Why Your Clothes Dryer Stinks and How to Clean It


When you open the dryer, you expect to be welcomed by a fresh and clean odor. However, things take an ugly turn when you get a foul smell. A dryer may have a bad smell due to many reasons. If the core reason is a broken component, you can search for “dryer repair near me” and get professionals to fix it. Otherwise, you need to figure out the reason, get rid of the stink, and prevent such issues from arising in the future. Here’s how:

The Reasons

  1. Reason behind a stinky dryer – A dryer can smell due to various reasons. If you haven’t serviced or done any maintenance on your dryer for a long time, there may be a lot of lint in the exhaust vent. A dryer should be serviced at least twice a year and the lint trap should be cleaned quite often. You’re in for a nasty surprise if you haven’t cleaned your dryer lint rap for a long time.

When the lint trap is clogged, the exhaust vent can’t perform as it intended to. There will be limited airflow that creates poor air circulation. This prevents moisture from getting out of the dryer and makes the internal drum quite humid. This creates the perfect environment for mold and mildew buildup. Apart from the nasty smell, you’ll also notice that the dryer won’t function well, and your clothes will come out wet.

Another reason for a smelly dryer may be sweaty clothes. You shouldn’t put in sweaty clothes or fabrics with smelly stains inside the dryer. You need to inspect your laundry after it comes out of the washer. Otherwise, the stink would circulate inside the dryer and also ruin the next load.

Another reason for a smelly dryer is pest infiltration. This smell is very distinct from the odor of sweat and regular stink. The smell will instantly tell you if you have a dead animal inside the dryer. Critters often make their way into your home through exhaust vents and if they make their way into the dryer, the heat will kill them and leave them rotting inside the dryer. Animals can also get trapped inside dryer components and damage your dryer. In such cases, you should get rid of the smell and get your dryer checked by a professional.

  1. Clean the lint trap – To get rid of the nasty smell inside your dryer, the first step is to clean the lint trap. Check the user manual or the manufacturer’s description to locate the lint trap and remove it from your dryer. It’s important that you protect yourself with gloves, goggles, and other safety equipment before you start cleaning.

Scrape off as much lint as possible with a hard and thin object like a disc. For the remaining stubborn lint, you need to use the thinnest hose attachment to your vacuum to increase the suction power. Suck out the remaining lint using the vacuum cleaner. If there’s still some dirt and lint in the trap, you can run it under the tap to soften the lint and brush it off. After that, let the lint trap aside to air dry for a few hours before you put it back in the dryer.

  1. Clean the lint trap hole and everything around it – The next step is to clean the lint trap hole. Use the long hose attachment of your vacuum cleaner to reach inside the dryer and suck out any dirt. This is much more effective than using a wet cloth or rag. After that, take your time and clean all the surfaces around the lint trap hole. Here you can use a wet cloth or rag since there are large and flat surfaces that are easier to work on.
  1. Clean under and around your dryer – Now it’s time to clean under and around your dryer. Even if those places aren’t dirty, they have been affected by the stinky smell, and it’s important to clean them. Moreover, a lot of dirt and lint also sneaks and hides in this area. You should clean these places regularly to get rid of stinky lint.
  1. Disinfect the drum – Now it’s time to clean the dryer drum. Mix a cup of bleach and a gallon of water in a bowl. Soak a dry and clean cloth in that solution and wring out excess water. Use that moist cloth to wipe down the dryer drum and disinfect it thoroughly. Don’t forget about the interior wall of the door either. This doesn’t just clean the dryer drum but also kills off any mold or mildew spores.
  1. Ventilation check and air dry – Now go outside and vacuum the external vent of the dryer. When you use the vacuum on the vent you should hear flaps hitting the duct constantly. If there’s no sound of a regular hitting rhythm, there might be debris that’s obstructing those flaps. In that case, you need to reach in and get rid of those obstacles. It’s also a great opportunity to check for wear and tear in the ventilation system of the dryer. After that’s done, open the dryer door and let it dry out for several hours.
  1. Prevent dryer from smelling in the future – Prevention is always better than cure. You can prevent your dryer from getting smelly with regular servicing and maintenance. You can also go the extra mile and clean out the lint filter after each use. Check up on the amount of detergent you use and cut down on it if possible. Residue from excessive amounts of detergent allows the growth of mold and mildew.


Now that you know about the numerous reasons behind a stinky dryer and how to eliminate the smell, you should get a bunch of cleaning tools and get busy with the cleaning. If the dryer smells due to a damaged part, you can search for “dryer repair near me” and hire professionals to replace the damaged component and fix your dryer.

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