Front load washing machines are a great way to get your clothes clean, while also saving energy and water. But one major problem many high-efficiency washer owners find is that they can quickly start to smell if not properly maintained. Luckily, there are a few simple measures you can take to avoid those nasty smells and ensure your clothes stay fresh and clean every time you wash. Learn how to clean your front load washing machine and keep it fresh and sweet smelling!
How to Clean Your Front Load Washing Machine
Why Your Washer Smells
Before we dive into how to keep your front-loading washing machine clean, let’s talk a little bit about why they stink in the first place. High-efficiency washers use less water and energy than standard washers, which is great for your utility bills, but not so great for the cleanliness inside the machine. Less water means that there is a bigger opportunity for detergent resident, mildew, and hard water deposits to build up inside the machine. That buildup can result in foul smells inside the washer. And those nasty scents can be transferred to your clothing as you wash if you are not careful.
To keep your washing machine for getting gross, follow these simple steps. This process will help ensure each part of your washer is sparkling clean, so you never have to get a whiff of mold and mildew inside your washing machine again.
How to Clean Your Front Load Washing Machine Notes and Warnings:
Read your washing machine manual before you do any of the listed ideas below. My old Miele washer and my current Asko washer have a “do not use bleach” caveat, and so I never use bleach when laundering or to clean the washer (the water was almost boiling, so things get killed and cleaned very well). Other washing machines may have different cleaning warnings. So, before you begin, read the manual! Also, my Asko actually has a “drum cleaning” setting. If your washer does, that may be enough for you!
Wash with Vinegar
The first step to properly cleaning your front load washing machine is the probably the easiest – run a wash cycle with vinegar. Vinegar is a “natural disinfectant”, making it a great option for cleaning your front-loading washing machine. It will also help deodorize your washer, working to remove some of the foul smells coming from inside the washing machine’s drum.
Start by making sure the inside of your machine is completely empty. Then add two cups of vinegar to the detergent tray and select your washer’s clean cycle or tub clean setting. If your washer does not have a cleaning cycle, you can also select the hottest setting for the largest load. Allow your washing machine to run through the cycle completely (both wash and rinse).
After you have finished washing with vinegar run another quick rinse cycle to ensure that all the residue and any lingering vinegar is washed away from inside your washing machine’s drum.
Note: I know a lot of people that use vinegar in the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener. I do it myself fairly often for towels if they are not being bleached.
Wash with Bleach
While vinegar is great for disinfecting and deodorizing, tough odors and mildew inside your washing machine will probably need a stronger disinfectant to do the job. Bleach is the perfect option for cleaning your washing machine of hidden mold and mildew. By using bleach in the tray of your washing machine, you are not only helping to disinfect and deodorize the tray, but it will also help remove stains and germs in your washing machine’s drum, as well.
To wash your washer with bleach, add two cups of bleach to the machine’s detergent tray (note: do not overload. If your tray cannot take that much bleach (mine cannot), use the maximum recommended amount). Then run your washing machine on the clean cycle (or hottest and largest setting if your machine doesn’t have a clean cycle). Be sure to allow your washer to run through a complete cycle with a completely empty wash tub.
After you have finished both the wash cycle with bleach, run another quick rinse cycle to ensure that all the residue and any lingering bleach is washed away from inside your washing machine’s drum.
Wash the Detergent Tray
The easiest way to “clean” the detergent tray is to not allow for soap, fabric softener, or non-fabric bleach build-up. Clean as you go.
To keep smells at bay, not only should you leave your washer door open in between cycles, but you should keep your tray open. Ever notice some water left behind? If you open your tray, that will evaporate – instead of breeding smells in a closed tray!
The detergent tray of your front load washing machine has a lot of different liquids running through it every time you run your washer, which means it can be a place for mold and mildew to hide. A great way to ensure your detergent tray stays fresh and mildew-free is to clean inside it and all its components on a regular basis.
