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Why Your Clothes Dryer Stinks

Why Your Clothes Dryer Stinks

Does your clothes dryer emit a foul odor that permeates your laundry room? If you answered “yes,” you are not alone.

A stinky dryer is a common problem caused by various factors, including mold, mildew buildup, and lint accumulation. But the causes are way more than these.

This article will explore why clothes dryers stink and how to eliminate the unpleasant smell. Here we go.

  • Common causes of unpleasant smells in clothes dryers are lint buildup, moisture, bacteria, and mold.
  • Cleaning your dryer is the solution to eliminate odor caused by accumulated lint and debris.
  • You will require a vacuum cleaner, a lint brush, a soft cloth, mild detergent, and water.
  • Besides eliminating unpleasant smells, cleaning your clothes dryer can help to save energy, improve the dryer’s performance, and extend its life expectancy.

The next few sections will discuss common culprits of smelly clothes dryers and some practical ways to remedy the problem. Let’s get started.

Common Causes of Smelly Clothes Dryers

A smelly clothes dryer can be an unpleasant and frustrating problem, especially if it leaves an odor on your clothes.

If this is your experience and you are wondering what could be the cause, below are some possibilities:

1. There Is Lint Buildup

There Is Lint Buildup

Lint buildup is one of the most common causes of smelly clothes dryers. Over time, lint can accumulate in the dryer vent and lint trap, leading to a musty or moldy odor.

This is because lint is an organic material that can trap moisture, creating a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. Ensure to clean your dryer lint trap, vent, and exhaust after every use to avoid a smelly dryer.

This will help to ensure that air flows freely through the dryer and prevent lint buildup.

2. Presence of Moisture

Presence Of Moisture

If your dryer is unventilated, moisture can accumulate inside the dryer, leading to a musty or moldy smell. This is especially common in humid climates or during the rainy season.

To prevent moisture buildup, ensure your dryer is properly ventilated and the exhaust duct is clean and free from obstructions. You can also use a dehumidifier in the laundry room to reduce the amount of moisture in the air.

3. There Are Bacteria and Mold Activities

There Are Bacteria And Mold Activities

If moisture accumulates in the dryer, it can create a perfect environment for these microorganisms to grow and thrive. Unfortunately, this can lead to a foul odor that can be difficult to eliminate.

It is essential to keep your dryer clean and dry to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Be careful to wipe down the inside of the dryer drum and the door seal after every use.

How To Clean a Smelly Dryer

Cleaning your dryer is the solution to prevent foul odors caused by accumulated lint and debris. You will need a vacuum cleaner, a lint brush, a soft cloth, mild detergent, and water for the cleaning.

With these items ready, follow the steps below to clean your dryer and rid it of smells:

Step #1: Turn Off the Power

Turn Off The Power

The first step is to turn off the power to your dryer. Next, unplug the appliance from the outlet or turn off the circuit breaker that controls the dryer.

Step #2: Remove the Lint Trap

Remove The Lint Trap

After disconnecting the current supply to the dryer, remove the lint trap and clean it with a lint brush. Ensure you remove any accumulated lint on the trap and around the area where it sits.

Step #3: Vacuum the Lint Trap

Vacuum The Lint Trap

Use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment and vacuum out the lint trap area. Also, vacuum the surrounding area to remove any loose lint or debris.

Step #4: Remove the Vent Cover and Clean the Dryer Vent

Remove The Vent Cover And Clean The Dryer Vent

If your dryer has a vent cover, use a screwdriver to remove it to access the dryer vent. Now, insert the long flexible brush from your dryer vent cleaning kit into the vent.

Ensure to move back and forth to dislodge any lint or debris. Then, use the vacuum attachment to suck up any dislodged debris. Repeat this process until the vent is clean.

Step #5: Clean the Exhaust Duct

Clean The Exhaust Duct

Next, insert the long flexible brush into the exhaust duct. Then move it back and forth to clean it out. Finally, use the vacuum attachment to clean up any debris. Repeat this process until the exhaust duct is clean.

Step #6: Clean the Interior of the Dryer

Clean The Interior Of The Dryer

Use a lint brush to clean the inside of the dryer, including the drum. Also, clean the area around the lint trap. You can also use a cleaning solution to remove stubborn stains or odors.

Step #7: Reassemble the Dryer

Reassemble The Dryer

Once everything is clean, reassemble the dryer by replacing the vent cover and lint trap. Mae sure everything is securely in place before turning the power back on.

