Dryer odor can be a rude awakening, hitting you as soon as you open the door or enter the laundry room. Why does my dryer smell? Lint buildup in the vent can restrict airflow, resulting in longer drying times that leave clothes damp and prone to mildew. Learn how to deodorize a smelly clothes dryer with these simple cleaning methods and prevention tips.

What Causes a Smelly Clothes Dryer?

In most cases, user error or a lack of maintenance is responsible for a smelly clothes dryer. Before we detail the easy cleaning tips that dissipate odor, these common causes are usually behind bad smells.

Why Does My Dryer Stink?

What causes a dryer to smell? Several possible factors can result in odor but pinpointing the right one is the first step in eliminating it.

These common causes often result in bad dryer smells:

  • Allowing damp clothes to linger: If clothes wet from the washer sit in the dryer they can develop smelly mold and mildew.
  • Vent obstructions: A buildup of lint and debris limits airflow in the vent, increasing drying times and allowing bad smells to linger. In addition, when the dryer takes too long to dry clothes, the more prone they are to developing mildew. What if my dryer smells like something died in it? Small animals and rodents can find their way into the vent through its exit on your home’s exterior. If they die inside, a bad odor can permeate the vent, becoming worse when the dryer is operating.
  • Incorrect cleaning methods: Using commercial spray cleaners inside the dryer drum leaves a  chemical residue behind. When combined with the dryer’s heat,  it can result in a burning smell that transfers to clothes.

why does my dryer smell

How to Clean a Smelly Clothes Dryer

When your clothes dryer stinks, only the right cleaning methods and supplies can make the odor disappear. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Towels
  • Rags
  • Vacuum
  • Bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Water

The following steps detail how to clean a smelly clothes dryer:

Step 1. Clean the lint screen: Take out the lint screen and remove any accumulated lint.         To remove the smallest particles, wipe the screen with a dry rag or rinse it under running water, gently scrubbing with a soft brush. Allow the screen to dry completely before replacing it. 

what causes a dryer to smell

Step 2. Vacuum the lint trap: While the screen is removed, use the vacuum’s narrow hose attachment to clean out the lint trap, removing all visible lint. Once the trap is clean, replace the lint screen.

Step 3. Mix cleaning solution: Combine 1 cup of bleach with a gallon of warm water. Alternatively, you can mix a 1:3 solution of white vinegar and water.

Step 4: Wipe down the dryer drum: Dip a clean rag or towel in the cleaning solution and wipe down the drum and the inside of the door. Leave the door open and allow the drum to air dry completely.

Step 5: Rinse with water: Wipe down the drum with a rag dipped in plain water to remove any bleach or vinegar residue. Allow to air dry again. Using the dryer before bleach has dried completely can cause clothes to stain and discolor.

Step 6. Don’t forget the outside: Dip a separate rag or towel in the cleaning solution and wipe down the dryer’s exterior. Be sure to include the knobs and around the door, where lint can accumulate.

Dryer Odor Prevention Tips

Once they’re gone, how can you prevent bad dryer smells from returning? Regular maintenance is usually the key.

Use these prevention tips to keep odor at bay:

  • Dry damp clothes immediately: Start a drying cycle as soon as wet clothes are loaded. This lessens the risk of mildew developing when damp clothes sit.
  • Clean the vent regularly: Annual dryer vent cleanings can prevent obstructions and ensure proper airflow for better drying. Disconnect the vent from the dryer and clean it out with an appliance brush or a vacuum’s narrow hose attachment. Don’t forget to clean out the exterior exhaust as well.
  • Remove lint from the lint screen after every drying cycle: This also improves airflow and prevents vent obstructions. Don’t forget to clean the screen regularly to remove dryer sheet residue. Knowing how to reduce dryer static with different methods, like vinegar or dryer balls, can reduce the residue that clogs the screen.
  • Use the right cleaning supplies and methods: Avoid commercial cleaners that leave behind a smelly residue and always allow bleach to dry thoroughly before running the dryer.

Do you still have a smelly clothes dryer, even after a proper cleaning? It may be time for a professional eye to take a look. Contact Solar Appliance Service to schedule your expert clothes dryer repair!