7 Reasons Top Loading Washing Machine Smells Like Mildew!

Mildew indeed smells disgusting, and that’s one reason to avoid it if you have a top-loading washer. But do you wonder why your top loading washing machine smells like mildew?

The mildew stench from your top loading washing machine could be due to poor ventilation, drain clogging, soap scum, contaminated water, or low washer temperature. If not, it could be due to poor washer maintenance or bad plumbing. 

One of those seven reasons is why your top loader doesn’t smell nice, and it’s something you can fix. That’s not all; you can also prevent the mildew smell in the future once you know what causes it and does something about it.

On that note, I’ll explain the probable causes, their fixes, and the preventive approaches you must take to avoid the mildew smell on your washing machine. 

Let’s discuss them.

top loading washing machine smells like mildew

In a hurry? The table below outlines the seven reasons behind a mildew-smelling top loading and the fixes. 

Top Loading Washing Machine Smells Like Mildew? Here’s A Quick Troubleshooting Guide

Probable CauseRecommended Fix 
1.Poor VentilationClean the washer and leave the lid open while not in use
2.Drain Clogging Unblock /clean the washers drain tube, preferably with Affresh washer cleaner
3.Soap Scum Clean the washer to get rid of soap scum and avoid excessive use of detergent (use HE detergents)
4.Use of Contaminated WaterAvoid using contaminated water and clean the washer to eliminate the bad smell
5.Low Washer Temperature Select a high-temperature setting and use warm water if possible
6.Poor Washer Maintenance Learn to clean the washer as often as possible, especially after doing laundry
7.Bad Plumbing Ask for an expert plumber’s help in checking your washer’s plumbing network

Why Does My Top Load Washer Smell Like Mildew?

Generally, your top-load washing machine smells like mildew because of one of the seven reasons discussed below:

1. Poor Ventilation (Closing the washer’s lid for a long while the washing machine isn’t in use)

This is why most top loaders have a mold or mildew smell. Once you close the lid and the washing machine is not running, you interfere with the washer’s fresh air circulation.

The air retained inside the washer turns stinky once that’s the case and may smell like mildew. 


You can fix this issue by cleaning the washer with a commercial washer cleaner such as Affresh or Tide or household cleaners like bleach, baking soda, and vinegar. I’ll explain more about these cleaners in the next segment.

Once you clean the washer, it’s essential that you don’t close it while not in use to avoid the recurrence of smell. So, leave it open. 

2. Drain Clogging

Sometimes, the pungent mildew stench is because of the non-draining water. If your washer doesn’t drain its wastewater and the water clogs in the drain tube and flows back, it may produce a mildew-like smell. 


Inspect your washer’s drain tube for clogging and try unclogging it. Ordinarily, the mildew smell goes away once you clean the drain.

Again, a commercial washer cleaner like Affresh can help you clean the drain hose, among other washer components. 

washing machine mildew smell

3. Soap Scum 

Once you fail to rinse away the detergent residue properly and they mix with stagnant water, they may encourage mold or mildew growth. That could be the reason your top loader smells like mildew. (Xanax)

The problem with detergent residue or soap scum is that it also provides a sprouting ground for bacteria, which means your clothes will likely be contaminated when you use the washer. 


There are two approaches to soap scum as a reason for the mildew smell. First, it’s essential that you clean the washer and get rid of any soap deposits.

Second, you must avoid the problem. That means reducing the detergent you use and rinsing the washer as often as possible. 

Additionally, learn to use High Efficiency (HE) detergent as they don’t produce many suds. 

4. Use of Contaminated Water

At times, the mildew smells because of using dirty water. Yes, the water might appear clean, but if it’s contaminated with bacteria, it may produce a foul mildew-like smell. 


Deep clean the washing machine and once it’s clean, avoid using dirty water. Ensure the water you are using is not contaminated. 

5. Low Water Temperature 

Generally, washing machines don’t work best under low-temperature conditions. For example, if you often choose the cool wash settings for your laundry, the humid conditions may encourage mold growth. If so, your top loader will smell like mildew.


Avoid over-relying on ‘Cool Wash’ and low-temperature settings as they encourage mold growth. And if possible, wash with warm water if the conditions are very humid. 

6. Poor Washing Machine Maintenance

As you probably might have noticed, most of the fixes shared are about cleaning the washer. So, it’s essential that you clean your washer as often as possible. 

If you don’t, the washer may clog up with debris, insects, and dust, resulting in a stinking smell. 


Clean the washer to eliminate debris, dirt, insects, and other foreign materials. Learn to do the cleaning routines to prevent the issue. 

How do I get the mildew smell out of my top load washer

7. Bad Plumbing 

Lastly, the reason your top loader smells like mildew could be because of poor plumbing. Though rare, bad plumbing could result in water stagnation in the drain pipe. The stagnant water, unfortunately, could produce a mold-like smell. 


