Washer Smelling Like Sewage? Here’s 3 Probable Causes

Washer smells like sewage

Does your washer smell like sewage?

I’ve been there too! I know how annoying it can be to open your washing machine expecting a fresh scent from clean clothes, only to be hit by a sewage smell.

The good news is that you’ve come to the right place to get this issue fixed.

If your washer smells like sewage, you’ll need to use a tablet cleaner or vinegar mixed with warm water. It’s also important to drain your machine and ensure ventilation to allow moisture to escape.

Are you ready to fix the problem? Let’s dive in!

Why trust us? This article was written in collaboration with James Blackford, our appliance repair expert. James has over 16 years of experience as an appliance technician, works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair company.

How to Stop Your Washer From Smelling Like Sewage? 3 Simple Steps

Unfortunately, this is a very common issue, especially with front-loading washing machines.

This is why some manufacturers have even incorporated an exhaust fan into their designs that activate after each cycle, expelling moisture and preventing unpleasant odors.

But, if your washer doesn’t support this feature or if you’re still experiencing the sewage smell, don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.

Here’s 3 steps you should follow to get rid of the odor. These are:

#1 Clean Your Washing Machine

The easiest way to keep your washer from smelling like sewage is by cleaning it at least once a month.

This action not only prevents the growth of mold and unpleasant odors, but also ensures your washer maintains its cleaning effectiveness and lasts longer.

To clean your washing machine, you’ll need a compatible cleaner. In my experience, the Affresh tablets are highly effective in deodorizing and removing grime.

But, if you prefer a more natural and affordable option, you can use baking soda or vinegar mixed with warm water. Combine the ingredients and apply the mixture to the drum, rubber gasket, and detergent dispenser. Then, scrub with a cloth.

You can also fill your washer with hot water and stop it before it agitates. Then, add 1/4 of the vinegar and run the cycle.

How to clean washing machine
Clean your washing machine to get rid of the sewage smell.

It’s worth mentioning that in some cases, if the smell persists even after cleaning it, it indicates an accumulation of mildew between the plastic tub that holds the water and the metal tub responsible for agitation. Addressing this may require a more frequent cleaning cycle, possibly once a week.

You can also consider calling a technician to disassemble and clean your washer. However, it’s important to bear in mind that this is a complex task that can take up to 5 hours and typically costs $700 to $1100!

With that in mind, it might be worth attempting to clean your washer multiple times before considering hiring a technician!

#2 Leave the Door Open

If your washing machine has a sewage smell, there’s a good chance you haven’t been leaving the door open after each cycle.

If that’s the case, I strongly recommend to start doing it!

You see, this quick action allows the built-up moisture to escape from the drum, preventing the growth of mold and bacteria, and keeping unpleasant odors at bay.

It’s also important to dry the gaskets thoroughly after cleaning them, as they’re prone to retaining moisture, becoming the perfect environment for mold to thrive.

Incorporating these practices into your daily routine will help prevent the sewage smell from reappearing.

#3 Drain Your Washer

If your washer keeps smelling like sewage, it’s time for us to drain it.

This quick action will help you prevent stagnant water and clear any debris or residues that may have built up in the hose.

To do it on a front loader, please follow these simple instructions:

  1. Unplug your washing machine from the power source to prevent any electrical hazards.
  2. Locate the drain hose, which is typically near the removable filter.
  3. Pull it out and place it inside a bucket to collect the water.
  4. Allow the water to drain out completely. Please note that this process may take up to 20 minutes.
A diagram of where a front load washer's drain pump is located
Stagnant water may come out of the drain pump and reduce bad smell

While you’re at it, make sure the drain hose is not kinked or damaged and replace if necessary.

Still Stuck?

If the sewage smell persists after trying all the tips above, then chances are the smell is not coming from the washer itself. Instead, it could be a result of a plumbing issue that is affecting the washer’s draining system.

In such cases, the water will not flow as smoothly as it should through the drain pipes, leading to the development of unpleasant odors.

I recommend calling a plumber, so they can diagnose and repair the problem.


That about covers it! I hope that this article has helped you get rid of the sewage smell coming from your washer.

If you take anything away, please let it be that you need to use a tablet cleaner or vinegar mixed with warm water to clean your washing machine. Don’t forget to leave the door open after every cycle to prevent mold.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article! Please take a look at our other related posts below.

Have a great day.

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