I Have a Bad Smell in My Top-Load Washer

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Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup bleach

  • 1 cup baking soda

  • 2 cups vinegar or lemon juice

Top-loading washers don't always drain completely after each use.

Top-loading washing machines can accumulate a laundry detergent residue overtime and collect standing water because they fail to drain all the rinse water from the washing machine's drum. These conditions can result in a musty smell that is due to the growth of mildew or mold. Removing this unpleasant stale odor from a top-loading washing machine is a simple process.


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Bleach Solution

Step 1

Remove all the clothes from the washer.

Step 2

Set the washer to run a full cycle on the hottest setting. Keep the lid open and wait for the tub to fill completely. Pull out the knob to pause the cycle.

Step 3

Add 1 cup of bleach to the hot water and close the lid. Let the bleach sit for at least one hour.


Step 4

Press the knob to re-start the wash cycle. The bleach kills any mold or mildew present, and the agitator and rinse cycles rinse away the bleach.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution

Step 1

Remove all the clothes from the washer and set it to run a full cycle on the hottest setting. As the tub fills with water, pour in 1 cup of baking soda and 2 cups of vinegar or lemon juice.

Step 2

Pull out the knob to stop the cycle once the tub is full. Let the baking soda and vinegar sit for one hour, then push the knob back in. The agitation from the wash cycle will cause the baking soda and vinegar to foam up, breaking up any odor-causing detergent buildup in the machine.

Step 3

Run a second cycle on a cold water setting to rinse the machine.


To prevent these odors from reforming, use your washing machine frequently and do not use more than the recommended amount of laundry soap.

Keeping a washing machine properly balanced helps it to drain better.