How to Clean your Washing Machine

We are in the laundry room this month for the Household Organization Diet {you can find the September To Do list HERE} and the first thing up on the list is to clean the washing machine!  If you have a front loader like me, it is especially important that you have a regular cleaning routine for your washer in order to keep your clothes coming out clean and stink-free.  Due to the design of front loaders, they are more susceptible to mold and mildew {due to the rubber gasket that lines the door to prevent leakage} as well as detergent residue build up.

Awesome tutorial on how to clean your washing machine.  A must read!

So let me start with a little story about our washing machine…. about 6 months after we got our new front loader, I began to notice a not so nice smell coming from our machine.  Using these tips, I did eventually figure out how to get rid of the smell and it has pretty much been stink-free for the past three years.  Now since the smell was gone, I had gotten a little lazy about actually cleaning the washing machine.  No smell meant that everything was clean, right?

Ummm…apparently not.

Great tutorial on how to clean your washing machine and get rid of mold.  A must read!


I’m not sure why I hadn’t noticed all that mold before but it definitely had to go!  If you have a lot of mold like I did, you really need to use bleach to get at it.  As a general rule, I try to stay away from bleach but there was no getting away from it this time!  Make sure that you have some gloves on and keep the doors {and windows if possible} open for ventilation.

Start by wiping down the whole rubber gasket with a white rag soaked in a 50/50 mixture of bleach and warm water.  Make sure you pull back the rubber gasket to clean inside as well as this is where most of the mold will be.  If there is still mold remaining, soak a towel with your bleach mixture, shove it into the gasket, and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Great tutorial on how to clean your washing machine.  A must read!


After soaking, remove the towel and scrub the gasket gently with an old toothbrush.  See?  SO much better!

Great tutorial on how to clean your washing machine and get rid of that washing machine smell for good!  A must read!

Wipe down the rubber gaskets with a clean dry cloth until no residue remains.  Once you are done, place all of the rags that have come in contact with the bleach into your washing machine and run them through a complete wash and rinse cycle on the hottest setting.

Next, run the machine through a second complete cycle {at the hottest setting} adding 2 cups of vinegar {PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER MIX BLEACH AND VINEGAR TOGETHER!!}.  I added a couple of small, clean bath towels to the wash as well {as per the recommendations from my instruction manual to never run an empty load}.

Remove the detergent dispenser and clean with a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water.  Make sure to wipe down the inside of the washing machine as well where the detergent dispenser goes.

Great tutorial om how to clean your washing machine and get rid of that washing machine smell and mold for good!  A must read!!!

Lastly, clean the inside of the door with a rag and a 50/50 water and vinegar mixture.  Pay extra attention to the bottom aspect of the door where the water would pool. 

So now that your washing machine is clean, how do you keep it that way?  Try these tips every time you run a load…

  • Give the rubber gaskets a swipe.  After each load of laundry, get in the habit of checking the rubber gaskets for any small clothing items {my kids socks love to hang out there} and quickly wiping them down with a dry cloth to get rid of any excess water.  I know that I had no mold when I did this and you can obviously see what my washing machine looked like when I stopped doing this!
  • Leave the door open.  Leave your washing machine door slightly ajar to allow air to circulate and help to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
  • Remove wet clothes promptly.  Okay I know that this does not always happen, but try to do this as much as possible.  If you cannot get to your laundry right away, try to at least pop the door open when the load has finished.
{NOTE: If you have issues with a smelly front loader, you can find more tips on getting rid of the odor HERE}.
 
And, finally, get in the habit of giving your washing machine a clean once per month.  If there is no visible mold, skip the bleach and just clean with the vinegar.  This will help to remove all of the soap residues from your machine and leave it clean and disinfected!

Great tutorial on how to clean your washing machine and get rid of that stinky smell and mold for good!  A must read!
Happy Cleaning! Well you are at it, don’t forget to clean your dryer too! :)

Are you new to The Household Organization Diet?  You can find the first post HERE and get caught up on all of our past projects over HERE.  Now is the time to get organized!!! ;)

The Household Organization Diet - 30 Day Detox. This is part one of a year long plan to get your home organized once and for all!

Read about the 30 Day Home Detox HERE.
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Comments

  1. says

    I clean my front loader faithfully every month (I keep a reminder in my phone) and have never had an odor issue, mildew, etc. I also never close the door. My particular LG model has a feature that lets you close the door mostly, without latching it.

