Why Does My HE Washer Stink? Reasons Explained

The main reason why your high-efficiency (HE) washer stinks is because of the buildup of bacteria, mold, and mildew inside the machine. These microorganisms thrive in moist and dark environments, and can cause unpleasant odors and health problems. To prevent this, you need to regularly clean and maintain your HE washer, and use the right detergent and amount for each load. In this article, I will explain how to do that, and also share some tips and tricks to keep your HE washer smelling fresh and clean.

What Causes HE Washer Odor?

HE washers are designed to use less water and energy than traditional washers, which is good for the environment and your utility bills. However, this also means that they have less water to rinse away the dirt, soap, and residue from your clothes. As a result, some of these substances can get trapped in the rubber gasket, the detergent dispenser, the drain hose, and other parts of the washer. Over time, they can create a breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and mildew, which produce foul-smelling gases.

Another factor that contributes to HE washer odor is the type and amount of detergent you use. HE washers require special HE detergent, which is formulated to create less suds and dissolve better in low-water conditions. If you use regular detergent, or too much of it, you can create excess suds that can clog the washer and leave behind a sticky residue. This can also attract and feed the odor-causing microorganisms.

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How to Clean and Maintain Your HE Washer?

To get rid of the stinky smell from your HE washer, you need to clean it thoroughly and regularly. Here are some steps you can follow:

  • Run a hot cycle with vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar and baking soda are natural cleaners that can help disinfect and deodorize your washer. Fill the detergent dispenser with one cup of white vinegar, and sprinkle half a cup of baking soda inside the drum. Then, run a hot or sanitize cycle without any clothes. This will help loosen and remove the dirt, soap, and residue from the washer. You can do this once a month, or more often if needed.
  • Wipe the rubber gasket and the door. The rubber gasket is the seal that prevents water from leaking out of the washer. It can also trap moisture, lint, hair, and other debris, which can cause mold and mildew to grow. To clean it, use a damp cloth or a soft brush to wipe the inside and outside of the gasket. You can also use a mild bleach solution or a commercial cleaner to disinfect it. Make sure to dry it well after cleaning. You should also wipe the door and the glass with a clean cloth to remove any water or dirt. You can do this after every wash, or at least once a week.
  • Clean the detergent dispenser and the drain hose. The detergent dispenser and the drain hose are also places where soap and residue can accumulate and cause odor. To clean them, you can either remove them and soak them in hot water and vinegar, or use a pipe cleaner or a long brush to scrub them. You can also run a hot cycle with vinegar to flush them out. You can do this every few months, or whenever you notice a problem.
  • Leave the door and the detergent dispenser open. One of the simplest ways to prevent HE washer odor is to let the washer air dry after each use. This will help evaporate the moisture and reduce the chances of mold and mildew growth. To do this, you just need to leave the door and the detergent dispenser slightly open when the washer is not in use. You can also place a towel or a paper towel under the door to absorb any excess water. However, make sure to keep children and pets away from the washer, as they can get injured or damage the machine.
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How to Use the Right Detergent and Amount for Your HE Washer?

To avoid creating excess suds and residue that can cause odor, you need to use the right detergent and amount for your HE washer. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Use HE detergent. HE detergent is specially designed for HE washers, as it creates less suds and dissolves better in low-water conditions. It also has enzymes that can break down stains and dirt more effectively. You can find HE detergent in most grocery stores and online, and it usually has a HE logo on the label. Do not use regular detergent, as it can damage your washer and void your warranty.
  • Use the correct amount of detergent. The amount of detergent you need depends on the size, soil level, and fabric type of your load, as well as the hardness of your water. You can check the instructions on the detergent bottle or the washer manual for the recommended amount. Generally, you should use less detergent than you think, as too much can create suds and residue that can harm your washer and your clothes. You can also use a measuring cup or a dispenser to avoid overpouring.
  • Use vinegar or bleach as a booster. If you have hard water, or if your clothes are very dirty or smelly, you can use vinegar or bleach as a booster to enhance the cleaning power of your detergent. Vinegar can help soften the water and remove odors, while bleach can help sanitize and whiten your clothes. However, you should use them sparingly, and never mix them together, as they can create toxic fumes. You can add half a cup of vinegar or bleach to the bleach dispenser, or directly to the drum, before starting the cycle.
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HE washers are great for saving water and energy, but they can also develop a stinky smell due to the buildup of bacteria, mold, and mildew inside the machine. To prevent this, you need to regularly clean and maintain your HE washer, and use the right detergent and amount for each load. By following the steps and tips in this article, you can keep your HE washer smelling fresh and clean, and enjoy the benefits of a high-efficiency machine.