Washer Smelling Of Burning? Put Out The Fire In 10 Steps

Is your washing machine smelling like it’s hosting a barbecue party without your permission? That burning smell can be quite a headache and leave you wondering if there’s a fire brewing in your laundry room. 

But don’t panic just yet.

Burning smells from washers are a common issue, and we have the simple solutions you need to extinguish that odor. In this article, we’ll walk you through 10 easy steps to tackle the problem and save your washer from turning into a bonfire. 

Get ready to dive into inspecting drive belts, checking for overheating motors, cleaning lint filters, and much more. Then, keep reading below to restore peace and order to your laundry room.

What You Will Need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • White vinegar and water mixture
  • Replacement parts (if needed)

Washer Smelling Of Burning? Put Out The Fire In 10 Steps

#1: Unplug Your Washer

Safety first. Before you embark on this journey of odor elimination, unplug your washer from the wall. This simple act will protect you from any unexpected electrical mishaps and ensure you don’t have a shocking experience.

washer control panel
First safety rule – switch off your washer

#2: Inspect the Drive Belt

The drive belt is like the backbone of your washer—it’s responsible for making everything move and groove. If you’re unfamiliar with drive belts, they’re typically long, rubbery bands that wrap around pulleys to transfer motion from the motor to the drum. 

The drive belt plays a crucial role in your washer’s operation, transferring motion from the motor to the drum. However, not all washers have a drive belt; some use a rotor and stator system.

Unplug the washer and pull it a few feet away from the wall for top-load washers with a drive belt. Then, lean it back against the wall, and look underneath. Most top load washers have a plastic cover you can remove by taking off 2-3 1/4-inch or 5/16-inch bolts. Once you remove the cover, inspect the drive belt for any signs of damage.

For front load washers: About 90% of front load washers don’t have a drive belt and use a rotor-stator system. However, some brands, like GE, still use drive belts. To check the drive belt on a front load washer, remove the back panel, usually secured with 2-4 screws, and inspect the belt.

If the belt is frayed, cracked, or otherwise damaged, it’s time to replace it.

#3: Check for Overheating Motor

The motor is the heart of your washer, pumping power into every cycle. If it’s overheating, you’ll likely notice a burning smell. The motor is typically a cylindrical metal component with wires near the washer’s bottom. 

To inspect the motor, you’ll need to remove the appropriate panel (either the front or rear panel, depending on your washer’s design). If it is a top-load washer, tip it back and remove the cover and inspect the belt. 

Next, use your flashlight to get a good look at the motor. If it appears charred, excessively hot or loose, it’s time to call in a professional for repairs or replacement.

Pro Tip:

You shouldn’t be able to easily remove the belt, if you can, it means the belt is bad.

#4: Clean Your Washer’s Lint Filter

Lint filters catch fuzz and debris during the washing process. Over time, these filters can become clogged, reducing airflow and, ultimately, a burning smell. 

Lint filters are usually located at the bottom front of the washer of your front-load washers, hidden behind a small door or panel. To access it, remove the front panel or open a small door near the bottom of the washer. 

Once you find it, remove the filter and clean it with a mixture of white vinegar and water. This simple maintenance will keep your washer smelling fresh and running smoothly.

dirty washer filter
Lint filter clogged with debris

#5: Inspect the Electrical Wiring

Faulty electrical wiring can also cause a burning smell in your washer. To check your washer’s wiring:

  1. Remove the right panel again.
  1. Use your flashlight to examine the wiring for any signs of damage, such as frayed or burnt wires.
  1. If you spot any issues, call a repair professional—electrical work is not a DIY project.
electrical wiring on a washer
Call an electrical technician if you suspect fault in the electrical wiring

#6: Check the Drain Pump

The water pump drains water from your washer after each cycle. If something obstructs the pump, it can overheat and cause a burning smell. 

The water pump is usually a small, round component with hoses attached to it, located at the bottom of the washer. To access it, you’ll likely need to tilt your washer forward, ensuring it’s safely supported. 

Once you have a clear view, look for any debris blocking the pump, such as lint or small items. Remove any obstructions and ensure the pump is working correctly.

Pro Tip:

On front-load washers, to access the drain pump, a lot has to be removed and you need to see specific directions for your model and have the right tools to do so.

#7: Examine the Tub Seal (Front-load Washers)

A damaged tub seal can allow water to leak into your washer’s components, causing a burning smell. To check the tub seal, open your washer’s lid and inspect where the drum meets the tub. 

The seal is a rubber or plastic ring that wraps around the edge of the drum to prevent water leakage. If you notice any cracks or damage, it’s time to replace the seal.

#8: Examining the Door Seal and Drum Rotation in Front-Load Washers

In front-load washers, the door seal, also known as the shroud, is a rubber gasket encircling the door area. Its purpose is to prevent water from splashing out when the drum is spinning with the door closed. 

The drum’s stability relies on well-functioning bearings when it spins at high speeds. However, if these bearings fail, the drum loses stability and may wobble excessively during operation. 

Consequently, the drum rubs against the rubber door seal, leading to a burning smell. Remember that door seal issues usually result from underlying problems, not the primary cause. 

To address this malfunction, replacing the worn-out drum bearings in your front-load washer is essential. If the door seal is damaged, it should also be replaced to ensure proper functioning.

#9: Inspect the pulley 

A misaligned or damaged pulley can also cause that burning smell. To inspect it, first unplug the washer and remove the back panel to access the pulley system. 

Then, look closely at the pulley and make sure it’s not damaged, cracked, or misaligned. If you notice any issues, consider replacing the pulley or realigning it to its proper position.

#10: Schedule Regular Maintenance

Finally, schedule regular maintenance for your washer to prevent future burning smells. This includes cleaning the lint filter, checking for loose or damaged parts, and inspecting the motor for signs of overheating. 

plumber checking for overheating signs on a washer
Check for loose parts and signs of overheating

A well-maintained washer is less likely to develop problems and will keep your laundry room smelling fresh and clean.


By following these ten steps, you can effectively eliminate the burning smell from your washer and prevent potential fire hazards

Remember to always prioritize safety when working on appliances, and feel free to call a professional if you need clarification on any steps or encounter issues beyond your expertise. Then, with some patience and elbow grease, you can restore your washer to its proper, non-fiery state and enjoy fresh, clean laundry again.

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more