Washing RV Refrigerator

Why Does My RV Washing Machine Smell and How To Fix It?

An RV washing machine is a must-have for keeping your clothes clean and fresh on the road. Over time, however, it can become stinky, which can be annoying since motorhomes are small, confined spaces that make odors easily noticeable. 

The most common reasons an RV washing machine smells are stagnant water, mold and mildew, and damaged components. Regular cleaning and keeping the door open after washing are some potential solutions. 

Read on to discover why your RV washing machine smells and what you can do about it. 

1. Stagnant Water 

Water may sit in your washing machine even after washing. It should drain completely, but several problems can prevent such from happening. The longer the water stays inside, the more it’ll smell. 

There are many reasons why water remains in the washing machine, especially at the bottom of the drum.

Here are some of them: 

  • A kinky drain hose 
  • Clogged drain filter
  • Faulty drain pump 
  • Defective lid or switch sensor 

How To Fix

The best solution to this problem is to ensure the proper functioning of the drain. Have a quick visual inspection of the hose to check it for obstructions. Any blockage will impede the flow of water out of the washing machine. Use a washing machine cleaning tab regularly to keep up on the smell.

Alternatively, check whether the lid or switch sensor is working. If it isn’t, it can prevent the washing machine from completely draining water. 

2. Mold and Mildew 

From your RV refrigerator to the RV roof, mold and mildew can appear anywhere in your motorhome. They can also be present in an RV washing machine. The more you ignore them, the worse they’ll be. 

A common sign that you have mold and mildew in the RV washing machine is your clothes no longer smelling fresh once the cycle is done. The obnoxious odor may even end up lingering on the fabric. 

One thing that contributes to the presence of mold and mildew is the buildup of detergent along the washing machine’s gasket. Such is especially common in the case of front-load washers. The longer mold and mildew accumulate, the bigger the problem they’ll pose. 

Additionally, the dampness in the washing machine is conducive to mold and mildew. 

As this can be a potential health problem, it’s crucial to address it immediately. More than the annoying smell, the presence of mold can trigger allergies and irritate the eyes, nose, throat, skin, and lungs. 

How To Fix 

Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to getting rid of mold and mildew in the RV washing machine: 

  1. Put on gloves. 
  2. Find a towel or cloth you can use for cleaning. 
  3. Create a cleaning solution with a mix of hot water and vinegar. You can also mix hot water and bleach, but be careful, as bleach contains toxic gases that can put your health at risk. 
  4. Dip the towel in the cleaning solution and rub the interior of the washing machine, focusing on areas with the highest concentration of mold and mildew. 
  5. Clean the detergent dispenser and the area around the gasket. 
  6. Pour vinegar or bleach into the detergent slot and run the washing machine on a hot cycle. 
  7. Use a dry towel to wipe the interior. 
  8. Wait for the washing machine to dry. 

To prevent mold and mildew, you must leave the door open after every use of the RV washing machine, which will provide the necessary ventilation to allow the machine’s interior to dry completely. 

Regular cleaning is important, but you also have to be more thorough once in a while and use washing tabs to keep it up. At least once a year, depending on the extent of usage, you should deep clean your washing machine. Watch the video below to find out how to do so: 

3. Damaged Components 

The smell of your washing machine can be indicative of more serious problems, including faulty components. It’s essential to diagnose the problem early before it becomes more difficult or expensive to repair. 

A broken part can end up emitting a burning smell. This can be annoying, especially because an RV is a small and enclosed space. From the drive motor pulley to the plugs, different parts can be problematic. 

The problem can also be with the electrical system, such as a blown fuse.

How To Fix 

Stop the current washing cycle and check the RV washing machine immediately if you notice a burning smell. It can be an electrical problem that can end up being a disaster if not given immediate attention. Change the faulty parts when necessary. Ask help from a pro if you’re unsure. 


RV washing machines are supposed to make your clothes fresh. When the appliance stinks, however, your clothes will also have an obnoxious odor. With this, pay attention to the things that can cause a stink in your RV washing machine, such as water pooling at the bottom or faulty parts. 

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