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.


  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.

    • Ang says

      Personally I have pulled full size socks from my pump filter. The smell was unbearable until I found that and got it removed. Checking this regularly can save your water pump from sudden death let alone the smell.

        • says

          I think they are all generally along the bottom of the washing machine {there should be a little access door} but this will vary from model to model. Just check your owner’s manual or Google search you make and model if you can’t find it. :)

          • Helloseekers says

            Here’s a little hint that helped me drain the pump filter with less mess. There’s usually a small rubber hose with a plastic plug in it inside the access door. You can pull the hose out about 6 or 8 inches. The hose on my machine lands about 2 feet away from the floor drain. I cut a piece of 1/2″ PVC pipe to stretch about 27 inches or so to the floor drain, and when I remove the plug from the hose, I jam it quickly into the PVC and the water runs directly to the drain. Voila.

    • 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. :)

          • says

            It will probably be different on different machines but it is most often a little compartment on the front/bottom of your machine. Have a shallow pan ready (like a baking dish or cookie sheet) when you are cleaning it to catch any water overflow. Empty the drain and then clear any debris from the filter.

        • Becky says

          I worked in a hospital laundry for 19 years, a front loader is the best machine you can own. I buy a homemade liquid laundry soap for 20 bucks for a five gal container.I have a whole house water system and a water softener.. I use 1/4 cup of soap for each load of any thing I wash.. I make my own spot remover also. It’s one part clear ammonia,, one part Dawn or a generic degrease r dish soap , and one part water. Put it in a spray bottle and it will take out any stain! For blood stains or stains like baby poop, for blood stains rinse in cold water, spray with half water, half peroxide, same as for poop, throw in the wash as usual, I always use cold water to wash. I only use bleach when i wash my front loader once a month, just run a wash cycle. My machine tells me when to run a clean cycle as needed.

          • Pamela says

            This is a very useful page! would love to be able to make a solution up using “Dawn” but it’s not available in New Zealand.

      • says

        I’m far from a mechanic, but this is basically the part of the washer that is designed to collect any lint, change, or whatever other debris makes its way into your washing machine. :)

    • Earline beeksma says

      I have a very efficient and wonderful homemade laundry soap that I use for my front loader…I will gladly give it to anyone who would like it….you can message me on Facebook at Earline beeksma

    • janie fields says

      After I clean and dry the gasket, I put a small cleaning sponge in the gasket at the front to sop up any water that might run down to the drain holes. This has helped with the mold build up.

    • Donna says

      Where the heck is this filter. I have a front loader washer machine. Although I clean that gasket &keep the door ajar I feel that I need to clean this “filter”. Thanks

      • says

        There’s usually a little “door” on the front/bottom of the washing machine; however, this can vary from model to model. If you can’t find it, just google your make and model and it should quickly come up!

    • Mike says

      You’re right I also have the LG front load washer and I always leave the door open slightly and also clean the pump filter which always smells terrible. Good catch by the way Jenn :>)

  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.

    • Dawn says

      I will never buy a front loader i want my top loader back. Doesn’t get my clothes clean and the whites look gray. Never had that problem with my top loader. Hate is a strong word, but I hate my top loader.

      • says

        OMG! I absolutely HATE my May Tag Netune hi end expensive front loader! You CANNOT get a load of clothes clean in a very small amount of water! It is like bathing in a cup of water. Who ever heard of “washing/cleaning” a washing machine?? I had an avocado green top loading May Tag for 37, yes thirty seven years and never ever had to clean it inside! BTW it was still going strong but such an ugly colour we decided to put it down. BIGGEST LARGE APPLIANCE MISTAKE WE HAVE MADE IN 43 YEARS!

        • Angela says

          I owned a front loader and it was the biggest mistake of our lives. We had it for 2 years and replaced to front seal 4 times! I now own a agitator less top loader and love it! I have had it for 3 years and have never had a problem. I notice that you only showed the front loading machine in this tutorial. Is there anything special I need to know about cleaning a top loading machine!

    • Sandy says

      I agree. I hate my front-loader and can’t wait to get rid of it, On another note. Besides leaving the door open I also raise up the soap dispenser (as if I am cleaning it) so that can get air and dry out.

