5 Tips For When Your Front Loader Makes Your Clothes Smell Musty

I joined the front loading machine club this year.  I had heard both good and bad about them.  The good about them are the energy saving benefits of using less water and less power.  Plus, you get some killer rebates for upgrading.  The bad news about them is exactly what we’re going to talk about today.  An unidentified musty odor that can appear after a few months use.  The answer, in short, is that you can avoid and prevent this if you simply read to the machine’s manual.  Yes, it’s that billion page booklet you get with the machine that looks like a deposition.  You’ll obviously need to read the basic operating instructions first.  All those fancy lights and buttons look like the machine could probably take off and fly to space right in front of your eyes.  You wouldn’t want to mix up a white/delicate cycle for a shuttle launch to Mars.  The next most important section to read will be the maintenance requirements.  Front loaders do require a little more maintenance, but I think they’re totally worth it!  So, let’s say,  you skipped the instructions, and have so far managed to not launch your machine into orbit, but are now noticing a musty smell that others warned you about?  Let’s see if we can nip it in the bud.

Troubleshooting a musty smell caused by your front loading machine:

1.  Are you are using  the RIGHT amount of a HIGH EFFICIENCY COMPATIBLE detergent?

Every detergent that is HE friendly will have the symbol right on the package.  High Efficiency machines use less water.  The wrong detergents will make way too many suds, which will only result in more residue.  Residue in the machine will promote the growth of mildew and mold.  That can be a huge proponent of a musty odor.

2. Are you leaving the door open to dry after cycles?

Even if you are using the right soap, if you are not allowing the drum to dry, the remaining moisture, no matter how minuscule, is still moisture.  It will be a cultivation bed for bacteria.  By leaving the door open, it allows air to circulate and dry out any remaining water.

3.  Have you performed the maintenance required by the machine’s manufacturer?

All machines will have monthly maintenance schedule for your machine which will usually include draining the pump hose and rinsing or even scrubbing the filter.  If you don’t know where those items are located, check your manual.  Sometimes items can get lodged in the tube causing it not to drain properly. These items and more will all be covered in your manufacturers maintenance instructions.

4. Have you run a “CLEAN TUB” cycle?

Most washers, now, will have a setting made specifically for sanitizing the drum.  Some ask you to use specific cleaners, and some say to run it without any cleaners at all.  If the manual gives options, my go-to is vinegar.  It smells like a beast going in, but it gets rid of odors like nothing else.

4. Have you cleaned the soap dispenser?

Seems like a silly request, but it all comes back to residue. If bacteria is cultivating it the place that is dispersing soap into the machine, it’s going to take it right into the machine with it.  Take out every part of the dispenser and soak in warm soapy water.  Wipe or scrub clean if you need to .  Wipe down the inside of where the soap dispenser was in the same manner.  Dry with a clean, dry towel.

5.  Have you tried physically wiping down the rubber ring and/or tub?

Sometimes, even with all the scheduled maintenance, you just need a little elbow grease and spit shine.  You can use straight vinegar on a clean rag and wipe down everywhere you can reach.  Get in all the nooks and crannies.  When you are done, wipe it all with a clean, dry rag, and then run a “CLEAN” cycle with no detergents.  Of course afterward, leave the door open to dry.


Remember, before performing any maintenance on your washer, make sure to read your manufacturers manual to make sure you are doing it in accordance with their instructions. And after trying some of the tips above, and you still have no success, it’s probably time to contact your machine’s manufacturer.  There may be a deeper issue going on like improper drainage, or a faulty part.  Hope some of this helps getting the “yuck” and the “ew”out of your clothes.  Let me know if you have other tips and tricks that work for you!

4 thoughts on “5 Tips For When Your Front Loader Makes Your Clothes Smell Musty”

  1. In addition to #2 I also leave the soap dispenser open too. Vinegar is also good to put in softener spot for smell and softener.

  2. When i bought mine the salesperson told me i could put a small amount of dishwasher detergent in the tub and run a clean tub cycle. Totally shines it right up. Looks amazing when its done. 🙂

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