Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Like Sewer? (Find Out Now!)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

Washing machines are wonderful tools that make modern life simple and easy. Washing machines are supposed to leave your clothes clean and fresh smelling, but if you start to smell sewer gas when you run your washing machine, you may have a bigger problem on your hands.

A washing machine that smells like sewer gas can be caused by the machine itself or faulty plumbing. If the washing machine smells like sewer, a simple clean with vinegar will remove the bacteria and mold causing it to smell. If the smell comes from outside the washing machine, you may have an issue with a clogged drain or malfunctioning trap, or vent.

Luckily, it is relatively easy to fix many common reasons for a strong sewage smell coming from the washing machine. Simply wiping out the machine and practicing routine maintenance can prevent the problem from occurring in the future. Clearing a blockage or a clogged drain should remove the sewer gas smell from your pipes, alleviating your problem.

Of course, if simple DIY fixes do not remove the smell, you may have a bigger problem on your hands and will require the help of a professional plumber to investigate the situation further.

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Why Does My Washing Machine Smell Like Sewer?

A washing machine that smells like sewer could be the sign of any number of problems. First, it is crucial to determine if the smell is coming directly from the machine itself or a drain or vent connected to the machine. A scent that comes from the machine may result from growing bacteria-producing mold and mildew within the machine. Vinegar is the best way to eliminate a sewer smell from your washing machine.

However, if the sewer smell is coming from an area around the washing machine, you may have a problem with the plumbing. Usually, a trap or a drain is the culprit, requiring a simple purge to clean the drain or trap. Removing blockages and adding water to the P-trap can help reduce the amount of sewer gas built up in your plumbing system and entering your home.

What If the Smell Comes From My P-Trap?

Every drain in your home has a trap that can help catch falling debris and help prevent sewer gas from escaping back into your home. Usually, a trap shaped like a P has a bit of water resting in the trap, which works to keep sewer gas in the drain line. Sometimes, if the trap is damaged or the trap has dried out, the sewer gas is left to permeate your home. If the P-trap connected to the drain on your washer is dried out, it could make your washing machine smell like sewage.

To fix this problem, you’ll want to pour about a gallon of water down the pipe. If your problem is a dry trap, this will add the much-needed water to help keep sewer gas at bay. If the problem is not solved, you may need to replace your P-trap to give your washing machine a properly functioning trap to control sewer gas. Your P-trap may have been damaged or installed incorrectly, preventing the sewer gas from being trapped within the plumbing.

What If the Washing Machine Drain Pipe Is Clogged?

A clogged drain pipe could collect soap, hair, and lint, leading to bacteria growth which can smell like sewer gas coming from your washing machine. If left unattended, this blockage could cause problematic backups and even more smell spreading through your laundry room and home.

To fix a clogged drain pipe connected to your washing machine, you will want to use a machine called a sewer machine. Sometimes a sewer machine is also called a drain snake. This tool is simple yet dangerous to use the tool if you are not experienced using it. If you are not familiar with a sewer machine or a drain snake, be sure to call a licensed plumber to help you with the job.

What if the Vent Pipe is Clogged?

A common source of a sewer smell coming from the washing machine could be a clogged vent pipe. This pipe is designed to allow air to get into the washing machine system allowing the water to flow freely and for sewer gas to escape. Your washing machine is connected to a sewer vent pipe, so it would make sense that a clogged pipe can create a smell that appears to come from your washing machine.

To fix the vent pipe, you’ll want to get onto your roof, where a vent pipe is located. Use a flashlight to look down the pipe. Remove anything preventing sewer gas from escaping like a bird’s nest, sticks, or leaves. If you do not feel comfortable cleaning a clogged vent pipe, call a professional to help you with the job.

How Can I Prevent Sewage Smell In My Washing Machine?

Practicing some ongoing routine maintenance is the best way to avoid a sewer smell in your washing machine. For the machine, be sure to regularly clean the inside of the machine getting into the crevices. Most washing machine manufacturers suggest cleaning your front-loading washing machine about every three months to ensure bacteria, mold, and mildew does not have a chance to build up.

Be sure to take special care of your drains, especially in areas of your laundry room that don’t get used often. Periodically, run hot water down the drains to prevent clogs and blockages, and keep the P-trap moist. By regularly maintaining water in the drains and traps, you’ll be able to prevent sewer gas from leaking into your home.

How do I get the sewer smell out of my washing machine?

If the sewer smell is coming directly from your washing machine, it could be a problem within the device itself. First, wash the machine using the manufacturer’s instructions. If you do not have the original owner’s manual, you should find an online version of the instructions.

You’ll want to use a water and vinegar solution to wipe down all the interior surfaces taking special care to get into the crevices and nooks throughout the machine. Vinegar and water will help to neutralize the sewer smell, giving you a fresh and clean washing machine.

When Do I Need to Call a Professional?

While many repairs to fix a sewer smell in a washing machine can be accomplished by the average homeowner, sometimes it may be necessary to call a professional plumber for help. If you discover that your P-trap is not functioning, even after clearing the trap and running hot water through the drain, you may have a poorly installed or damaged trap that must be replaced. A trained professional will be able to cut out the damaged trap and install a functioning trap.

Further, if you have a particularly stubborn clog or blockage in your washing machine drain, you may need a professional to help snake the drain with a sewer machine. Even if you are familiar with using a plumbing snake, commercial-grade snakes are longer and more powerful, often getting better results. Luckily, a washing machine that smells like a sewer is a common problem, and most professional plumbers will be able to remedy the situation quickly.

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Related Questions

Why does my washing machine smell like a rotten egg?

A common smell from a washing machine is a rotten egg smell. This smell can come from two possible sources. The first and most likely cause of this smell is built-up dirt, mold, and mildew that has become trapped within the washing machine. It could be trapped with the lint or trapped in the soap scum and mildew.This smell is most common on front loading washing machines with a front rubber seal around the drum. With these seals, a small item like a sock can become trapped in the seal. If the sock is wet, it will attract mold and mildew, which will create a terrible rotten egg smell in your washing machine.

Can I run bleach through my washing machine?

Bleach is a wonderful cleaning agent that can help to nullify strong smells like a sewer and moldy bacteria. You can run your washing machine with bleach to help freshen the washing machine and give your clothes a fresh smell. Use about 60ml of bleach in your detergent drawer. Be sure to run the washing machine on a hot cycle with an additional rinse cycle.This added, empty cycle will ensure that the bleach  is properly removed from the system and will not stain your clothing on the next load of laundry. It can also help to do a load of laundry following the bleach clean out with simple towels or sheets. Remember that bleach mixed with hot water will create a great deal of foam and bubbles which can quickly overload your washing machine. Never use more than the suggested 60ml of bleach with a single load through your washing machine.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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