Updated February 2021
Do you have a front load washer or know someone who does? Have you noticed it has a disappointing smell and a nasty look? Get ready for a clean front load washer in two simple steps, using only natural ingredients.
If you have this problem, rest assured you are not alone! I, for one, couldn’t believe that my washing machine, which had cost more than $1,000, got so dirty over time that my clothes began to have a mildew smell. Gasp! I admit it. But don’t worry, I’m going to show you how to clean your front load washer and maintain it so this won’t happen again.
Below, I get into detail about the ingredients, tools, and instructions as well as the reason why I got into this situation myself. You’ll also find out how often you should clean the front loader so that you don’t have to see and smell mildew each time you need to do the laundry.
Best Way To Clean Your Front Load Washer: A Step-By-Step Guide
You know that I love sharing my family cleaning tips, so here we go! These pictures are not pretty at all, so beware!
I did not dump pond water into my washing machine prior to taking these pictures. Neither did my husband nor I place muck-covered clothes in our machine. This is simply the bottom of the machine that washes the clothes of a family of four.
One of the biggest problems is that I can’t leave the door open after using the washer. My front loader is located in a closet, and I have no way of leaving the door open long enough for the inside air to dry out.
That’s probably the main reason why mildew started growing on the inside of my washer. Although the pictures might suggest otherwise, my front loader is only a year and a half old.
Scary, right? What’s even more interesting, this baby is still under warranty but looks as if I’ve been using it for decades. Since I noticed how messy it looks, I’ve researched and tried almost every single tip on how to clean a front load washer.
I even talked to my repairman, but his advice did nothing to help with the problem.
Fortunately, I was persistent enough to find the simplest solution to deal with mildew in a front load washer. I came across the easiest tip ever that literally does wonders without using a load of harmful chemicals.
My main goal is to reduce the use of chemicals in my household, so I always opt for the most natural alternatives. That’s why I created this easy-to-follow guide that will deliver a freshly clean washing machine in no time.
Two Steps For A Clean Front Load Washing Machine
If you want to find out how to clean your front load washing machine without a hassle, just follow these two steps. First, get familiar with the tools and ingredients that you’ll need.
- 1 cup distilled white vinegar
- 5-6 drops Melaleuca essential oil (tea tree oil)
Step 1: All you need is a cup of distilled white vinegar and Melaleuca essential oil (otherwise known as tree tea oil).
You’ll need to pour one cup of vinegar with five to six drops of the Melaleuca oil into the detergent drawer and then run your machine on its regular cleaning cycle.
Step 2: Once the cycle is complete, then comes the part where you will need to use a little elbow grease.
My personal favorite cleaning tool is the EnviroCloth, made of microfiber that also contains a micro silver antibacterial agent. It will cut your cleaning time in half, I promise!
Don’t forget to grab a pedicure nail brush, which you’ll use to get to all the hard-to-reach spaces. This brush will help you remove the mildew much faster without scrubbing for hours.
If you want more tips for cleaning hard-to-reach spaces in your home, check out this guide for deep cleaning overlooked areas.
Also, don’t be afraid to pull back the rubber of the drum, just like you saw me do above, to really get into it! Be sure to scrub in every crevice, and don’t be afraid that you’re going to break it. The rubber will stay attached, and you should be able to get the length and width of the brush into the crevices to clean it.
Voila! That’s all you need to do to have a clean and shiny front load washer. Forget about the nasty look and the horrible mildew odor. Once you’re done, the washer will have a pleasant smell.
This guide will also remove the funky smell your clothes previously had, and all that in only two steps! Check out how much better it looks.
If you’re happy with the results here, then check out a very popular article of mine on how to clean your shower head. My technique has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Buzzfeed, and Country Living!
Please note: In order to maintain this level of clean and fresh smell, I’ve been drying off the drum of my washer after every use. I certainly do not want to have to redo the kind of deep cleaning that I did last time, so I’m making sure to maintain it.
How Do You Clean The Rubber Gasket Of A Front Load Washer?
As I mentioned, to properly clean the rubber in the drum, you have to put in some extra work. This is the part where a lot of gunk can get stuck, and you’ll end up with a smelly washer and even noticeable dark spots on the rubber part.
Aside from scrubbing with a brush like I did, you can try a mixture of one cup of baking soda and one cup of bleach. Clean the detergent drawer, then fill it with the mix. Add a little extra baking soda to the rubber seal, then turn on the washer on a self-clean cycle using hot water.
It might take a few tries, especially if there is a lot of mildew on it and you haven’t washed it in a while. If this doesn’t work, though, grab your brush and start scrubbing. It is still one of the easiest, most hassle-free ways to clean the gasket.
