Laundry rooms key places in the house where linens and clothes are taken to be washed and become clean and scent-free. However, sometimes odors can penetrate and make the laundry room itself smell for various reasons. So, why does your laundry room have an unpleasant smell?

Laundry rooms can smell because the hamper is dirty, or the clothes kept inside it have not been cleaned and are permeating odor throughout the room, or the washer and dryer used to wash your clothes are dirty and are producing mildew and mold. Luckily, there are solutions to combat smells in each of these cases.

This article will go over each of these three odor sources in general and how they produce stench, what you need to do to remove any odor from your laundry room if the smell has already started, and how to prevent your laundry room from developing these smells in the future.

Sources of a Bad Laundry Room Smell

There are three major sources of odor typically discovered in a household laundry room. They are as follows:

  • Dirty clothes: If you leave clothes unattended in a laundry basket, they will start to smell after a while due to a buildup of gases from bacteria that break down the dead skin cells, bacteria, and bodily fluids that may have been left behind on your clothes. Also, if you forget to take clothes out of the washer, they can grow mold and mildew on them.
  • Dirty hamper: While plastic hampers can avoid smells, those made of fabric or that has a fabric lining and a closed lid are especially susceptible to smells. The dust that gathers inside them can trap bacteria from the clothes and transmit their odor to the hamper.
  • Dirty washing machines: Although washing machines are meant to clean your clothes, they can smell without regular cleaning and maintenance. Mold, mildew, and bacteria from your clothes can get trapped inside of the washing machine gaskets along with soap scum, dirt, body oil, and hair, which creates foul odors.

Now that you are aware of the root causes of laundry room odors, the removal and cleaning methods to rid the space of them can be discussed. The next section will take you through how to clean and or handle each of these odor-producing items.

How to Remove Smells from Your Laundry Room

Thankfully, there is a way to clean and get rid of the odors from each of the stench-causing objects in your laundry room. If you follow the steps indicated below for each of them, you will have your laundry room smelling fresh and clean again.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Here are all the steps you need to take to clean your washing machine properly and restore it to top working order.

  1. Remove and scrub the detergent, soap, and bleach dispensers. Standing water forms in these parts if too much water gets inside them, which creates a comfortable environment for mildew to grow and cause odors. Use both a clean, old toothbrush and a pipe cleaner to get down inside these parts and remove the gunk built up.
  2. Scrub the inside of the washer using the same tools featured in the previous step. Make sure you use a trusted washing machine cleaner during this process.
  3. Sanitize your washing machine using chlorine bleach. Chlorine bleach kills mold and mildew. It is toxic and should be separated from other cleaners. Add two to four cups of bleach, start a rinse cycle, and let the bleach incorporate. Once the bleach has been in the water for 30 minutes, rinse again to remove it.
  4. Deodorize the washing machine using vinegar. The acid in the vinegar helps remove hard water and leftover bacteria. Set the washer on the hottest setting and add two to four cups of white vinegar. Use the same process as you would for sanitization with the bleach.

Once you complete this process, your washing machine will be good as new and clean to boot! You will feel much better about washing your laundry in a sanitized and spotless machine.

Cleaning Your Laundry Hamper

There are different cleaning methods you must use for your hamper, depending on the material it is made out of:

  • Polyester or plastic: Use a mixture of baking soda and water (1 cup of baking soda per gallon of water) and scrub the hamper with a soft bristle brush, leaving it to air dry when done.
  • Fabric: Take out the fabric bag on the inside and wash it in warm water with strong detergent, leaving it to air dry when finished.
  • Wood or wicker: Since these hampers can’t get wet, use a vacuum dust brush to clean it and then use a damp cloth dipped in baking soda and water to wipe the inside down, leaving it to air dry.

To disinfect a hamper, use chlorine bleach mixed in clean water, and use gloves to lightly wipe the hamper if it is made of a material that does not hold up when wet. For materials that cannot get wet, you can also use a gentle disinfecting spray.

Cleaning Clothes That Have Been Left Out

To rid your laundry room of the smelly clothes that have been left in a hamper or otherwise, simply wash them regularly with your detergent of choice and fabric softener if you wish. This way, the clean smell will neutralize any bad odors and leave you with fresh clothes.

If you still smell an odor on your clothes, make sure you have cleaned and sanitized your washer as well as your hamper before trying to wash them again. 

How to Prevent Odors in the Laundry Room

Knowing how to keep your laundry room in order and promptly get rid of smells when you sense them is just one key part of smell maintenance. You must also focus on ways to mitigate the possibility of odors before they happen.

Here are some ways you can keep your laundry room fresh:

  • Start and finish your laundry in one sitting. This will keep your clothes from sitting and developing an unpleasant musty smell.
  • Keep the washing machine door open after you finish all your loads. This will allow any excess water to dry up and reduce the possibility of mold developing on the inside of the washer.
  • Open any windows you have in your laundry room. Letting the fresh air in will neutralize any bad odors.
  • Use air freshener. Keep a plugin or air fresher spray by the door so that you always have a pleasant smell in the room.
  • Toss dryer sheets in with the wash. They help soften and freshen your clothes, as well as impart their lovely scent throughout the room, eliminating any bad ones that were present before.

If you use any of the above methods or even a combination of some, you will be well on your way to keeping your laundry room as fresh and functional as it can be. Doing the laundry is a much more pleasant task when there is a safe and clean space to do it.

In Summary

Laundry rooms can have a horrible smell if the clothes in them, the washing machine, or hampers are not cleaned and managed properly. Bacteria, mold, mildew, and or hard water form in any case and bring a nasty stench with them.

The best remedy for all of these problems is to regularly clean your washing machines and hampers and wash or put away clothes as soon as you are finished with them to prevent anything unpleasant and potentially harmful from developing.

You can help keep your laundry room fresh by washing and putting away your laundry in one sitting, using air freshener and dryer sheets, and or leaving the washer door or window open so the space can air out.

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