Why Does My Laundry Room Smell?

Learn why your laundry room might smell, how to fix it, and what can be done to prevent the odor in the future

Written by Olivia Paxton. Updated on Why Does My Laundry Room Smell

The laundry room is the place in our homes that is supposed to be the symbol of cleanness and tidiness.

This is the place where we wash our clothes and other stuff, and of course, if you start noticing that your laundry room is having a bad odor, you might be wondering why that happens.

Shy does my laundry room smell after washing?

This is quite a frequent question that people ask, and in this article, we are going to give you the answer.

You will learn why the laundry room may produce a bad odor, and we will explain in detail what things could be responsible for your home laundry being smelly.

Also, we will tell you how you can fix this issue, and how it is possible to prevent and thus avoid unpleasant smells in your laundry room.

Why Does My Laundry Room Smell Bad?

Have you ever noticed that, even if your clothes are washed and your laundry is cleaned, the room still has some sort of unpleasant odor?

If you notice this often enough, you might want to search for the cause since bad odors can develop in our laundry rooms for different reasons!

And not all of those reasons are harmless for us.

Here are some frequently happening issues that may lead to unpleasant odors in our home laundry rooms:

  • Laundry rooms can smell because the basket is dirty
  • The clothes might not be cleaned yet thus spreading the odor around the room
  • The washing machine and/or dryer are dirty and create mold

And if dirty clothes are easy to deal with, and they are basically absolutely safe for us, mold can hardly be referred to as a harmless thing!

This is why we suggest you read on and find out in detail what exactly can become the reason why your laundry room suddenly starts smelling.

There are most often three sources of odor that can be found in your home laundry.

Why Does My Laundry Room Smell Bad
EdZbarzhyvetsky via crello

Dirty Clothes

If you are one of those who tend to leave their clothes unattended and unwashed in the laundry basket for long enough, those dirty shirts and pants will sooner or later (rather sooner than later!) start to smell.

This happens due to the accumulation of gases that are developed by the bacteria that break down dead skin cells.

In addition, bacteria from body fluids that may have been left on your clothes also take part in this process.

As an alternative option, if you forget to take your clothes out of the washing machine after the load is washed, mold may appear on them! And as we all know, mold doesn’t have a pleasant scent at all.

Dirty Clothes
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Dirty Baskets

If you only use plastic baskets in your home laundry room, those can prevent unpleasant odors. However, if you prefer those made of fabric or fabric lining, and if your basket(s) tend to be kept with a closed lid, be ready that those will be particularly prone to developing odors!

This happens because dust that collects inside of such baskets often traps all sorts of bacteria in clothing and then transmits their odor to the basket itself.

Dirty Baskets
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Dirty Washing Machine

Washing machines are made to clean your clothes, however, they too can stink if they lack regular cleaning and proper maintenance! Mold, mildew, and bacteria from your dirty clothes that are regularly washed in the barrel can easily get trapped inside the washer seals.

Add soap scum, dirt, body oil, and hair, and you will understand what is creating an unpleasant odor in your laundry room!

As you can see now, there is more than one reason why your home laundry can develop bad odors. And since having a smelly laundry room is not what everyone is dreaming about, in the next part we are going to recommend you a few handy ideas about how you can get rid of this smell effectively, quickly, and without much expense and effort.

What's causing a stink in my laundry room?What’s causing a stink in my laundry room?

How to Get Rid Of The Unpleasant Odor In Your Laundry Room?

It is obvious that, if you want to remove the bad odor from your laundry room, you need to battle its source first. So once you find out what exactly causes the smell, proceed to get rid of it.

Depending on the source of the bad odor (a dirty basket, unwashed clothes, improperly maintained washing machine, etc.), you will want to opt for different methods.

Clean Your Washing Machine

If you are absolutely sure that it is your washing machine that produces those nasty odors in your home laundry room, you will have to take care of it as soon as possible.

Below, we will describe in detail all the steps you need to follow in order to properly and thoroughly clean your washing machine and bring it back to optimal operating condition.

How to Clean a Smelly Washing Machine in 6 Easy StepsHow to Clean a Smelly Washing Machine in 6 Easy Steps

Clean the Scum Out

Well, it is not only about the scum actually. It is also about the leftovers and suds of washing powder or gel, conditioner, and other washing products that you use for the laundry.

First of all, you need to remove and scrub the detergent, soap, and bleach dispenser. If too much water enters these sections, stale water tends to create in them. As a result, it is creating an ideal environment for mold to grow!

And naturally, mold will eventually cause unpleasant odors to appear.

To get into these areas, you need to remove the accumulated filth with a clean, old toothbrush and a pipe cleaner. We recommend you use a reliable washing machine cleaner during this procedure!

Like this, you can be sure that you will not damage it. The inside of the washing machine has to be cleaned using the same tools.


After you removed all the scum and suds that could potentially be a “cradle” of mold and bad odor, make sure that you disinfect your washing machine as well. This step should not be skipped!

It is best of all if you disinfect the washing machine with chlorine since bleach is very effective against mold and mildew.

