How to Descale a Washing Machine: A Thorough Guide


Why does your washing machine smell? How can you remove the smell of your washing machine? Why do you need to descale your washing machine? How can you descale your washing machine?”

Well, these are some of the questions which might be occasionally crossing your mind, especially in the cold dusty damp weather of the monsoon season. Over this period, the wonderful fragrance of your fresh clothes may have started to disappear and your washing machine itself might not smell that fresh anymore. Although it can be pretty unpleasant to have a smelly washing machine, this isn’t a big issue to be worried about, you can simply fix it!

In this article, we will be providing you a brief idea about why your washing machine smells unpleasant and will give you some top tricks and easy guidance for banishing any nasty odors and bringing the delightful fragrance back to your machine and to make your washing days a little bit better.

Why Does your Washing Machine Smell Unpleasant?

If your clothes aren’t smelling fresh and neither is your washing machine then it’s most likely due to a build-up of bacteria, detergent, dirt or limescale inside your machine. This can fester in various places where there’s a residual detergent, mold, or lint (an assembly of cloth fibers).

Lint and detergent get naturally deposited because of use, thus providing a suitable humidity which thrives them to sustain in such an environment. The biggest problem of this is your laundry smelling nasty, damp or musty, even when dry, as well as an undesirable smell coming from inside of your machine which makes cleaning your washing machine an absolutely ideal plan if you want to avoid such unpleasant smells.

How to Get Rid of that Foul Odor of your Washing Machine?

A nasty smelling washing machine is no fun, so let’s hit that unpleasant odor where it hurts.

Step 1: Mix Baking Soda & Water

Baking Soda

Your first approach should be to bleaching, but we prefer to use something a little gentler.  So, mix ¼ a cup of baking soda with ¼ a cup of water. Add this solution to your machine’s detergent container. Run the washing machine in the longest cycle.

Step 2: Add Vinegar


Pour two cups of white vinegar into the drum and then run a normal load at high heat, preferably without any clothes. The baking soda and vinegar will break up any residue stuck into the drum and destroy any mold present.  This will help in the removal of any undesirable odors.

Step 3: Scrub Away Any Remaining Grime With A Sponge

Sponge Cleaning

If any dirty spots remain, scrub them away with the rough side of a kitchen sponge by dipping it in a mixture of one part white vinegar, one part water.

Step 4: Keep It Fresh With Every Heat

To maintain the freshness you can use detergents made for high-efficiency machines, keep the drum dry between cycles and cleanse the gasket.

You can repeat this cleaning method often, like once a month for maintenance if you’d like, or try some other odor prevention methods.

Why Do You Need to Descale Your Washing Machine?

Your washing machines need to be cleaned and not just the mucky clothes you put in. The clothes won’t come out clean if your washing machine isn’t. So, if your laundry looks a bit dull and unfresh to put on and you’re convinced that your whites are not coming out quite so bright – so here’s how we can fix this up!

Everyday maintenance helps in preventing the washing machine from getting too musty and moldy, builts up soap scum and give birth to such nasty odor. This may be a bit difficult and may not be always possible to perform but regularly scheduled maintenance is all we need for better wash results and thus improving the performance of the machine.

The quality of water used plays an important role in the maintenance of washing machine like any other household equipment that needs water. Hard water and untreated water can cause great harm to the drum and other exposed parts of the washing machine.

They start to deposit dirt and filth over a period of time and this buildup inside the washing machine will have a nasty effect during the process of washing; clothes will look unfresh and some of the stain marks may remain on the clothes and spoiling it severely.

Besides this, some of the important and delicate electronic parts of the machine might also get affected, as the newer generation of washing machines is all computer based.

Also, since different types of clothes are put inside the washing machine together so it would be very sensible of us to sort them out to prevent color smudging. Dirty clothes of diseased people should always be washed separately.

The washing machine after such a wash should be thoroughly cleaned to prevent contamination. We can apply to bleach (one part of bleach to 10 parts of water) and spraying inside to sanitize the drum of the machine.

Also, we should ensure to wear protective gear like gloves during the process of handling and also the area should be a well-ventilated one.

How Can You Descale/Clean Your Washing Machine?

Using detergents not only cleans your clothes but also cleans the washing machine itself. But unfortunately, your washing machine can likely to pick up all kinds of things like dirt, bacteria, mildew, and filth during the washing process.