    One thing you didn’t mention: I don’t know if all front loaders have them, but at least for mine, you are also supposed to clean the drain pump filter monthly. It really does collect debris — for instance, yesterday mine had several balled up pieces of string as well as a gum wrapper that had somehow made it into the washer.

    • Carla says

      If you only use 1 TBS of liquuid laundry detergent that is meant for he machines then you won’t have soap residue. Seriously people use WAAAYY too much soap. You only need a little bit. If you seed suds in your machine when you are doing a load then you have used too much soap. I was told this by a Sears appliances store owner.

      • says

        Yes, I totally agree that people tend to use too much detergent! Just a natural tendency I guess – when things are dirty add more soap! We have cut WAY back on what we use and, combined with the vinegar and wiping down the machine after each use, we have had no further problems. :)

  2. says

    Glad you posted on this. I fairly regularly wipe down the inside of the door and the detergent area. For some reason I never thought to look at the gasket. I started a while ago and I kind of want to cry. It’s so nasty and filled with sludge. I have it soaking currently. No mold that I can see though. But the little drain holes are blocked by sludge. Any extra tips beyond letting sit with a vinegar soaked towel?

    On a good note I did some regular drain maintenance with vinegar and water as well as got some other general things done and cooking. So i kind of feel accomplished.

  3. says

    Hello, where do I pour the 2 cups of vinegar into, when running the 2nd complete Cycle? Directly into the drum or the laundry detergent Dispenser? Many thanks!

  4. says

    Thanks for this. It will be very helpful. My new washing machine is as bad at 6months old as my old one was at 10yrs. Must be something in the design!
    Just tried to click on the ‘first post’ link and got a 404 error. Not sure why!
    Kathleen Mc xx

    • Jenn says

      Hi Kathleen,
      I just switched over to WP a couple of days ago from blogger so all of my links are broken. :( I’ll have to go back in and manually fix them all but things will get better once the design is completed!
      Even manufacturors admit that things are just not built like they were in the “old days” but taking a little extra time to care for our appliances can definitely go a long way!
      Have a great day!
      Jenn :)

  5. Debby says

    I have another helpful hint. After I am done doing laundry, I remove the detergent dispenser drawer and let it dry upside down
    on a towel on top of washer. You will be amazed how much water is left inside after the washer shuts off. It will keep mold and mildew from forming in the drawer area.

  6. Lacey says

    I am on my second front loader. The first sold with my house. I have never seen mold like that on either one ever, and trust me when I say I don’t clean my washer that often. I do leave the door open a lot of the time and always until it’s dry. I also have one of those small ceiling fans in my laundry room which is actually more of a laundry hallway. I use it to dry clothes that I hang up in there that I don’t put in the dryer. I also rarely use bleach. I don’t know why yours gets so colorful.

    • Jenn says

      I think the main problem with ours was that the kids socks would get stuck in the rubber gaskets during the cleaning cycle. They would be absolutely soaked in there (they obviously didn’t go through the spin cycle at the end which gets rid of a lot of water) and I did not always remember to check it when I transferred the clothes to the dryer. I rarely use bleach either as I usually just try to stick with vinegar. had to pull out the big guns this time though as the vinegar was not strong enough! :)

  7. Rosanne says

    Any help for top loading machines? I have a dog and I find hair around the top of the tub in between washer case and tub itself. I know ther is more hair build up it can’t see but were do I look and how do I clean? Always leave the lid open as soon as I take the wet clothes out and spray Lysol immediately into deum

  8. Trina says

    I am in need of a new top load washing machine. Just wondering what brands people have and if they have liked them. Thx!

  9. Marion Timmermann says

    Did you know there’s a filter inside the bottom panel of the front loader too!!!
    YEP!
    I cleaned my washer but the smell kept coming back, then I goggled it & sure enough, a filter was clogged! Of course it’s not in the owners manual since the company wants you to call service out!!!
    I clean mine out 2-3 times a year.

  10. Janet says

    Sometime if the machine is not level it will not drain the water properly, I have had two front loaders and have never had an odor problem and very little mold

  11. Julie says

    We actually replaced a gasket because it was impossible to keep mold free once it started. My grandmother has the exact model that we do and she never wipes it out and has never had an issue. She lives in upstate New York, I live in North Carolina….. I think the climate has something to do with it.

