Since mold can grow on almost any surface where moisture is present, this makes it practically a fact of life in our homes. You may expect to find it on your shower curtain, in the corners of your basement or on some old bread. But what can you do when it invades your appliances and your washer smells like mold?

Mold can hide in some pretty sneaky places in your home and look very unsightly at the same time. You may see black stains around your refrigerator door and drip pans or on the walls of your toilet tank. These things might be easy to deal with. However, mold growth also leaves an odor, making areas like your microwave or washer smell like mold. But fear not. There are ways to eliminate this problem.

Why your washer smells like mold

It’s easy for your washer to develop a moldy smell. This complaint is particularly common for those with front loading washing machines.

Do you leave your washing machine door open after doing a load of laundry?

Probably not, because doing so may create a hazardous situation for your family. However, closing the door allows the moisture to become trapped there until it’s time to open it again for the next load. Unfortunately, that’s one of the reasons why it’s so easy for mold to grow there.

Did you forget to transfer your clothes to the dryer?

If you leave wet clothes too long, this can also make your washer smell like mold. The only way to get rid of the smell is to wash the clothes again.

Is your washing machine level?

Sometimes the floor under your machine can become warped or uneven. If this happens, your washer may not drain effectively. To fix the problem, you will need to bring in a qualified technician to make adjustments that will prevent the machine from shifting during the wash cycle.

Do you use liquid fabric softener?

Many of these products have a waxy base that can cause it to stick to the outer tub. As a result, you might want to switch to sheets designed for the dryer. If you must use liquid, use the lowest recommended amount.

Do you wash with cold water?

Today, many fabric manufacturers recommend cold water washing. This helps to protect your clothes and make the colors last longer. When you combine this with new eco-friendly detergents and cleaners, you don’t always get the bacteria and mold blasting power of things like hot water and bleach.

Troubleshooting Ideas You Can Perform When Your Washer Smells Like Mold

A washer that smells like mold does seem quite troubling. Even worse, the smell can permeate your entire house. Here are some tips for what you can do to eliminate the odor and help prevent it from reoccurring.

Wipe down the door and gasket after each use. When you can’t keep the door open, this is a good substitute for allowing the area to dry and prevent mold growth. Create a mixture using vinegar, water, and tea tree and lemongrass oils. Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to the washer door and under and around the rubber fold. Let it sit for several minutes then scrub off the mold and wipe the area clean with a damp rag.

Check the soap dispenser. If you can’t remember your last time (or ever) cleaning this area, now is the time. There is likely months’ or years’ worth of soap scum and mold built up around it. The dispenser can be removed easily, allowing you to clean it with warm water. Then, just wipe down the area around it and replace it. From start to finish, it should only take a few minutes to do this.

Brush off loose mold spores from fabric. This is especially important if you have left clothes in the washer too long. Wash the clothes again in the hottest setting they can stand, using non-chlorine bleach if possible.

Clean the washer tub with vinegar and tea tree oil. These items are easily found at most supermarkets and drug stores. Pour the mixture into the bleach dispenser and run the Tub Clean cycle. This is a time-tested, natural remedy that will have your washer smelling fresh and will kill all the mold and bacteria lurking in there. If your washer does not have a Tub Clean cycle, you can also run an empty wash cycle using hot water, adding either a cup of bleach, baking soda or powdered dishwashing detergent directly into the wash tub.

Purchase retail products designed to help when your washer smells like mold. You can find numerous products at home improvement stores with chemicals and other ingredients that will clean and deodorize the inside of your washing machine.

Develop a regular maintenance schedule. You can’t just perform these tasks once and forget about it. To prevent your washer from smelling like mold in the future, you must clean it periodically. Experts recommend cleaning your machine and running the Tub Clean cycle at least once a month.

When possible, leave the washer door open for a while after completing a load. Depending on where your washer is located and whether you have small children or pets this might not be feasible. However, if you can you should try to keep the door open to let the hot air escape and prevent your washer from becoming a paradise for mold growth.

Try changing your laundry detergent. If you have a High-Efficiency washer, it’s essential that you use an H E detergent. These machines use less water than their traditional counterparts and without the special detergent; your washer will have to run longer to rinse all the soap out. This means more moisture or soapy residue which may produce more molds.

Contact a qualified appliance repair company for assistance and advice. These companies typically work on all types of washing machines and brands and they’ve seen it all. As a result, they can help you with both minor and major issues, such as when your washer smells like mold.