Steamer Smelling Bad? Here’s Why, With 5 Steps To Clean IT

A steamer is a great household tool that can help you keep your best clothes pressed and ready for the day. As with any tool that requires water, however, it can start to stink and make things a bit more complicated. There may be a simple reason why your steamer isn’t smelling fresh and knowing what those reasons are and how to clean it can make all the difference.

What Makes a Steamer Stink?

The most common reason that your steamer smells funky is that it is dirty. This can be a dirty water tank that has grown mold or that has stinky water still in it, plastic components that have gotten smelly and held on to the stink, and even smells that come with frequent use and advanced age of your steamer.

Moisture that was left in the steamer after a use or two can lead to the growth of bacteria. Paired with the fact that most people store steamers in closets that are dark and warm, perfect for breeding bacteria, a steamer can quickly grow bacteria and mold that can leave the steamer smelling anything but fresh like you would expect. Though other issues like a defect in the wiring of the machine can lead to burning smells, the most common issue with a steamer is going to be either a musky smell or a moldy smell associated with the growth of bacteria and mold in the machine and the tubing itself.

Steamers can get dirty, fast. Your steamer can grow mold from one use to the next and making sure that you are allowing it to dry fully between uses and cleaning it often can help keep it clean and ready to use.

How to Clean a Steamer

When you do realize that your steamer is a bit smelly or that it is not doing its job you can always work to clean it to get rid of the smell. The best way to do this is to go piece by piece within the steamer and work to clean each part of the steamer rather than try to find a way to clean the whole all at once.

1. Vinegar and Water- one of the biggest contenders for what is making your steamer stink is the tank itself. The tank that holds the water that is then funneled through the machine to make the steam to steam clean your clothes. Common sense dictates that you should remove the water after each use, but even if you do that, it can still lead to mold and mildew that can create quite a stink. A great way to clean this part of your steamer is to add one part vinegar to two parts water to the steamer tank and run it until about half of the solution is gone from the tank. This will help kill any bacteria that is in the tank or in the hoses and nozzles. This also helps prevent mineral deposits that might form in your steamer which can end up shortening the life of your steamer.

2. Clean Hoses and Nozzles- most steamers come with removable hoses and nozzles so that they can be cleaned often and so that they can be dried properly after use. You can soak your hoses and nozzles to remove any build up that may be present or that may be making your steamer stink and you can then hang the hose to dry so that it does not have any residue or water in it. This will prevent any mildew or mold from forming in the future. When you do take off your hoses you can let them dry completely before putting the machine back together to ensure that it is going to dry without any mildew or mold.

3. Scrub the Inside of the Tank- this may seem like a difficult task, but with the help of a bottle brush or long handled scrubber you can scrub the inside of the tank and remove all the mildew and bacteria that may be present. Scrubbing the inside of the tank is the best method for removing the smell from a steamer as the tank is where most of the foul odor is going to be coming from.

4. Additives- you can buy products that can be safely added to your steamer tank when you are using it to help make sure that odors are gone and that your clothes are clean. These are going to be products that you either spray directly on your clothes prior to steaming or that you may be able to add to the tank. If you are looking to find something to add to the tank, it is always best to make sure that you do proper research to make sure that what you are adding is not going to damage your steamer in any way. Things like essential oils and other additives that are not made specifically for steamers can unfortunately cause a build up of oils inside the machine that can then damage the machine and make it impossible to use.

5. Consider Possible Replacement- in cases where you have done all that you can to clean your steamer and it still stinks, it may be time to upgrade or replace your steamer all together. That does not mean that you should run out and replace your steamer as soon as it starts to smell funny, it is always best to take the time to try to clean the steamer first with vinegar and water and proper cleaning of the hoses. There are some things that you can do to protect your steamer if you have bought a new one. First, only use distilled water in your steamer. It is going to be free of minerals that might cause a build up and can help keep the interior of the steamer clean. Second, you want to make sure that you are emptying the tank entirely after each use and that you are allowing your steamer time to dry fully before you put it away after use.

What Can Clothes Steamers Be Used For?

Garment steamers are something that can be used for more than just getting wrinkles out of your clothes. They can be used on drapes to help get rid of odor and to help release wrinkles, they can be used to freshen up furniture, and they can also be used to sanitize.

Steam is very hot, this means that it can kill bacteria and help to make your home safer. Steaming also helps to clean stubborn stains and messes and can also use a steamer to help degrease without chemicals. A garment steamer is a great tool that is very versatile and that is also very useful around the home. Keeping your steamer clean is the best way to make sure that it is not going to develop any strange smells and that it is not going to make your clothes smell strange either.

Meta Description: Steamers are a handy tool around the home but sometimes they stink, here are some tips for cleaning that can help you extend the life of your steamer and make it more useful for your clothes.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more