Does Your Dryer Smell Bad Like Gas, Burning, or Musty? Let’s Fix It!

If you’re getting an unfamiliar smell in or around your clothes dryer, it can be a cause for concern. Perhaps your dryer smells of gas, and you’re worried you have a gas leak, or maybe you smell burning and are anxious it may lead to a fire. 

But don’t worry; it’s often resolved with a few simple checks and steps.

So let’s find out why your dryer smells bad like gas, burning, or perhaps musty, and how to get it fixed. 

Dryer Smells Bad Like Gas

If your laundry room smells of gas whilst your dryer is running, or your laundered clothes smell of gas, it can be a worrying experience. Naturally, the first thing that comes to mind is a potential gas leak and the danger associated with it. 

If you can smell a strong gas smell in your laundry room, you should act with precaution and call in a professional to inspect the gas pipe. 

However, if the smell is from within the dryer drum or on your clothes, it is much more likely to be a benign and harmless reason why you smell gas. So let me run you through each of them and explain what they are caused by and how to fix them.

To reduce fire risk, you should have your dryer checked by an appliance repair professional at least once every two years.

A Leakage In the Exhaust System

You may have a broken seal in the dryer’s exhaust system, causing the exhaust gases to be drawn into the dryer drum, leaving it smelling similar to gas. It will also contaminate your laundry with this odd gas smell. 

In this situation, check for water or moisture around the vent pipe. Look for watermarks where the dryer meets with the wall, floor, or baseboard. If there are no signs of broken seals, it is likely your vent pipe needs to be cleaned and the filter replaced. 

Dirty Filters

Dirty dryer filters are a major cause of dryer fires and can be very dangerous if not cleaned regularly. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that between 2010 and 2014, U.S fire departments responded to 15,970 home structure fires involving washing machines and dryers. 92% of these fires involved clothes dryers.

Cleaning your dryer filters is a simple process, and it will help keep your clothes cleaner.

The first step is to get all of the lint out of the filter. You can do this by taking a vacuum cleaner and running it over the filter as much as possible. You might need to do this for a few minutes before you see some lint come out, but eventually, it will work.

The second step is to clean the filter with water, soap, and a scrub brush. Use a soft brush so that it doesn’t damage any delicate parts of the dryer or make any holes in the filter. It’s also crucial that you use warm water and soap to remove any bacteria on your filter.

Igniter Issues

As the name suggests, your dryer igniter is the ignition component that creates the spark to ignite the gas.

If you open your dryer while it is running and smell gas, your igniter will likely fail to create a spark and burn the gas. 

The first step in troubleshooting a faulty dryer igniter is to check for any signs of physical damage. A common cause of wear is when too much lint builds up on the burner chamber, blocking airflow and preventing ignition. Clean out the lint before taking any other steps. 

If there is no physical damage, it may be time to replace your igniter. Replacement ignitor components are available here at Appliance Parts Pro. However, if you are not experienced in this type of repair, you will need to have the igniter replaced by a professional technician. 

Dryer Smells Like Burning

Common causes of a burning smell are lint build-up or poor venting, but it can also signify that you might have a bad belt or motor. If your dryer smells bad, it could also be due to a build-up of fabric softener and detergent residue in its lint filter. Let’s look a little deeper into some of these scenarios. 

Lint Build-up

Lint build-up is the most common cause of a burning smell in the dryer. Dry lint is highly flammable when exposed to the dryer’s heating element. Empty the lint trap occasionally to avoid lint overflows from reaching the elements.

Remove any build-up lint from the lint filter and thoroughly clean the inside of the dryer, including the vents and hose duct. If the burning smell persists, get all the electrical components inside your dryer checked by a professional and have faulty ones replaced. Dryers work on high Amp circuits and need a qualified engineer to perform technical checks.

Faulty Thermostat

A faulty thermostat can cause a burning smell in the dryer. The thermostat controls the temperature of the dryer. If it fails, the dryer temperature cannot regulate, leading to overheating, and in some cases, a burning smell will be evident. 

Incorrect dryer installation, or a simple mechanical failure, such as a broken wire or switch, can cause thermostat failure. 

To fix this problem, turn off the power and unplug the dryer. Open the front panel and remove the old thermostat. Test it for continuity with an ohmmeter to see if it reads anything other than zero, check out the video below for guidance. If it is faulty, replace it with an identical model tested for safety, replacement thermostats are available from reputable distributors such as Appliance Repair Pros. Alternatively, call your local engineer and seek assistance.

Dryer Not Drying? Cycling Thermostat Testing, Troubleshooting

Faulty Dryer Motor

The dryer motor is responsible for turning the drum that holds the clothes during the drying process. An aging or faulty dryer motor can burn out or overheat, causing dryer smells.

When this motor is faulty, it will not rotate at all or rotate too slowly, making it difficult for clothes to dry. A defective motor can be due to many issues, including lint build-up around the drum, clogged air vents, or a loose belt on the motor.

A qualified technician will fix a faulty dryer motor by checking if anything is blocking its rotation. Then check any loose belts or clogs in the air vents causing the motor to overheat. Replacement dryer motors can be found online here.

Dryer Smells Like Burnt Rubber

The most common cause of this odor is a build-up of lint, fabric softener, and detergent residue. If you are using a fabric softener that contains silicone, it could be causing the dryer to emit an odor.

Another place where odors can originate in the dryer vent. If the vent is clogged or dirty, it will make your clothes smell like burnt rubber after being dried.