  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! :)

    • Jen says

      My laundry machine does this too and I’ve not been able to get rid of the mold/mildew completely. I was told you have to be careful what you use on rubber so I didn’t try bleach other than just rubbing it a little. I used the machine washer detergent I bought at Sears a few times, which was a total waste of money. I’ll try what you suggested and see how it goes. Some front loading machines are made better than others. We have a Maytag Neptune, I believe the first year they made these (2003 anyway when we moved in our house) and it’s terrible with the mold and mildew. A friend of ours had the same issue and sold theirs. I heard the next model was designed better.

  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!!!
    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!

    • Angie Alger says

      I also use white vinegar as a water softener and rinse aid. I will NEVER use commercial fabric softener again. My towels are lofty and smell soooo fresh and CLEAN!!! Using Downy or other commercial fabric softener is like using conditioner in your hair and not rinsing it out. Even though the smell of fabric softener smells good initially it will build up in your towels and clothing. When I switched to white vinegar I was shocked! After about 2-3 launderings my towels were so much fuller and smelled sooo fresh! Everyone noticed…and another great perk…the washer stays fresh!! I have had it for 3 years…no smells or sludge build up!

  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!

    • Lorraine Golloub says

      Your machine may not be level. Our machine started making a lot of noise after it got moved slightly- once moved back and level it is quiet again.

  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

      • JenBadgero says

        i have been reading many of these comments because I have had many issues with actually getting clothes clean and absolutely hate my front loader!!! I always leave the door open, wipe the gasket and clean the filters. The machine itself has never had mold or mildew or smelled at all. I’ve actually had a repair man tell me it’s the cleanest machine he’s ever seen at someone’s house. I don’t use any detergent on towels. I use baking soda and vinegar. It’s better than detergent because they smell musty after 3 days now instead of just one shower use. If I had any perfume on or my husband had cologne, the whole load smells like that when it’s done. Nothing ever seems clean. I’ve been told once it was too much detergent, so I now use about 1/8 cup and it’s still the same. My running clothes I actually soak in a 5 gallon bucket before I wash them just so the get clean. I’ve asked GE about this and I’ve always been told they don’t know why…any suggestions?????? Just about anybody else I talk to doesn’t have this issue.

        • says

          Well that doesn’t sound fun! I’ve never really had any issues with my clothes not getting clean so I am not sure how much help I will be. I usually use a powdered detergent, 1 cup vinegar if it is a stinky load, and 1 cup vinegar for a fabric softener. For the detergent, have you tried both liquid and powder? I find that my machine is usually cleaner with the powders – depending on what brand you are using 1/8 cup sounds low for getting a good clean – especially for gym clothes. Different brands can make a huge difference. Have you tried washing with the machine only partially filled to see if things get cleaned better when they have more room or washing on the highest temperature setting that your clothing allows? Wash boosters like Oxiclean might be something else to try along with the detergent. I am also interested in how you wash your towels with the baking soda and vinegar. These will neutralize each other when mixed together and just create a salt so if you are mixing them together you are just basically washing with salt and water. Good luck in finding a solution – maybe you just have a lemon of a machine!

        • Patricia Weigand says

          I’ve had my Kenmore front loader for 11 years now and don’t have any problems with it not getting my clothes clean or with the machine having any kind of odor as I leave the door open after each use. But many years ago I had well water that was very hard and my clothes were not coming clean in my Kenmore top loader – no matter what I did and at that time I was washing diapers. I tried every type of detergent and additive along with bleach but nothing got my clothes clean and they smelled of either cologne or body odor. It was terrible not to say the least. Then someone told me to get a water softener and immediately after my very first wash my clothes were clean and smelling great. That was three houses and three washing machines ago and since then I have always had a water softener in my home. I believe the soft water not only gets my clothes clean but it keeps my machine clean. So JENBADGERO you may just have hard water and maybe it is not your front loading washing machine.

  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!

    • says

      To clean the filter, get a shallow pan ready to catch any water overflow and a rag to mop up any excess water. Open up the filter compartment {it is a little door on the front/bottom left of my machine}. Unplug the hose and allow it to drain to empty any water {don’t pull the hose out too far}. Plug it back up and put it back in place. Next unscrew the filter and take out any lint or debris. You can hand wash it with water {and dish soap if needed} and then put everything back in place. Hope that helps!

  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


  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!

