Many people experience disgusting mold in their front load washing machines but I don’t. Here’s the secret trick I use so I never have to clean mine!
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How To Clean A Front Load He Washing Machine And The Secret Trick I Use So I Never Need To!
I have had my front loading HE washing machine for 7 years now and I LOVE it! It’s funny how I happened to get it.
Our old washing machine was ok but it didn’t get things as clean as I would like and a nail had gotten stuck between the side of the washer and drum and it made a HORRID screeching noise every time I used it! We’re talking nails on a chalkboard type of thing.
One day I had a 4 hour drive each way to see a special doctor. While I was gone (15 hours) my wonderful husband decided to do all the laundry for me and after that, he said, “I can’t believe you’re actually using this thing!” After that, I got a new washer! LOL
So needless to say, I was VERY happy to get my new front loading washer!
After a couple of years, whenever I would talk about my front loading HE washer, everyone would say, “I hate those high efficiency washers. They do nothing but mold,” and I would say, “I’ve never had a problem with the washer molding.” I had one friend that kept insisting that HE washing machines always mold and just couldn’t believe that I have NEVER, EVER had to clean my HE washer!
I was looking around on Pinterest one day and I saw a post about a lady who was showing how to clean a front loading HE washer. So I checked it out to see what the problem was and Wow! I can see why some people get so grossed out by their washers! But since I’ve NEVER, EVER had to clean my HE washer I didn’t even know it could get like that!
I admit, it disturbed me. I just kept wondering, “Why do other people’s washers get that gross but mine doesn’t?” Well I have finally come up with the answer. Do you want to know my secret??
Are you ready?…
I use bleach and the sanitary cycle to clean my whites once a week. Seriously– that’s it! I don’t do anything but that and it works! It works great! I’ve never ever bought anything and I’ve never ever had to clean my front loading HE washer because I bleach my whites.
I know that not everyone likes bleach, so I’ve added some tips on how to clean the inside of your washer if you don’t want to use bleach on your clothes. You will NEVER have to spend money on washing machine cleaning tablets ever again. Really those are just a gimmick to get you to buy more stuff anyway.
How To Clean Your Front Load Washing Machine
- Solution #1 – Run a load of whites with bleach or run an empty load with 1 cup bleach on the hottest setting you can use.
- Solution #2 – Wipe the washing machine down with a bleach water solution. Pull back the rubber seal and wipe inside there too. Rinse.
Solution #3 – Homemade HE Washer Cleaner
2 cups vinegar
1 cup baking sodaPour vinegar in the detergent compartment. Pour baking soda into drum of washer and use hottest water setting possible.
- Solution #4 – Wipe it down with a bleach water solution. Pull back the rubber seal and wipe inside there too. – Just wipe the HE washer down with vinegar and rinse.
- Solution #5 – How to clean a front loading washer – Add 1/2 cup dishwasher detergent to your washer either with white clothes or without clothes and run on the hottest setting.
- Solution #6 – To prevent mold build-up in your washer– Wash 1 load of whites a week with bleach or add 1/2 cup of Borax to each load of laundry. If you’re hesitant to use bleach, adding Borax to every load will virtually eliminate the problem.
Additional High Efficiency Washer Tips:
- Be sure you aren’t using too much laundry detergent and that you use the right kind of laundry detergent. With laundry detergent, more is NOT better. Soap build up will cause the bacteria to build up too.
- You can use Homemade Laundry Soap that just costs $10 per YEAR if you want, too!
- And leave the door open so it will air out.
So that’s the way to keep your front loading washer clean! Pretty easy and it takes just a couple of minutes!
Enjoy your fresh clean washer!
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Thank you for this! I don’t have an HE (yet) and my washer works fine, but I have heard the same horror stories. I’ll share this. And keep it in case I have one in the future.
Thanks for all the information and recipes. You and your mom are wonderful.
I have a front loader and love it. The best thing to do is leave the door on the washer open when not using as prevents smell of mildew. I have owned the HE front loader for over 10 years and never had a problem with mildew. A friend of mine closes the door on her washer at times and has the mildew and mold problem.
I have had mine over 10 yrs! I have never had the problem either! When I bought my machine, the owner of the shop, that I bought it from, told me to prop the door open after I wash cloths! Also I make my washing soap, that contains borax! I also use vinegar in my rinse cycle!
Yes I leave door open and use homemade soap with white vinegar for rinse. Biggest thing to do.
Be sure to remember though vinegar only kills about 85% of the mold so this means you won’t kill all of it so you have to stay on top of it more because is will grow back faster.
The best way to prevent mold in the first place is always leave the door open when not in use. My husband drives me nuts when he keeps shutting it – especially right after using it – you need to let things dry out. I also open the drawer that holds the detergent. You can always see water in there. And like above, I usually bleach one load of whites per week. Not rocket science!!!
Thank you!, why is this hard for people to understand.
and my husband does the same thing.
