What to Do When Your Washing Machine Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Paradise Appliance
December 11, 2023
Washer Repair

If your washing machine smells like rotten eggs, it’s likely due to bacteria buildup in the drum or the drain system. This unpleasant odor can transfer to your clothes during wash cycles. This comprehensive guide tells you how to eliminate this issue and keep your washing machine smelling fresh.

What causes the rotten egg smell?

A rotten egg smell in a washing machine typically stems from bacterial growth due to lingering moisture and detergent residue. When moisture remains in the machine after a wash cycle, it creates an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. Additionally, detergent or fabric softener buildup can accumulate in the drum or other parts, fostering bacteria growth that emits an unpleasant odor. This bacterial growth, often accompanied by sulfur-producing compounds, produces a distinctive rotten egg smell.

How to remove a rotten egg smell from your washing machine

The best way to remove the rotten egg smell is to give your washing machine a deep clean. Once you have completed the steps below, we recommend you read and follow our tips for preventing the rotten egg smell from returning. You can find that advice after the cleaning steps.

Step 1 – Ensure you have the required equipment 

Before you get started, ensure you have the following items on hand:

  • White vinegar or baking soda
  • Microfiber cloth or sponge
  • Small brush
  • Bucket/ container
  • Spray bottle (optional)

Step 2 – Clean the washer drum

Once you have ensured you have all the equipment to clean your washing machine, the next step is to clean the drum thoroughly. The easiest way to do this is to put your appliance through a cleaning cycle.

Here’s what to do:

  • Ensure your washing machine is empty.
  • Pour two cups of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser or directly into the drum. Alternatively, sprinkle a cup of baking soda into the drum.
  • Turn your washing machine onto a cleaning cycle, or if there isn’t this option, set the machine to the hottest water temperature and run a complete wash cycle.

Step 3 – Clean the gaskets

Once the wash cycle ends, open the door and let it air dry. During this time, clean the door gaskets (seals). This is a very important step, as the door gaskets are a well-known breeding ground for bacteria to develop. 

Here’s how to clean the door gaskets:

  • Make a cleaning solution of equal parts water and vinegar. You can pour this into a spray bottle or make the solution in a bucket.
  • Clean the door gasket with the cleaning solution and a clean microfiber cloth. Ensure you get right into the gasket to remove any bacteria and mold. If necessary, use a small brush.
  • Once clean, wipe the gasket with a clean cloth to give it an extra dry.

Step 4 – Clean the dispensers and filters

Once the gasket is clean and dry, remove and soak the dispensers from your washing machine. The dispensers are another component within your appliance that bacteria love to develop. Soak the dispensers in hot, soapy water for a few minutes before scrubbing any residue, and then rinse them thoroughly. If your machine has filters, remove and clean them. This will prevent clogs and ensure proper water drainage. When dry, place the dispensers and filters back into your washing machine.

Step 5 – Clean the exterior

Use your spray bottle and a clean cloth, or soak and rinse a cloth in your cleaning solution to clean the machine’s exterior, including control panels and buttons. Once clean, ensure the machine’s exterior is completely dry.

Step 6 – Finish up

The final step is to run an additional rinse cycle with plain water to remove any remaining residue or cleaner from your machine. Once the cycle ends, leave the door open to allow the machine to air dry completely before using it again.

How to prevent a rotten egg smell in a washing machine

By following our tips below, you can prevent the smell of a rotten egg from occurring again. Regular cleaning and proper maintenance will keep your machine smelling fresh and ensure its optimal performance and longevity.

Ensure proper ventilation

After completing a laundry cycle, leave the washing machine door open. This allows air circulation within the drum, preventing moisture buildup. Adequate ventilation inhibits the growth of bacteria, as they thrive in damp environments. It’s also a good idea to wipe the door gaskets down after every cycle to prevent moisture from getting trapped.

Ensure regular cleaning

It’s a good idea to clean your washing machine (as outlined above) at least once a month. This will eliminate bacteria and remove detergent residues from your machine. You should also routinely clean the lint filter to prevent clogs and ensure proper drainage. A clogged filter can lead to water retention, contributing to the development of foul odors.

Use the right detergent

Ensure you use the manufacturer’s recommended amount of detergent for each cycle. Excessive detergent leaves residues in the machine and contributes to bacterial growth. Most manufacturers recommend you use high-efficiency detergents and avoid overuse of fabric softeners.

Check the drain hose

Regularly check the drain hose to ensure it’s free from kinks or clogs. You should also periodically clean it to prevent water stagnation, which can contribute to odors. The drain pump filter should also be cleaned regularly to prevent bacteria and mold from developing.

Don’t leave laundry in the drum

Don’t leave damp clothes in the machine for extended periods after the cycle ends. Promptly remove laundry to prevent moisture retention, which can lead to bacterial growth and a rotten egg-like odor.


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