It’s that time of year again- the weather is getting warmer, and I’m pulling out my Summer clothes. But wait… why does my clothes dryer smell? If your clothes dryer is giving off an unpleasant odor, we’re here to help! Let us show you the most common causes of bad smells from clothes dryers and how to fix them.

Why Does My Clothes Dryer Smell Bad, and How Do I Fix it?

Stick your clothes in a smelly dryer? I don’t think so! Let’s answer “why does my clothes dryer smell” first, and then we’ll talk about how to get rid of it.

Causes of Clothes Dryer Odor

A few different things can make it so your clothes dryer stinks. The most common culprits are:

dryer smells bad when running

  • Dirty lint screens or vents: A build-up of lint can make it so your dryer smells bad. If your vents are full of lint, they won’t be able to circulate air properly, and this can cause odors to build up in your dryer.
  • Buildup of laundry detergent or fabric softener: These products can cause a foul smell that will linger and make it so your dryer smells bad when running.
  • Mold or mildew growth in the machine: Asking, “why my dryer smells like something died in it”? If you don’t clean your dryer regularly, mold and mildew can start to grow, and this can cause a musty smell that will be difficult to get rid of. Leaving damp clothing in your dryer too long can also help cause this problem.
  • Animals nesting in the vent: If you have an animal that has made its way into your dryer vent, it can cause the dryer to smell bad. You may also hear noises coming from the vent if this is the case.

Dryer Odor Removal Tips

Now that we’ve answered the question “why does my clothes dryer smell bad”, let’s talk about how to get rid of the odor.

What you’ll need:

  • Bleach
  • Vinegar
  • Lint brush
  • Two cloths

Step 1: Clean the lint screen:

This is the easiest way to remove odors from your dryer. Simply remove the lint screen and wash it with soap and water. You can also vacuum the lint screen to remove any buildup. While you’re cleaning the lint screen, take the vacuum to the lint screen housing to remove lint there as well.

Step 2:  Clean the inside of the dryer:

If your lint screen is clean, but the inside of your dryer still smells, you’ll need to give it a good cleaning. Create a solution of 1 cup of bleach and a gallon of water, or if you’d prefer, you can use vinegar. Dip your cloth in the liquid and wipe down the inside of the machine. Wipe the door and the seal, and then leave the door open to dry. Next, wet another cloth with water, wipe everything down again, and air dry it one more time.

Step 3: Clean the dryer vent:

If the inside of your dryer is clean, but it still smells, the problem may be with your dryer vent. Start by unplugging your dryer and disconnecting the vent. Use a lint brush to clean out any lint built up in the vent. You can also use a vacuum to remove any lint that’s difficult to reach. Once the vent is clean, reattach it and plug in your dryer.

clothes dryer stinks

Step 4: Clean the outside of the dryer

The last step in removing odors from your dryer is to clean the outside of the machine. Wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt. This will help keep the area around your dryer clean and free of odor-causing buildup.

Keep the Smell from Returning

Now that you know how to remove the bad smell from your clothes dryer, here are a few quick tips to keep it from coming back so you never ask, “why does my dryer smell?” again:

  • Clean the lint screen after every load
  • Don’t let damp clothes sit inside
  • Wipe down the inside of the dryer regularly
  • Clean dryer vents yearly (guide at the link!)
  • Keep the area around the dryer clean and free of clutter

By following these tips, you can keep your clothes dryer smelling fresh and clean. If you have any other questions about laundry or appliance care, or if you have an issue like your dryer won’t start, check out our blog or give Cody’s expert clothes dryer repair technicians a call.