This must be a common “guy thing”. My husband does it too! I ALWAYS leave the door open. I don’t use bleach often but I do wipe down the gasket with an old towel and peroxide. It helps (especially when hubby closes that door!) and it’s less impacting than bleach which I believe is very hard on the environment. But that’s just me since we are on a septic tank. How another person chooses to keep the washer fresh is their own choice.
Laura, that’s a great tip. I DO leave the door open, and the detergent drawer, too, but still get that funky smell. I forgot that hydrogen peroxide makes a good bleach substitute, and I happen to have some handy. I will use your tip today!
I’ve never had a mold problem with my Samsung washing machine; I always leave the washer door open and the utility room exhaust fan on.
My friend keeps a small hand towel hanging on the door and then it can’t close all the way and is a reminder that it needs to stay open between loads.
I never thought about it until this article but it is true. I never have to special clean my HE washer but we do wash whites in bleach (about twice a week).
Also, after the wash is done, leave the door open for the air to dry the inside a bit.
I have a 30 year old Maytag and it makes that earful loud screech sound, ( not the whole time) I notice that moldy smell. I’ve tried running bleach through, not sure if it was a cup though. I’ll have to try it again or try the vinegar and backing soda trick. I have a top load. I also cleaned in between the drum by shifting it and getting in there the best I could. Wow, what a yucky, stinky mess:( My neat nick husband never thought to do this. Surprised me since he does more than his share of laundry. Waiting someday for the HE washer. Maybe a stackable. Thanks for the tips! Happy washing!
When my washer died after many many years of use and I had to get a new one I was a little worried about the mold issue and told the sales person so and she told me to run a cup of bleach in the hottest water once a week and that should do it. Well I did and have never had a mole issue. I refuse to buy the cleaner that is to over priced and just not worth it when bleach does the trick and I have bleach on hand anyway, thanks for all your great tips and God bless your family
You will not get the smell if you use powder detergent (Tide,Gain,etc) I was ready to put my frontloader out on the street. I discovered one of friends never had a problem and the only difference was she used Sears powder detergent. Clean and then use powder. Machine now 9 years old. No smell.
Right! Powder detergent won’t get stuck in the hoses like slime! Also softeners produce bacteria and mildew. It’s called “sveppir” in my country Iceland 🇮🇸
Part of it may be your water whether it is hard or soft but one thing too is I find most people use way too much detergent and don’t rinse their clothes well either. I always do an extra rinse whether I use powder detergent and I always use softener and have never had a smell or problem with my hoses. I have had the same machine for 10 yrs and the one before that about 15 yrs. Rinsing and using less detergent really helps.
We have had our HE washer & dryer set for 17 years. I have never had to clean it out either. I believe the MAIN thing to do is definitely keep the door ajar when it is not in use. I also wipe out any extra water that might be left under the rubber gasket.
All these people leave the washer door ajar or open. What about people who have cats (and some dogs who might think they’re cats)? One of our cats wants to jump in the washer or dryer. My daughter-in-law’s cat used to jump in all the time…7ntil someone dried her in the load of wet clothes and she really got hurt. Another family member had a dog that did the same thing. I just can’t leave our washer open. Too dangerous, but I do clean the washer. But not everyone can leave those doors open
We usually are talking to the majority of people when we talk about things. There is no way we can cover every exception to the rule and we assume most of our readers are smart enough to know what will and won’t work for them and will adjust the tips to work in the way they need them too. If the tip we give won’t work for you then I assume you have enough sense not to use it. I don’t mean to be unkind but it is getting so that so many instead of trying to help with a solution are so quick to point out all the exceptions to the rule and why things won’t work.
Why don’t you just check inside the washer before you use it? Easy solution.
I, also, have heard people complain about mold in their machine. I do exactly what you do. Use bleach on whites. I have never seen a speck of mold in my machine.
I have had the same HE washer for 10 years, never use bleach, use homemade liquid detergent (Borax, Fels Naptha soap, washing soda and water) and have never had an odor or mold. I do, however, ALWAYS leave the washer’s door ajar when not in use.
I use fells napppa beforeiwash something with a little stain on it.. could you tell me. How you use it ? Do you use it in place of detergent?
Thank you so much.
You can just wet the stain and rub a little of the soap on it and rinse. To use in place of detergent you can make your own homemade laundry soap with this recipe from our website Homemade laundry detergent
could you use the dishwashing soap pods in hot water? Does it have to be a large load or will small work just as well? thank you.
Susan I am not sure if I am understanding your question totally. Are you asking if you can use dishwashing pods in your dishwasher or in your washing machine? If it is washing machine I do not recommend you use them in your washing machine. You really shouldn’t interchange them if you can help it. They suds differently and many dishwashing pods have bleach or bleach like stuff in them so that they could mess up your dark clothes. If I got the question all wrong sorry.
I was not planning on washing clothes with the dishwashing pods. Just wondered if they could be used to help rid the mold problem. No clothing involved. Sounds like no is my answer. Thanx, I will try the vinager and soda.
