How to Remove Bad Smells from Your Dryer

What is that smell coming from your dryer? Usually, your dryer smells very pleasant after you use it. However, lately, you have been smelling strange odors that make your dryer and your clothing reek after each use. What is this peculiar odor coming from your dryer, and how do you remove a terrible smell from a dryer? Read on to discover the ideal dryer odor eliminator for you.

What Causes Bad Odors in a Dryer?

If your dryer isn’t smelling laundry fresh, there could be several reasons why. Let’s look at some of the main reasons you may have foul odors in your dryer.

Placing Soiled Clothing In the Washing Machine

Aren’t all clothes that you put in a dryer supposed to be clean? After all, if you just washed them, they should be, right? However, the problem may be how you’re storing clothing before you wash them. If you enter your laundry room and get a whiff of soiled socks and gym clothes, chances are you aren’t allowing soiled clothing to air dry before placing them in the washing machine and subsequently putting them in the dryer.

Additionally, you may need to use the right type of detergent designed for clothing that traps lots of bacteria, such as workout gear. If you keep smelling funny odors after washing your workout clothing, it may be a good idea to wash them separately with a detergent designed to fight body odor, such as Active Wear Laundry Detergent & Soak.

Too Much Lint Buildup

Although your dryer may have a sign on it indicating that you should remove the lint that has accumulated after each dry, it can sometimes be easy to forget to do so. It is from the build-up of lint on the lint filter that may be causing the terrible odor.

Lint is a combination of soap, clean fibers, and dirt that collects on clothing, so it is not clean. If the lint filter is full each time you dry, this blocks airflow and causes mildew to start growing. This unusual odor that develops may be what you are smelling from your dryer.

Leaving Wet Clothing in the Dryer

Another reason you may have a strange odor coming from your dryer? The load has not dried entirely and has been left in the dryer for days. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally leaving your clothing in the dryer—so long as they are not damp. But if you remember several days after using the dryer that your clothes are still in the dryer, but they weren’t completely dried, it is quite possible that this could leave a stench in your clothing and your dryer.

Ensure that your clothing gets fully dried during each drying cycle to minimize mold and mildew growth. Likewise, don’t leave your wet clothes in the washer for more than 12 hours before drying them, as this can also start mildew growth.

Your Washing Machine May Be Dirty

Over time, the lines to your washing machine can become clogged with dirt, mildew, and other residues that can start to smell bad. As a result, the water that pipes into your washing machine may not be as fresh as it should be. Additionally, there could be other odors trapped inside your washing machine due to soiled items you’ve washed in the past, soap scum, and other types of buildup. To keep these smells from transferring to your dryer, it is a good idea to know how to clean your washing machine.

Dead Animals May Be Trapped

If you’ve ensured that you’re using the appropriate amount of detergent and there isn’t any lint in the filter, but you still smell something foul, perhaps it isn’t your dryer itself. Instead, maybe a critter has found its way into the lines to make a home and, in the process, died. Now, a smell flows through the pipelines into your dryer, so your machine will reek, and your clothes will, too, once you dry them.

As a result, your odor woes may not even be within your dryer. If you are doing all you can to prevent problems with odors from your dryer on the inside of the house, check outside to see if this is the source of the stench. Outdoor vents that allow your dryer’s heat and exhaust to escape can become a haven for mice and other rodents, especially in winter. If you continue to smell a putrid smell, despite cleaning your lint filters and dryer, turn your attention to this area of the house.

To get rid of rodents in your dryer ducts, it’s a good idea to remove them or call a professional air duct cleaning service. After removing the dead animal and cleaning the vent, it may be a good idea to install an outdoor dryer vent cover to keep critters from entering it again.

Your Dryer May Be Experiencing Technical Problems

Although most of the smells that you will encounter will be ones associated with body odors or mold, there are times that the dryer itself may be giving off an odor. This could be the smell of metal or rubber which indicates there is a mechanical problem with the dryer that could eventually cause a fire. If these are the types of odors you smell coming from your dryer, it may be time to call a technician to service your dryer.