A worn or slipping drive belt is another serious component failure that will make your dryer smell of burnt rubber. 

dryer drive belt
Buy replacement drive belt

Worn Drive Belt

A dryer’s drive belt is responsible for the rotation of the drum. If worn, this will harm the dryer’s performance as the belt will slip. As the belt slips, it may cause a screeching sound, and the friction created during slippage will cause a burning rubber smell. 

The first sign that you may need to replace your drive belt is when your clothes take too long to dry. A functional dryer should dry your clothes in less than 45 minutes, and if they are not, you should think about replacing your drive belt.

Dryer Smells Musty Like Mildew

A musty smell coming from the dryer could signify mold growth. If you leave wet clothes for too long in your dryer or the clothes are not dried thoroughly, this can cause a musty smell.

The odor may also be caused by an accumulation of lint in the dryer venting system. A musty smell in the dryer is typical if you use a standard metal vent pipe that runs out through your roof. Lint can accumulate in these pipes, making your dryer smell like mildew.

Leaving Wet Clothes in Dryer

Leaving wet clothes in the dryer for too long is one of the reasons why dryers can start to smell musty like mildew. The moisture from the wet clothes can penetrate the dryer’s heating unit and cause mold and mildew.

Moisture from the wet clothes mixes with heat and creates an environment where mold and mildew thrive. Your dryer may also smell musty-like mildew if repeatedly exposed to mildew-prone fabric like towels.

Lint Build-up

A build-up of lint can cause a musty smell in your dryer. Lint traps moisture and creates an environment perfect for mold growth. The build-up of lint in the vent will also restrict airflow, resulting in decreased efficiency and increased energy consumption.

The first step to preventing your dryer from smelling like mildew is to make sure that you clean out your lint filter every time you use your dryer. A dryer’s lint filter is designed to trap loose hair, lint, and other small particles that might escape during the drying process. 

You can clean it with a vacuum or a wet towel soaked in warm soapy water. If you don’t clean out your lint filter, then it will build up over time and eventually turn into dust that smells like mildew when heated. Allowing lint build-up may also affect the time it takes for your clothes to dry.

Dryer Smells Like Something Died In It

If your dryer smells bad, like something died in it, it could be lint build-up in your dryer and probably has nothing to do with a dead animal.

Lint Build-up

If the dryer lint screen is left uncleaned, lint particles can gather in your dryer’s vent system and block it. Lint could create a foul smell similar to a dead rodent when combined with heat and water. You can solve this problem with a few easy steps:

  • Check the vent for lint or hair. If lint or hair is blocking the vent, remove it and then run the dryer without any clothes to push out more lint.
  • Clean your dryer’s filter. Remove your filter and clean it with soapy water, rinse, and dry thoroughly before replacing it.
  • Clean out the inside of the dryer and vacuum any other areas where lint may have accumulated.
  • You may also want to use an air compressor to blow out any debris from around the vents on top of your machine (this will also help get rid of any mold).

Birds Nest Or Dead Rodent

It is very rare but it has been known for animals to take residence in the pipework of warm dryer vents. This is most often nesting birds or small mammals such as mice, that get entry into the laundry dryer vents through damaged or broken vent covers.

Identifying dead rodents or nesting material from dryer vents can be challenging. Inspect the entire vent system and identify the spot with the dead animal or nest. Use a long brush and gloves to pull out any carcass or nesting material. 

You can also call a cleaning professional who will clean and sanitize your dryer vents.

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How To Prevent and Fix Dryer Odors

Many factors can cause dryer odors. The most common ones are the lint trap, the dryer vent, and clothes left in the dryer for too long. If your dryer smells bad even after cleaning it, try using lemon juice, baking soda, or vinegar in the machine.

Clean the Lint Trap Before Each Drying Cycle

Check your lint trap for any clogs or debris. If clogged, use a vacuum cleaner nozzle or toothbrush to remove debris. Check the vent for clogs and flush out any obstruction.

Dryers can be noisy, expensive to run, and inefficient when the lint trap is full. Clean the lint trap before each drying cycle as this will prevent the accumulation of lint inside the dryer vent pipe and lead to better airflow and reduced noise levels.

Maintain Dryer Vents

You should maintain your dryer vent to prevent odors and fire hazards and ensure it functions appropriately. Dryer vents are typically installed when the home is built, and they can become clogged over time.

You should first check for lint build-up in the vent tube or around the area where the dryer vent enters your home. If you find any cracks or signs of leaking moisture in the wall where the vent enters your home, contact a professional immediately as this could indicate a more serious issue.

Remove Damp Clothing Quickly

The best way to avoid odors is always to ensure that you do not leave wet clothes in your dryer. Remove all clothing from the dryer as soon as they are done drying. 

Hire Professionals To Repair Gas Leaks or Replace Parts

If the inside drum of your dryer or your laundry room smells bad like gas, it is crucial to hire a professional gas engineer to repair dryer gas leaks to avoid risking the safety of your family and home. Dryer gas leaks can cause fires or even lead to explosions. So, it is essential to call a professional as soon as possible if you think you smell a genuine gas leak. 

FAQ’s Dryer Smells Bad

How do you sanitize your dryer?

Take off the dryer’s front panel, remove all of the lint from the filter, and vacuum out any remaining lint. Next, you should use a damp cloth dipped in warm soapy water to wipe down the inside of your dryer. If odors persist, use baking soda or white vinegar. 

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Having renovated two homes and completed countless repairs, it was time to share this experience with the world. From repairing kitchen appliances to remodeling entire homes, my 30 years of experience will hopefully help you on your journey to a beautiful and functional home