Oh I didn’t understand what you meant. I probably wouldn’t use them. You would be better off trying bleach. If you do use the vinegar and keep having problem you might want to try the bleach instead. That is what is happening for many people. They use the vinegar thinking it will kill all the mold and it doesn’t work as well with mold. It only kills part of it and what is left behind immediately starts growing again and that is why you will start seeing or smelling it again a short time later because the vinegar is just not doing the job.
I run bleach loads on sanitary or whitest whites a couple times a week, always leave the door ajar and wipe out the gook and water from under the gasket frequently and my 2-year-old Whirlpool Duet washer stinks to high heaven and doesn’t clean my sweaty clothes. I am fixin’ to move to a new house and have ordered an old style Speed Queen top loader and cannot wait.
Hi Tawra: I’m so glad you wrote this. When I worked in a grocery store people would ask where to find the washing machine deodorizers, I tried to tell them they didn’t need that stuff, all they needed to do was exactly what you recommended! I sure hope they tried it. That stuff is just a scam and waste of money!
I heard about mold before I purchased my HE and knowing that mold has to have moisture, I removed the source starting on day one by putting a sponge in the door after removing the freshly washed clothes. This allows for the air to circulate and the unit to dry. Simple, easy and frugal. Your blog is the best that I subscribe to-keep up the good work. It’s also nice to see that you have a lovely home-you can enjoy more things in life and share with others if you make the effort to be efficient with your resources.
Just to put things in perspective – top load washers are virtually unknown here in Germany. Some people might get one due to room size but I do not know anyone who has one.
I have also never heard any one having concerns about mold. So this is really not a real problem, I think, rather misinformation. I use bleach very seldom, my whites are washed with an organic lemon detergent.
I have had a front loader for years! I forget how many. I broke my first one by using too much detergent. Just a warning so you understand why less is better! With too much detergent, the suds get up to the middle where the bearing is and dissolves the oil and grease so it breaks down. Bad news. Suds are the enemy of front loaders.
Anyway… With both washers I never had the bad smell! I wipe out the seal every once in awhile when I think about it. We leave the door open or not. Drain the bottom whenever I think about it. I don’t even use bleach with my laundry! My house had been shut up for a month. The washer has been closed all this time. I went back and did a load of wash, no smell. It’s a mystery. Now I we live with low humidity most of the year. Our summers are not as bad as the east coast or Midwest. It gets humid, just not as bad. My washer is in the laundry room. I don’t know what makes the difference!
I’ve had a front load washer for about ten years. I use bleach on some loads and try to keep the door ajar, but it’s located near the door of the laundry room so it’s only opened a little so the seal/gasket had mold within a couple of months of purchase. I’ve tried scrubbing it with all kinds of cleaners (and bleach)– nothing has worked. Do you have any ideas?
If you haven’t all ready tried it you might soak a rag with bleach/water and let it sit and soak on the rubber for about 10 mins. or try using a tooth brush to scrub it real good or use a spray bottle of part water and bleach and spray the whole area. I was wondering if maybe there are some crevices that just a rag on the finger type scrubbing may not be getting into and the toothbrush or spray bottle would help. Also be sure to always mix the bleach with a little water because the water helps it work better.
If that doesn’t work then you could try hydrogen peroxide.
I’m wondering if what happened is the mold has penetrated deep down into the rubber seal or seeped down under it where you can’t get to as well. Sometimes this happens in a freezer. A fridge can have a bad smell no matter how much you clean it and what has happened is blood or something from thawed meat has seeped down the back edges of the fridge or freezer where you can get to it. When this happens there isn’t a whole lot you can do.
Hi Tawra! Another great post! I also bleach my towels — only about 2 tablespoons in the load. One other thing I do is leave the door slightly ajar and I also use the fanfresh cycle for every load just in case I can’t get them switched over right away to the dryer. I have never had any odors or problems with my front loader either. Our water consumption was instantly cut in half when we got ours. Totally paid for itself! :)
Interesting blog! Like you I have never had a problem with mold in my 13 year old HE front loading washer. I do tend to wash my whites on the whitest whites setting which uses very hot water. Since it is just my hubby and me I run a white load on average of once every couple weeks. I also use a top grade low suds natural biodegradable laundry powder available from the health and nutrition company I am associated with as a distributor. Also, I have always made it a practice to dry the door off when I finish with the last load of the day and then leave the door slightly open between washings so the tub will dry out.
I have not ever had a problem with my he front loading machine, I always assumed it was because I
use about half a cup of white vinegar in my rinse cycle instead of fabric softner. Clothes come out smelling clean and fresh. Thanks for all the help you give your followers.
I don’t usually use vinegar but lots of fabric softener in my machine but have no problem either so not sure it is the vinegar or fabric softener. It could be the brand and make of machines too.
I’ve had a front load HE washer for 6 years with no mold or any problems. Mine had a light to indicate when it was time to washer the machine. When that light came on, I washed the washer with hydrogen peroxide bleach. We sold that house including the washer and dryer.
