Short answer: To remove smells from your dryer, clean the drum, lint filter, and exhaust vent, and run a cycle with vinegar or baking soda.

A foul odor emanating from your dryer can be quite unpleasant and can even transfer onto your freshly laundered clothes. Whether it’s a musty smell, a burning odor, or a lingering scent from a previous load, getting rid of unwanted smells in your dryer is essential for maintaining clean and fresh laundry. Fortunately, there are several effective methods you can employ to eliminate these odors and leave your dryer smelling clean and fresh. In this guide, we’ll explore various techniques and tips on how to get smells out of your dryer, ensuring that your laundry experience is both pleasant and odor-free.

What Are The Causes Of The Dryer Smell?

Dirty lint tray
Lint tray filled with lint

Dryer smells can be quite unpleasant and often result from various causes. Here are some common reasons behind that unwanted odor coming from your dryer:

  1. Mildew and Mold Accumulation: One of the most frequent causes of bad-smelling laundry is the growth of mildew and mold. This can occur when wet laundry is left in the dryer for too long, allowing these microorganisms to thrive in moist conditions.
  2. Issues with the Washing Machine: Sometimes, the washing machine itself can be the culprit. Mold can develop in high-efficiency washing machines, and if not properly cleaned, it can transfer the odor to your clothes during the drying process.
  3. Overloading the Dryer: Overloading your dryer can prevent clothes from drying effectively. When items are too densely packed, air circulation is hindered, and moisture can become trapped, leading to a musty smell.
  4. Insufficient Drying Time: If the dryer is not set to run for a sufficient amount of time, clothes may not dry completely. Dampness can contribute to mold growth and unpleasant odors.
  5. Chemical Residue: A new dryer might emit a chemical smell during its initial cycles. This is often due to residue left from the manufacturing process. Running a few empty cycles can help eliminate this odor.
  6. Stuck Objects: Heated or melting plastic objects, such as stickers or candy wrappers, can stick to the dryer drum. Over time, these can emit a foul odor that lingers on your clothes.
  7. Melted Elastic Bands: Clothing items with elastic bands, like bras and undergarments, can sometimes have elastic components that melt in high heat, leading to an unpleasant odor.
  8. Mixing Loads: Different loads of laundry may have varying levels of dirt and bacteria. Mixing loads can result in dirt and sweat from one set of clothes contaminating other items, and causing bad odors.

How To Get Smells Out Of Dryer?

Method 1:

Step 1: Empty the Dryer Remove all items from the dryer to access all areas.

Step 2: Clean the Dryer Drum Mix equal parts water and vinegar. Use a cloth or sponge to apply the solution inside the drum, ensuring all nooks are covered. Wipe away excess solution, dirt, or grime.

Step 3: Wipe Down the Door Seal and Other Areas Scrub the door seal and any dirty spots with the vinegar solution. Wipe away excess solution and dirt.

Step 4: Air Out the Dryer Leave the dryer door open to allow surfaces to dry completely. This helps eliminate remaining mildew spores and odors.

Step 5: Vacuum the Exhaust Hose and Lint Screen Area Use a vacuum cleaner with a hose attachment to remove lint and debris from the exhaust hose and lint screen area. Be cautious not to damage these parts.

Step 6: Run a Cycle with a Damp Towel or Fabric Softener Sheets: Place a damp towel or fabric softener sheets along with a mildew-removing solution or odor-removing product in the dryer drum. Run a low or medium-heat drying cycle. Avoid overloading or using high heat.

Step 7: Air Out the Dryer Again After the cycle, leave the door open for a few hours or overnight to ensure complete odor removal.

Step 8: Clean the Lint Screen Remove lint or debris from the lint screen using a brush or vacuum cleaner hose.

Step 9: Clean the Exhaust Vent Use a dryer vent cleaning kit to clean the exhaust vent following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Step 10: Run a High Heat Cycle with Towels or Sheets To eliminate remaining mildew spores, run a high heat drying cycle with towels or sheets. Avoid overloading the dryer.

How To Prevent Your Dryer From Smelling? 

Dryers are essential appliances in our homes, but they can develop unpleasant odors over time. These odors often stem from moisture, bacteria, and lint buildup. However, with some proactive measures, you can keep your dryer smelling fresh and your clothes odor-free. Here’s how:

1. Regularly Clean the Lint Screen

Removing lint
Removing lint from the lint screen using a brush

2. Clean the Dryer Drum

  • Periodically, clean the interior of the dryer drum to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a bucket.
  • Use a cloth or sponge to apply the solution to the inside of the drum.
  • Wipe away any excess solution, dirt, or grime.

3. Ensure Proper Ventilation

  • Make sure your dryer is properly vented to the outside.
  • A clogged or restricted vent can trap moisture and odors inside the dryer.
  • Regularly check and clean the exhaust hose to maintain proper airflow.

4. Avoid Overloading

  • Don’t overload the dryer, as this hampers proper drying and can lead to odors.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s load recommendations.
  • Clothes need room to tumble for effective drying.

5. Remove Clothes Promptly

6. Dry Odor-Prone Items Separately

  • Wash and dry odor-prone items like gym clothes separately.
  • Mixing them with other laundry can transfer odors.

7. Use Fabric Softener Sheets

  • Place fabric softener sheets or dryer balls in the dryer to add a pleasant scent to your laundry.
  • These can also help reduce static and wrinkles.

