Smelly Washing Machine? A Dirty Agitator Could Be the Culprit
If you've noticed that your clothes don't smell as clean as usual or that your washing machine has a particularly funky odor, it may be time to give it a good scrub.
If you have a top loading washing machine, then the likely culprit to your funky fresh clothes is the agitator. Dirt and detergent can easily build up on the inside of and below the agitator, causing clothes and the machine itself to smell, if not cleaned regularly.
Thankfully there are a few methods to removing buildup from an agitator. As with any appliance, be sure to consult your washing machine's user manual before attempting to remove certain parts.
If you have a GE model washing machine, they have included a few helpful tips on their site for cleaning a top-loading washing machine with an agitator.
How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine with an Agitator
Remove the fabric softener tray.
The fabric softener tray should easily pop or twist off the top of your agitator. Once you've removed this piece, you can put it in a tub of bleach to soak off any built-up grime. If you prefer to use a less harsh, but just as effective, cleaning agent, you can make a paste out of vinegar and baking soda and scrub it on the tray.
Run a normal cycle on a high fill level, with warm water, and a deep rinse. Add ¼ cup of detergent and 1 cup of bleach to the drum of the washer.
This cycle will begin the process of removing any dirt and residue stuck in the drum. You could also use the same vinegar-baking soda mixture as a cleaner in your washer.
After five minutes have passed in the cycle, open the lid and scrub the inside of the agitator with a long-handled brush.
The water will help loosen any dirt and debris on the inside of the agitator, and the scrub brush ensures you reach every nook and cranny with the bleach-detergent mixture.
After scrubbing the inside of the agitator, let the washing machine finish the cycle.
When the cycle drains, any debris will drain through the water line, and leave your washing machine and agitator sparkling. Leave the lid of the washing machine open to ensure that everything completely dries. Leaving the lid open after every wash cycle will also help prevent odors in the future.
Replace the fabric softener tray.
Once the tray is clean and dry, you can put it back on the top of the agitator, and you're all set to clean clothes in your freshly cleaned washing machine.
Tips for Other Machine Models
Depending on the model of your washing machine, you may be able to completely remove the agitator and soak it. If you're able to remove the agitator, you will see a bolt at the bottom of the barrel once you've removed the fabric softener tray.
Twist off the bolt and carefully lift the agitator. You can soak it in bleach or use the same baking soda-vinegar scrub. While you have the agitator removed, you can also check to see if any dirt has collected under the agitator. You can use any household cleaner, or the baking soda-vinegar scrub to clean this area as well.
After replacing all the parts in your machine, you can run a cleaning cycle using a washing machine cleansing pack. It's best to clean your washing machine monthly to avoid buildup and keep it performing in peak shape.