  12. Andrea says

    I always leave the door ajar, and I use white vinegar in my fabric softener compartment when I do each load. The vinegar softens cloths naturally, removes soap residue from your cloths, keeps whites white, sets your colors, and keeps the drum spotless. Many, many benefits!

  13. cecily porter says

    Wow, I’ve NEVER had a mold problem and mine is ~ 10 yrs old. However, I notice in your pic that the door is almost closed. Mine is always WIDE open, and I put the machine thru its cleaning cycle religiously on the 1st of every month, as suggested in the manual. My washer is located in a damp basement to boot :)

    • says

      I now have the mold thing figured out and give the rubber gasket a quick wipe after each cycle. I am a bit of a neat freak so I couldn’t handle having my washer door open as it is up on our main floor and I would see it all the time. :) I wash my washing machine about once every 6 months with the vinegar and haven’t had a problem since.

  14. Cindy says

    We’ve had our LG front load for about four years, and we will never buy another one. It does not clean clothing well, and it’s very noisy. I have had the mold issues as well and do wipe out the gasket occasionally. It’s difficult to get to all of it, as you can’t see it all the way around (above and sides). It’s disappointing that after spending the money we did for this machine that it has these kinds of issues. I’m sure it will be be hard to get rid of after people read reviews about it.

    • says

      After figuring out a solution for the mold, we have been pretty happy with our washer. I don’t really notice it being particularly loud {although it is in a separate room} and I haven’t had issues with it not getting clothes cleaned. I wonder if the models are different? Hope you are able to find one that you like better! :)

    • amy says

      When we first got our LG front loader, we thought it was doing a terrible job. Then we started doing slightly smaller loads and only using one of the Tide pods, and our clothes are clean and fresh, always.

      • says

        Yes, you definitely need to watch about overloading a washing machine. In addition to the extra wear on the machine, it also makes it harder for everything to drain properly and can lead to that stinky smell!

  15. Naomi says

    I agree Andrea (April 7,14) Since I have started using homemade laundry detergent and only vinegar as a fabric softener I have had no mold or mildew problems at all in my front loading washer. Gasket is always clean. Before it was always a problem and now have not had one problem in the two years I have gone totally homemade and vinegar.

  16. Linda says

    Have you ever taken out the drawer that you put the soap in and looked at the top of where you pull it out from? Take out the drawer and then get down and look up at the ” ceiling ” where the drawer stays. I just about fainted. It was coated with thick mold!!! I finally got it cleaned!!!

  17. Catherine says

    Hi! If your looking for a bleach alternative to get rid of mold try a mixer of clove oil and water. 2 or 3 table spoons diluted in 300ml spray bottle. Soak for a few minutes and then wipe/ lightly scrub. It kills both active mold and spores and its 100% natural.

  18. Devon says

    Holy wow. Thanks for posting this. My husband and baby are out of town, and I have gone on a crazy-lady cleaning tear. I only use natural cleaners when our son is home, but it felt SO GOOD to melt that scum with bleach! (I live in soggy, humid, NC and I’ve had this washer for almost 5 years. You can imagine the “before” picture…ewww).

    • says

      Glad that it helped! Now that I know it can be a problem, I just wipe it after every load and use vinegar for cleaning and I have had no more problems. Isn’t it funny that we decide to CLEAN when our husband and kids go out of town? ;)

  19. POlly says

    You have saved my sanity. We live in a humid, chilly area and mold is a huge issue. My husband had this front loader before we married and it was nasty. I’ve been desperate to get rid of the mold, especially with our toddlers having skin issues. It looks like this has done the trick. I’m giving it a bleach bath again in a couple of days (it was that bad), but it looks SO much better now. And we’re switching to homemade detergent, as well. The washing machine is going to be a dream. :) Thank you for this!

  20. Easternfan says

    Just one question — Do you use plain white vinegar as a rinse agent in the fabric softener dispenser? I know that it is used for cleaning and am thinking about using it for the rinse, but wanted to know if you need a special vinegar or just plain white.
    Also, I used the Affresh brand of washer cleaner that is recommended for/by the washer manufacturer and couldn’t get rid of the moldy smell for more than one or two loads. I got tired of wasting money and bought the store brand cleaner that does an entire wash/rinse cycle and got rid of the problem, and it coast about 1/3 of the price of Affresh. And I never shut my door tight.