8. Air Out the Dryer

9. Schedule Professional Maintenance

  • Consider scheduling professional dryer vent cleaning annually.
  • A technician can thoroughly clean the vent system and prevent potential fire hazards.

10. Store Detergents Properly

  • Ensure laundry detergents and additives are stored in a cool, dry place.
  • Avoid spillage and residue buildup in and around the dryer.

How To Deodorize Dryer Using Vinegar?

Dealing with a smelly dryer can be frustrating, but there’s a simple and natural solution that can help eliminate those unpleasant odors – vinegar. Vinegar is an effective deodorizer and can tackle various types of smells in your dryer. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use vinegar to get rid of odors:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Dryer sheets (optional)

Step 1: Empty the Dryer Begin by emptying your dryer of any clothes or items. Ensure it’s completely empty to allow easy access to all areas of the dryer.

Step 2: Create a Vinegar Solution In a spray bottle, mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and water. For example, you can use one cup of vinegar and one cup of water.

Step 3: Spray the Interior Spray the vinegar solution generously on the interior surfaces of the dryer, including the drum and any areas that may have odor buildup. Make sure to get into all the nooks and crannies.

Step 4: Wipe Down the Interior Use a cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior of the dryer, spreading the vinegar solution evenly. Pay extra attention to areas with visible dirt, grime, or odor buildup.

Step 5: Let It Sit Allow the vinegar solution to sit in the dryer for about 15-20 minutes. This dwell time will help the vinegar break down and neutralize the odors.

Step 6: Wipe Away Residue After the waiting period, use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe away any remaining vinegar residue, dirt, or grime. You should notice that the vinegar has started to remove the unpleasant odors.

Step 7: Air Out the Dryer To ensure all odors are eliminated, leave the dryer door open and allow it to air out for a few hours or overnight. This step is crucial for completely removing any lingering vinegar scent.

Step 8: Run a Test Cycle Before using your dryer for laundry, run a brief test cycle with a few old towels or rags. This helps ensure that any residual vinegar is removed and that your clothes won’t absorb the vinegar smell.

Optional: Use Dryer Sheets If you’re concerned about your laundry smelling like vinegar, you can toss a few dryer sheets into the dryer during your next load. Dryer sheets will add a pleasant fragrance to your clothes while neutralizing any remaining odors.

Removing Dryer Odors with Baking Soda

Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that can help neutralize odors in your dryer. Follow these steps to banish those unwanted smells:

Materials You’ll Need:

  • Baking soda
  • A cloth or sponge
  • Water
  • A small bowl
  • A clean, dry cloth or paper towels

Step 1: Empty the Dryer Start by emptying your dryer of any clothes or items. Ensure the dryer is completely empty for easy access to all areas.

Step 2: Create a Baking Soda Paste In a small bowl, mix a few tablespoons of baking soda with enough water to create a thick paste. The consistency should be similar to that of toothpaste.

Step 3: Apply the Baking Soda Paste Use a cloth or sponge to apply the baking soda paste to the interior surfaces of the dryer, including the drum and any areas with odor buildup. Focus on the areas where the odors are most noticeable.

Step 4: Scrub and Spread Gently scrub the interior surfaces with the baking soda paste, ensuring it is spread evenly. Pay extra attention to any stubborn or particularly odorous spots.

Step 5: Allow It to Sit Let the baking soda paste sit in the dryer for about 15-30 minutes. During this time, the baking soda will work to absorb and neutralize the odors.

Step 6: Wipe Away Residue After the waiting period, use a clean, damp cloth or paper towel to wipe away the baking soda residue from the interior of the dryer. Ensure that all traces of baking soda are removed.

Step 7: Air Out the Dryer To eliminate any lingering odors, leave the dryer door open and allow it to air out for a few hours or overnight. This step is essential to ensure that your dryer is odor-free.

Step 8: Run a Test Cycle Before using the dryer for your next load of laundry, run a short test cycle with a few old towels or rags. This will help ensure that any remaining baking soda residue is eliminated, preventing it from transferring onto your clothes.

Cleaning the dryer with essential oil
Applying essential oil on microfiber cloth to clean dryer


Why does my dryer smell like smoke?

Your dryer may smell like smoke due to lint buildup or a blocked vent. Clean the lint filter and check the vent for obstructions.

Why does my dryer smell like burning rubber?

A burning rubber smell in your dryer can indicate a worn-out belt or rubber components. Inspect and replace any damaged parts.

Why does my dryer smell bad when running?

A bad smell while running may result from mildew or lint accumulation. Clean the dryer drum, lint filter, and exhaust vent regularly.

Do dryer sheets remove the smell?

Dryer sheets can help mask odors, but they don’t remove them completely. Clean your dryer for a long-term solution.

How to clean a dryer that smells like pee?

If your dryer smells like pee, clean the drum, lint filter, and exhaust vent. Use an enzymatic cleaner to eliminate the odor completely.


Eliminating unpleasant smells from your dryer is a straightforward process that involves regular cleaning, proper maintenance, and occasionally using natural odor absorbers like vinegar or baking soda. By following these steps and staying proactive in dryer care, you can ensure that your laundry emerges fresh and free from any unwanted odors, creating a more pleasant and efficient laundry experience overall.

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