  29. JOcelyne says

    When you use powder detergent versus liquid, do you put in in the soap dispenser as you would liquid? Or do you simply throw it in the drum with the clothes? Someone told me after I got my front loader that if you use powder detergent in it you void the warranty-as my warranty is now done, I would like to switch to Norwex but to my knowledge they only have powdered detergent.

    • says

      I have never heard that powdered detergent will void a warranty but I guess different models may be different. I mix mine up in some water and then put it in the soap dispenser. The powdered ones are much more economical as you are not paying for all of that water weight for shipping. :)

  30. Darlene Weller says

    When I am finished with my washing I always turn the taps to my machine off till next time. There Is always water in the hoses and flooding can occur if they break and cause a large insurance claim sometimes..

  31. danite says

    I use either a 1/4 c peroxide or baking soda and vinegar in my whites and towels and so far (15 yrs) no odor or mildew probs

  32. Mary lou says

    I had one of the first Kenmore front loaders and managed to get “the smell from hell” in it. I tried many methods to get the smell out, too many to post here. and finally succeeded. There is a website called smelly that I bought some powder from that seemed to work the best. I researched for hours and came across some common threads on how not to get the smell back. I now have a newer set (Samsung – love them), and no problems. Here’s my tips: 1. Use powder detergent only; I have used Charlies soap (one Tbsp) for about eight years now and can testify it works very well. 2. Sorry, no fabric softener. I use vinegar with a little essential oil added so my clothes don’t smell like a salad. 3. Wipe down gaskets every few uses, and leave the door cracked open if you can. Eight years, mold and smell free.

  33. Charlotte Montes says

    I recently ran out of laundry detergent and was desperate to finish the last load of clothes, which were my husbands work jeans. He is a machinist and his clothes always have the smell of oil . I put 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in with the clothes in hopes that it would get them a little clean. I put it on heavy load with hot cycle and extra soak cycle . I was amazed when I pulled them out how clean they were! I have tried oxi clean I used tide I always washed in hot water, but never have they come out so fresh smelling! I only do it with his work jeans but I may jus try it on the rest of my clothes to see what happens.

  34. Glenda says

    We experienced the same problems with our front loading washing and after doing all of the suggestions aforementioned, we still had an odor.
    We later discovered the real problem after calling the manufacturer … the drainage filter must be cleaned monthly.

    For LG washers, the drainage filter is located in the front, lower left hand corner of the washer. Make sure you place a few towels on the floor when you unscrew the drainage filter. Be prepare for the smell if you’ve never cleaner the filter before.

    We now clean the filter regularly and no more smell. Mind you we still clean the rubber parts as well but the main problem/smell is finally gone!

  35. Nancy says

    I wipe out the gasket with bleach wipes, and that helps between cleanings. we have a septic tank and was told not to use bleach that will go out the drain. This will destroy the good bacteria needed for proper operation of the septic system.

  36. jENNIFER says

    I have done this twice, but still have that black junk on the side and top of my ring. Any suggestions how I can get those spots? I tried putting the towels there and spraying them to keep them moist, but they do not go away! I know this works though, because my ring is clean on the bottom.

    • says

      If it worked on the bottom {which is generally the worst spot} but not the sides and top, it probably has more to do with the lack of pressure on these areas compared to gravity helping out on the bottom. Are the towels packed in tightly with the bleach? I’d just try repeating and then scrubbing to see if it starts to come off. Hope that helps!

    • says

      You can use powder in a top loader too. There are many different kinds out there – I like the Norwex powder but any kind should work. You do generally have to use more detergent in a top loader than a front load so check to see what the guidelines are.

  37. JD says

    Love my front load washer–gets the clothes so much cleaner. One very simple step in preventing mildew from forming is LEAVE THE DOOR OPEN when not in use. When it’s closed the moisture is trapped. I also wash a white load with bleach once a week and all loads I use 1/2 C vinegar in the softener dispenser, removes soup residue from your clothes leaving them soft. Haven’t needed to do a thorough cleaning yet.

  38. Lezleyz says

    Another thing that really helps is to use powder detergent instead of liquid. I was told by our sales person at Lowe’s that liquid detergent tends to leave more residue than powder. I truly notice a huge difference!

  39. Robin says

    Makr sure to wear a mask when dealing with mold! I have asthma and this is important for me to do, so I will not have an asthma attack!