How Do You Clean A Front Load Washing Machine Without Using Chemicals?
There is no need to expose yourself or the family to heavy chemicals anymore. Now, you can turn to more natural recipes and opt for essential oils to clean the washing machine. Some of the options are lemon, tea tree, lavender, and geranium.
Feel free to use tea tree oil for the washing machine and not only for cleaning purposes—it will also deliver a nice scent that will fill your entire laundry room. All you need to do is add two to three tablespoons of the oil in the detergent drawer, then set it on a self-cleaning cycle. You can also mix it with your regular detergent.
Finally, leave the doors of your washer open and you’re done!
How Often Should I Clean My Front Loader?
Ideally, you should do a light cleaning round each month. Most of these machines have a problem with mildew, so understand that it’s not something that you’re causing. Make sure that you run a cleaning cycle once a month to prevent unpleasant smells. It’s fast and won’t take too much of your time, plus you’re saving yourself from scrubbing with a brush as I did.
Most people forget that even the appliances in your home need to be cleaned regularly. If you don’t properly take care of your washer, especially front loaders, you will have a lot of work on your hands. Not all front-loading machines will smell and look the way mine did, but most of you will probably face this once or twice. That’s why I wanted to share my little secret cleaning hack that works at any time of the year.
To make your home cleaning routine easy, do check out this cleaning checklist for how often you should clean your household appliances.
Also, if you want to know more cleaning tips for keeping your electronic appliances clean, check out this guide to cleaning a vacuum cleaner and restoring its performance.
So now it’s time that you gather all the necessary tools and ingredients and go get that washing machine squeaky clean.
This recipe is so simple, with natural ingredients that don’t have an awful smell. I learned my lesson, so now I maintain it monthly and so should you. I hope that this also works the wonders that it did for me. Let me know in the comment section if you tried and how you like it.
More Great Ideas:
- Looking for the Simplest Way to Clean the Garbage Disposal? I’ve got you covered!
- Nothing feels better than a nice, clean shower. Check out my technique on how to clean a shower to sparkle.
fita dupla face
Thanks for finally writing about >How to Clean Front
Load Washer - The Melrose Family <Liked it!
Mary E Renn
I found that gunk to be disgusting. Thanks for making it fairly stress free keeping the FLW (front loading washer) clean. I had no idea how to get that stuff off. I've tried a scouring pad, scrubbing cleanser, and nothing worked. Thank you for your help.
wonderful! So happy this worked for you! I'm on a mission to make front loading washers clean everywhere 🙂
clash royale decks
If you haven't visited the App Store recently (which is presently plastered with ads for the sport), you won't know a lot about
Supercell's newest sport. Clash Royale is a collectible card recreation that comes with components of the tower protection style to
be able to liven up the battles and convey the cards to
Yes! Finally something about wrenches properly.
resep membuat nasi kuning
I like the helpful information you provide on your articles.
I will bookmark your weblog and test once more right here
regularly. I am somewhat sure I'll learn lots
of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!
Any suggestions for cleaning the dryer? Mine has started to have a bit of a smell to it that i feel is being dried into all my clothes. To me it seems like a sweat smell. Not B.O., just sweat.
Don't forget to clean out the soap dispenser tray too! If you can't leave it open after every wash, pull the whole thing out to let it air dry. Clove oil is also supposed to work well on mold and it smells a lot better than tea tree oil. Another product that can help a lot is a desiccant like Damp-Rid. You can get it in a tub and just place it inside your washer between loads.
be careful with Tea Tree Oil. Many people are sensitive to it, like myself. Be sure to test to make sure you are not one of the unlucky ones before using.
If you have pets please do not use the essential oils near them as they can cause all kinds of issues especially kidney issues. I use 2 cups of vinegar and one half cup baking soda that I put directly in the washer. I put the vinegar in the detergent dispenser and put it on clean.
All you need to do with that bottom gasket is take a dry towel or
paper towel and soak up the water that accumulated there. Have had my front loader 7- 1/2 years and no mildew ever.
We like our front loader. It is gentler on clothes since it does not use an agitator. It uses far less water than a conventional washer. It also uses less energy for drying since it extracts so well. Since it only goes in one direction it does not require a heavy transmission to make it agitate back and forth. Commercial washers are frequently front loaders because they last longer, clean better and can hold more per unit volume.
One pitfall is that an amount of water remains in the sump following the wash. We have found that the last load is for whites and we use a little chlorine bleach in that load. That leaves a little residual chlorine in the sump and seems to prevent the odor problems. Regular cleaning of the front rubber seal is important since it is out of the spray and cleaning area of the washer. As such, some of the dirt and soap residue will remain in the creases. That needs to be cleaned out regularly (probably once a month) to keep things clean. We also leave our door slightly ajar in our washroom.
