Why Your Dryer Smells: 5 Odors & How To Get Rid Of Them

Why Your Dryer Smells

Stuck trying to figure out why your dryer smells bad?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, thousands of people are struggling with the same issue.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for answers.

If your dryer smells bad, chances are you haven’t cleaned the lint screen in a long time, you left wet clothes in your appliance, or there’s an animal stuck in the exhaust vent. Your dryer can also smell bad if it’s new or if some of its components need to be replaced.

Woman In Front Of A Smelly Dryer
If your dryer smells bad, it can stink your clothes as it dries, and you will have to rewash your laundry.

Don’t worry, though. Keep reading to learn more about this and forget all about the issue!

Does Your Dryer Smell Bad? 5 Common Odors and How to Fix Them

You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve seen complain about not being able to use their dryers because they smell bad.

Unfortunately, this is a common issue.

Dryers can have different odors, and each one of these needs to be solved differently. This is why I’ve prepared the guide below, which will help you identify the odor and learn how to fix it.

#1 Dryer Smells Like Sweat

If you are someone who exercises regularly or plays sports, then you probably recognize the foul stench that comes with gym clothes the instant it hits your nostrils.

However, you do not expect to smell sweaty gym clothes when you pull them out of the dryer. The reason your dryer smells like sweaty gym clothes might be because you’re putting wet, and mildewy clothes in it and leaving them for too long.

If you leave wet clothes in the dryer, they’ll become an incubator for mildew. Unfortunately, the dryer is not going to remove the mildew from your clothes, as it is only going to make the smell worse. 

There are some clothes that are more prone to developing mildew than others. If you have clothes that have been made using synthetic fibers or polyester, they retain odor from mildew easily.

Therefore, you should transfer your clothes from the washer to the dryer as quickly as possible. This can go a long way toward preventing the growth of mildew on your clothes.

#2 Dryer Smells Like Mold

The next reason why your dryer might smell bad is that there is a tremendous amount of lint building up in your dryer.

Your dryer has an exhaust vent hose on the back. If there is lint build-up in the dryer, it is going to clog the exhaust vent. As a result, the lint is going to clog the filtration system in your dryer as well.

If the filtration system is not working properly because of lint buildup, mold is going to start to grow behind your dryer. Then, when you turn the dryer on, the smell of mold is going to circulate throughout the entire machine. This will cause your dryer to smell bad as well. 

In addition to leading to foul-smelling clothes, lint buildup can also be a serious fire hazard because lent is flammable.

To prevent both of these issues from happening, you should clean out the lint from your dryer after every load. That way, you can reduce the chances of your dryer catching fire, and you can make sure your clothes smell fresh. 

I also recommend cleaning your dryer’s door gasket regularly with equal parts of warm water and vinegar to prevent mold growth.

Moldy dryer Door
Water may accumulate behind the door seal and cause your dryer to smell like mold.

Don’t forget to take a look at our dryer maintenance & care guide to extend the life span of your dryer, avoid unpleasant odors, and save money on repair costs and energy bills!

#3 Dryer Smells Like Burning Oil

Can you cook on a regular basis? If so, you know what burning oil smells like. Everyone has done this before, and it can completely smoke out your kitchen if you allow oil to burn on the stove. The same thing can happen in your dryer. 

If you smell like you have just burned cooking oil in your dryer, the answer is that your dryer is probably brand new. This is something that happens a lot when you run a dryer for the first time.

Therefore, you should relax somewhat, as it is relatively normal for dryers to burn off the chemicals that protect your appliance when it is waiting to be purchased. 

So, if your dryer smells like burning oil, you should run it with an empty load of laundry inside of it. That way, you give the dryer a chance to burn off all the bad odors before you expose your clothes to the dryer.

If the foul odor sticks around even after you have run your dryer without a load in it, it is time to reach out to a professional who can help you.

#4 Dryer Smells Like Burnt Hair

Admittedly, it can be difficult to tell these two smells apart; however, if your dryer still has a burning smell coming from it, and it is not brand new, there is a chance there could be burning here somewhere in the dryer.

This may happen if an animalgot inside the exhaust vent or the vent hose. 

Sadly, the animal that is hiding inside your dryer is probably not alive, causing the bad smell to permeate throughout your entire laundry room. 

It can be difficult to figure out which animal has made its home behind your dryer. That’s why it is important to contact a professional who can take a look at the area behind your dryer and figure out what is going on.

Then, the professional may be able to let you know what you can do to prevent animals from making homes inside your dryer in the future. 

#5 Dryer Smells Like a Burning Piece of Metal

People often ask me why their dryer makes clothes smell like metal, and unfortunately, this may happen if you haven’t changed the filtration system or if your dryer is old.

If that’s your case, the first thing you need to do is shut off the dryer.

Your dryer has a filtration system that is designed to remove dirt particles from your clothing and the air that is being used to dry them. You need to change the filter from time to time, or they could start to overheat, leading to a burning smell.

The second reason why this might be happening is that your dryer has reached the end of its life. Similar to other machines, your dryer is going to wear out eventually.

When this happens, the parts will start to degrade, leading to a foul smell. Therefore, it may be time to take a look at the dryers that are available, and finding the best one to meet your needs. 

Woman Smelling A Towell
Throwing laundry, freshly washed and clean, into a musty-smelling dryer will leave your clothes with a foul odor.

If you’re looking for a new dryer, don’t forget to check out our specialized buyer’s guide or our dryer brand comparison guide. This way, you’ll be able to make an informed decision.

4 Ways to Prevent Odors from Building Up in Your Dryer

These are just a few of the many odors you may smell coming from your dryer. It is important to take a closer look at how you can prevent these odors from coming back after you have fixed your dryer.

A few of the most important tips you should keep in mind include:

  1. Clean the lint screen of your dryer every time you use it. If you clean the lint screen, you can prevent a lot of these foul odors from coming back to your dryer.
  2. Make sure you move laundry from the washing machine to the dryer as quickly as possible. Never let it sit inside your washing machine because this will lead to the growth of mold and mildew.
  3. If your dryer smells a bit musty, you may be able to stop the odor in its tracks by using a mixture of bleach and water. Then, take a soft cloth and wipe down the inside of the dryer. 
  4. It is a good idea to take a look at the exhaust vent behind your dryer at least once per year. If you notice there is a problem with the dryer, you may want to reach out to a professional who can help you. 

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to prevent odors from building up in your dryer. Remember that if you are unable to address these on your own, you should reach out to a professional who can help you.


That about covers it! Hopefully, now that we’ve covered everything, you’ll be able to solve the issue today.

Remember, if your dryer smells bad, you’ll need to clean the lint screen every time you use your appliance, check the exhaust vent, and avoid leaving wet clothes for too long.

Don’t forget to reach out to a professional if you need help.

Thanks for reading this quick guide. If you found it helpful, please check out our related posts below.

Good luck!

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