  40. Mike says

    I also pull the soap dispenser to dry completely, leave the washer door ajar but most helpful, I throw in a dryer sheet after doing laundry. It must absorbed orders because I no longer have a smelly problem. Every couple om months I wipe down the gaskets with Llysol disinfecting wipes.

  41. Grandma Morgan says

    I too am one of those who HATE MY FRONT LOADER!! Agree with the do not get clothes clean and make them dull. HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT!!!
    Worse part is they were over 2000$ with the pedestals . Gonnna be awhile til I can afford to get back to the top loaders, unless some really nice person comes along and take these off my hands for $1200 . They are LG
    Any takers????

  42. Karen says

    I have a front loader with an odd odor issue. It runs well and smells normal until you take out the wet clothes. Then the clothes have a oil/mechanical odor. It goes away when the clothes are dried. The washer never smells, just the wet clothes. It has been going on for 2 weeks now. No changes with soap or water. I had a technician in and he couldn’t find any issue. I ran a couple of hot loads and then the cleaning tablets. And no, we didn’t wash any clothes with grease or oil on it. I will try vinegar next, but wondered if you had heard of this before or had any other ideas. Never had any mold or mildew issues.

    • says

      Strange. I have never had any issues with an oil-type odor. There is nothing different in your water that you have noticed – maybe increased iron? Given that the machine does not smell and the odor in the clothes goes away when dried, something with the water would be my best guess. I’m curious to know if the vinegar made any difference. P.S. I have never had any success with those cleaning tablets!

  43. Erin K says

    How do you check to see if there is build-up of detergent? I started to use powder detergent but when I tried to put the liquid holder back in, the detergent does not drain and is just filled with water. Any suggestions?

    • says

      On my machine, the detergent container will come right out so you can clean it and see if there is anything jammed in behind it. I’m not quite sure what you mean about putting the liquid holder back in. If you are using powder, you can either mix it with some water prior to putting it in the liquid holder or place it directly into the machine. Just let me know if I didn’t understand your question correctly. ;)

  44. says

    So many great ideas and love your responses. I was gonna ask for a new washer in 2015. But will try all these tips first. But, then, a new washer sounds nice. I would love one with more cycles!

  45. Judy says

    I wish I had done more investigating about front loading washers before I bought one. I will never ever ever have another one in my house. Expensive mistake.

  46. says

    I wipe out around the rubber ring after every use. This next tip might sound extreme but, I keep a blow dryer by the dryer and completely dry out the inside of the rubber ring. It really needs to be completely dry! And I always keep the door open.

  47. Serena says

    Thank you so much for this! I inherited my front loader from a family member who wanted to go back to a top loader, so it had been sitting unused for a while and had a horrible mold buildup. I finally found your post here and my washing machine is so clean and pretty now. I had tried about anything I could think of except bleach…don’t know why I didn’t earlier. THANK YOU!!!!

  48. says

    Bleach and/or vinegar only kills 70-75% of molds. Borax kills 99%, including black mold, and also prevents mold from returning. Just mix with water according to the package directions and wipe out the machine the same as you would with the bleach. Borax also can be used in a liquid solution for multiple cleaning purposes in the home, and it can be used in Powder form to repel or kill insect pests such as roaches and ants. However, you must be careful not to use it around pets, as certain animals can get borax poisoning. Borax can also be used to remove odor from laundry, as can washing soda.

    Since I have an HE machine, I use half the amount recommended on the box and it works fine.

  49. Annie Grant says

    Well I never….I never thought so many people could say so many things about a washing machine…..
    I have had my ASCO front loader for thirteen years….I didn’t even know you had to clean it except for the filter….and you can be pretty sure I won’t be starting….it gets a good wash every time I use it.

  50. Maureen says

    Thanks so much for this! I’ve been living in Switzerland where front-loaders are the norm since 1995, and I never had any mold issue until kids (TMI alert: I’m guessing the poo that got stuck in the rubber gasket at one time didn’t help — far worse than getting a small sock stuck, which I know has also happened). I will be cleaning the washer today as part of my spring cleaning. :o)

  51. S andersen says

    please, can you repost your how-to your cleaning redjumin for top load washers. Yes, the laundry room smells gross at times when the washer starts a cycle, and the clothes come out of the dryer with a funky smell, which sometimes is so hard to get rid of that I end up throwing the clothes away.

    Thank you!