As an aside, if you leave shampoo or bath soap on your shower curtain soap scum forms and can also produce mildew. The soap becomes a nutrient for the mold. So always rinse off any soap that gets on your shower curtain. It will stay clean much longer. I also tend to squeegee it and the walls after each shower. That keeps soap scum and mineral scale off the metal fixtures, suppresses and mildew and mold growth on the caulk and is easier on air conditioning because most of the water goes down the drain instead of evaporating into the air.
Really good idea to clean the front load washer... I usually don't clean it... in fact I have never cleaned it before...just because I don't know that it I love to use white vinegar and essential oils for cleaning at home! Thank you for the post!
Hi, I use a plastic moisture capturer (the ones you buy in hardware stores for caravans), after my washes to get the last of the moisture out. Works for me.
any tips on cleaning the detergent/fabric softener tray? That's where we have the biggest problem....and yes, it's beyond disgusting.
I get in there with a baby bottle brush. The teeny tiny kind that is meant for the parts of a breast pump or the nipples on a bottle.
Would it make a difference if I used regular white vinegar instead of distilled I cant seem to find any at my local grocery store
White vinegar is distilled vinegar.
after each washing I dry door and gasket and inside under the gasket keeps it clean and from rusting leave the door ajar.
The post is great! I am ready to clean my machine now! Seems so easy! Thanks for the tips and wish me luck! Greets, Millwall Carpet Cleaners Ltd.
I add a drop or two of tea tree oil to every load. My clothes come out smelling nice and clean and even if I forget them overnight or a day they don't get that funky smell.
Hope for the best
Thanks for your tips, its realy usefull
To keep the smell out, we wipe out the drum and rubber insert after the laundry is done. Because we can't leave my door open as it blocks passage, my husband cut a wire hanger and cut it long enough to hook each end onto washer and dryer door, we then can prop open the washer just enough for it to air out. We haBe done this for the past 3years and still no smell! Oh by the way, did you know using liquid softer in the wash will make your towels smell bad -use backing soda instead to keep a fresher smell.
We have this foam object that we bought for our toddler that keeps a door from slamming. I use this to keep the washing machine lid from shutting so it doesn't get as moldy.
Question--do you have tips for cleaning out the detergent and fabric softener "drawer?" Mine gets mold there too and isn't easy to clean. Is it removable? I'm afraid to break mine, with four kids that would be a death sentence.
TV Handyman show had an appliance repair guy on and his advice, only use 1 T of liquid detergent per load, all that is needed and reduce softeners. These are the main culprits. Keep the door open if you can or dry as much as possible with fan/towel whatever and leave open a crack if you have it in a closet.
I only use white sheets, towels etc. and wash these only on hot with a tsp of bleach. I start washday with this load and keep the door open when done. Haven't had problems since. Try it!
Such a deyailed discussion. I never learned so much! You guys should sort out our politics.
Today ... you win the Internet! 🙂
My front loader is fairly old and the machine has recently started giving the clothes a 'smell'.
I can't afford a new machine as yet, and so did a thorough clean as per your instructions. (Oh my ... the gunk that came out of it!) Anyhow, am very happy to report that the machine has a new lease of life and the clothes smell wonderful!
Thank you so much. x
I've been told that washing under 60 degrees combined with the washing powders are part of the problem. The cooler washes don't kill the bacteria and the biological powders/detergents work with the bacteria and mould grows. It affects the inside of the machine as well as the door seal and detergent drawer.
I like this idea and will give it a go as I've also got an 18 month old front loader with the same mould issues.
Thanks for the tip.
I clean ours often....but never tried vinegar...gonna try!! I NY forget about detergent tray and also where the water comes from to fill waser....it gets really funky.
I always take the detergent/bleach/softener tray out so It can let air in after using and place a hand towel over the door and never had any bad smell. This only allows the door to be open about 1/2 inch. Also I always wipe the seal and the door down when I am done washing.
mary anne Looby
I do the same. Although I have a dedicated laundry room, I make it a point to keep the washing machine ajar. I use a dishtowel draped over the door and it is enough to keep the air circulating. I too, clean out the rubber gasket after washing. I do not do it after every load, as I am a one day laundry person. When finished washing I clean out the gasket, wipe up any water or damp spots. I have never taken the soap dispenser out, but will be doing it tomorrow just to see what is lurking there. I don't think when I replace this washer I will get another front loader. I am not impressed with them, and the whole door thing is a pain. I will keep the base units that I have. I will admit, I got them for a steal on a yard sale site. $70 for two of them. Now that was a bargain!
