- Look for commercial mildew removers that contain sodium hypochlorite. Commercial mildew removers that contain this powerful chemical will rid your washing machine of that mildew smell quickly.
- Purchase commercial mildew removers that can simply be sprayed into the washing machine and wiped away with a clean rag or paper towels.
- Allow commercial mildew removers to run through the wash cycle on a hot water setting at least two times to fully remove all mildew before putting clothes in the washing machine.
- Buy commercial mildew removers that will also kill mold if you are cleaning a washing machine that hasn’t been used in a long time. Mold is usually visible the basin of a washing machine, but dangerous mold can be hidden from view as well.
- Regular distilled white vinegar can be used to get rid of lingering mildew smells in your washing machine. Pour 1-cup of distilled white vinegar in the compartment where your washing detergent normally goes and run the washing machine on a hot water setting. Repeat the process until the mildew smell is gone. In most cases, the mildew smell will vanish after the first or second wash cycle is completed.
- Use chlorine bleach to get rid of mildew and kill mold inside your washing machine. To use bleach, fill the washing machine with hot water like you were doing a load of laundry. Add the same amount of bleach as you would when washing clothes and allow the washer to run through the wash cycle. Repeat the process if necessary.
- Boric acid can be used to clean the inside of your washing machine, and while it’s less effective than bleach, it’s also less carcinogenic. 1/2-cup of boric acid per wash cycle is about all you’ll need. Mildew smells should dissipate after two to three wash cycles.
Essential oils can be used to effectively kill mildew and mask the lingering smell. Tea tree oil is the most effective, but you can use lemon, lime, cinnamon, clove and orange essential oil as well. About 10 to 15 drops is all you’ll need per wash cycle. Don’t waste your money on therapeutic grade essential oils for cleaning purposes – the cheapest bottle of essential oil you can find will work just fine.
Grapefruit seed extract works much the same way essential oils do, but grapefruit seed extract can also help kill allergens that build up in your washing machines lint and debris traps. Use grapefruit seed extract by running your washer on the hot cycle. Add 15 to 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract about halfway through the wash cycle.
Make sure your washing machine isn’t leaning to one side. If your washing machine leans, it could be collecting water, which could remain in the basin even after the machine is done with the last rinse cycle. If your washing machine is leaning, place a piece of plywood or cardboard underneath and use a level to make sure it’s perfectly straight.
Remove clothes from the washer immediately after the washer has stopped. You might be able to wait 5 or 10 minutes if you’re busy doing other things, but letting your clothes sit in the washer while they are still wet can cause that awful mildew smell in the first place. Removing your clothes from the washer quickly is especially important if you have a big family and wash multiple loads of laundry each week.
Add a cup of white vinegar to your washing machine every 10 to 15 loads of laundry. White vinegar won’t damage your clothes, but if you’re worried about it, add the vinegar when you’re washing less expensive garments like white socks or old towels.