You’ve finally decided to get rid of that pile of laundry that’s been building up in the hamper. But as you open the door to your front-load washing machine, your senses are rudely assaulted with an unpleasant odor.
While front-load washing machines do a great job cleaning our clothes, they aren’t self-cleaning. Luckily, cleaning front-load washing machines isn’t as difficult as you might expect, and taking a few minutes can help prevent foul smells from building up in the future.
Causes of Front Loader Odors
But how do these terrible smells build up in the first place? Knowing the causes can help inform you about specific areas of the machine that you’ll need to pay extra attention to in the cleaning process.
Detergent residue and dirt are sometimes left behind after the wash cycle and can get trapped behind the rubber gaskets on the machine doors and cling to the crevices of the washer drum. In addition, detergent and softener residue can also build up in the detergent drawer (where you put the detergent and softener), contributing to the odor.
Over time, the residue and dirt can develop into places where mold and mildew can cling to and grow.
Things You’ll Need
Front-loading washing machines don’t need special materials to clean them with!
These everyday household cleaning supplies are all you’ll need:
- Gloves to protect your hands from the chemical cleaners
- Absorbent cloth or rag
- Small nylon brush
- Pipe cleaner brushes or old toothbrushes are perfect
- Liquid Bleach
You could substitute this with hydrogen peroxide if you want a less harsh cleaning solution.
How to Properly Clean a Front Load Washing Machine
Step 1: Cleaning the Gaskets
You’ll notice a rubber ring lining the inside of the machine door; this is the gasket. Check the gasket for trapped coins, hair, or other small items, and check for any signs of mold and mildew.
Spray some warm water mixed with dish soap on the areas with mildew and wipe them down with a clean cloth.
If you find mold, dilute 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, and dip a brush into the solution to scrub it away.
Step 2: Cleaning the Drum
Check for any oily residue or dirt stuck to the drum. Spray any dirty or oily areas with an all-purpose cleaning spray and wipe away the residue with a clean cloth.
If mold is on the drum, dilute 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, and use the solution instead of the all-purpose cleaning spray. You can substitute the diluted bleach solution with 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide poured directly into the drum.
Step 3: Cleaning the Dispenser Tray
The dispenser tray is where you add the detergent and softener. Check your machine’s manual to see how to remove the trays properly.
Once removed, let them soak in a bowl of warm water mixed with dish soap for about 10 minutes. While they are soaking, you’ll want to check the space you pulled the tray from.
Inspect the area for residue, mold, or mildew and use a nylon brush dipped into a diluted bleach solution(or hydrogen peroxide) to clean the area.
After 10 minutes, rinse the dispenser tray and let it air dry before returning it to the machine.
Step 4: Run a Cleaning Cycle
Some machines have a “Clean Cycle” setting that runs the machine at high speed and high temperature. This setting, combined with cleaning solutions and washer tablets, can help thoroughly clean the machine’s drum.
If your machine does not have a “Clean Cycle” setting, don’t fret! Simply set the machine to the highest temperature and speed, add a cup of bleach or hydrogen peroxide to the dispenser tray, and let it run empty!
How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine with Vinegar
If you’d rather not use harsh chemical cleaning solutions like bleach or all-purpose spray, you can use white vinegar instead! The acidic nature of vinegar helps break down unwanted soap and oily residues, which in turn helps eliminate the source of foul odors.
The best use for vinegar is during Step 4; the cleaning cycle step.
- Add 2 cups of white vinegar to the dispenser tray
- Spread out a ⅓ cup of baking soda directly onto the drum
- Run the machine on high heat and high speed or the “Clean Cycle” setting.
You’ll find that the vinegar will have eliminated the scents and residue just as well as other cleaning solutions can!
How to Prevent Bad Odors From Forming
Now you’ve done a thorough deep clean of your front-loading washing machine, but if you want to keep it odor free, you should take a few steps to prevent odors from developing in the first place!
You may have noticed that soap residue seems to be the leading cause of the foul odor. That’s because using too much soap for the load can build up more residue in the machine. Use the recommended amount of soap for the load size to reduce the likelihood of residue forming.
Another odor source is mildew, which forms when too much moisture gets trapped in the machine after a wash cycle. To avoid that, empty the machine of wet clothes right away so the excess moisture doesn’t build up. Try to leave the machine door open after emptying it to let the moisture evaporate away.