Step #8: Test the Dryer

Test The Dryer

Finally, turn the power back on and test the dryer to ensure it works properly. Run a short cycle to check for any unusual noises or problems.

Other Benefits of Cleaning Dryers

Besides eliminating unpleasant odors, cleaning your dryers has other benefits.

Some of them include the following:

1. Helps To Save Energy

Helps To Save Energy

A clogged dryer reduces airflow, leading to longer drying and higher energy bills. A clean vent can help your dryer operate more efficiently, saving you money on your energy bill.

2. Helps To Increase Dryer Lifespan

Helps To Increase Dryer Lifespan

Regularly cleaning your dryer can help it last longer by reducing wear and tear on the machine. A dryer clogged with lint and debris has to work harder to dry clothes, which can cause them to break down faster.

3. It May Help Prevent Fire Accidents

It May Help Prevent Fire Accidents

Lint buildup in the dryer vents is one of the leading causes of household fires. Cleaning the lint screen after every load and regularly cleaning the dryer vents can reduce the risk of fires.

4. Improvement of Dryer Performance

Improvement Of Dryer Performance

A clean dryer runs more efficiently, meaning it can dry clothes faster and more effectively. This means you won’t have to spend too much time drying your clothes.

5. Maintaining Good Air Quality

Maintaining Good Air Quality

A dryer clogged with lint and debris can release harmful pollutants and allergens into the air. Regularly cleaning your dryer can help improve the air quality in your home.

Tips for Maintaining a Fresh-Smelling Clothes Dryer

Tips For Maintaining A Fresh-Smelling Clothes Dryer

Before we wrap it up, consider a few ways to keep your clothes dryer smelling fresh.

1. Clean the Lint Trap After Every Load

As we said earlier, cleaning the lint trap after every load can help prevent fires. But besides that, it can also help keep your dryer-smelling fresh. Lint can trap moisture and odor, so regular removal can prevent musty smells from developing.

2. Use Dryer Sheets or Fabric Softener

Adding a dryer or fabric softener sheet to each load can help keep your clothes smelling fresh. It can also help mask any lingering odors in the dryer itself.

3. Air Out the Dryer

After each use, open the dryer door for a few minutes to allow air to circulate. This can help prevent moisture buildup, which often causes terrible smells.

4. Wipe Down the Drum

Use a damp cloth to wipe down the dryer drum. Try to remove any leftover lint or debris that may have escaped the lint trap.

5. Clean the Dryer Vent Regularly

A clogged vent can cause your dryer to overheat, leading to musty odors. Be sure to clean the dryer vent at least once a year to prevent this from happening.

6. Store Laundry Detergent Properly

Laundry detergent can absorb moisture and colors, so store it in a dry place away from the dryer.

7. Check for Leaks

If you notice a musty smell coming from your dryer, it may be due to a leak. Check the exhaust duct and the connections to ensure there are no leaks.


A stinky clothes dryer can be a frustrating problem, but there are simple ways to fix the issue. But before jumping into the DIY spirit to eliminate the smell, first, take time out to identify the cause of the smell.

You can go through the common culprits discussed above as a guide.

Once you’ve identified the issue, take the necessary steps to eliminate the smell using the right tools. Then, with a little effort and attention, you can enjoy a fresh-smelling dryer and keep your laundry experience enjoyable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Put Baking Soda in the Dryer?

While baking soda can effectively eliminate odor in the laundry, putting it directly in the dryer is not recommended.

Baking soda can clump and clog the machine, leading to potential safety hazards. Instead, use baking soda to pretreat clothes or add it to the wash cycle.

For a fresh-smelling dryer, use dryer sheets or fabric softener and regularly clean the lint trap and dryer vent.

What Happens if I Don’t Clean Your Dryer?

If you don’t clean your dryer, it can lead to reduced airflow, longer drying times, and potential safety hazards.

Lint and debris can accumulate if not removed, resulting in a smelly dryer. Besides this, dirt buildup can cause the dryer to overheat, potentially damaging the heating element and other parts.

Neglecting to clean your dryer can also lead to a musty odor, decreased efficiency, and a shorter machine lifespan.

What Can I Use To Clean the Interior of My Dryer?

To clean the inside of your dryer, you can use a damp cloth to wipe down the drum and other areas that collect lint or debris. For tougher stains or buildup, mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar and apply it to the affected areas.

Allow the solution to sit for a few minutes, then scrub with a non-abrasive sponge or cloth. Ensure you dry the drum thoroughly before using the dryer.

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