When you open up your dryer after you have finished drying a load of laundry, you expect it to smell like the dryer sheet you tossed in there. Therefore, if you feel like you just got sucker-punched by a terrible, foul smell, it can be incredibly frustrating. Fortunately, there are ways you can get rid of these terrible odors. 

Before you can get rid of the odors in your dryer, you need to figure out what the problem is. Depending on the issue, the solution is going to be different. As soon as you figure out why your dryer smell so bad, you can get to work fixing it.

So, what do you need to do if you want your dryer to smell nice and fresh again? Take a look at a few possible solutions below, and make sure you get your dryer smelling as good as new.

Addressing the Causes of a Bad-Smelling Dryer

Before we dive into the possible solutions, it is important to take a look at a few common causes of a dryer that smells bad. A few possible culprits behind the odor you smell in your dryer include:

  • There was something bad in the clothes you washed and the smell has been transferred to the dryer. 
  • There is something present in the exhaust vent of your dryer that should not be there. When you turn on your dryer, you exacerbate the smell in the vent, causing your entire load of laundry to smell bad. 
  • There is a tremendous amount of lint that has built up in the dryer, leading to the growth of mold and mildew that causes your dryer to smell bad. 

Now that we have covered a few possible reasons why your dryer might smell bad, it is time to explore a few possible solutions. What should you do if you want your dryer to smell better?

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

Bad Odors in Your Dryer and How To Fix Them

A few of the odors we are going to explore in your dryer include: 

#1 Your Dryer Smells Like Sweaty Gym Clothes

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. There is a good chance you know exactly what this smells like because you have probably put sweaty gym clothes in the car before. 

At the same time, you do not expect to smell sweaty gym clothes when you pull them out of the dryer. The reason why you might have sweaty clothes coming out of the dryer is that you are putting wet, mildewy clothes in the dryer, making the issue worse. 

So, why might your clothes be developing a mildewy smell to them? The most common reason is that you are leaving your wet clothes in the dryer too long. If you leave wet clothes in the dryer, your clothes become an incubator for mildew. As a result, mildew starts to build up on your clothes. 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 sickly as possible. This can go a long way toward preventing the growth of mildew on your clothes.

#2 Your 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. If you open up the dryer and it smells like there is a lot of mold growing inside, this is the probable cause. Of course, you should make sure you are transferring your clothes from the washer to the dryer as quickly as possible; however, if you are doing this and you still smell mildew, the probable cause is lint buildup. 

Your dryer has an exhaust vent hose on the back. It is important to clean out the lint in your dryer from time to time. If there is lint that builds 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 clothes to smell bad as well. 

In addition to leading to foul-smelling clothes, lint buildup can also be a serious fire hazard. The reality is that lent is flammable. If the exhaust vent is clogged, but then it makes it easier for your dryer to overheat. When this happens, your dryer could catch fire.

Therefore, 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. 

Moldy dryer Door
Water accumulates behind the seals. You may not notice visual signs of mold, but every time you open and close the dryer’s door you could be releasing tens of thousands of toxic mold spores

#3 Your 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 it when it is waiting to be purchased. 

So, what do you need to do if your dryer smells like burning oil? The first thing you should do is run your dryer 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. That way, an experienced professional can take a look at your dryer, figure out where the foul smell is coming from, and fix it for you.

#4 Your 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. How does this happen? The answer is that an animal probably got inside the exhaust vent or the vent hose somewhere. 

Now, the animal that is hiding inside of your dryer is probably not alive. It probably crawled in there, got trapped, and died. Or, the animal could have made a nest behind your dryer, 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, your professional may be able to let you know what you can do to prevent animals from making homes inside your dryer in the future. 

Sure, you may feel like you have a home remedy that is going to work; however, this is probably not going to be a cost-effective solution. Instead, it is important to rely on a professional who can fix this is the first time. Then, you can not only address the issue but prevent it from coming back in the future. 

#5 Your Dryer Smells Like a Burning Piece of Metal

Finally, an unusual smell you might notice from time to time is that your dryer smells like burning metal. Some people describe this as the inside of the hood of a car. If you have ever smelled a car when it is overheating, you probably know what burning metal smells like. 

This is not something you ever want to smell coming from your dryer, and it could mean there is a serious problem. If you detect this foul odor coming from your dryer, the first thing you need to do is shut off the dryer. Then, it is important to take a closer look at a few of the possible reasons why this might be taking place. 

The first reason why this might be happening in your dryer is that there is a filtration system that needs to be changed somewhere. Your dryer has a filtration system that is designed to remove dirty 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, 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.

How 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:

  • You must make sure you 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. 
  • 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 should 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.

Prevent Foul Odors from Building Up in Your Dryer

Ultimately, there are plenty of reasons why you might be noticing bad smells in your dryer. Perhaps you have mildewy clothes or there is an animal behind your dryer. The best way to deal with odors is to prevent them from building up in the first place. If you take care of your dryer and your clothes, they should take care of you. Reach out to a professional if you need help!