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Why Your Clothes Dryer Smells and How to Clean It

Despite our love of freshly dried laundry, foul dryer odors are not uncommon. What causes dryer smells? Mold and mildew can develop if lint builds up in the dryer duct. Determine why your dryer stinks, how to clean it, and what DIY tips keep odor at bay.

How to Eliminate Odor When Your Clothes Dryer Smells

maytag dryer smells

Though the right cleaning methods will eliminate bad smells, identifying the source of the odor is key to preventing its return. Before we detail the proper cleaning steps and prevention tips, one of these reasons could be why your dryer smells.

Why Your Dryer Stinks

Dryer smells vary depending on the source of the odor and whether you have a gas or electric dryer.

These common smells all originate from different sources:

  • Musty: Mildew is most often responsible when your dryer smells musty. Leaving wet or sweaty clothes in the dryer drum for long periods of time can cause mildew to develop. Lint buildup in the dryer duct can also restrict airflow, causing mildew to grow in the dryer duct’s warm, moist environment.
  • Burning: A burning smell can briefly occur when a new electric dryer is used for the first time. This odor should quickly dissipate and not return. However, if the dryer continues to have this odor, the power cord may be overheating due to damage like fraying or corrosion. A damaged cord should be replaced.
  • Gas: Like an electric model, you may find a gas-powered dryer smells like gas during its first use. This common smell should quickly disappear. Is gas smell from dryer dangerous if it continues? Ongoing odor could indicate a gas leak within the machine or at it’s connection to your gas supply. Turn off the dryer and refrain from use until it can be professionally assessed.
  • Something died: If it smells like something died inside the dryer, then this very well may be the case. Small animals can enter the dryer duct through the exterior vent opening, creating a foul odor if they die inside. A dryer vent cleaning is necessary to remove the source of the smell.

How to Clean a Dryer

Thorough cleaning with a homemade dryer odor eliminator can make most dryer smells disappear.

dryer smells musty

What You’ll Need:

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

Step 1. Clean the lint screen: Remove the lint screen and peel away accumulated lint. Use a dry rag to remove any lingering particles.

Step 2: Vacuum the lint trap: Use the vacuum’s narrow hose attachment to remove any collected lint and debris in the trap.

Step 3: Mix cleaning solution: Combine 1 gallon of water with 1 cup bleach. Alternatively, you can mix a cleaning paste of detergent and warm water.

Step 4. Wipe down the dryer drum and door: Dip a rag in the solution or paste and wipe down the entirety of the drum and the interior of the dryer door. Leave the door open so the interior dries completely.

Step 5. Rinse and dry again: Remove the paste or solution by wiping down the drum and door with a cloth dipped in water. Allow airing to dry again.

Step 6. Use vinegar to dissipate odor: Spray several towels with white vinegar and run them through a complete drying cycle. This can remove any lingering mildew or bleach odors.

Step 7. Clean dryer vents: Disconnect the dryer duct from the machine and the wall. Vacuum it out with the hose attachment before reconnecting. Don’t forget to vacuum out the vent opening on the exterior of the house as well.

Follow These Tips to Prevent Dryer Odors

Some simple DIY tips can prevent the return of bad smells.

maytag dryer odor

Here’s how to keep dryer odor at bay:

  • Clean the lint screen after each use: This ensures proper airflow throughout the dryer, lessening the chance that mold and mildew will develop. 
  • Remove damp clothing promptly: When damp clothes linger in the washer they can quickly develop mildew that will transfer to the dryer. Always remove damp clothing as quickly as possible after the wash cycle ends and dry it immediately.
  • Perform regular dryer duct cleanings: Clean your dryer ducts annually to eliminate the buildup of lint and debris that restrict airflow.

Your local dryer repair service can address persistent odor or fix a noisy clothes dryer. Call Best Service Company for all your laundry appliance needs!

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