    • says

      Yes – just plain white vinegar. If I am wanting to actually clean the machine or have an extra smelly load of towels or something, I will put the vinegar in the detergent dispenser. Vinegar also works as a great fabric softener though too so you can add it to the fabric softener dispenser in place of fabric softener.

  21. Pat Halland says

    I too have had problems with odor in my front load washer… I am blaming it on too concentrated fabric softener… so I diluted it down and also cut back on amount of soap use and the odor is gone… did all that after I scrubbed the gasket super clean and ran the washer with vinegar and baking soda and bleach not all together but separately…

  22. Ron DenHollander says

    It is not a good idea to use too much vinegar on a regular basis. I have seen too many seals deteriorate from vinegar. The best thing to do is leave the door slightly open to air out the machine and weekly wipe the boot with a bleach water mixture. Mold will occur all around the boot. The amount of detergent to use depends on the type of clothing. A box that says gets 20 loads should give you 80 plus. I was a warranty serviceman for Mile, Bosch, AEG, ASKO, Whirlpool, GE, Maytag and many more and have over 25 years front load experience. Try a 1.2 cup of Dishwasher detergent once per month to help keep arears you cant see clean. I have seen a lot of mould hidden in machines

  23. Liz says

    Great post! But reading this now makes me nervous about using the front loading machines in my apartment buildings basement. Was always used to using a top loader so didn’t realize how gross the front loaders can get!

    • says

      Yes, I never even thought about that. Try using an old cloth to wipe down the gaskets before you use it. Maybe management could put up a little sign to have people leave the door slightly ajar? That makes a big difference!

  24. Ruth says

    I’m asking about the advice to leave the door slightly open. That would mean the interior light would be on all the time. And I’m betting my cat would crawl in, too!

  25. Ruth says

    I’m curious about the advice to leave the door slightly open. That would mean the interior light would be on …. and the cat would probably climb in!!

    • says

      It would depend on your model. We don’t actually have a light in the washing machine – just the dryer. For ours we can just leave it open a crack, although I know others need to be left open more or they will shut on their own. If you can’t leave it open, just make sure you give the gaskets a good drying when you are done – it just takes a few seconds to wipe it down. :)

  26. Carol says

    i HAVE HAD THIS PROBLEM ALSO i KEEP WIPING DOWN THE INSIDE TOO AND LEAVING DOOR A LITTLE OPEN. YOU CAN ALSO GET THIS PROBLEM WITH TOP LOADERS IF YOU WERE ONLY TO SEE THE SIDES OF THE MACHINE IN THE VERY INSIDE FROM PEOPLE USING TOO MUCH SOAP. PULL THE DRUM A LITTLE SIDEWAYS AND CLEAN THE RUBBER THERE ALSO. iT TURNS TO LIKE A GREASE (DARK GREY)IF YOU EVER SEE THIS ON YOUR CLOTHES THEN THIS IS THE CAUSE

  27. Sandra Clough says

    I used to leave my door open on my front loading washer to allow it to dry properly but twice now I have come into a flooded room. Once I was fortunate enough to arrive as the water was flooding out of the washer and was able to shut the door before the room flooded. I know this is the source of the flooding. This was not water backing up from the sewer but perfectly clean water. I mop up the flood with clean towels, run them through the washer, which seems to be functioning properly except for the problem of randomly and unexpectedly flooding the room on occasion. Is this a common problem with front loading washers?

  28. Vivian Lawyer says

    I have an LG front loader with the same issues most of you have mentioned. When I called my service repair person AND again when they came out to the house, they told me that they can immediately tell the difference between those using LIQUID detergent and those using POWDER – they said the ones using liquid get clogged up and grimy way faster than powder. They suggested never to use liquid and to put less laundry in the basin for awhile. Running the tub clean cycle with bleach, like many said, is also recommended in the owners manual, as is always wiping the gasket after every load. Now I need to go check the under and back side of the drawer!!!!!

    • says

      Yes, I totally noticed a difference when I switched to powder {I use Norwex}. For the gasket, I try to wipe it down every time but do notice if I miss a few times. The gunk can build up fast and the kids socks always get stuck in there!

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