Is there a sour odor coming from your washing machine?

Trapped dirt and debris can build up in your washing machine’s drain filter.

Your clothes may still seem clean, but a dirty filter is a breeding ground for a host of bacteria.

Eventually, this can lead to a sour smell that lingers in the air around your laundry room, especially while the washing machine is on.

If this isn’t addressed, the scent could be transferred to your clothing.

Fortunately, this can be easily solved by giving the filter a good clean. 

Note: This DIY is for front-facing washing machines. 

drain filter on front facing washing machine

How To Clean the Filter in a Front Facing Washing Machine

What You’ll Need: 

  • A washcloth 
  • Paper towels
  • A plastic cup
  • Rubber gloves

Step One: Locate the filter tab. It’s often on the lower-left side of the washing machine’s face.

It will be a small rectangular tab that you can pull out.

Once you open the tab, you will see a small hose and the filter’s circular handle.

Step Two: Lay down a couple of paper towels or a washcloth underneath the filter and hose.

Gently pop the hose out of its hook so that you can drain it.

Undo the white cap at the end of the little hose and then turn the hose down into the cup to drain it.

If the cup gets full before the hose is done draining, simply point the hose back up, dump the cup, and start filling it again.

You may have to empty the cup three or four times–depending on the cup’s size–before the hose is empty.

When the water finishes draining, replug the end of the hose with the cap.

Then, place the hose back over its hook.

Step Three: Put on your rubber gloves and turn the handle of the filter counterclockwise to unscrew it.

There may still be some residual water, so you will still want a washcloth underneath it.

Beware of any nasty odors that may escape the filter as you release it–especially if it has not been cleaned in a while

Step Four: After pulling out the filter, you will probably see a lot of gunk and sludge coating it.

Take the filter to a sink or a bathtub and wash it thoroughly.

If you use a cleaning solution, take great care into rinsing any residue off completely.

Remember to wear your rubber gloves when handling a dirty filter. 

Step Five: Clean out the hole where you took the filter out. You will want to use paper towels for this.

Twist a handful of paper towels into a tubular shape and stuff them into the hole.

Twist them around to wipe off the gunk.

You may have to do this a few times.

Step Six: Reinsert the filter and turn it clockwise to secure it, then put the flap of the tab back up. 

Step Seven: If the smell still lingers or the filter had been uncleaned for a significantly long time, consider running an empty wash cycle on the setting for a small load with hot water.

Add a cup of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle.

This should kill off any remaining bacteria and knock out the rest of the smell.

You might have to do this step a couple of times if the smell was particularly bad.

You should repeat this process every two months to keep the filter from becoming dirty enough to smell.

Your health, your clothes, and the air in your laundry room will thank you!

May all your days be leak-free!

If you need professional plumbing help, click here to contact us for a free quote.

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Owner - Operator at RT Olson Plumbing
Bob Olson has over 18 years experience in all aspects of residential and commercial plumbing. He's a 4th generation plumber. With over 500 five-star customer reviews, he runs one of the best-rated plumbing companies in Corona, CA.
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