Have a plumber check your washer’s plumbing system and the rest of the washer. The plumbing expert will help you unclog the line and fix any other issues. 

How Do I Get the Mildew Smell Out Of My Top Load Washer?

Now that your top-loading washing machine smells like mildew, how do you eliminate the smell? Simply put, how do you clean the washer and give it a refreshing scent?

Well, here are ways to do it.

a) Clean with A Commercial Washer Cleaning Agent

You can use two commercial washing machine cleaning regents to clean your top loader and eliminate the mildew stench. They are Affresh and Tide.

Affresh allows you to clean the entire washer, including the pump, agitator, drum, filter, and drain hose, while Tide is effective against surface residues. 

b) Use A Household Cleaning Solution

There are different household reagents you can use to clean the washing machine, and the commonest are as follows:

  • Baking soda (1 cup) + vinegar (2 cups)
  • Bleach (1 cup)
  • Lemon juice (2 cups) + baking soda (1 cup)

Remember to disconnect the top loader from the power before cleaning it to avoid electrocution. Moreover, remove any clothes from the washer before you begin cleaning the drum

Generally, here’s how to clean a washing machine with a household cleaning solution:

  • Fill the washing machine with hot water
  • Choose the longest washing cycle
  • Add the home cleaning solution into the washer and let it sit for 30 minutes
  • Run a complete wash cycle and then rinse it (run the rinse cycle)
  • Smell the washer to see if the smell is there. If it is, repeat the above process

c)  Scrub It

It’s easy to concentrate on deep cleaning the washer drum and other internal components and forget to clean around the hinges, door, soap dispenser, and other hidden areas. 

Such spots require you to scrub them, and you can use an old toothbrush. Once you are done scrubbing the residues away, you should proceed with deep cleaning the drum. 

d) Auto-Wash the Washing Machine 

Most washing machines have an auto-wash function that allows them to self-clean. Consequently, you don’t have to do any scrubbing unless the mildew smell won’t go away. 

Why does my top load washer smell like mildew

e) Use Hydrogen Peroxide

You can also clean your mildew-smelling washing machine with hydrogen peroxide. Not only with peroxide clean the washer, but it’ll also disinfect it and eliminate the bad smell.

Here’s how to go about disinfecting your top loader: 

  • Prepare five cups of the hydrogen peroxide
  • Put one cup of hydrogen peroxide in a clean spray bottle and use it to spray the inside lid, crevices, and other hidden areas
  • Then wipe the spots with a sponge to remove the filth
  • Fill up the washer with hot water and pour the remaining peroxide into it
  • Wait for the peroxide to act for 1 hour before running the hottest cycle

LG Top Loader Washing Machine Smells Like Mildew?

As frustrating as a mildew smell is, LG mainly relates it to poor washer cleaning or lack of maintenance. For that reason, they recommend cleaning the washing machine using these steps:

  • Clean the washer tub with a commercial washer cleaner or home reagents such as vinegar or bleach
  • Wipe clean the lid, gasket, and hinge
  • Run the tub clean wash cycles thrice
  • Leave the washer’s lid open to encourage airflow

In addition to the above, LG recommends using only 1-2 tablespoons of laundry detergent to avoid soap scum.

Samsung Top Loading Washing Machine Mildew Smell

If your Samsung top-loading washing machine smells like mildew, it’s most likely because of soap scum, closing the lid for too long while the washer is unused, or just poor cleaning of the washer.

In such a case, Samsung recommends cleaning the washer by following these steps:

  • Run the spin-only cycle on your washer
  • Add bleach (liquid chlorine) into the soap /detergent compartment
  • Select a self-clean cycle and wait for it to complete
  • Use paper towels to wipe off any residues
  • Run the rinse + spin wash cycle
  • Leave the washer to dry

GE Top Load Washer Smells Like Mildew

GE argues that their top loaders mostly smell like mildew because of poor ventilation. That’s when you shut the lid for too long while the washer is not in use.

So, they recommend cleaning the washer, and you can follow these steps:

  • Fill up the washer with hot water
  • Pick the longest washing cycle
  • Pour ¾ cup full of vinegar, baking soda, or any other water-softening reagent
  • Wait for the washer to complete the wash cycle and rinse it

Closing Remarks

Now you know why a top loading washing machine smells like mildew. But more importantly, what it takes to avoid it.

Generally, it’s essential to clean your top loading washing machine, open the lid when not using the washer, and use clean water to avoid a mildew smell.

Don’t forget to use a warmer temperature setting, fix the plumbing and drainage, and use HE detergents to avoid soap scum. That’s how you keep mildew and mold off your top loader.

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