Why does my laundry room smell

3 Key Takeaways:

🚀 A laundry room can smell bad due to several reasons such as poor air circulation, excess moisture content, and poor maintenance.

🚀 Leaving damp clothes unattended in the laundry basket or washing machine can also contribute to a musty smell in the laundry room.

🚀 To prevent unpleasant odors from taking over your laundry room, it is essential to maintain a clean space and use the right cleaning methods.

A smelly laundry room is no good. Although laundry rooms located in a home is not a place where we might spend the majority of our time, it is essential to ensure that even laundry rooms smell fresh and good. A laundry room is most often a small space that does not have fresh air circulation or enough ventilation. It is a place where mold and mildew can easily take room and make the laundry room smell bad.

In this article, we will discuss in detail laundry room smells and how you can make a laundry room smell like a freshly cleaned place at all times. If you question yourself often, ‘Why my laundry room smells bad?’, this article is for you. Let us get started.

Why does laundry room smell musty?

It is important to act on odor control immediately when the laundry room starts to smell musty. The reason why the laundry room smells musty can be serval. Fortunately, they are reasons that can be dealt with ease. Laundry rooms located in small spaces without circulation for fresh air, laundry rooms that have excess moisture content, laundry room that is poorly maintained, etc., are a few of the common reason why you might have a musty laundry room smell.

Why does laundry room smell musty?

The next time you wonder why the laundry room smell you must remember that it is a space that is constantly (or at some point in time) exposed to moisture, dirty clothes or smelly clothes, dirty laundry basket, damp and dirty washing machines, washing machine’s drain pipe, floor drain, soap scum, sewer trap, etc.

Unpleasant odors will thrive along with other agents that promote bad odors like mold, mildew, fungus, and bacteria in a laundry room that is not maintained well. To prevent unpleasant odors from taking over your laundry room it is essential to maintain a clean space and the right cleaning methods.

Damp clothes

If you leave clothes unattended in the laundry basket or the washing machines, you can be confident that it will make the laundry room smell like mold. Smelly clothes left in the laundry basket or in washing machines will make the laundry room smell musty. This is because of the accumulation of bacteria and gases on the smelly clothes. Dead skin cells and body oil released from the body as a part of the body’s natural process get collected in the clothes.

Damp clothes
Damp clothes

The dead skin cells and body oil in the dirty clothes invite bacteria and mold to act on them. When you leave clothes unattended in the laundry room or laundry basket, or in the washer with the washing machine door closed; the closed lid will hasten the mold and bacterial breeding and make it difficult to remove the unpleasant smell even from fresh clothes. No matter whether you have front-loading washing machines or top-load washing machines, keep the washing machine door open and remove the clothes from the washer to prevent the building up of bad smells.

Laundry Basket

Did you know that the laundry basket in the laundry room is a hotspot for bacterial growth? Nowadays, laundry baskets made with fabric and also with fabric lining are slowly gaining popularity inside the laundry room. Although they are good for aesthetics, their fabric lining can breed bacteria and mold. You can simply wash the lining alone or use other suggested regular cleaning methods to keep away foul odors from building in them.

Laundry Basket
Laundry Basket

Any moist cloth dipped in water, sweat, body oil, etc., will cause bad smells. You can ensure the basket has a pleasant smell by using a mild disinfectant spray on the lining and by following other suggested regular cleaning methods.

Unclean washing machine

Dirty washing machines are another reason your laundry room could smell musty. The reason for unpleasant odors terminating from a washing machine is because of the bacteria, mold, and mildew that can get easily trapped in them. When you keep the washing machine’s door open you help the drum to air dry. However, unless you use a reliable washing machine cleaner or different cleaning methods to keep the drum in a safe and clean space, the washing machine will continue to have bad odors and even spread into the washed clothes.

unclean washing machine
Unclean washing machine

The washer seals, washing machine’s drain pipe, floor drain, or drain line in the laundry room can all trap dirt, soap scum, body oils, hair, and other debris. The washer seals are constantly exposed to water and soap scum and must be cleaned after every rinse cycle to keep them dry and stop producing an unpleasant odor.

What is the Best Way to Remove Odors from Your Laundry Room?

To prevent unpleasant odors from your laundry room they are different cleaning methods that you can follow. Making the laundry room a safe and clean space is possible by paying attention to different areas of the room that cause bad odors. The areas that you must pay attention to neutralize bad odors include washing machines, laundry baskets, and clothes in the room.

1. Cleaning the washing machine

1. Cleaning the washing machine
Cleaning the washing machine

It does not matter if you have a top load or front loading washing machine, it is important to clean them regularly. Apart from keeping the washing machine’s door open and banking on a reliable washing machine cleaner, there are a few other tips you can follow to turn around the laundry room smell.

a. Scrubbing

The detergent, soap, and bleach dispenser in the washer require more than regular rinsing. You have to make use of a pipe cleaner or an old toothbrush to carry out some scrubbing. Remove the detergent and bleach dispenser, and scrub gently with warm and clean water to remove any mold growth and unpleasant odor that the dispenser contains as a result of the stale water accumulation. Make sure to clean the pipe cleaner and the toothbrush to prevent mold spores or any bacterial residue from getting stuck in them.

b. Internal washing machine parts

Bad odors that come from the internal parts of the washing machine can be prevented by cleaning the internal part using the same tools prescribed above.

c. Disinfection

You can either use any mild disinfectant spray to clean the washing machine or you can use chlorine bleach as well. Since bleach is effective against mold and mildew, it can be used to effectively clean the washing machine parts. However, it is a very strong agent and hence must be avoided being kept next to other cleaning products.