Last week we moved into a rental house, with HE washer and dryer. The washer was rampant with mold. I cleaned the rubber gasket with bleach and a microfiber cloth. Then did my laundry. The washer was going through it’s last spin and I noticed quite a bit of water at the front of the machine.
With my husband’s help, I checked the level on the washer. As I suspected, it had never been leveled! It’s level now, and I’m looking forward to seeing the difference it makes.
In all the information about front loaders and mold, I’ve never read anything about leveling the machines.
I really think having the machine level and leaving the door open makes all the difference between a clean washer and a moldy mess.
Great tip Sandy. It will be interesting to see if this makes a difference and I bet it will because it makes total sense. I had a dishwasher I hadn’t used for years even though it was brand new. It wasn’t level and left enough water in the bottom when it drained that it would mildew and get mold too so I bet you are spot on with your advice. Thanks
I don’t ever have to clean my HE washer either but I use ammonia as an additive for washing as well as as a substitute for softeners as well. Sometimes I use white vinegar in the same way. I have found that if I use softener that it gums up the section where you load the detergent etc. but if I do use it in a load, I always use water or vinegar for half the amount and this seems to help for quite a while.
Hi! In Norway we don’t have anything else than front load washer, so we are pretty used to it. It is common knowledge that you’ll get mold if you keep the door closed. Also, in my country it’s illegal to use a lot of the strong chemicals you use and also, I never heard of anyone using bleach when washing clothes. Basically, you DO NOT NEED CHEMICALS AT ALL. The only thing you need to do is not close the door. That’s it! (If you do have mold in the washer, then yes, use bleach to get it out)
The secret to no mold is to use powder detergent. Liquid detergent has animal fats in it so it an organic substance so mold just loves it. It coats the outside of the drum and the mold grows but you can’t see it. I have had a front load washer for 8 years and never had a mold issue. I leave the door open but thats it never had to clean the washer ever.
Not to sure on this one because I use both powder and liquid and can tell no difference. I have never had mold with either one. Part of the secret probably is your leaving the door open more than anything.
Here’s my secret trick: when I bought the machine, I read the owner’s manual. The manual clearly explains that you must run bleach (alone, but logically it’s working with clothes, too) in the basketclean cycle (this is the purpose of this cycle), frequency depends on your use. Also, it explains that you must keep the door ajar when not in use.
Additionally, I think it’s worth mentioning that although vinegar is a fantastic cleaning agent, it will break down your rubber gaskets over time, and you will have water leaking out the front door.
Thanks Mel good advice. I worry about the vinegar on so many things too because so many forget that vinegar is an acid that is why it works so well on breaking down mineral build up in the bathroom and things. I wonder if over time it won’t break down and eat away at the many things we use it on excessively.
Vinegar eventually dries out rubber- perhaps not the best way to take care of the seal on a front loading washer. As several others said, leaving the door ajar to let things breath seems to work best. For existing odors, try adding 20-40 drops of Grape Fruit Seed Extract to the detergent before running a load (this kills all sorts of stuff). The worse offender to help the moldy-mildew smell grow seems to be fabric softener. Charlie’s Soap is a great washing option as well, as it should clean out chemical residues left by other detergents and softeners. I can’t even remember the last time I put bleach in my washing machine- could probably count on one hand the times I’ve used bleach in my washer during the past five years. No mold here…
It’s great to use white vinegar to clean your machine and even to use it with your regular soap with every load. It will help prevent lime build up and desinfect and deodorise your clothes. It works fine with all normal materials, especially good with synthetic materials that tend to absorb all odours but (avoid on delicate ones like wool and silk. Never again you’ll feel an odd smell in freshly laundered clothes (socks, sport gear). And no, your clothes will not smell of vinegar. You won’t need softener either.
Now mixing up vinegar and baking soda is a bad idea because, bubbles aside, the moment they mix the chemical reaction produces water, just water. So run the hottets cycle with vinegar occassionally if you want to but avoid the vinegar+soda combination.
Not using softener will help you keep your machine cleaner a lot longer. At the end of the day, commercial softener is nothing but fat and synthetic perfume.
Had to chuckle at your last line of how commercial softener is nothing but fat and synthetic perfume as if there is something wrong with I also love commercial softeners. Everything about them is not all bad. I remember once the young neighbor girl who did not have an easy life, was the oldest of 6 kids, had no mom and her dad was an alcoholic, was in my back yard once when I was hanging out my clothes after using Downy on them. She stood there sniffing and she said I love it when you hang your clothes out because they always smell so wonderful. It really moved me because I could tell that was something that gave her a lot of pleasure in her very hard life. I realized then that everything isn’t always about the environment and other such things but people and their emotions are really more important than anything.
I loved this! Tide with Downy makes me happy.
Me too Melanie
I have never had problems with mold in my washing machine but my sister does have mold in her washing machine and I don’t know why is this. I guess that the bleach really cleans the washing machine because I use it every week and I have never had any mold. I will tell this to my sister, so I hope that she will solve her mold problem. Thanks for sharing! The cleaning tip is really nice and useful!
