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What Causes the Unpleasant Odor Inside My Maytag Washing Machine?

Rebecca Mecomber

Odors emanating from the Maytag washing machine may be difficult to diagnose. The clothes may appear and smell clean, but the machine itself may contain a lingering sour or putrid odor. Most odors in the washing machine are easily removed once the cause is discovered.

Overuse of Detergents

Constant use of the cold water setting may cause odors.

Excessive amounts of detergents or liquid fabric softeners in the laundry load can build up inside the machine. This residue becomes a reservoir for germs, bacteria and mold growth. Most of the typical household laundry loads consist of lightly soiled materials and do not need great quantities of detergent. Reducing the amounts of detergent and replacing liquid fabric softener with white vinegar will help eliminate odors from detergent buildup.

Temperature Setting

Maytag washing machines washing clothes exclusively on the cold water setting may exhibit a sour odor over time. The cold water does not completely remove all traces of detergent and therefore may build up inside the washer, encouraging germs or mildew growth. Adding chlorine bleach or setting the Maytag washer on the highest temperature setting for the final load of laundry can help prevent detergent build up and the accompanying odor.

Wet Clothing

Wet laundry that sits in the Maytag washer for long periods may cause the machine to smell. Fungus and mildew thrive in moist environments; the dark, dank tub of wet laundry becomes the ideal breeding ground for bacteria and odors. Removing wet clothing from the Maytag washer immediately after the cycle ends will help prevent mildew growth and odors.

Infrequent Use

Washing machines that are used infrequently may develop odors. Even when drained, a top-loading Maytag washing machine may still hold 1 to 2 gallons of water in the reservoir after a completed load. When allowed to stand for long periods, the water stagnates and bacteria multiplies. The Maytag washer should be run regularly, or the reservoir of water should be emptied after use.

Filter Obstruction

Some front-loading Maytag washing machines are equipped with a small pump filter at the front base of the machine. This filter may become clogged with debris and lint, encouraging mold and mildew growth and odors. The front panel must be removed and the pump filter cleaned of all debris.

Poor Design

Consumers who purchased the front-loading Maytag Neptune washing machines complained of strong odors even after following instructions for using less detergent and cleaning out their machines. In 2005, Maytag settled a consumer class action lawsuit for its defective Neptune washers. Some of these older models may still be in use. As the deadline for claims has expired, the only recourse is to replace the machine.