We put our dirty laundry in the washing machine expecting it to come out spotlessly clean. We also want the laundry to smell as good as it looks- fresh and stainless. But if suddenly the washing machine starts smelling like sewage, then it also affects the hygiene of your clothes and leaves your home smelling just as bad.
There can be many reasons why a washing machine smells like sewage. Sometimes we load it with sweaty clothes one after the other and leave it there for a little too long, making it stink so bad.
But the kind of sewage-like smell that we are talking about over here is something else entirely. You will be able to smell it in your entire house. But have you ever wondered what causes this?
One reason can be that there is stagnated dirty water somewhere inside the washing machine that is emanating a rotten smell also known as sewage gas. And it may occur due to multiple reasons which have been discussed below. Scroll to find out more.
Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Like Sewage?
Sewer Gas is formed due to the decay of industrial waste or household waste. These wastes produce hydrogen sulfide, methane, carbon dioxide, and ammonia. All of these gases together form the infamous sewage gas. Although non-toxic in smaller quantities it can still cause nausea.
Here are the possible reasons why your washing machine smells like sewage:
Front Loading Mechanism
In a front-loading washing machine, the door is fitted with a rubber seal that keeps any water from out when the door is closed. But it also ends up shutting out any circulation of air that is necessary to keep the insides clean and fresh.
This is why the door should be kept open for the insides to dry out completely after you have used the machine for a wash. Otherwise, the insides remain damp and become a breeding ground for bacteria. This is especially the case in extremely humid temperatures and also in laundry rooms with poor ventilation.
Keeping the washing machine door open at all times when not in use can be risky as insects and bugs may get in. Therefore it should at least be allowed to dry off completely after each use.
The P-trap is a U-shaped pipe that is present in the drain line. Its purpose is to trap the water between the washer and the drain pipe so that a bad odor cannot move past the water and leak through the washing machine. Now if the P-trap gets dry, it will not be able to stop any odor.
This is actually a very common reason why there is a sewer smell in the washing machine. The P-trap however is not designed to become dry like that so chances are that you may not have used the washing machine in a long time and the water has evaporated.
Bacteria Breeding in the Washing Machine Drain
The build-up of bacteria can make any place smell bad, especially the inside of a washing machine which does not see much light or warmth. Bacteria especially breed in the washing machine drains because it is not used as often as other drains in a household such as the sink or bathroom drains.
When bacteria starts forming in the drain of the washing machine, it leads to a really foul odor that eventually makes its way to the rotating drum area and then assaults your nose when you open the lid or the door.
Dirty Drain Hose
The drain hose is an elongated and stretchy pipe that connects the washing machine to the drain line from where the dirty water flows out.
It is usually found in the back of the machine and is gray in color. If you do not clean the hose regularly it can get clogged with debris which eventually decomposes to create a pungent smell.
Not cleaning the drain hose can cause its insides to become slimy and dirty with the hose ridges filled with filth. You can well imagine the smell this may give out.
Excessive Usage of Detergent
You must be thinking how can a cleaning agent like detergent cause a bad smell. Well, this is a very rare occurrence but when you add too much detergent, more than what is needed, the scum from the soapy mixture accumulates inside the rotating drum.
After a prolonged period of the scum being stuck inside, it will become food for bacteria or germs and encourage its growth and cause a foul sewer smell to occur.
Wet Clothes Left Inside the Machine
Let’s be honest, it is kind of impossible to wash clothes every day as it is not only a strain on your energy bill but also a time-consuming affair. Most working people or even homemakers do not have that kind of time and so we keep loading the washer with wet and dirty clothes to wash it all on the weekend.
In the meanwhile the wet cloth starts smelling bad and gives off an odor similar to that of a rotten egg. This is a common situation and many of us deal with it on a daily basis.
So, when you are loading up the washer with cloth clothes, make sure to not shut the door completely. The inflow of air will combat the smell. Additionally, use a hot water setting while washing the load as heat kills bacteria.
How Do I Get The Sewer Smell Out Of My Washing Machine?
Now that we have discussed the reasons why your washing machine smells like sewer, it is time to move on to the more important topic of how to fix the issue :
Clean the Drain Hose
Start with the hose that connects the washing machine and the drain line. For this, you have to first disconnect it from both ends and then flush it with hot soapy water first and then just water to wash the soap out.
If the inside of the hose still feels slimy, use a stiff brush meant for cleaning tiny cylindrical spaces to scrub the inner walls of the drain hose thoroughly. Flush it with hot water once more.
Use a Vinegar Mixture to Clean the Drain
Vinegar is known for being a cleaning agent and especially for its unclogging properties. It can also kill bacteria. Pour a cup or two of vinegar down the drain to get rid of the sewage smell from the washing machine. It may take an hour or two to completely work.
After this time has passed, flush the drain down with hot water to get rid of the bacteria along with the vinegar smell. You can also use detergent with vinegar. Commercial cleaning agents can also be used in place of vinegar but sometimes they may cause plumbing issues so it is better to not take the risk.
Wash the Detergent Tray
If your washing machine has a separate compartment for pouring the detergent from then make sure it stays clean. Soap buildup can cause a foul odor. Although it will not be as bad a sewer smell, it can still add up with the smell from other unclean parts of the machine and create a pungent and suffocating odor.
To clean it you have to take it out from the washing machine and rinse it thoroughly. If it smells bad then soak it in a vinegar solution for an hour and rinse it with hot water.
Clean the Rotating Drum
Keeping the drum clean will ensure the sanitary washing of your clothes so you should take some time out and clean the drum periodically. If you regularly use the washing machine then cleaning it twice a month is fine. Otherwise for sporadic users, once every two months will do.
Use a sponge to scrub out the insides of the drum by holding it in place with your spare hand. For the tiny corners use a toothbrush. You can use detergent for a regular wash and bleach/baking soda for a more aggressive and thorough cleansing.
Use Hot Water When Possible
Most fabrics are not suitable for hot washes as mentioned in the manufacturer’s instructions.
But if you do have some clothes that will not be damaged with hot water then try to wash all of them together.
Using hot water once in a while is also beneficial to the washing machine as it will kill all the accumulated bacteria and also flush them out.
Follow these tips to prevent any sewer smell from your washing machine. Additionally, try to keep your laundry room well-ventilated as a lack of air and oxygen can promote the breeding of bacteria.
If you do not have a laundry room then ensure airflow into the washing machine but not shutting the door shut at all times.
By doing these, and occasionally cleaning your washing machine, you can avoid the occurrence of such a rancid and rotten odor altogether. Also, consider using fragrant detergents to make your clothes as well as the insides of the machine smell great.