I have used bleach once a week (when I wash my whites) ever since I have had my machine. It still gets gross inside the rubber gasket thing(dirty but I haven’t seen mold) and sometimes has a smell. My husband works in the dirt (so do my boys) so they have filthy clothes. I have used Affresh, and the Tide washing machine cleaner and they did not work too good. The best thing that I have found is Smelly washer. It seemed to work good. You still have to keep the door open and wipe out inside of the gasket, and sometimes you may have to do it more than once, but I thought it did a good job. Here is a link…and I get nothing if you go there, just sharing in case someone wants to try it. :)
I have had my HE washer about 6 years and I do not get the moldy smell etc in it ever. I do not use bleach I rarely wash with anything other than cold water and I never have to go through any of the things you have suggested. The only reason I can think of is I don’t use as much detergent as the bottle states you should use. And I keep the door open until it dries.. I too have friends who hate their HE but I love love love mine. Clothes are never not cleaned and come out of washer so dry only takes 20 or so minutes to dry a large load.
There is also am internal filter on most front load machines. You have to remove the bottom panel to get to it. It traps lint and other items and can cause the moldy smell if never cleaned. I recently cleaned mine after several years and there was a golf ball sized lint ball, a screw and a dime in it.
When we bought our front loader, the salesman told me about the mold problem, and about the cleaners, and then he told me if I would leave the door open after each load that I wouldn’t have a problem… and he was right!
I’ve had my HE frontloader 2 years, in the wet & moldy Pacific NW and have never had a mold problem. A friend suggested I leave a rag on top of the washer and place is in the hinge of the door when I’m not using the washer so the door stays propped open. BAM. Problem solved.
I always use citric acid to clean my washing machine. It’s a natural product so it does not harm the environment. Very effective! Here in Finland you can buy it at the pharmacy. You use about one dl of it and run a hot programme on an empty machine. It’s important to leave the door open when not using the machine. I clean the door regularly as well and I pull out the powder container and wash it under running tap a few times a month. Citric acid can be used to clean your dish washer and coffee maker as well. When used in coffee maker, it’s important to run throuh water at least twice after you have used citric acid. I fully recommend this natural and cheap product.
I discovered that Dawn dish soap will also help to break up the gunk and smell in your washer. I used to drain water that smelled gross but I started adding some Dawn dish soap to my son’s laundry (he worked at a Mechanic) to break the grease in his clothes. The stinky water stopped. I also run bleach through mine from time to time on sanitary when I am washing my shower curtain…no mold or gunk or bad smell
Ugh I do all that, homemade soap with borax and bleach in my white maybe not every time, and mine is still gross. Expect we are bad about leaving the door open, my washer is right in the walk way to the garage door. Mine is pretty old and we have horribly hard water here.
You might try just cleaning your washer with vinegar. Just pour only vinegar in (1/2 big bottle) and let it go through the cycle. You might do it twice if you water is really hard. See if that will help.
I HAVE HAD MY FRONT LOADER MACHINE SINCE 2002…KENMORE. BECAUSE OF WHERE I WAS LIVING, HE DETERGENT WAS NO READILY AVAILABLE SO I USED WHATEVER I COULD FIND, PREFERABLY LIQUID GAIN ORIGINAL. I NEVER LEFT THE DOOR OPEN AND IN 2009 I MOVED IT INTO STORAGE FOR ABOUT 18 MONTHS WITH THE DOOR CLOSED (I HAD NOT HEARD ABOUT THE SMELLY/MOLD ISSUE AS YET) I CONNECTED IT BACK UP WITHOUT ANY ISSUES. SHORTLY AFTER THAT MY DAUGHTER WHO HAD A FRONT LOADER LG MACHINE SOLD HERS AND PURCHASED A TOP LOADER AS SHE HAD THE SMELLY/MOLD ISSUE AND TRIED EVERYTHING TO RESOLVE IT. TODAY I LEAVE MY DOOR OPEN NOT BECAUSE OF THIS, I USUALLY HAVE SOMETHING DRYING HANGING OVER IT…BUT SINCE READING THIS ILL CONTINUE WHETHER I HAVE SOMETHING TO DRY OR NOT. I HAVEN’T THE FAINTEST IDEA WHY IVE NEVER HAD THIS PROBLEM AS I HAVE SINCE BEEN TOLD THAT THE HE DETERGENT IS SUPPOSED TO PREVENT THIS. IVE PROBABLY PURCHASED…4 BOTTLES OF THIS SPECIAL DETERGENT IN THE LAST 15 YRS…
Bleach is a toxic substance that should not be used anywhere in your home. Look at the website “Environmental Workers Group” to see what they say about bleach. It is frightening!
Be careful when reading just one side of an argument and when that side uses a lot of fear tactics on top of that. You see for as awful as some of the things that bleach is accused of doing there are equally as many good things that it does to help with preventing the spreading of so many illnesses and diseases. Like I always say if I am staying in a hospital and a person with a very contagious disease was in the room before me I would much rather have them clean the room with bleach than something like vinegar. The chances of me getting the illness are much better with using something like vinegar. You need to add up how many lives using bleach has saved over the years and do some real research and using sound judgement and not let your fear run away with you.
