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Dryer Smells Like Dog: Reasons & How to Fix?

Each day we use technology to make our lives easier and take care of all the household tasks that would otherwise waste hours. Therefore, it is crucial for us to maintain our home appliances well. 

The dryer is an appliance that can ruin our clothing if the dryer smells bad. One such appliance is the dryer and in order to learn how to use it properly, follow along!

Why does my dryer smell like dog?

Your dryer can end up smelling like a dog if it has moist laundry sitting for long, detergent or softener residue as well as overall dirtiness of the dryer. Poor airflow can also prevent the odor from escaping. Since the odor is due to bacteria and mold/mildew buildup – they can easily be removed.

There are several reasons why your dryer might give off a wet dog smell, these odors are due to bacteria, mildew and mold – therefore the following reasons are the most probable causes of these microbial growth:

Keeping damp clothes in the dryer for too long:

If you leave your damp clothes in the dryer after washing and if it sits there for a few hours, then they would start to develop a damp smell inside the dryer. 

When the damp clothes stay in the interior of the dryer, they allow and create conditions for the growth of bacteria that produce the bad odor.

The high humidity from the damp clothes as well as the warmth in the dryer’s interior creates the perfect environment for the growth of mold and mildew along with bacteria. When you leave your damp clothes for 8 hours, mold and bacteria start to develop and from that point, your dryer starts to become smelly.

Leaving dirty clothes in the dryer:

Dirty clothes already have enough ingredients for mold and bacterial activity, but if you leave dirty and sweaty clothes in the dryer, they can result in a musty smell.

Because in order to remove the dirt and sweat – it is necessary to wash them to remove and prevent further bacterial growth. In case you don’t want to wash them right away, do not throw them into the dryer since it will end up making your dryer smelling like a dog.

Remnants of the softeners remaining in the dryer:

It is common to use fabric softeners on your clothes to effectively wash them as well as make your clothes softer. 

However, the oils in the fabric softeners may be good at making your clothes soft but they will instead act as an agent of absorbing much more dirt, debris and bacteria – effectively making your clothes even dirtier. 

These oils along with the trapped debris creates the perfect condition for mold, mildew growth and bacteria thrive on them to release a wet dog-like smell.

Detergent build-up on clothes:

After washing, the detergent residue may remain on your clothes and requires vigorous rinsing to get the detergent out of the fabric. 

But if not done well, the detergent residue can build up and trap dirt which can smudge into the clothes thrown into the dryer and make them dirty. If the clothes catch dirt from the detergent build-up along with their existing dirt, they will end up forming a bad smell.

Dirty dryer:

Apart from dirty clothes, softeners and detergents, the most common reason for smelly dryers could be the dryer itself. If you haven’t cleaned your dryer in a while, chances are that it has gotten dirty and probably has mold growth which is causing the dog-like smell.

Tips to get rid of the dog smell and deodorize the dryer:

There are several things you can do to both your clothes and the dryer in order to get rid of the dog smell:

Wash the Clothes with Hot Water: 

Warm temperatures are excellent for microbial growth, but make it hot enough – and they can no longer survive. 

If you wash your clothes with hot water, then any bacteria or mold growth in the fabric would get destroyed and washed away along with the water and not survive to form the bad smell. 

However, make sure to read the labels on your clothes since not all clothes can tolerate the heat.

Use A Better Detergent:

Not all detergents work equally – some are better, some are worse and therefore you need to find a detergent that works best for your clothes and dryer. 

Also get the detergent that has a washing temperature that matches the washing temperature of your washer so that the residue from the detergent doesn’t remain stuck in the fabric. 

Try to get detergents that operate at a lower temperature, since that will make it easier to wash off the debris without much effort.

Regularly Clean Your Dryer:

Maintaining the hygiene and cleanliness of your dryer is important to ensure that no dirt is sticking to your clothes from the dryer and no mold or bacteria can grow on your dryer. 

In order to clean your dryer, you need to pour two cups of vinegar in the detergent drawer and run a cycle for the longest time possible. Once done, use a sponge to clean the interior and finally run another cycle to get rid of the traces of vinegar from the insides of the drum. 

Once done with the cleaning process, leave the dryer door open to allow air flow into the washer since bacteria cannot grow if the air is cool.

Wash Wet and Sweaty Clothes Immediately:

If you are back from the gym or from a hot day outside, your clothes probably have collected lots of sweat and dirt – which are excellent ingredients for bacterial growth. 

In order to prevent them from making a bad odor – immediately wash them, or keep them separate and do not put them into the dryer.

How often should you clean your dryer exhaust vent and lint trap?

To maintain the top condition and ensure good hygiene of your clothes, it is suggested that you pay attention to the cleaning routine of your dryer. You should take a look at the exhaust vents of your dryer as well as the lint traps once each year if you have few family members

But in case your house has lots of members and children who get their clothes dirty quickly, it is suggested that you clean the vents and traps frequently – as quick as 6 months in between.

Apart from the usual cleaning schedule, there are some signs that tell you whether your dryer exhaust and lint traps require cleaning or not. 

One of the few symptoms is that the clothes will take much longer to dry than usual because the dryer needs to get much hotter to properly dry the clothes. Due to this reason, you will notice that your dryer has become unusually hot when you go for a second cycle.

The dryer would be hot to the touch when the drying cycle is taking place – often with a trace of burning and musty smell from the dryer.

Tips to prevent the dryer to build up a dog smell:

Below are few of the tips that you can follow in order to prevent your dryer smelling like a dog:

Pay Attention to The Lint Trap:

Ensure that your lint trap is clean after use so that no fibers remain stuck in the lint filter. You can use a vacuum pump with a hose to clean out the lint filter and effectively remove any lingering odor. 

Once you have vacuumed the trap, wash it with warm water and you can also use a fine brush to remove any trapped lint.

Keep the Vent Hose Well Maintained:

Apart from keeping the lint trap clean, it is also necessary to make sure the vent hose is well cleaned both from the inside and the outside. Lint fibers accumulate on the vent hose of the dryer and when they build up, they restrict airflow and create conditions for mold growth.

It is also important to check the hose for any cracks, otherwise contaminants can enter the hose through those cracks and cause a blockage.

Ensure Cleanliness of The Dryer:

Ensuring the cleanliness of a dryer is a vital part to make sure no lint build-up or detergent deposits remain in the dryer, otherwise it can give rise to mold growth. Clean your dryer at least once a year, once every 6 months if you have a large family.

Final thoughts

Leaving damp laundry in the dryer for a long period of time, residue from detergent or fabric softener, and the dryer itself may be generally dirty. The smell may also remain inside due to poor airflow. Since bacteria and mold/mildew growth are the cause of the stench, they can easily be cleaned.