  • Add two to four cups of bleach
  • Start the rinse cycle
  • Allow the bleach to absorb
  • Let the bleach stay in the water for about 30 minutes
  • Rinse it again to remove it

If you don’t want to use bleach (which makes sense since it is a hazardous product!), you can always deodorize your washing machine with regular white vinegar:

The acid that is present in vinegar helps to cope with the hard water and bacterial residues.

  • Set the washing machine to the warmest setting
  • Add two to four cups of white vinegar
  • Use the same procedure as for bleach disinfection

When you complete this disinfection stage, your washing machine will be as good as new and clean to start using it safely again!

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Clean Your Laundry Basket

As you already know, your laundry baskets can also be a cause of the bad odor in the laundry room, especially if you prefer using the ones made of wicker or fabric.

There are different cleaning methods that can be used for your laundry basket, depending on the material it is made of:

Polyester or plastic

If you prefer using laundry baskets that are made of plastic or polyester, chances are rather low that they will start producing bad odors.

However, if they did, use a mixture of baking soda and water.

Mix one cup of baking soda per one gallon of water and rub the basket with a soft bristle brush. After it is thoroughly cleaned, let it air-dry.

Polyester or plastic
EdZbarzhyvetsky via crello


If your laundry basket is made of fabric, you will have to use another cleaning approach. You will need to remove the cloth bag from the inside of the basket and then wash it in lukewarm water.

We recommend you use a strong washing detergent for better results. After you are done with that, allow it to air dry.

pressmaster via crello

Wood Or Wicker

Wooden laundry baskets are not as common as those made of wicker, but still, we will describe the cleaning procedure for both.
As you know, these baskets cannot get wet, otherwise, the material they are made of will start rotting. This is why you will have to clean them with a dusting brush.

After you dust your basket, wipe the inside using a moist cloth dipped in baking soda and water and air dry. Do not use a cloth that is soaked with water! Remember the rule of thumb: no water on the wood or wicker!

If you need to disinfect the laundry basket, you can use the following solution: mix some bleach with clean water, and gently wipe the basket if it is made of a material that does not stick when wet.

A mild disinfectant spray can also be used on materials that cannot be soaked. And remember to wear protective gloves while wiping the basket! Like this, you will protect your hands’ skin from damage!

Clean Your Clothes That Have Been Left Out

Life is busy and we often have no time and/or no desire to start laundry when we are too tired in the evening, or if we are way too busy on weekend! But this procrastination often ends up in laundry being stuffed in a laundry basket for days!
Eventually, it will start smelling, as you can easily guess.

To get rid of smelly clothes left in the basket, you just need to simply wash them regularly with a detergent and a fabric softener of your choice.

This way, a clean scent will neutralize any bad odor and leave you with fresh clothes in addition.

But if you can still smell the bad odor on your clothes, even after you wash them, make sure you clean and disinfect the washing machine and basket!

Those can be the reasons why your clothes smell. And only after your basket and washing machine are clean, try to wash your clothes again.

So, now you know several useful methods that will help you battle the bad odor that is filling your laundry room. However, it is always easier to prevent rather than to fix later.

So we suggest you read about the methods that can help you to prevent the bad odors development in your laundry room.

Clean Your Clothes That Have Been Left Out
Elnur_ via crello

How to Avoid And Prevent Bad Smell In Your Laundry From Developing?

If you are aware of how to keep your home laundry room tidy and clean, you will not only be able to easily get rid of bad odors in it quickly when you smell them.

You will even manage to prevent their appearance!

To master this ability, we suggest you check out a few tips and handy life hacks that will help you to reduce the possibility of unpleasant smells before they occur.

  • Start and finish your laundry in one go. This will prevent your clothes from getting dormant and developing an unpleasant smell or mold.
  • Keep the washing machine’s door open after you have finished washing. This will allow the excess water to dry and reduce the possibility of mold growth.
  • Open the window(s) in your laundry room. The fresh air will neutralize bad odors.
  • Use air freshener. Keep it close to the door to always have a pleasant smell in the room.
  • Mix tumbles dryer sheets with washing. It will soften and freshen your clothes and spread their pleasant scent throughout the room.
How to Avoid And Prevent Bad Smell In Your Laundry From Developing
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If you use any of these methods, or if you combine some of them, or even use all, you will be able to keep your laundry room super fresh and always functional.

In addition, with these tips, your home laundry room will be a safe and clean space.

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐Why does my laundry smell like sewer?

This can be because of sewer gas. If you sense the smell of rotten eggs in your laundry room, call for a specialist.

⭐How often do I need to clean my washing machine?

Once or twice a year is enough usually. But regular washing can be done more frequently.

Written by
Olivia shares all she knows about the hotels, houses, and home cleaning with Beezzly readers. And she knows a lot! 15 years of work experience as a Manager in a former Four Season Service gave Olivia an exceptional base of professional knowledge and practical experience.
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Washing Machine - Laundry Room Smell / OdorWashing Machine - Laundry Room Smell / Odor