Dryer Cleaning Tips: Why Does My Dryer Smell?

While most of us welcome the scent of laundry fresh from the dryer, foul odors are a different story. Why does my dryer smell bad? Mold or mildew may have developed in a clogged vent duct or the dryer drum. Determine why your clothes dryer stinks as well as how to clean it and prevent odor.

Why Does My Dryer Smell? Check these Common Causes.

why does my dryer smell

While odor can be overwhelming, a thorough cleaning with the right supplies can be a simple solution. But, why does my dryer smell in the first place? From smelly clothes to a lack of maintenance, here’s what causes a dryer to smell.

What Causes a Dryer to Smell?

Before you can focus on eliminating odor, you’ll need to pinpoint the source.

These common causes are the most likely reasons for dryer odor:

  • Smelly clothes: Despite being washed, sweat, dirt and food stains on clothes can still emit a lingering odor that transfers to the dryer. This odor can intensify if wet clothes sit in the dryer drum before being dried.
  • Infestation: What if my dryer smells like something died in it? Unfortunately, this odor means that something likely did. Rats, squirrels or other small rodents can create nests inside the dryer ducts after entering via the exterior vent opening. An unpleasant odor is noticeable if they die inside the duct.
  • Lint buildup: If you don’t perform an annual dryer vent cleaning, lint can build up inside the duct, preventing sufficient air circulation. The duct then becomes the perfect warm, moist environment to grow smelly mold and mildew. 

How to Clean a Dryer That Smells

Why does my dryer smell like mildew even if the vents are clean? The dryer drum, lint screen, and lint trap can also harbor smelly mold and must be cleaned to remove the odor.

clothes dryer stinks

When your dryer smells bad, clean it with the following steps:

What You’ll Need:

  • Rags
  • Towels
  • Bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Vacuum

Step 1. Remove Lint: Pull away any lint from the dryer lint screen and use a dry rag to rub away lingering particles. Use the vacuum’s narrow hose attachment to remove lint from the lint trap before replacing the screen.

Step 2. Create Bleach Solution: Mix 1 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of warm water in a small basin or bucket.

Step 3. Wipe Down Dryer Interior: Dip a rag in the bleach solution and wipe down the drum’s interior as well as the inside of the door. Leave the door open so the dryer can air out.

Step 4. Rinse Solution: Once the bleach has dried, dampen a separate rag with warm water and wipe down the drum and door a second time. Allow to air dry again; using the dryer before it’s completely dry can result in bleach stains on clothing.

Step 5. Remove Lingering Odor: Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and use it to dampen several towels. Run the towels in the dryer so the vinegar can remove any lingering odor of mold or bleach. 

Step 6. Check the Vent Ducts: Disconnect the vent from the dryer and wall and use the vacuum’s narrow hose attachment to remove any lint and debris. Don’t forget to vacuum out the exterior vent opening on the outside of the house before reconnecting the duct. 

Ways to Prevent Dryer Odors

Once the odor is gone, some key changes to your use and care can prevent its return.

dryer smells bad

Use these tips to prevent dryer odors:

  • Avoid overloading: Too many clothes in the dryer can restrict airflow, creating the opportunity for mold and mildew to develop again. If your dryer smells bad when running with a large load, remove some items to dry in a separate load.
  • Clean the lint screen after each use: This will reduce the potential for mold and mildew within the drum and prevent buildup in the dryer ducts.
  • Measure detergent accurately: Why does my dryer smell bad if I use too much detergent? Excessive amounts won’t completely rinse out of clothes and will leave a residue in the dryer drum that can harbor mildew.
  • Skip the dryer when possible: Every once in a while, skip the dryer and air dry small loads on a drying rack or outdoor clothes line. Less use cuts down on lint and can prolong the life of your dryer.

Despite your best efforts, regular cleanings and maintenance won’t always prevent dryer malfunctions. When you need a clothes dryer repair, contact Ortega’s Appliance Service!

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