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Why Does My Dryer Smell: 5 Likely Reasons

Clothes dryer with washed and dried shirts in and door open

Stepping into your laundry room and being assaulted by a gross smell is not what you want to experience on laundry day. Your clothes are supposed to smell fresh and clean when they come out of the dryer. Unfortunately, however, your dryer can smell sometimes, which in turn, leaves your clothes with an odor. Here is a look at 5 likely reasons your dryer may smell and how you can remedy the issue so your clothes, and home, don’t suffer from the stench.

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The 5 Likely Reasons Why Your Dryer Smells

1. Mildewed Laundry

Dirty laundry
Image Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash

The smell of mildew in your home is one of the most unwelcome scents around. The instant we notice our nose crinkles and we want it gone. When you open your dryer and get a whiff of this odor, you immediately want your clothes rewashed and the issues remedied. Unfortunately, if you have left your wet clothes in the washer or dryer too long, this smell is going to happen. The best way to avoid this situation is to keep your laundry going. As soon as the washer stops, immediately get your clothes in the dryer. When the dryer is finished, double-check to see that your clothes dried completely then get them folded and put away. A good assembly line with your laundry keeps the mildew smell out of your laundry room.

2. Lint Issues

Dryer Lint Trap
Image Credit: David Smart, Shutterstock

Once your clothes have been dried, they should be free of odors and smell great, right? That’s not necessarily the case. When you open your dryer and notice a dirty clothes smell, you know something has gone wrong. When this smell strikes the likely culprit is your lint trap or dryer vents. If you don’t stay on top of cleaning out your lint trap with every load of laundry you dry, the built-up lint can slip into your vents and stay there. Old lint smells like dirty laundry. If you smell this while your dryer is running or when you open the door, it is time to clean out your lint trap. If that doesn’t help the issue, going further and cleaning out the entire vent is needed.

3. Pests

pest control
Image Credit: Elnur, Shutterstock

Pests can be a big issue around your home. This is even true when it comes to your laundry area. We just mentioned above how build-up in your dryer vent can cause an issue. Lint is not the only thing that gets in those vents, though. Pests can find their way into your dryer’s ventilation system just as easily as they can make their way into your home. You’ll even find some pests build nests and linger in there or get trapped and die. If you smell a dead animal smell, it won’t go away until the critter is located and removed. When an animal starts nesting in your dryer vents, you will have a unique smell from that too. Either way, you go, if you want to get rid of the odors and the pests, it’s time to take apart your dryer vent and clean it out. If dealing with pests isn’t something you’re willing to do, reach out to the professionals so your laundry area can smell nice again.

4. Drying the Wrong Clothes

drying clothes outdoor
Image Credit: Piqsels

We’ve all been in a hurry when doing our laundry. When you aren’t thinking about what you are doing, it’s easy to toss clothes from the washer into the dryer that shouldn’t be there. When you do this, you may smell a burnt rubber smell that’s associated with synthetic fabrics that don’t do well with high heat. To avoid this issue, and this smell, follow the care instructions on all of your clothing. If you wash and dry things properly, you won’t have an unpleasant rubber smell emanating from your dryer.

5. Mechanical Issues

handyman repairing the back part of a dryer
Image Credit: Penyushkina, Shutterstock

Yes, there are mechanical issues that can pop up with your dryer that causes odors. If you have a load of laundry in the dryer and then suddenly smell something burning, it’s time to immediately turn off your dryer and unplug it. Once you’ve followed these steps, it’s time to call in a professional repair person. A burning smell emitted by your dryer can be disastrous and lead to a house fire if not addressed immediately.

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Tips for Keeping Your Dryer Free of Odors

The odors we mentioned above are some of the most common you could experience coming from your dryer. Luckily, there are things you can do to help keep these odors at bay so your dry laundry smells fresh and clean.

Keep It Moving

As we mentioned already, keeping your laundry process going is the best way to avoid a mildew smell on your laundry and in your dryer. Unfortunately, this type of odor can happen in just a few hours. Set a specific time for doing laundry and stick with it. If you get your wet clothes into the dryer quickly, yucky odors shouldn’t set in. If they do, you’ll find yourself needing to not only wash your laundry again but most likely needing to clean out the inside of your dryer so the smells don’t remain.

Clean Your Lint Trap

Your dryer’s lint trap needs to be cleaned each time you use it. The lint trap is where all the extras from your clothes go. Over time, this lint can build up in the trap. If it isn’t removed each time, it can slip on down into your dryer vents. Once inside, the build-up can start to smell or even make your dryer stop functioning correctly. Always empty your lint trap so you can avoid this type of issue.

Dryer Lint Trap
Image Credit: Chad Robertson Media, Shutterstock

Clean Inside Your Dryer

When you aren’t going to be using your dryer for a bit, it never hurts to offer the inside a good cleaning. By using white vinegar or bleach mixed with water, you can clean the dryer drum, door, and the door’s seal thoroughly. Once you finish the cleaning process, leave the dryer door open while things dry.

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If your dryer is putting out an odor, one of the reasons above could be the culprit. Always remember, when dealing with any appliance, to proceed with caution when trying to remedy any issue yourself. If you don’t feel confident in trying to eliminate certain issues, reach out to the professionals so things can get back to normal quickly. Then you can get back on track with your laundry and keep things around the house smelling fresh.

Featured Image Credit: SViktoria, Shutterstock


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