Hunting for Nasty Smells Instead of Packing (aka My Last Night at Home Before #BlogHer13)

I spent last night trying to figure out what was the source of a foul and mysterious odor that had taken over our laundry room.

What I should have been doing was scheduling tweets, cleaning out my email, and packing . . . because I’m leaving for #Blogher13 (and related events) in about 12 hours.  And my suitcases are still in the basement.

I first noticed the smell on Saturday after I pulled a load of clothes out of the dryer.  Yuck, I thought to myself, what the heck is that???  Looking over at the 30+ pairs of shoes on shelf directly across from the dryer, I assumed one of them was the culprit and grabbed the air freshener to make the nastiness go away.

An hour later, the smell was still there.  Just lingering in the doorway of the laundry room, taunting me.  I had no idea what it was, but I had other things on my mind.  More air freshener was sprayed and out the door I went on my errands.

I forgot about the smell until I went to take a load of laundry out of the dryer tonight and it smacked me in the face as I walked in to the laundry room.  Holy heck, what WAS that???  As I called to my sweetie to come investigate with me, his nostrils were not so bothered.  He stuck his head in the open washing machine, declared that there was a musty smell coming from inside of it, and that was the end of it.

After some insistence on my part that there was more to it, we moved the dryer and checked it thoroughly, removing the venting and vacuuming everything out.  Not it.

Cleaning Behind the Dryer

Me sweetie, cleaning behind the dryer.

Then we moved the washing machine and checked it out.  While it was disgusting behind there (clearly my cleaning skills are no longer at the level they used to be), there was nothing causing a smell.  Moving on.

Next, we checked the utility sink next to the washer.  It has been covered for the last 5 years or so and not been used.  I pulled the cover off and jackpot!  Nasty smell!

Apparently you are supposed to run water down any sink with a J-trap periodically or the water will evaporate and the sewer gas will just sit there.  And eventually back up.


Nasty Utility Sink

Yes, this sink is gross. I only use it to clean paint brushes and craft stuff.

We rinsed the sink out and that seemed to do the trick.  Although there was still a funky smell in the washing machine.  It’s a high energy-efficient washer, so I have to run it through a cleaning cycle every 30 loads or so.  Which I had recently done.  After moving the tub around, we heard sloshing and wondered if there was standing water in there somewhere, causing an icky smell.  So we ran a drain cycle and waited 9 minutes.

Still a little sloshing.  Then we searched online and learned that we should pull the drain tube out to see if there was a clog.  Now it was a rinse and spin cycle which took 15 minutes.  The water came pouring out of the drain tubing perfectly.

Checking the Drain Tubing

I have no idea why that wall is yucky too.

The internet then informed us that sometimes small socks or clothing can get caught between the inner tub and the outer tub, causing clogs and moldy smells.  It advised us to take the agitator off and remove the inner tub to take a look.  We are pretty handy, but I was starting to get nervous.  I don’t want to break something and then be gone for 5 days, only to return and not be able to do laundry.  So we decided to make sure that we only went as far as we knew how to back up, and not take any chances.

Removing the Agitator

We are being VERY careful . . . .

Off came the cap and the cover.  Our tub didn’t come out.  It seems that we don’t have a traditional agitator (DUH) and that solution wasn’t going to work.  After carefully putting that piece back together, I decided that we could take the back cover of the washer off and access it that way.

Yes, that was ME that said that.  #WhatWasIThinking

The good news?  It was single screws that released the back cover, and I did remember to UNPLUG the washer before I started.  As a bonus, the washer was pulled away from the wall so far that the ENTIRE FLOOR under it got a good cleaning (you can see from the picture – it needed it).

The bad news?  The tub unit is ONE piece and there is no way to access it from the back either.

Behind the Washer

Stop looking at the floor!!

After we put the machine back together and put it back in its rightful place, we called it quits for the night.  The washing machine odor will need to be dealt with by a professional that will probably charge me several hundred dollars to do exactly what we did and find nothing.


The original foul and mysterious odor was gone – having been flushed away by the 50 or so gallons of water from the sink and the two cycles of the washing machine that we dumped in to it.  That thing should smell great for at least another 5 years.

Laundry Room Back Together

Clean and the way it normally looks.

Now I really need to go pack – see you at #BlogHer13 !



  1. When my laundry room smells there is usually a damp washcloth somewhere hidden.

    • Jennifer Evers says:

      We tore everything apart. All I found was a rouge sock (dry), a tube of Burts Bee’s lip balm that I had no clue where it went to (under the washer) and a nasty floor that needed cleaning.

  2. Ahhhh…. Sewer gases.
    My washer gets that icky smell sometimes. There are tabs at Target that I use that freshen it up. I’ll ask my dad about it. He was an appliance repair man for 30 years. I’ll let you know what he says. See you Thursday!

    • Jennifer Evers says:

      I use those tabs too – Afresh – made special for my HE washer. Which I didn’t realize I would need to purchase when I purchased the washer. Id just always has a slightly musty smell to it which is kind of annoying. Thanks for asking!!