I can take almost any item and build a case of how deadly or horrible it is and not show the other side of it. For example being in a car is very dangerous and so bad for the environment but you don’t see too many websites saying we should ban cars – why because cars can save lives (rushing someone to the hospital) and makes our lives easier. Furnaces can malfunction and put out all kinds of deadly gases and many people have died from that but they do so much good by keeping us warm.
I could go on and on but I think you get the idea.
I have an HE washer and my washer has a setting on it to “clean” the machine. Kind of like a self cleaning oven. The machine lets me know when it needs to run a clean cycle (usually once a month). I do wash my towels with bleach and hot water probably two times a week and I have never had a problem with mold or any funky smell coming out of the washing machine.
I have a front loading GE Profiler .
And their is a “cycle” to clean washer just adding bleach. Works great but I always dry the rubber seal around the door and leave the door open too. Never had any issues!
I live in England and pretty much everyone has a front loading washing machine. I would love to use your method of using bleach in a wash, but I was wondering what sort of bleach do you use? Here we can only by toilet bleach not laundry bleach. Would the pure toilet cleaning bleach be ok?
You know Hazel I don’t know that much about your cleaning products what you could do is call the company and ask them. Those places are usually pretty helpful in answering your questions like that. Sorry I couldn’t be more help. Our bleach here is pretty much an all purpose stuff but we have other stuff that is used in the toilet only so really can’t say.
I also remove the dispenser drawer when I’m finished with laundry so that can air out too. I was having issues with it getting moldy and the inside of where the drawer goes was too.
I heard that vinegar can make the rubber seal start to disintegrate so I would avoid vinegar in my machine.
That is one of those things when something is used incorrectly it could maybe cause damage but the thing is if you dilute the vinegar it will not harm the rubber seal and even if you don’t dilute it they are talking using it all the time over a long period of time. Then that is only for a certain few washers because most washers have seals that the rubber doesn’t bother at all. Plus there is more of a chance of something else major breaking down on most washers way before your rubber seals do and needing to get get a new washer.
Every item known to man has an exception to the rule so be careful in not using something because there is maybe one or two exceptions to the rule. We would not be able to use anything if we always go by the exceptions of things. Research things very well and check out both sides and then weight the pros and cons. Do I want to not use vinegar and have my machine end up not being usable because it is making my clothes smell or use vinegar and risk a very small, slight chance of the rubber seal pitting some.
Wanted to leave a comment to thank you for this article! I am seeing the black flaky peices in the top loader, from the fabric softener. I’ve ran vinegar in several cycles and it was still coming off in little peices. Using bleach on the empty sanitary cycle was the ticket!! Tons of big peices came off!! Thanks!!
So glad we could help JW. I know sometimes people are afraid to use bleach but used in small amounts and in the right way it can really help and work good.
I have a whirlpool top loader HE machine that stunk to high heaven after trying all the suggestions of bleach, vinegar, used the afreash tabs, nothing helped. I was ready to try and get it replaced as I had only had it for 6 months.
I read the label on the afresh tabs which are made by the company that makes the machine, all they are is OXYclean.
I started putting a tablespoon or so of oxyclean in each load and no more smell and it has been 4 years.
If you are having trouble with that awful odor try it you might be pleasantly surprised.
Of course bleach solves the problem ! But i think it is used far too often in our households. It is not a safe option. Our environment is taking great strain from all the detergents washed down our drains. The obsession with ‘cleaning’ by using bleach is absurd to me.
I always say do everything in moderation. Not too much but that doesn’t mean not at all.
My old top loader actually used less water because the hot and clean water that had just washed the sheets wasn’t immediately and automatically thrown away. I could take them out to rinse in the sink and spin dry before pegging out on the washing, line then use the same water for clothes of increasing grubbiness until I finally used it to wash the kitchen floor.Of course that was a lot more work and time. I love my automatic.
How much bleach do you use for your whites? And do you only use bleach or with your detergent? I definitely want to try to do this, I also try to leave my door ajar, however where my wash is located it is it always possible
You can use about 1/4-1/2 cup of bleach with your detergent. Be sure to put it in the bleach dispenser or if you don’t have a dispenser add it to the washer after it is filled with water then add your clothes
As some have said, leave the door open. I’ve been doing that for 15 years on my FL without any problems.
This was very helpful. I never researched my mold issue and didn’t realize it was ubiquitous with front loaders. I always keep mine shut because I have this paranoia that a cat is going to climb in there and go through the wash cycle by accident. I am going to shift my laundry strategy now and get rid of mold once and for all!
Oh I really had the laugh when you said that you got a new washing machine because your husband had to do the laundy once! That’s it, I’m going to get mine to do as much housework as I can (hmm, I’ll figure out how later…) and I’ll see what new appliances I can get! :-)
The homemade solution would work best for us because we have a septic system, and you cannot use bleach in that case. However, it is also recommended that you aways keep the door on your front loading washer open when not in use so that mold does not have a chance to flourish.
