Dryer Smells like Mildew: Causes and How to Fix

While you expect your dryer to remove moisture from your clothes after washing them, you do not expect the home appliance to smell like mildew. But it often happens that your dryer smells like mildew and even like sweaty gym clothes, burning oil, burnt hair, and burning plastic or metal among others.

Dryers do not just start to smell like mildew or mold – there are causes that should be investigated and there are solutions for fixing them.

In this guide, we’ll explore the factors behind a mildewy smell in your dryer and proffer quick fixes. In extreme situations, we shall advise that you contact a local technician for assistance; but this might be the last resort after you have applied the solutions we recommended. Now let’s examine some of the reasons why your dryer might smell like mildew or emit any other offensive smells.

dryer smells like mildew

Dryer Smells Like Mildew: Likely Causes

1. Abandoning wet clothes in the dryer

Mildew or mold is a fungus that grows on moistened organic matter in a humid enclosure. Leaving wet clothes in your dryer for too long is an invitation to a mildewy smell on the clothes and in the dryer. The dryer becomes an incubator for mildew when you abandon wet clothes in the appliance, so it’s best to never leave wet clothes in the machine before or after use.

2. Lint buildup in dryer

A buildup of lint in your dryer will definitely leave a musty smell on your clothes – because a lint buildup is made possible by growing mildew. Lint may clog the vent hose of your dryer and may also block the vacuum and filter, causing unpleasant smells to emit from your machine. Removing the lint and cleaning the vent with recommended solutions will get rid of the mildewy smell.

3. Smelly substance in clothes to be dried

It is possible to forget things in your clothes while drying them and the things can give off bad smells. When you wash clothes with items such as cake or candies in the pockets of your clothes – and then go ahead to dry the clothes in your dryer – there is the tendency that the substances will give off smells from your home appliance.

Other causes of offensive smell in your dryer

Apart from the above situations that make your dryer to smell like mildew, below are other offensive smells that can come from your machine and what is behind the smells:

  • Smell of cooking oil: There is a tendency that your dryer smells like burning oil if you switch it on for the first time after purchase. The reason for this is that the dryer is burning off the protective chemicals inside of it when switched on for the first time – the smell may transfer to clothes. The best way to deal with this problem is to run a dry session or run the machine without a load of laundry until the smell goes away.
  • Smell of burnt hair: Your dryer may smell like burnt hair if you turn it on for the first time after purchase, and it may also smell this way if a small animal gets trapped in its vent before use. Rodents and mice have the habit of hiding in HVAC and dryer vents for warmth, and they may die in the ducts and give off offensive smells in the house.
  • Smell of burning plastic or metal: It is very possible to have the smell of burning plastic or metal coming out of your dryer; this could be due to burning components or overheating. The smell may also be due to the filtration system being clogged with dirty particles which begin to degrade during use.

Dryer Smells Like Mildew: How to Fix

There are solutions that work to fix the funny smells from your dryer. There are solutions for the mildew or moldy smell and there are fixes for other kinds of smells. Let’s examine some of them so you can enjoy your home appliance without offensive smells.

1. Clean the lint filter

If the filtration system of your dryer is clogged with lint, you can dismantle the system – if you are tech savvy – to clean out the lint buildup. You may remove the mesh screen and then clean the lint filter with vinegar or bleach to remove any mold or mildew. You can also use hot water to clean the removable components so there are no smells remaining.

2. Run a load of towels in baking soda

You can equally remove offensive smells from your dryer by running a load of towels or two soaked in baking soda and water. Run the dryer at the lowest setting so that the operation can remove all smells thoroughly.

3. Spray bleach for mold

Using spray bleach, you can remove the smell of mold and any mildew residue from your dryer appliance. For this process, you may even use paper towels or a scrub brush or sponge, and baking soda or vinegar for the cleaning. You may use rubber gloves to protect your hands while carrying out the cleaning, and you will find the mildewy smell gone for good from your machine.

Please be warned that it is not advisable to mix bleach with ammonia since their mixture could give off a toxic gas that shouldn’t be inhaled.

4. Prevent odors from building up in your dryer

The best way to deal with dryer smells is by preventing them in the first place. Never let wet or gym-sweaty clothes remain in your washer or dryer for too long to prevent the buildup of mold or mildew. Try to clean the inside of your dryer with a mixture of bleach and water or baking soda each time your use the appliance so that it can remain clean always, and it may be a good idea to keep the door of the dryer open for ventilation after using it to prevent buildup of mildew.

If you find a dead rat in the duct of your dryer or you observe a buildup of lint, you may want to contact a professional technician for help. If you also perceive strong burning smells and suspect burnt components, a licensed technician can deal with the situation. Trying out the above tips or hiring a technician will remove mildewy smells from your dryer for good.