  52. Sandy says

    I bought my first front loader 15 years ago and never had the smell, rubber liner issue. In fact it washed closed so much better. 4 years ago it quit on me and bought a new one. The new one has always had a problem with odors in the clothes. Started trying out different detergents and and found Gain to be the best. But also the cheaper ones seem to do better at cleaning and no after smells. No clue why.

    I do clean the rubber sealer about once a month. Use a tooth brush and watered down Dawn. Then wipe it with a cloth.

    Have cleaned the gasket many times, not on a schedule. It does the job for catching animal hair, etc. Be careful when pulling the hose out and uncapping. Make sure you have the low pan there, no pedestal under mine which means little gravity for draining. If yours is high, then a pan or bowl to reach the tube works. It takes a while to drain, I walk away until all water is gone. Don’t open the gasket until you do this, you will have a flood.

    For those looking to go back to a top loader…from what I have read they are now making them with the same concept as the front loader. I’d hurry to find one now like we use to have.

    • says

      Thanks for the tips! I have seen a few new fancy washers coming out that are going back to top loaders – I was wondering what the quality would be like on those. They just don’t make ‘em like they used to! ;)

  53. says

    Okay, I totally have this problem! I’m going to try your techniques listed here. Thanks for the tips. I want my after picture to look like yours (my before looks like yours). :)

  54. Terisa says

    I couldn’t figure out why my clothes were smelling moldy as if I had left them in the washer for days, even though I put them in and pull them straight out. I cleaned the drum, rubber ring in front and dispenser regularly, I even pull the dispenser out and clean the bottom of the inside BUT I HAVE NEVER LOOKED UP after inside the dispenser area. My daughter did and there was a quarter of an inch think layer of BLACK MOLD growing inside. I could never see it because I never looked up. I scrubbed it with bleach, Fabuloso and a tooth brush and had to squirt with a spray bottle to get it all to come off BUT it did and now my clothes smell nice the way they should BUT I tell you this to say DON’T forget to look up in your dispenser area. I have before and after pics if you want to see what I am talking about.

  55. says

    I read every question and answer on this page. I am so thankful for the advice. I did find that nasty stuff under the gasket on the bottom, which led me to the top and sides. I used bleach and a toothbrush so scrub it off. It wasn’t black mold, it was nasty brown slimy stuff. I heard all the comments about the smell, mine smells like rotten eggs when I start the washer for the first load. I find the smell coming out of the drain hose in the laundry sink, not the little hose that drains the water from the filter. I have only been using Tide liquid detergent and Downy softener.
    I guess my question is, about the powder detergent do I just put it in with the clothes? Also how much baking soda? you had said in a comment to put 2C of vinegar in the soap dispenser, doesn’t that over flow it? where does the excess go? I don’t know how to pull the dispenser drawer out to clean it and up inside. After reading all these comments, I don’t know what to try first. I think I’ll go back to your original tutorial and get it all nice and clean first. Then I’ll switch to powder detergent and I’ll try vinegar in place of Downy. Thank you and everyone else for all the hints to help.

    • says

      For my machine, the detergent dispenser just goes directly into the washing machine so it does not actually sit in holding until the machine starts. If you think yours won’t hold two cups, just pour it in slowly and you can always just add the rest directly into the washing machine. The fabric softener dispenser, on the other hand, will hold about 1 cup of liquid. I think part of the problem with the liquid detergent is that we tend to use too much, so if you like your Tide, you can try just cutting back a bit and see how it goes. If you siwtch to powder, you can either mix it in with water and put it in your soap dispenser or place it directly into the machine. Don’t get overwhelmed with everything – just start with the basic cleaning and go from there. Just wiping down the gasket really quickly after each load and leaving the door open makes a HUGE difference and takes less than a minute! Hope that helps!

      • says

        Thank you for your reply. I will try cutting back and I have decided that as soon as I use all my liquid detergent up, I’ll switch to powder. The same goes for Downy.

  56. Diane C. Witherspoon says

    Very Interesting. I have a front loader – 8 years old – bought washer and dryer for $200.00 total – someone was getting a divorce and I lucked out. No complaints – lots less soap. I would keep this appliance over all others if I had to choose. My bottle of detergent lasts forever . One item: I have used dishwasher powder in washing my “whites” (occasionally) and I am gold I have the whitest clothes in town. Might give it a try!. Thanks!!!!!!!

