Friday, May 14, 2010

Does Your Washer Smell Like a Dirty Locker Room?

Have you ever walked into your laundry room and thought ... Whew, it smells like a dirty locker room in here? It could be the pile of soccer clothes dumped on the floor by your kids or the wet towels tossed in the corner after swimming. But it could also be the washing machine itself. Yes, the machine we trust to get our whites white and our colors brilliant can cause odors.

The fact is that washing machines are subject to soap scum and dirt build-up, especially if one washes clothes in cold water (the Eco-friendly way). Who knew! So ... do we have to live with the smell? Not at all ... and we don't have to use harsh chemicals or toxic cleaners to fix the problem.

Removing the odor depends on the cause:

If wet clothing was left in the washer too long (ever started the washer and then totally forgot about it ... for a week), it could become "stale" and cause a smell. Re-wash the clothes to remove any mold, mildew and smell.

If there is standing water in the tub, it may signal a problem with the drain. This may require calling for repair.

If there are no wet clothes and no standing water, then it's probably build-up. To remove the build-up and clear up any odors, try this:

  1. Remove any visible dirt, lint, etc.

  2. Mix together 1/2 cup baking soda with 2 cups vinegar. Careful ... use a large container because this mixture bubbles up.

  3. Begin filling your washer with HOT water (I know ... we "greenies" hate wasting the energy required to fill a tub with hot water but, in this case, it's really necessary).

  4. As the tub fills, pour in the baking soda/vinegar mixture.

  5. Let the washer run through the entire cycle, including rinse.

  6. Using a sponge, wipe down the inside of the tub and any visible surfaces.

Your washer should now be sparkling clean and odor free!

As always ... I would love to hear from you!


  1. My wife has been wondering why she's never able to make a dent into the build-up we have in our tub. Thanks for enlightening me!

  2. Great cleaning recipe! Thank you! Vinegar and baking soda are the hardest working green cleaners out there!

  3. Have you tried Charlie's Soap? It's made in Madison, NC. and if you can buy it locally (Try your local hardware stores) it will cost about the same as the other brands.

    The first thing you will notice is that an 80 load box (or bag) is very small but don't worry 'cause you really can wash a large load of clothes with only a spoonful.

    Charlie's soap is a safe, green product that Charlie originally formulated to wash machinery in the cotton mills that used to cover NC. and after a few washes you'll notice the scum beginning to disappear from your washer tub. Even in cold water.

    When you get your Charlie's Soap, don't use it until you use up all your old soap as we don't want to waste and switching back and fourth is not recommended as you'll not want to put the scum back in your tub.

    We switched a couple of years ago and never looked back.

  4. sounds really a good idea.