that musty smell? MVOCs.
What Not To Use
Before we talk about how to clean your machine and remove the odor, we need to talk about what NOT to do. The first thing people often turn to to clean mold is the worst choice. Bleach.
Bleach is a combination of chemicals used as an agent to kill bacteria and whiten clothes, floors, and walls. Bleach contains sodium hypochlorite which is toxic to bacteria, fish, and human beings. Sodium hypochlorite can cause respiratory, skin, and eye irritation or damage. This alone is enough reason to find a better alternative cleaning agent!
Of course, there are more reasons to avoid bleach. Bleach is designed to kill bacteria, and will not completely remove a mold problem. Molds are fungi, and they can and will grow back after bleaching.
How to Clean Your Machine
There are several homemade cleaners that are safer to use than commercial washing machine cleaners. The ingredients you will need include: hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar and lemon juice. Never mix vinegar and peroxide! When mixed the chemicals form a different chemical (peracetic acid). The resulting solution is not as effective as either chemical alone. Lemon juice is safe to mix with vinegar. Both are acids and can help remove the mold. All 3 solutions have the highest safety rating by EWG.*
You can also add essential oils of orange, lemon, or tangerine in concentrations of a few drops (2-8 drops) in the vinegar. These essential oils are antimicrobial and can help eliminate the odor. The pure essential oils of these citrus fruits can cause sun sensitivity so latex or nitrile gloves are advised.
For more information about cleaning with essential oils check out our post: Essential Oils For A Healthy Home.
To clean the gasket of a front loading machine
Take a spray bottle of vinegar (or hydrogen peroxide) and spray around the interior of the gasket. Be careful not to spray yourself in the eyes! Be sure to spray the door gasket and window as well. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. Clean the inside of the gasket with a scrub brush or an old toothbrush. Rinse with water or wipe clean. Clean any removable compartments with hot soapy water or if truly gross, soak in vinegar first.
To clean a top loading machine
Spray the surface inside the lid and around the top of the machine with vinegar (or hydrogen peroxide). Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. Wipe or rinse clean after scrubbing with an old toothbrush or scrub brush. Clean any compartments that are removable in hot soapy water.
To clean the drum
Take 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide OR white vinegar (not both) and add it to the compartments of your machine used for laundry detergent, bleach, and fabric softener. If it is particularly dirty, add a cup to the drum as well. Run the machine without clothes on the hottest water setting. Allow the machine to air dry between washes by always leaving the door open.
To learn more about how and when to clean mold yourself check out our post: A Simple Guide to Cleaning Mold.
How to Keep Your Washer Clean and Fresh
To prevent future mold growth, keep the door of the washer open to allow the machine to air dry. Keep the laundry room door open if possible to allow more moisture to escape from the room.
Clean the machine at least once a month using the steps above. Cleaning frequently will prevent future mold growth. Mold growth is higher in the summer when it is warm. So in the summer, you may want to clean the machine more often.
If you also see mold or mildew growth on the walls of the laundry room, or the room still smells musty after cleaning your machine, you may want to have a professional inspection performed. There may be bigger problems than just a stinky washing machine.
We’re Here When You Need Us
Call Branch Environmental. We’re experts not only at mold removal, but at determining and remediating the underlying causes. From hidden mold sources to major contaminants. We can identify exactly what is going on in your home and rid it of environmental toxins, often for good.
Branch Environmental – Because nobody should live or work in a building that makes them sick.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is a “non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.” EWG has created a database and guide for healthy cleaning in an easily searchable format called ‘The EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning.’ The EWG Guide can help you to find safer cleaning products and check products that you already use for safety. You may find that the products you already use are not safe or that they can cause respiratory distress.
Our government does not regulate personal care products or cleaning products in a way that allows consumers to have all the facts about a product before they use it. Because of this, we urge you to learn all you can before using a product in your home or on your skin. Cleaning products affect air quality, especially if ventilation is not used during cleaning. Remember whether sanitizing or disinfecting, use good ventilation when using cleaning products.
To learn more about cleaning products and how they can be hazardous to your health, check out our post: Branch’s Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning Guide.
For more information go to:
- MONSTROUS MOLD! – Branch Environmental
- What’s that musty smell? MVOC’s – Branch Environmental
- EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning – Environmental Working Group
- Disinfecting, Sterilizing, and Sanitizing is there a Difference? – Branch Environmental
- Branch’s Non-Toxic Spring Cleaning Guide – Branch Environmental
- Beyond Mold Inspections, Branch Delivers Mold Investigations
- SODIUM HYPOCHLORITE | Substance – EWG
- Essential Oils For A Healthy Home – Branch Environmental
- 5 Reasons to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Laundry – The Spruce