    • says

      I love my front loader now too – just needed to learn how to use it properly! Good tip for the dishwasher powder as I know one of the complaints with front loaders is that the whites tend to get a bit dingy over time. How much dishwasher powder do you use for a load?

      • says

        I’d like to know also how much to use? I’m still confused about the powdered detergent. I need to remove the liquid detergent dispenser? I thought I read that on here. Then I just use how much powder detergent? And I put it right in with the clothes? And how much vinegar in the rinse and I put it in the fabric softener dispenser? I thought I read on here about baking soda, what is that used for again. My front loader is just 3 years old. I do drain the filter, and I never knew about using old towels on the mold under the rubber gasket. I didn’t know I can soak a rag with bleach, wasn’t sure if I could use it, so thanks for that! I am going in for surgery soon, and I want to get my machine in top shape before I go in so my family can use my machine while I recover. I appreciate any help, I will print it all out so I won’t have to ask again!

        • says

          For the powdered detergent, you will need to follow the directions on the packaging as all detergents are different. Just make sure to follow the guidelines and not use too much. You generally just put the powdered detergent directly into the drum with the clothes but you can mix with water and place it in the detergent dispenser if you would like. I had mentioned removing the detergent dispenser to clean it but you do not remove this permanently.

          For the vinegar, if you are CLEANING the machine, use 2 cups directly into the machine or in the detergent dispenser. If you are using the vinegar in place of fabric softener, use approximately 1 cup of vinegar and place it in the fabric softener dispenser.

          I hope that helps! Good luck with your surgery.

          • says

            Thanks, this is the information I wasn’t clear on. This has helped me a lot.
            Thank you also for the well wishes. Hopefully it will all go well and I’ll be back to myself in no time.

  57. says

    My washer is a couple years old and does not have a clean out filter. I keep my door open and have never had a smell or dirty gasket. I have switched 8 months ago to Norwex and vinegar for softener. I have had a front loader before this one for 15 years and never a smell or dirty gasket. While talking about laudry any suggestions on how to get out grease spots or tomato stains. Dawn dish soap and rewarding works but what takes it out on the first wash.

    • says

      Are you looking for something that will get it out without spot treating it at all? Maybe try adding some OxiClean powder in as well with loads that have stains and see if that works? I generally try to spot clean except for those items that make it through without me noticing. ;)

  58. Pat Weigand says

    I’ve had a front loader since 2004 and it has never smelled. Occasionally I wipe the gasket out with a paper towel but it never looked like the picture did in this example. I use hot water for whites and cold for light and dark colors. Occasionally I use choline bleach on my whites. I have used white vinegar instead of liquid fabric softener for about 15 years (even in my top loader) and I only use liquid detergent so it doesn’t gum up in the dispenser. But I think the real reason my front loader has never smelled is because after doing laundry I always keep the door ajar so the inside dries out and does not get stinky. I would never have a top loader since having a front loader. It uses so much less soap and water and is so much easier on my clothes.

    • Pat Weigand says

      Brooke, I only use the vinegar in my fabric softener dispenser. I think it helps cut the oils from the clothing and helps get the soap residue from the clothing and the inside of the washing machine. I’ve never used vinegar in the wash water with the detergent.

  59. cheryl says

    For those of you who cannot keep the door open because of the location of your washer, I put one of those Damp Rid containers in my washer and close the door. You just have to remember to remove it before washing.

  60. greylady says

    Home made laundry soap. Makes 4-5 gallons
    4 Cups – hot tap water
    1 Fels-Naptha soap bar
    1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda*
    ½ Cup Borax

    – Grate bar of soap and add to saucepan with water. Stir continually over medium-low heat until soap dissolves and is melted.

    -Fill a 5 gallon bucket half full of hot tap water. Add melted soap, washing soda and Borax. Stir well until all powder is dissolved. Fill bucket to top with more hot water. Stir, cover and let sit overnight to thicken.
    -Stir well. fill into used, clean, laundry soap dispenser or bottles. Shake before each use. (will gel)

    note: use 1/3 cup per load of laundry. Add it to the machine as it fills, but before putting in the clothes so it dilutes properly.

    *Arm & Hammer “Super Washing Soda” – in some grocery stores or may be purchased online. Baking Soda will not work, nor will Arm & Hammer Detergent – It must be sodium carbonate!!