You can use the bleach to clean the machine by adding two to four cups of bleach and starting a rinse cycle. Once the bleach has had 30 minutes to stand in the water and get absorbed, you can rinse the machine again.

d. Deodorization using distilled white vinegar

Distilled white vinegar has a strong acid content that can remove hard water and bacterial growth. To deodorize the machine using white vinegar you have to set the machine to the warmest setting and add two to four cups of white vinegar. Run the rinse cycle, allow the vinegar to sit for 30 minutes, and then rinse again. This process can guarantee to neutralize bad odors.

2. Laundry tub or basket

If you’re wondering why the laundry room smell, you must take a close look at the laundry tub often. An unpleasant smell coming from the dirty clothes basket, especially a model with a closed lid, is going to make the whole laundry room smell.

Laundry tub or basket
Laundry tub or basket

Baking soda, a strong detergent, and a disinfectant spray are a few of the cleaning agents that can be used to prevent bad smells from taking over laundry baskets. Based on the material of the basket, if they are polyester, plastic, fabric, wood, or wicker, the cleaning process can be carried out accordingly.

a. Plastic

plastic and polyester material baskets can be cleaned using baking soda and a soft bristle brush. Mix one cup of baking soda per gallon of water. Use the soft bristle brush to scrub the baking soda mixture on the basket. Allow this to air dry and clean when dry.

b. Fabric

Use a strong detergent to simply wash the cloth bag. Air dry or sun dry to keep the germs and also to remove bad odor.

c. Wood

Wood baskets cannot be washed. Make use of a dusting brush or a moist cloth dipped in baking soda to gently wipe the basket. This will remove the dirt and also kill mold and bacterial growth.

3. Clothes

Smelly clothes
Smelly clothes

Smelly clothes left in the basket for a long time will cause damage to the clothes and also make the laundry room smell like mold. Fresh clothes and dirty clothes must be properly maintained and dry under fresh air and sun whenever possible.

In What Ways Can You Avoid and Prevent Bad Smell in Your Laundry Room?

In What Ways Can You Avoid and Prevent Bad Smell in Your Laundry Room?

The first thought that should cross your mind when you wonder why your laundry room smell musty, should be to look at methods of preventing the bad smell in the room. Here are a few of the best tips that have helped several people who battled foul odor in the laundry room.

  • Finish the laundry cycle from start to finish. Do not let clothes accumulate.
  • Remember to keep the washing machine door open after the cycle. It will prevent unpleasant odor and mold growth.
  • You can ensure that the air smells fresh at all times by keeping an air freshener or plug near the door. An air freshener is an instant resort to add a pleasant smell to the room.
  • Mix tumbles dryer sheets with clothes while washing. When you mix tumbles dryer sheets with clothes that smell unpleasant, they will help to soften and freshen the clothes and remove any unpleasant odor.

Can you put dehumidifier in laundry room?

Can you put dehumidifier in laundry room?

Yes! having a small electric or portable dehumidifier in the laundry area is the best choice to keep the air dry. Removes all traces of excess moisture and maintains the ideal humidity level of the space not just makes the space unfavorable for mold growth, but also removes sewage smells, rotten egg smell, musty smell, and other odors. If you find yourself constantly asking why my laundry room smell, you must invest in the right dehumidifier to sort this to a great extent.

FAQ Section

1. How often should you clean your washing machine?

You must clean your washing machine as often as you use it. Cleaning the washer once a week or bi-weekly is highly recommended. Removing the soap scum and any other residue from the washed clothes will be easier while cleaning the machine once a week or bi-weekly.

2. What does mold smell like in a home?

The earthy and stale smell is from mold. This can vary based on mold types. The earthy smell is because of the dampness.

3. Which is more effective in drying clothes, dehumidifier or tumble dryer?

The most energy-effective and cost-effective way to dry wet clothes is sun-drying or air-drying them. A tumble dryer, although highly efficient in the drying action, it consumes a ton of energy. You can use a dehumidifier to hasten the drying process. The dehumidifier can absorb the moisture from the clothes and environment, thereby keeping the air dry and the humidity of the space intact. Drying clothes indoors will increase the humidity of the space and lead to a musty odor and mold growth. Using a dehumidifier is beneficial for these factors as well.

4. Does a washing machine increase humidity?

The process of washing clothes certainly increases the humidity level of the area around it. Washing clothes and drying them bring about evaporation that can spike the humidity level. The washing machine as a device is not responsible for the increase in humidity. It does however generate heat by running.

Wrapping Up

With this, we wrap the article. Do have a nagging thought? ‘Why does my laundry room smell?’. Maybe it is time you looked into the causes and solutions to the unpleasant laundry room smell. Share with us in the comments below your experiences with dealing with laundry room odor and the tips that worked best for you.


About The Author

Olivia — a self-confessed air quality addict — is a home climate enthusiast, fresh air advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about mold extermination. Her work was mentioned in countless notable humidity publications. Previously she was an editor at Mold Remediation.