Cleaning a Front Loading Washing Machine


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.


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.

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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.

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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.)

Please help!


April 2, 20180 found this helpful
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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.

  • 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;
  • 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.

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

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November 30, 2020

I have an HE LG washer and dryer. About a year ago, my laundry started smelling like vomit. Only way I can describe. We have well water, a softener, and a conditioner that removes the sulphur odor, too.

I use various kinds of detergent, some with "oxy" power, and fabric softener, usually Gain. Sometimes, I use baking soda booster for my whites and towels. But now I've tried vinegar in the rinse, and lately Lysol or Clorox laundry bacteria killer because some friends suggested I've overused detergent and/or fabric softener and I may have buildup on my clothes from that, which in turn can cause bacteria growth.

I just can't get my laundry to smell clean anymore. and yes, sometimes still like vomit, only after they've been dried, not fresh out of the washer. They smell fine out of the washer when wet.


November 30, 20200 found this helpful
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I had a similar problem when we first got our HE washer. The clothes would smell fine until I got them through the dryer. I tried many fixes but the solution for me was to switch to powdered laundry detergent. My understanding was that the excess liquid detergent gets trapped in the washer and causes mildew problems. The powdered detergent washes out better. It is also cheaper. I get the large tub at Costco and it will last me for months.

I believe there is a product that is used to clean out HE washing machines, like Affresh or Smelly Washer. I might try using that before switching over. And you could see if there is a reservoir somewhere in your washer that needs to be emptied. Look for the user's manual for your specific LG washer which should give you directions for emptying.

Good luck!

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November 30, 20201 found this helpful
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Normally when this happens there is a problem in the washing machine called Butyric Acid. This can stay in your clothes and when dried will give you the smell you are talking about. There are a few things you can try. If you can get to the back or the pump on the machine try cleaning this one out.

Now do a boil wash on the machine that only uses a bottle of vinegar and the hottest water you can to run through the washing machine.

If you are having an issue with the pump and to get this cleaned out a box of bicarb should do the trick on this one. You will give it a hot wash with the box of bicarb to flush out and clean out the machine.

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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


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 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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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?


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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


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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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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