Does your front load washer smell like rotten eggs? This is a concerning (but relatively common!) issue for a number of folks with front load washing machines. My husband and I experienced a mild version of this when we were renting an apartment in San Francisco. We were thrilled to finally have a washer and dryer in our unit for the first time, but were quickly disappointed to find out that the washer we inherited smelled terrible!
There are a number of potential reasons your washer smells like rotten eggs or like sewage. Luckily, each possible issue comes with a solution. Below I’ll help you diagnose your specific issue as well as teach you how to clean your front load washer and eliminate bad smells for good.
If Your Front Load Washer Smells Like Rotten Eggs
Check the Rubber Gasket
This is a very common location on a front load washer for bad smells to develop. It isn’t uncommon for a small, wet sock or other garment to get stuck underneath the rubber gasket, then start to grow mold and mildew.
It’s even more common for folks to close the door to their front load washer after every use while the washer (and rubber gasket) are still wet. This makes it even more difficult for the space underneath the rubber gasket to properly dry between uses. Moisture is a beautiful breeding ground for mold and mildew, so this habit will quickly turn into a smelly mess if not properly addressed.
How to Remove Mold and Mildew from the Rubber Gasket
Lift the rubber gasket on your front load washer. Remove any debris or stuck clothing you might find in there. If you notice mold has built up in that gasket area, reach for distilled white vinegar.
Soak a cleaning cloth with distilled white vinegar and place it in the area where you found the mold. Allow this to sit for 30 minutes or so before removing and wiping the area clean with another cleaning cloth.
You may have to repeat these steps multiple times before the gasket wipes clean.
If you are unable to get the gasket perfectly clean, or if you notice greater signs of wear and damage then it might be necessary to purchase a replacement part.
After Every Wash Cycle
Keep a dry cleaning cloth on your front load washer. After EVERY use, use that dry cloth to quickly wipe the area underneath your rubber gasket dry. This takes less than 30 seconds and is SO worth the small effort!
Once a Month
Run a hot, empty cycle with just distilled white vinegar or bleach (poured in the bleach compartment). I prefer to use vinegar because there is no risk of ruining colored clothing in the following cycle in case any bleach lingers in your washer.
If your washer has a “sanitize” or similar cycle, this is the time to use it. Schedule this monthly cleaning in your cleaning checklist or calendar so you never forget!
Here is a video that walks you through the process:
Check the Drain Plug
This sounds more intimidating than it is. If your rubber gasket is perfectly clean but your washer still smells like rotten eggs or sewer, it’s time to check the drain plug. Check your washer manufacturer’s instructions to help you locate the drain plug if it isn’t obvious. Drain plugs are typically located at the bottom of your washer and might be hidden behind a cover plate.
Have a rag towel and possibly a tray ready beneath the drain plug to catch any water that might come out once opened. Open the drain plug slowly. If you notice the rotten egg smell has intensified, you have identified your problem.
Put on some rubber gloves, reach inside the drain hole and remove the drain filter. Remove the cap from the hose next to your drain plug and allow water to flow out of that as well.
Remove any gross slime from the drain filter, then wash it with soap and water until perfectly clean. The rotten egg smell should no longer exist on the drain filter at this point.
Use your gloved fingers to scrape out any slime from the drain plug hole and follow up with a cleaning rag to remove even more.
Take a glass of hot water or vinegar and pour it into the washer drum. The liquid will flow through your washer and out of the drain plug. Repeat this 2-3 times until the rotten egg smell is no longer detectable.
Now replace the drain plug filter and the hose cap before closing the cover plate.
Every 4-6 Months
Repeat this cleaning process with your drain plug to ensure the sludge, slime, and smell do not return!
If All Else Fails, Call a Plumber
If after all of that cleaning your washer smells like rotten eggs, the cause might not actually be your washing machine. It’s possible that the smell is actually coming from the sewer!
To check, follow the drain hose from the back of your washer to the standpipe. If you can, remove the hose from the standpipe and smell inside. You will know immediately if this is the cause of your bad smell!
The most likely possibilities for this would be a clogged standpipe or a dried p-trap. There are some DIY methods to check each of these possibilities, but at this point I recommend calling a plumber unless you’re a very confident DIYer.
At the very least, by this point you should have been able to identify the reason why your front load washer smells like rotten eggs. Don’t forget to clean it regularly in order to prevent this from happening again!
Here are some other appliances you should be cleaning regularly: