Cleaning a Front Loading Washing Machine

Category Appliances
Front loaders are becoming the washing machine of choice for many families, but they do have specific cleaning issues that can cause odors. This is a page about cleaning a front loading washing machine.
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August 26, 2011

Use trisodium phosphate, otherwise known as TSP (1/4 cup per load). It will make your clothes cleaner, and remove the mildew from the seal area that smells.

Next time, don't buy a front loader.

Source: http://elcheapocooks.com

By El Cheapo from Chattanooga, TN

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November 15, 2013

If your front loading washing machine smells a bit musty or has black mould growing on the door seal, simply use oil of cloves to freshen it up. I make up a 500ml bottle of water in a spray bottle and add 1/4 teaspoon oil of cloves. Then I spray the inside drum of the machine before I add the clothes or, if I'm feeling lazy, I add 3-4 drops oil of cloves on top of my detergent. The oil of cloves will kill any mould spores. If you use the spray every time you do towels or smelly socks, it will also get rid of mould on your door seals. The black mould will disappear.

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The smell dissipates from your clothes when you hang them in sunlight but, in any case, it's not too strong a smell. Plus you'll know that if your kids leave wet clothes for a couple of days before telling you about them you'll be able to make sure they're truly clean and mould free. Oil of cloves should be available at pharmacies or sometimes health food stores with the essential oils.

Source: Spotless by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming

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August 26, 2011

I've got a front loading LG washer and what I do is pour bleach in the liquid bleach hole, run your washer on the hottest setting, or if you have one, on the clean tub setting. It takes a couple of hours, so be sure to have done all your laundry first.

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The tub will be so clean smelling! I do this once a month.

By Kathy from Beaumont, CA

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

I just got a front loader from a friend, but they obviously used a lot of heavy fragrance detergents and probably used more in each wash than necessary. Anyway, after getting rid of the mildew smell, I still cannot rid this machine of the heavy fragrance. I have used, vinegar, vinegar w/baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, hydrogen peroxide w/baking soda, and lemon juice all in as hot a load as this machine will run and still - the heavy fragrance persists. (I've run a total of 8 empty cycles up to this point). I manually cleaned the soap dispenser and the door seal so that they are spotless. I think that there is actually a buildup of detergent stuck to the outer tub which of course I cannot get to. What can I use to rid this machine of the fragrance? (Also this machine does not have a filter so there isn't one to change or clean.)

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Answers

April 2, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

I use Affresh tablets for the top loader and it works great.
I was told that just running bleach through a wash cycle would work also.

Have you tried leaving the door open for a day or two to allow it to dry out? When I'm done for the day with the washing machine, I always leave the door cracked just so the machine can air dry all night long.

Sometimes if too much soap has been used in the washes, the soap residue will cause a build up which retains odors too.

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April 2, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

If your machine has this odor then most likely anything you wash will also have this "smell". This odor problem is the most widely reason so many people dislike their HE washers.

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  • It seems that the fragrance problem would have disappeared when you say the mildew smell went away so it must still be in hiding.
  • Most people do not realize that "fragrance" additives actually cling to the washer just as it clings to their clothes. That "oily" residue traps dirt and smells the next time the washer (and dryer) is used and on and on until something is used to remove it.
  • You noted that you had used baking soda, vinegar and hot water but this did not remove it. This means the odor is trapped under something that regular cleaning is not removing.
  • My son has an HE (which he does not like but ??) and he says he has to clean under the large gasket on the inside of the machine about once a month.
  • Here are his suggestions which may be the same as you have already tried but sometimes things work better the second time if done in a little different way;
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  • Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of water. Add this solution to your machine's detergent container.
  • Pour two cups of white vinegar into the drum, then run a normal cycle at high heat - without any clothes in washer. Run normal wash on hottest heat (which of course is only as hot as YOUR hot water heater is set).
  • The baking soda and vinegar should break up any residue stuck to your drum and kill any mold and odors that might be present. (Of course, I said "should".)
  • How my son washes clothes (and he says it works pretty good for him):
  • With every wash pour white vinegar in your bleach dispenser (WITH NO BLEACH) all the way to the top. (USE NO BLEACH in wash). You can add a little baking soda to wash water to whiten clothes (vinegar and baking soda are safe to mix).
  • Regularly remove any debris you see trapped in the door gasket and wipe it down with a cleaning solution made of one part white vinegar and one part water.
  • Leave door open a little all the time (if possible).
  • i did find two sites that seem to have very good suggestions so read these when you time.
  • www.cleanandscentsible.com/.../
  • www.cleanandscentsible.com/.../

Here is a site that kinda explains why a front load washer "smells".

www.usatoday.com/.../

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Answer this Question...

My father was admitted to an aged care facility recently and I pick his washing up every other day, some of which is soiled. I soak the soiled things and then put everything in my front loader. I am worried about cross contamination/infection. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas about what I could do to prevent this as I use the machine for my own washing, it needs to be something simple and inexpensive. Thanks in advance.

Sharyl from Adelaide, Australia

Answers

August 24, 20080 found this helpful

run it through with hotest water and 1 cup clorox and just a bit of detergent with highest water level that will kill any germs inside the basin or in the drainage tubes. do this each time each time after you know you washed items prior that were soiled.
laundramats are the worst places for germs due to soiled clothing baby clothes diapers etc. This was on the cBS news some years ago and they told this same method for sanitizing any machine after soiled items were washed it in. Clorox kills any germs.

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August 24, 20080 found this helpful

i can tell you first hand i NEVER ever would go to a lundry mat unless i was desperate my best friend and her family owned one and she confided in me that since they had a dry cleaning and laundromat they would get t eh funeral homes nearby with bags of sheets and things that were used for embalming and what not but she had to do this late at night after the laundromat closed i was shocked!1 i couldnt believe it i was like grossss!! shes like well someone washes it and they use these because they are bigger and more cost effective to do a bigger load after that when something happened to my washer/ dryer i used family members and i offered to help with the bill if need be!! buy detergent whatever ughhhh!!!!

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August 24, 20080 found this helpful

I use a bucket of hot water with a cup of white vinegar and wash the entire washing machine by hand being sure to get in every crevice and then throw the wash cloth I used and run the wash on hot with clorox bleach. Once finished I take an addition bucket of bleach water and wash thoroughly again then do a load of towels like normal. I'm a bit anal. I'm sure that it wouldn't take that much effort to kill all the germs but I'm a bit fanatical. If you have an allergy to bleach the vinegar works great...you could also use hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol or mr. clean or some other wash that kills 99.9% of germs. Most germs however do die in HOT water.

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Anonymous
August 25, 20080 found this helpful

After washing your fathers clothing, run the machine with nothing in it except for a cup of bleach. That will kill anything harmful. You can even use cold water with bleach.

Also you don't have to run the washer on a heavy large load setting, just do normal wash. When the machine has no clothing in it, it will splash the water around very well.

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August 25, 20080 found this helpful

Thanks to everyone for your input - The Bleach seems to be the way to go so I'll try that instead of the disinfectant which I was using and had doubts about.
Thanks again everyone

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August 25, 20080 found this helpful

Clorox must be a 1:10 solution to kill all bacteria, according to the licensing agencies for surface disinfectants. It works well in cold water but gets evaporated into the air more with hot water. I just wish there was some way to collect and reuse the water, I'm on your page with the need to sanitize but I'm seeing also the amount of water and solutions being discussed here. Remember the cloth diaper days when there was a presoak pail? that of course after swishing them through the toilet.

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By Mary B. (Guest Post)
December 22, 20080 found this helpful

I have heard hot water does not kill germs.

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December 28, 2010

I have a front loading washer and after each cycle is finished, I can spin the tub and hear water sloshing.

I wash urine absorbing pads and I can never rid the washer of the smell. I can do twenty empty loads with various odor reducing chemicals and nothing helps. I've tried everything short of tossing it out the door? Do all front loaders retain water under the tub?

By KATHLEEN MCGARRITY

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January 23, 2010

How do I remove and prevent the recurring of the mildew and smell that has formed in the fold of the rubber seal around my front load washing machine door? I am on a septic system and therefore cannot use bleach.

By Diana from Sequim, WA

Answers

January 24, 20100 found this helpful

Take a cloth and apply bleach to the cloth and wipe around the rubber seal. When mold is gone rinse with another cloth soaked with water then let dry. After each wash wipe all the water from the rubber seal. I wipe all the water from the seal after each wash. I do. I also have a septic system.

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January 28, 20100 found this helpful

We have a front load machine. After we use it, we take a cloth and dry the gasket on the underneath side. It always holds water there. We leave the door ajar until it has time to dry. We also remove the detergent/softener drawer and empty the water out of it and let it dry. I know it sounds like a hassle but it just becomes a routine. We haven't ever had any odor or mildew or mold. So, I have to say it works.

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January 28, 20100 found this helpful

Try wiping it out with vinegar, which also kills mold/mildew. Also use vinegar as fabric softener in your wash. It's cheaper, it works, it sanitizes, and you won't smell it when the clothes are dry. If you have to have perfume, then use the dryer sheets as sachets in your dressers and closets.