Start by removing the bleach dispenser, detergent dispenser, and fabric softener dispenser trays and soak them in warm, soapy water for a few minutes. While your trays are soaking, use a damp washcloth or sponge to wipe down the inside of your detergent tray. Be sure to reach into the back of the tray to wipe away any mold or mildew you cannot easily see. Finish by washing each of the trays, drying them and placing them back into the detergent tray.
Clean the Door
The door and door seal of your front-loading washing machine can get dirty very quickly, so it is important to take the time to clean it as often as possible. Start by creating a bleach solution by pouring one cup of liquid bleach into one gallon of warm water. Use a clean, lint-free cloth to wipe down the glass part of the door with your bleach solution.
The next step to cleaning your washing machine’s door is probably the most important – the rubber seal. This seal helps keep water from leaking out of your machine during the wash and rinse cycles, which is an important job, but it can also be a place where mold and mildew can hide if you do not keep it clean.
To keep your door’s seal fresh, pull it back (but do not dislodge it) and wipe the gunk inside with your bleach solution. Then, take another dry cloth to the seal and wipe again to remove additional moisture from inside and avoid more mildew or mold from growing in the space.
Clean the Gasket
Your washing machine’s gasket is the most likely place mold and mildew are hiding inside your front load washing machine. The gasket is the rubber section located between the door and the washer’s drum. And I bet it will be the grossest part of the machine you will clean – you probably have no idea how dirty it even is! To see the grime inside your washer’s gasket, pull back the rubber seal (but do not dislodge it) and take a peek inside the deep crevice between the gasket and the drum.
To clean this yucky part of your front load washing machine, dip a lint-free cleaning cloth into your bleach solution and wipe all around the inside of the seal. Make sure you really soak the space with bleach to help the cleaning solution do its job. Let the bleach soak into the area for five to 10 minutes by leaving the door to your washing machine open. This will give the solution a chance to kill mold and mildew inside the gasket and let the water soak into any stuck-on grime. Then, use a dry cloth to wipe away the cleaning solution and residue that it loosened during the soak.
Clean the Exterior
While the interior of your front load washing machine is probably the source of any foul odors coming from your washer, it is always a good idea to keep the exterior of your appliance clean as well. To clean the exterior of your washing machine, spray a cleaning solution along the top, front, and sides of your machine and wipe away any dust or detergent resident with a damp cloth or sponge. Finish by spraying a glass cleaner on the window and wipe away with a lint-free cloth or paper towel.
The final step to cleaning your front load washing machine is to allow the appliance to air dry completely before using it. Simply leave the machine’s door open for a few hours or overnight to give the machine time to dry completely before you wash another load inside your clean washing machine. In fact, is a good idea to keep your machine’s door open after each use to allow it to air dry after each cycle. This will help prevent mold and mildew from building up inside and make deep cleaning your machine easier next time!
Note: None of this is meant as medical advice. I am not a doctor and do not play one on the internet. Please consult a physician if you have any questions about using bleach or vinegar so your doctor can better explain to you the benefits, possible side effects, and any warnings about bleach or vinegar.
If you are interested in more cleaning tips and ideas, be certain to read these informative cleaning posts:
• 15 DIY cleaning formulas to make yourself and use in your home – Homemade cleaning formulas are some of the easiest “recipes” you will ever make! Many DIY cleaning formulas work as well, or better than, commercially made cleaning products. Here are some homemade cleaning products for the kitchen, bath – the entire home!
• 10 Things in Your Kitchen You Are Probably Not Cleaning Correctly – 10 Tips and tricks as well as great instructions for cleaning things in your kitchen – which will not only help limit the potential for nasty bacteria but will leave everything looking and smelling wonderfully fresh. These cleaning solutions will help you deep clean your kitchen one step at a time!
• 10 Tips For Hiring a House Cleaning Service – I’ve had a cleaning service for over 10 years now, both at home in New York and in our other residences in Utah and Florida. I’ve learned a lot about the dos and don’s of hiring a cleaning service, and what to expect once you have hired one. These are my tips on what you should know and consider before hiring someone to clean your home!
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