I also have a family of 4 and have a front load washer in a closet as well (2 years now). I leave the washer door open while the clothes are in the dryer (to air dry) - and shut everything once the dryer is stopped and have NEVER had any issue with funky smell or mildew. Leaving the closet / washer door open for an hour blocks off the entrance to hall bathroom but we have learned to live with it - and really.... The queen isn't visiting, I am not entertaining guests on laundry day.
I leave my door and the detergent tray open as much as possible. However, a couple of months ago I needed to completely take out the detergent tray. The amount of black mold/mildew lining the underside of the tray was horrifying. Check that and I bet you will be horrified too. It's not just the inside of the washer that holds the mildew.
even better, cut back on the amount of soap and softener you are using in your wash. we went to making our own laundry detergents, have had the same front loaders since 2001, and have no problem with mildew, once we learned the main culprit is overuse of detergents, and the animal fats in the detergents.
This. I also have stopped using fabric softeners completely and frankly my clothes & towels are better off for it, With microfibre cloths or reusable mop cloths (like the rubbermaid variety) you can't use fabric softener or it will ruin them.
I have a pet peeve against fabric softeners lol.
Using Melaleuca, Inc natural and powerful laundry and cleaning products, wiping it all out every so often, and leaving the door open between uses, has kept my front load in good shape.
Thanks for posting this, it's definitely an alternative to running the "clean washing machine" cycle for over an hour.
I just posted a piece on how to clean your washing machine filter, I actually didn't realize it was part of the maintenance!
Where is the filter on a front loader?
Here in England most households have front loaders. Best thing to do is keep a cloth/towel nearby and dry the rubber seal off after a wash. Only takes seconds and prevention is better than cure!
Best preventative? Never close door while not in use. It will air out naturally. 🙂 We bought our set used and this advice from the previous owners proved to be excellent. We've had them almost five years and no mildew at all...and we live in the wet northwest 🙂
I wish I could do that. Unfortunately, our washer is in a closet where if you kept the door open it would take over part of the hallway and with two young girls running around that's just not possible.
just open a crack, just to let air in.
i just close ours with out latching it. you don't need to leave it wide open. As long as air can get in, is all you need. We've had our front loader for 3 years, I've also religiously used Affresh every month (my washer reminds me when it's time to clean). Before I start the cleaning cycle with the Affresh tablet, I take a damp rag, or wet wipe and wipe down the door and front of the washer as well, and it basically looks as good as it did the day we got it.
Can you use this method on a top loader washer?
I always leave my door open and still have mold! Thanks for the cleaning tip. I’ll have to try it this week!
Best preventative? Never close door while not in use. It will air out naturally. 🙂
Best preventative? Never close door while not in use. It well air out naturally. 🙂
I figured out that I did not want any front loader in my house the first month I had the machine. I sent it back. It started smelling right away of mold and mildew and started building up under the rubber. These machines are not worth the effort you have to put out to maintain them. I say good riddance. I bought a very simple washer and dryer that does a great job and it cost me $2000.00 less. I'll never consider a front loader again!!!!
You can also buy a new rubber ring for the inside. My husband did and replaced it himself in about 20 minutes. Cost was under $30 too.
Really?? Where did you get the new rubber seal? I would really love to get one as mine is actually stained black from mould 🙁 I have one of the first Maytag front loads sold in Canada and it is 13 years old.
Any substitutes for essential oil?
if you don't want to use essential oils, just leave that part out. They are very caustic and can cause the rubber gasket to grow weak.
Holy cow girlfriend that's awesome!! Love the use of an essential oil and vinegar always makes stuff so clean!! Thanks for the tips and the washer looks great!
Thanks so much! Plus it smells pretty like a washer should!
I have been told that vinegar is not good for the rubber gaskets inside your machine. It dries them which then causes bigger problems and if I am not mistaken may void your warranty.
Thanks so much for the information. I was told that Vinegar is safe for natural rubber seals and parts constructed from ethylene-propylene, silicone, fluorocarbon, virgin Teflon and butyl synthetic rubber seals. It is a non-toxic product that is biodegradable and safe to use.
I use white vinegar instead of fabric softener in my washer. My clothes are whiter and brighter (even older ones) and the vinegar keeps my washer and dryer smelling clean. I don't use fabric softener in the dryer either as softener coats the fibers and ruins the absorption of material. Many, many good uses for white vinegar!!
I used to do home care for a lady that used vinegar in her wash it was amazing to me. But hey clothes looked great shop I started doing it... Fantastic