Washer Smelling Like Rotten Eggs Or Mildew? What Should You Do?

If you've recently noticed a sour smell emanating from your front-loading washer, you may just assume you need to wipe down the seals or interior with a dry cloth. However, depending upon the type of smell, you may need to take more drastic action.

Read on to learn more about what can cause a mildewed, moldy, or rotten egg smell within your washer -- as well as what you should to do to ensure your clothes remain sweet-smelling.

What causes these odors?

Unlike top-loading washers, which rely on gravity to help drain excess water from the lid and interior, front-loading washers tend to have water pool near the front door or inside the drum. After a series of washes, this excess water (along with debris removed from clothes) may collect on the front seal of the washer, creating a moldy or mildewed smell or even a thin layer of black or gray slime. 

Occasionally, you may also notice a rotten egg smell coming from the laundry room. This smell generally dissipates when the washer is not running, but can be incredibly strong for a few minutes to an hour or more when the washer is in use. This odor can be caused by several factors -- from hot water to an improperly-vented exhaust pipe -- and pinpointing the precise problem may be tricky.

How can you fix these problems?

To fix a mold or mildew odor in your washer, you don't need to purchase expensive cleaners. Simply run an empty load and place a half cup of bleach in the receptacle where the laundry detergent normally goes.

Run your washer at the highest temperature possible, and when the water reaches its highest level (just below the seal that often gathers water) stop the cycle for an hour or so. When you resume the cycle, you'll notice small bits of hair and other debris floating in the washer -- a sure sign that built-up mold and other grime is being removed.

Solving the sulfur smell is a bit more complex. In many cases, this smell is due to the build-up of water and sludge in the drain hose. When the washer drains, a mixture of dirty water and old laundry detergent passes through this hose. Over time, layers of laundry detergent (which often contains lauryl sulfate) build up in the hose, and bacteria from the dirty water feed on the sulfate sludge, creating a rotten egg smell.

You'll likely want to enlist the services of a plumber or washer repair company to help you identify the specific factor leading to your washer's sulfur smell. Fortunately, most necessary repairs for this issue are quick and inexpensive -- often you'll need only to replace the drain hose. To learn more, contact a company like Affordable Appliance Repair with any questions or concerns you have.