I’ve had our HE top loader for 4 years now, and never had an issue, even when cloth diapering! I never thought about it before, but after reading this, it totally makes sense! I used a homemade detergent that is baking soda, washing soda, and borax or generic oxyclean, and use vinegar and lemon essential oil as the fabric softener. Occasionally, especially after a family illness, I’ll run the cleaning cycle with some vinegar, but that’s not very often, and only as a precaution.
I have had my front-loader since 2000 and I too use bleach at least once a week. I’ve never had odor or mold in my machine. I am a stickler for leaving that door open, and he/she that suits it, well let’s just say they only do it once, lol.
I was thinking about it too, now I know why. I use bleach once a week for my whites and never had any problem, nor mold, nor smell.
I have a front load machine also. Besides cleaning the rubber part, I also take a brush & clean the dirty, stinky brushes around the tub (I have a son who works at 2 dirty jobs). Also, I have found that after every load I position the setting at drain which is at the end of the pre-wash cycle. Talk about stinky! I think that’s where the smell is coming from if that water sits in the machine. I also wash whites with bleach at least once a week.
I’ve never had to clean my machine either and I don’t use bleach. I use Washing Soda in most loads, don’t use much laundry soap, do use Borax, do use Vinegar, don’t use fabric softener. I do all our laundry on one day a week. When I’m done, I dry the interior of the glass door, take out my detergent drawer and leave it upside down inside my washing machine drum to dry out, leave the door open and that’s it. No mold, don’t wipe down the rubber parts, it pretty much cleans itself. Looks almost new for 5 years old.
I like that tip to run your washer with bleach every week. That way it will form a sterile environment, since bleach is a powerful antimicrobial. Mold is a big health risk so its important to make your washer is functioning cleanly without it.
YES! This is what I tell everyone who complains about their washers smelling bad. The people who have issues with their machines smelling are often the ones who only use cold water and liquid detergent and keep the door after every load.
Wash an occasional load of towels or whites with some bleach, use hot or sanitary water temp settings occasionally, and ALWAYS leave the door open after every load and there will never be any problem with smells. I prefer powder detergent and never have any problems, I think that the thick liquid detergents can be a part of the problem with stinky machines too.
Those washer cleaner powders and tablets are nothing but a scam. When we moved into our house we just ran a long whites wash on the sanitize setting with an empty washer and a cup of bleach. I’ve used the washer cleaners in the past and a cup of bleach honestly does the same thing.
True Myles. We seem to forget there is a really good reason they started using bleach all the time for many things and that is because it worked so much better than the cleaners they had been using for many for years – like vinegar – there was a reason they changed over.
It really depends on where you live and your water source. I have a front loading washer in Philadelphia that gets nasty mold even though I always leave the door and the dispenser open. I use homemade soap with borax and soda. I use bleach about once a month on my husband’s white t-shirts. However, I have the same machine at a beach house and it is older and has never had mold problems.
My issue with my front loader (love) the detergent and fabric softener built up black mold. I pulled out the whole drawer to clean it, when I did that the opening of the drawer on the machine is covered with the same mold as the drawer and smells. How do I clean this part of the machine?
You might try mixing a little bleach with some water,put it in a spray bottle and spray it. That would help get in the tight places. I would let it dry and then spray a second time. If that takes care of it I would from that point on leave the drawer open at least part way after each wash to let it dry out.
Don’t use vinegar. I started getting concerned about 15 yrs ago when everyone was insisting upon using vinegar to clean. It doesn’t clean black mold and I thought we are going to have the biggest mold problem before long and sure enough now you are hearing about black mold every where. Up until then you rarely heard about black mold. That is why many years ago everyone gave up cleaning with vinegar because the bleach worked so much better.
What people don’t understand is once you have black mold the spores can go every where and it is hard to get rid of them so you have to stay on top of them.
YOu may not use vinegar but this is for people who do – be careful, sometimes we insist that something like bleach is bad for us and insist on using something like vinegar with out knowing the long term consequences – by using vinegar we may think we are protecting our family from harsh chemicals but what we are doing is allowing something even worse like black mold to enter in their lives.
Just leave the door cracked, not closed tightly in between loads to allow the washer to air dry. You will never see any mold. Using bleach to wipe down the seal will prematurely ruin the seal unless you remove 99.9% of the bleach after wiping it down. Just leave the door open to air dry and no bleach ever needed.
Pueden traducirlo al español por favor! Gracias!!
I am sorry but we cant translate.
Just use google translate! It is an easy to use application. Or simply ask one of your Latina friends if they might help you, if computers and applications aren’t your thing. You wrote a great article! Don’t be shy about your advice! Offering your knowledge in another language is an excellent way to share your information with more people, especially if someone is already demonstrating an interest in your ideas. Wow, what a wonderful outpouring of support and appreciation for your excellent article!
