3 Reasons Your Washing Machine Smells Worse After Cleaning!

When you do the laundry, the expectation is that you will open your washing machine to the fragrant scent of fresh laundry.

But, unfortunately, there may come a time when you open it, and you are hit with a moldy, unpleasant scent even though it’s just finished a wash. So, why does your washing machine smell worse after cleaning?

The main reasons your washing machine may smell bad after cleaning are a build-up of bacteria, a blocked pipe, and old dirt being loosened.

Luckily, there are a few easy ways to get your washing machine smelling fresh and clean after every wash that doesn’t require a plumber to do any maintenance.

This article is going to dive into the reasons that your washing machine is smelling bad and give you some tips on how to fix the problem.

Gomestic Fact: Is your detergent drawer looking clogged up? This can cause bad smells, so give it a cleanout before taking further steps.

3 Reasons Your Washing Machine Smells Worse After Cleaning

A smelly washing machine is a very unpleasant thing to experience, and a few things could be causing it.

Luckily, there are also some simple ways to fix the issue, but before I get ahead of myself, let’s look at what causes this smelly issue.

Build Up of Bacteria

The main reason for the bad smells in your washing machine is the presence of bacteria, mildew, and mold.

This will build up over time as you wash your clothes that are full of sweat, oil, and dirt. Trapping moisture in your machine can also promote the growth of mildew and mold that exacerbate the problem.

Sometimes this build-up can manifest in the form of black flakes. Find out how to get rid of black flakes here.

As you wash your clothes, this build-up will increase and lead to bad smells in your machine.

Dirt has Been Loosened

There may be some instances when you do a deep cleaning of your washing machine to try and avoid the build-up of bad smells. However, when you open the machine after the wash, it actually smells worse than before.

So why does this happen?

After a vigorous clean, you are loosening a lot of dirt that has likely been sitting there for a while. This will have a strong damp odor that is very pungent when it is removed. This will probably happen if it’s been a while between cleans.

You may need to run another empty wash to remedy this issue and flush out any residue.

Stand Pipe is Blocked

If your standing pipe is blocked, it will lead to water sitting in the pipes for extended periods. This will produce a bad smell over time.

This is a common issue if you only use your machine once or twice a week, so the water has a significant time to sit.

Gomestic Tip: It is possible to clean your tub and your clothes simultaneously. You can do this by adding baking soda or white vinegar to your wash.

How to Get Rid of Smells in Washing Machine

A smelly washing machine is just no good and ends up making its way into your clothes, which is super unpleasant.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get your washing machine to smell fresh again.

Clean Your Machine

The first and easiest way to try getting rid of bad smells is to clean your machine inside and out.

Most machines have a tub clean setting, so I recommend running this. I also urge those of you with a front loader to pay close attention to cleaning the seal by hand to make sure there is nothing nasty hiding in the folds.

You may also need to check the filters and give them a thorough cleaning.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking soda is an incredible natural cleaner that can be used in many ways in your laundry. One of these ways is cleaning your machine.

When paired with white vinegar, these two ingredients become the perfect natural cleaners that do a great job of neutralizing odors.

The recipe that I find works best is mixing 3 tsp baking soda with 2 tsp of water to form a paste. You can put this paste in the detergent drawer and add the white vinegar to the drum. Run an empty wash, and your machine will smell fresh in no time.

Unblock the Standing Pipe

If the smell still persists after trying the above techniques, then it is a clear sign that the standing pipe is the issue.

You should be able to unclog this standing pipe manually or by running an empty wash to flush out the old standing water.

Maintenance Cleans

To prevent this from happening again, I like to do a tub clean after every five washes and make sure the machine gets well aired out in between washes to prevent the trapping of moisture.

This regular maintenance should keep any bad smells at bay.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my washing machine smell like rotten eggs?

The most common cause of this specific smell indicates that there is a block in the water inlet or drainage system.

You should be able to unblock this at home without having to send your washing machine in for repairs.

Is it better to clean your washing machine with vinegar or bleach?

Both of these products work very well for cleaning washing machines, so it’s really up to your personal preferences.

Personally, I like white vinegar because it is natural and far more affordable than bleach.

However, you should never mix bleach and vinegar as this can result in the production of dangerous chlorine gas.


A smelly washing machine is nobody’s favorite experience, but the reasons behind it are simple.

The main causes of bad smells in washing machines are a build-up of bacteria, a blocked standing pipe, and old dirt being loosened.

Hopefully, after today, you will know what’s behind this issue and exactly how to fix it, so your laundry comes out fragrant and fresh every time.

Leave a Comment

Amazon Associates Program

Gomestic is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.