Thus, by leaving your machine uncleaned and not properly maintaining it on a daily basis, will definitely give rise to the undesirable, musty smell.

Now, how do you clean an unpleasant smelling washing machine? The following steps will help in explaining you to remove the foul odor from the washing machine parts. Before you start to deal with a foul-smelling washing machine, be sure to unplug the machine first for safety. And also, since using such powerful cleaning products like bleach, it’s very mandatory wear gloves and to spray them in a well-ventilated area, and also ensure to always read the product label first.

1. Clean the Detergent Drawer

Detergent Drawer

In front loading washing machines, the detergent drawer can be a haven for germs, encrusted washing powder and molds and since the space is too little, we cannot even imagine how faster it gets dirty.

So to obtain better results we need to remove the entire soap detergent drawer to wash it out thoroughly with the help of an old toothbrush or any ordinary domestic cleaner.

If you are unsure about anything, consult the user manual and follow the instructions on your washing machine manual to do this properly, but many drawers come out easily without any need of unscrewing.

Check the drawer cavity for mold and clean it using a household kitchen bleach spray and the toothbrush. Then, scrub the entire drawer inside and out, wash it, and dry every part before putting the drawer back into the cavity.

It would be a great idea to clean this part of your machine once every few months to prevent any mold or detergent residue from building up. Don’t forget to clean the drawer cavity too.

It’ll be clean in mere minutes and your clothes will feel fresher instantly.

2. Clean the Lint Filter

Lint Filter

The debris filter is provided to protect the washing machine’s pump by stopping lint, stray tissues, coins, and general dirt in its tracks, which means that, like the detergent drawer, it’s a place where germs collect.

Cleaning the lint filter is another way to remove bad smell from washing machine parts. Damp lint is a breeding ground for mold, so you should ideally remove any lint from your filter once a week.

So, before opening the filter compartment, make sure to put a towel on the ground below to catch any trapped water.

Pick out any visible lint from the filter, and then clean the filter in your sink.

3. Clean the Drum

Washing Machine Drum

So, if the inside of your washing machine looks glistering clean, it probably may not be. There are lots of places where germs and molds can hide and fester.

The best thing to do is to run an empty wash every couple of months.

Using soda crystals or even dishwasher tablets and running on a hot wash (preferably 60 degrees) would definitely destroy all the germs, remove foul smells and stop soap scum and limescale building up in hard-to-see places.

4. Clean the Rubber Door Seal

In a front-loading washing machine, then another place to clean is the rubber door seal, also known as the door gasket. Water gets collected at the bottom of the seal, and molds start to grow there.

Using a sponge or cloth to scrub off any mold lurking along the door seal, can help in reducing the mold growth.

Before and after your every wash, use a damp cloth to give the seal a gentle wipe and that should be enough to keep this part of the machine in good nick. Which also means your clean laundry will not pick up any fresh dirt as you take it out to dry.

5. Prevent Bad Smells

Ever opened your washing machine door and were surprised to be greeted by an undesirable, foul smell? Well, this may be because of the damp conditions of a freshly-run machine which is perfect for mold to grow in.

Leaving the washing machine door open slightly after washes allow air to circulate around the drum, which helps in restricting germs breeding and reduces the nasty, damp odor.

Also, make sure to keep your outside drain clear of rubbishes and clean it regularly on a daily basis as bad odors can feed back up into the washing machine.

6. Use the Right Detergent

When you stand facing the mind-blowing array of detergents lined up on the shelves of the supermarket, it becomes really easy to think only about the effect they will leave on your clothes.

But, interestingly extra suds, grime, and liquid softeners have been linked to leaving a residue in the machine that may accumulate inside and can contribute to undesirable smells and mold.

7. Regular Maintenance Washes

Finally, to keep your washing machine smelling fresh, do run a few maintenance washes each year which is a very important aspect of basic washing machine care.

Since it’s just an easy process of cleaning your machine with hot water and no clothes inside. Some washing machines, like the Electrolux model, come with a handy self-cleaning option.

Do check out your machine manual to find out how to take advantage of this feature. It’s not at all that difficult, isn’t it?

Thus, by following these top easy tricks, your laundry will never leave you disappointed and will always come out bright and smelling fresh.

By James Edwards

James Edwards is a writer & editor with almost 15 years of experience from Murphys, California. He earned his bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University.


    1. I think you can use oven cleaner with a plastic brush and a soft cloth for cleaning enamel or porcelain tub.

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