We have a sand mound system, and I do use bleach, just a couple tablespoons per load in the front-loaded washer, several loads a week. Also, I think dishwasher detergents have some bleach, too. When we had our tank pumped (for the first time in 10 years!) there was very little build-up.

I figure it's because I bake my own bread, and the yeast from washing bowls afterward, the rinsing from spoiled milk full of bacteria, etc., in the kitchen puts lots of bacteria back into the system. Never saw a need for the "Septic Helper" type of product. Yeast and Yogurt! You could even mix one container of each and flush it down once in a while.

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January 28, 20100 found this helpful

Hi, I have a 10-yr old front-load washer and we're on a septic tank too. I was told that the "problem" with using bleach on a septic tank is overstated and I believe it: I've been using bleach (about 1 cup) in every 3rd or 4th wash load for the 20+ years that we've lived here (and I do at least 10 loads of laundry a week), we get our septic tank checked regularly, and it's always checked out fine. (Had it checked again just a few months back because some people would freak out when I told them I was using bleach so regularly with a septic tank and the septic tank guys said the tank is still in great condition.)

So I would try using bleach in the washer once in a while; but if you absolutely want to stay away from bleach, a washer repairman told me that there's a septic-tank-safe product called "Refresh" (find it near the laundry products) that you can use in the washer to help with odor/mold. And as suggested already, I always leave the door ajar when washer's not in use--if the door has a light bulb that comes on, do NOT unscrew the light bulb, just let the bulb burn out because unscrewing it could cause water to get in where it's loosened. Plus if your washer has the door on top where you add detergent/bleach, you can go ahead and leave it open too, a washer repairman told me; he said that'll help with any mold/odor problem.

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April 20, 2010

I have a Sears Kenmore HE4T washing machine. How do I remove the gasket (for cleaning). Is there a filter, and if so, how do I remove it for cleaning?

By Greg

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July 16, 2016

I read that you can use up to 6 cups of bleach to clean your front loader washing machine on the sanitize cycle. Would any damage happen if you accidentally used ammonia? Any suggestions as to what I can do to correct this problem. Would you recommend putting it on pure cycle? it is a Samsung.

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January 2, 2014

I have changed deodorants a couple of times thinking the musty smell was my body. Lo and behold! I bet anything it's the buildup from my LG front loader washer. Any suggestions? I've tried bleach on the "clean cycle" and also, vinegar on the "clean cycle". Nothing is helping. I have always left my door ajar per, the Home Depot salesman when we purchased the washer and dryer 5 yrs ago. This odor in our clothes has got to go.

By Glenda R.

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March 3, 2014

My front loading washing machine has black mold. I have COPD and cannot use Clorox. Is white vinegar and baking soda a black mold cleaner?

By Mary

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January 9, 2014

Is there a piece of cloth in the actual filter or is it just mesh on the holes?

By Mike

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February 28, 2017

Front loading washers have had a lot of bad press about developing foul odors. There are many suggestions for how to prevent and/or remove them. This page suggests that cleaning the filter will help prevent a smelly front loading washer.

A filter in a front loading washer.

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Archives

ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 23, 2010

How to clean mold from a front load washing machine?

By Laura Biagetti from Stafford, CT

Answers:

Mold Problem With Front Loading Washing Machine

People usually leave a top-loading washing machine open so it has a chance to dry out between wash loads, but usually not so with a front-loader. Once you find a solution to cleaning the mold, try leaving the door open when not in use to avoid getting mold again. (06/30/2009)

By Fortunately

Mold Problem With Front Loading Washing Machine

Put bleach in a spray bottle with water 3 (bleach) to 1 (water) ratio and spray the door and drum seal than wipe to dry the the seals with a soft rag before closing the front loader door. Do both the door and the drum seals, wipe till dry (do not rinse) then close. Should be good for a week or so. (07/01/2009)

By CYNTHIA HELMICK

Mold Problem With Front Loading Washing Machine

My LG front loader is only about a month old but I have been reading all the horror stories on various web sites. Obviously, I want to prevent this problem.

After doing all my wash in one day, I am drying out the gasket, taking out and drying the dispenser, and draining out though the little hose every week. Every month I am using the Tub Clean cycle with an ounce of bleach. I have purchased and plan to use every 4 months the Tide product designed for cleaning front loaders. I have read that a product called Whirlrout also works very well, but may be harder to find. It is designed for whirlpool tubs.

I hope this maintenance schedule works for me and there may be some help for you. Posters in other web sites swear by it. (09/05/2009)

By Carole Living

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June 29, 2009

I have a front load washing machine and on the rim when you open the door, it gets moldy. I never saw such a thing on the regular top load machines.

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