    When you run it with the 2 cups of vinegar, do you put vinegar where you put detergent or do you put it in the front door where you would normally put the dirty clothes?

  62. Susan in Portugal says

    Hiya, I am a Brit and live now in Portugal. I find this all rather strange as in the UK we have always had front loaders, and top loaders are virtually unheard of. I have never heard of anyone having ‘nasty smells’ in their machines, and the only person I know who has ever had a problem with mold, was my father in law a year or so after my mother in law passed away. His rubber seal around the door hole, had dark mold spots on it .. and also a lot of gunk in it too ! He didn’t know you had to wipe in there .. and he also didn’t know NOT to close the door when not in use. I cleaned it .. but the dark spotting of the mold never did come off.

    I wonder .. do your machines work differently or are they made differently from ours in Europe ? My latest model is a Direct Drive model from LG that also uses steam (if I wish) to wash … and uses little water as we are all cutting down on water usage and washing on high temperatures which wastes money and damages the enviroment. It washes things VERY clean and I have not had a problem with it. Save when the inlet filter got gunked up with some fine, sand like deposit which came from our well when we had a really heavy rainfall. Cleaned that out .. and no more problems.

    • says

      First off, I would LOVE to live in Portugal! Hoping to make it over there to at least visit! :)
      Front loaders are much more prone to mold and smells since they do not drain as well as top loaders. Now that I am used to the front loader, I would not go back but there are definitely a few things that you need to do differently.

  63. Marsha Dance says

    Thank you so much. My detergent dispenser has drove me crazy everytime I use it, it was so bad. Now it looks great!

  64. Erin says

    I know the original post is very old, but have you ever looked between the gasket and the drum? Just pull it back really hard and far and you’ll be able to see all the disgusting stuff back there too.Very good idea to check your drain pump now and again! We own an appliance repair business and you wouldn’t believe the stuff that comes out of drain pumps…lots of stuck socks and bra wires!

  65. raven says

    I was so thrilled when I bought my machine…after 1.5 years I am dumping this machine for an old fashion washing machine. I cannot believe that a washing machine stinks so badly, it’s up there with stoves with glass tops that you cannot can on. All flash which creates more work not less…sorry I have better things to do then clean out a washing machine.

  66. Karen Videgar says

    I ALWAYS leave the front door open till the entire tube and door has dried out to prevent mold & mildew buildup! This also helps to eliminate the smell from a closed front door.

  67. Sally d. says

    I have a Samsung front load washer and was told to never use commercial fabric softener (vinegar is OK). I clean behind the rubber seal after the last load I do for that day. I always leave the door open unless there is company coming – then I close the door almost but not completely. I have not had any trouble with mildew. I live in a damp climate. Thanks for the other tips – I will check my drain filter and I will use less detergent from now on.

  68. Rita Ribs says

    I keep my machine with a once a month wipe down, inside and out, cleaning around the gasket with a stained hand towel, dipped in vinegar, if not too gunked up, bleach if it is gunked up. I also use that same time to clean the dishwasher parts (some how the stuff occasionally gets clogged in the spinning sprayers, and clean all the filters, and the same with the fridge. I try and do it the day before garbage day, so I can empty any science experiments that have gone unchecked, and about every six months on the pump filter, earlier, if I notice any change in performance! I leave the door open on the front loader washer, and empty the filter on the dryer after EVERY load! If stains persist on white clothes, a trot out to the clothes line and an afternoon of sun take care of any stubborn mystery stains! I use bleach when necessary (that means if we have had the plague, any guess how long this towel has sat in a corner balled up, and vomit, poop, or blood are involved). Which means rarely, but it does happen. I keep a sprayer of Dawn and Shout (using the Shout till its all gone, then just watered down Dawn afterwards!). The two little fur children are famous for piddling in their kennels AFTER they have gone outside for a long walk and played (don’t ask why, I have just given up on them doing what they are supposed to where I want them to!). So keeping that washer clean for my stuff is IMPORTANT too! The only stuff that ever stinks, is the load I am putting in! Not a huge fan of softeners, but have occasionally gone with scent enhancers for bedding, just because I love getting in a bed that smells nice! My favorite are linens line dried in spring! There is no scent that can ever beat that smell! Love this article, very informative and has good points to consider, especially the filter pump!


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