What’s That Smell? 7 Life Hacks for Cleaning Appliances

By Lyle Weischwill | Sep. 30, 2016 7:29 am PST

appliance cleaning hacks

If your washing machine smells — or your fridge, dishwasher or dryer — these cleaning hacks and remedies for cleaning appliances will help them smell like new again.

If you’ve ever opened your front-loading washer and said, “Eww,” you know that appliances can take on some pretty strange smells. Here are a few common causes and remedies for strange appliance odors.

Dishwashers If your dishwasher smells like an old dishrag, food caught in the filter is the likely culprit. Most newer models have a removable filter in the bottom of the tub — just give it a turn and it should come out easily. Soak that bad boy in some soapy water, and then rinse it well. If that doesn’t solve the problem, sprinkle a cup of baking soda in the bottom of the tub and run a normal cycle.

Front-load washing machines

It sort of defeats the purpose if your workout clothes smell worse after they’re washed than they did after your 5K run. But the fact is, front-loading washers can oftentimes take on a pretty rank smell that can attach itself to your clothes.

What causes it? The efficiency of your washer, in part. Front-loaders use less water than their top-loading cousins, which is great—if you always remember to use high-efficiency detergent. But if you grab the wrong bottle of detergent, you could end up with soap residue that doesn’t completely rinse off of the drum inside the washer. And that’s a breeding ground for mold and mildew. To add insult to injury, the rubber gasket on the door can also trap dirt and soap.

Combat this perfect storm of stench with the world’s best natural cleaners: vinegar and baking soda. Pop a quarter cup of baking soda and a quarter cup of water into the detergent container, then pour two cups of vinegar (don’t reach for the balsamic, here — use white vinegar) into the drum and run a cycle.

You can also keep your washer fresh-smelling by opening the door a bit when it’s not in use, and try to take your clean laundry out of the washer as soon as the load is finished running. The key is to not let dampness build up.


All of the dryer sheets in the world may not be enough to keep your clothes smelling fresh if there are odors lurking in your dryer. The common culprit is damp lint trapped in the dryer’s vent. A lovely concept!

To fix it, remove your vent and vacuum out any lint or other trapped debris. Another cause of a musty smell? Loads that are too large. If you’re cramming in every T-shirt and towel you own, it may take the load too long to dry, and that can be yet another breeding ground for bacteria.


The first thing to look for is last month’s leftover takeout that got pushed to the back of the fridge and is slowly turning into a science experiment. Once you’ve tossed that, if it still smells like rotten eggs in there, bite the bullet: Take everything out and give the whole thing a good cleaning with a mixture of white vinegar and water.

You May Also Like