If servicing it doesn’t resolve the issue, it may be best to replace your dryer with a new one, such as the Energy Star Smart White Stackable Electric Dryer with Sanitize Cycle.

How to Clean a Smelly Dryer

The best dryer odor eliminator is cleaning it. Once it’s spick-and-span, you can incorporate preventative measures. Follow these steps to tackle the issue.

Tools You May Need

Materials You May Need

Step One: Eliminate the Lint

You’ll need to hit up all the various dryer compartments. Start with removing the lint from the front lint filter. You can scrape it up with your hand or use a stiff bristle hand brush to clear away the excess lint.

Next, use a vacuum hose or a dryer vent cleaner to suck up the buildup in the filter holder and within the dryer hose. You’ll also need to clean the lint out of the piping in the wall that leads to the outside. You can also hire an air duct cleaning service to handle this part of the maintenance.

Step Two: Clean the Dryer Drum

Once you have solved your lint problem, turn your attention to the inside of the dryer. Mix a solution of one part vinegar or bleach to two parts water in a bucket or an empty spray bottle. Dampen a towel with the solution and wipe the interior of the drum, the door, and the rubber seal.

Leave the door open and let the solution dry completely. Then take a clean towel slightly moistened with just water and wipe away any cleaning solution residue. Repeat as necessary. After you’ve finished, leave the dryer door open again for about 30 minutes to air-dry the interior.

Step Three: Clean the Exterior

While this step isn’t necessary for preventing odors, if the exterior of your dryer is dusty, it’s a good idea also to vacuum it, as well as the surrounding areas. Then, repeat Step Two on the outside surfaces and allow the exterior to air-dry.

How to Prevent Dryer Odors

Whatever the cause of the stink may be, it’s smart to make these tips part of your regular laundry routine, and you’ll have a clean-smelling machine at all times.

Don’t Overstuff the Machine

While this may seem obvious, this rule of thumb may go out the door when you’re in a hurry and need to get a lot of washing done. Avoid putting too much in one load, especially weighty items such as towels, jeans, and blankets.

Even if you have a high-capacity washing machine and dryer, such as the Samsung 5.2 cu. ft. Smart High-Efficiency Top Load Washer and the Samsung 7.4 cu. ft. Vented Electric Dryer, garments, and other items still may not be getting as clean as they need to. Instead, break down the load into a few smaller ones to ensure all the items get a thorough laundering and rinsing and an adequate amount of airflow so that they dry completely.

Clear the Lint Filter

Start practicing good dryer hygiene by emptying the lint filter after each use. Occasionally, use a vacuum hose to remove the excess lint that may have built up in the compartment where the lint filter is. Or you can purchase a dryer vent cleaner to help keep these compartments lint-free.

Another important habit to pick up? Clean the vacuum dryer duct that links the dryer to the outdoor exhaust at least once a year. This can become filled with lint and dirt and contribute to poor airflow, and could potentially cause house fires. Taking the time to remove caked-up lint from your dryer can not only make your clothes smell better but protect your loved ones and valuables.

Reconsider the Products You Use

Everyone wants their clothing, towels, and accessories to smell fantastic once they retrieve them from the dryer. But these great-smelling products may contain residue that makes your dryer smell weird.

To minimize odors from your dryer, try switching to one of our best laundry detergents that won’t leave much residue on your clothing. If you have plenty of soiled towels to wash packed with residue from cleaning products or car oils and liquids, it may be wise to try a specialty detergent like 3D Towel Kleen Concentrated Microfiber Towel Detergent. Or, if you prefer a detergent that’s made from plant-based products that are good for the environment, consider using Seventh Generation Concentrated Laundry Detergent.

It may also be a good idea to ditch the dryer sheets or fabric softener to minimize the residue they leave in your dryer. Instead, consider using vinegar or baking soda as an alternative.

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