I just leave the door open until the inside drys. That solves the musty smell.
I’ve had my front loader HE wasn’t for 10 years. Ive never had any problems with a bad smell or mold, e.t.c. When I purchased it the salesman told me to always leave the door ajar when not in use and to only use HE products in it. When I first got it, I sometimes used different laundry soap brands, always HE, but a variety of brands. I had noticed a little build up on inside if the door glass and had stopped it off. But once when I purchased Tide HE, my machine gleamed on the inside! I’ve used it ever since. And no, I have no ties to the makers of Tide products!
Yes Ruby Tide is what I like to use too. Just makes my clothes look so much nicer than other things for some reason
I have used a pipe cleaner to clean the drain holes in the rubber gasket. There was soap (or whatever!) buildup there.
I used white vinegar as a fabric softener and never had a mold problem. I add baking soda and oxi-clean to whites and use steam cycle.
It is probably the steam cycle that is helping with the mold more so than the vinegar and other things. Steam kills mold for sure so if any of you have that cycle on your washer it would be worth using it on a regular basis.
For solution #1- how much bleach and do you dilute? Do you put it in the drum or detergent drawer?
Some washers have a place in the detergent drawer so use that if yours does otherwise let the drum fill with a little water and add about 1/2 cup of bleach to that water and swish a couple of times. Toss in your whites and wash as usual. Plus be sure to leave the door open for it to dry inside when the load is done with each load.
Good for you that you got to replace your old washing machine to a new one. I have the same issue, my washing is no longer as efficient in cleaning my clothes as before. I need to have this check by a technician if there are parts to be replaced or it does need to be replaced entirely.
I realize this post is old but I hope I can still comment. I have a LG front loading washer that has a compartment for detergent that has a MAX line meaning not to fill detergent past that line. So I probably won’t get two cups of vinegar in the compartment. My washer doesn’t have a Sanitizer or Steam cycle but it does have a Tub Clean cycle just for cleaning the washer tub. I can’t leave my door open because we have a cat that will climb in but the door has a magnetic catch that will catch the door without it closing all the way and allowing air to circulate. One thing I do though is wipe out the seals and door after each load. That seems to help prevent mold.
Can you use essential oils in your homemade laundry soap? If so when would you add it in?
Yes you can but you may want to google it to find many different ways to use it.
Silly question… do I need to run an empty load after the bleach one? Or will rinse spin cycle be enough to get rid bleach so it doesn’t mix up next load of clothes?
You don’t need to run an empty load. What I usually do is run a load of cotton whites with bleach. My washer gets clean and the clothes are whiten and then just wash my next load. But the rinsing gets rid of the bleach just fine.
I add borax to every load & sometimes baking soda. I also put white vinegar in the softener compartment. I then add Downey crystals in with the clothes. This is my second set of lg machines. My first he washer developed a rusty hole in the back of the drum & I’m not sure why. When I called lg they said very costly to repair.
I had a Front Load washer 20 years ago(before HE was a thing)and NEVER had a smell. It finally need to be replaced. Of course, now they are ALL HE, whether you want it or not. And pee ewe does it stink! I ran out of Afresh Machine cleaner. Thanks for the tips!!
I buy used older model Maytag washers because I hate HE machines. They cost about $100 each. I have 2 now, one for parts.
I recently replaced my HE but never had a mold problem. I use white distilled vinegar in the softener cup & sprinkle a tablespoon or two of baking soda over my laundry except for (darks) and voilà no mold ever!!! And that replaces a chemical softener! As do my wool dryer balls in the dryer:)
Thank you for sharing your tips!
I use Borax in every load, but I find that if I don’t dissolve it in piping-hot water before I add it to the machine, that it doesn’t fully dissolve and leaves a white residue on some clothes. That happens if I don’t dissolve it first even if there are no lumps. And it’s only ½ a cup.
But for our Samsung front-loader, if it detects liquid already in the drum when I start a cycle, it drains it first before the cycle starts (thinking it was leftover from the last wash). So, I basically can’t put any liquid in the drum (my dissolved borax) and it just chucks it down the drain.
Any suggestions? I seem to need at least 16oz piping-hot water to dissolve the borax and I don’t think I can put it in the detergent dispenser.
I put my borax in undissolved in my dispenser but if that doesn’t work for you Jul you might try letting the cycle start washing for just a couple of minutes, with the water in it then open the door and add it.
I love my front door washer I use white vinegar all the time with washing my towels and sheets and never had mold or smelling I’ve bought mine in 2016 and it’s 2022 now and still working great
Most Front Load washer, like mine, have a filter that needs to be cleaned at least twice a year.
Mine is located on the front of the washer on the bottom left.
Open the 5”x5” door and read the instructions first!
I grab a cool whip bowl. Find the drain hose-remove the plug and drain the water. Replace the plug and hose. After it’s drained, unscrew the filter and pull it out. Mine catches animal and humane hair and other yucky things that run through your washer.
Ok rinse this filter off and screw it back into place. I check mine about twice a year.