Front-load washers are a popular choice for many people when deciding on a washer. They are generally favored because of their energy and water efficiency and also their gentler treatment of clothes. However, their design also makes them more vulnerable to mold and mildew forming in the tub, particularly around the door gasket.
Fortunately, it is relatively easy to remove mold and mildew from your washer. Household staples, such as vinegar and baking soda, can even be used to clean the washer. Once the washer is cleaned, mold and mildew can be prevented by following the maintenance tips at the end of this article.
What Causes Mold in the Washer?
Due primarily to their design, front-load washers are prone to mold, mildew, and unpleasant odors. Unlike top-load washers, the door on a front-load washer needs to have a watertight seal and be securely shut during a washing cycle. This makes it harder for the washer to dry out after washes, and the door gasket that seals the washer door is also a perfect place for mold and mildew to form. As discussed below, the type of detergent you use can also cause mold and mildew to form.
There are a variety of cleaning solutions that can be used to clean mold and mildew from your front-load washer. For the most thorough clean, bleach is recommended. An alternative to bleach is to put two cups of baking soda into the washer and then run a long, hot cycle. Washing machine cleaners can also be purchased to do the job.
Before washing the tub out with bleach, you may wish to make one of these vinegar or lemon juice solutions to use when cleaning the washer by hand.
- 2 cups water, ½ cup distilled white vinegar, and ¼ cup lemon juice
- 4 parts water and 1 part white vinegar
- ½ cup hydrogen peroxide, 2 cups water, and ¼ cup lemon juice
How to Clean Mold from the Washer
Tip: Wear rubber gloves when cleaning the washer to protect your hands.
Step 1: Remove Foreign Items from the Gasket
First, empty the washer of all clothing items. Then, check that the gasket and tub are empty of items from previous loads, such as hair ties or coins. Open the washer door, check the tub, and pull back the door gasket to check that there are no foreign objects present.
Step 2: Clean the Gasket and Door
Use a cloth or household mold and mildew scrub to clean the gasket and washer door with a mildew cleaning solution.
Step 3: Clean the Detergent Dispenser
Release the tab to remove the detergent dispenser from the washer. Clean soap film and mold from the detergent dispenser. If necessary, use a toothbrush or cotton swab to clean the corners and grooves. Return the dispenser to the washer.
Step 4: Clean the Washer with Bleach
For washers with small amounts of mold, hand cleaning and a lighter washing solution may remove the mold from the washer. However, to thoroughly clean the washer and remove larger amounts and tougher buildups of mold and mildew, run a wash cycle with one cup of bleach.
First, pour a little bleach into the detergent dispenser; then pour one cup of bleach into the washer’s tub. Be careful not to use too much bleach, as it can damage the washer. Select the longest wash cycle, and set the temperature to hot. Run the cycle. The washer should now be clean of mold and mildew.
Step 5: Deodorize the Washer
Run a second cycle, this time using vinegar instead of bleach. Pour two cups of distilled white vinegar into the detergent dispenser. Again, run a long, hot wash cycle.
Step 6: Flush the Washer Out
Run one more cycle, this time with just water, to flush the vinegar, bleach, and mold and mildew residue from the washer. A normal wash cycle should suffice.
Keep Your Washer Mold-Free & Smelling Good
- Use powder detergent instead of liquid detergent. Liquid fabric softener should also be avoided to stop mold and mildew from forming.
- Leave the washer door slightly ajar when not in use to help the washer dry. However, be mindful of small children and pets. It may be best to keep the door closed if small children and pets are around.
- Remove clothing as soon as the cycle has finished. Leaving damp clothing in the washer will cause mold and mildew to form.
- After each cycle, use an absorbent cloth to wipe the gasket and tub to remove moisture from the washer.
- Regularly check the gasket for small items that have gotten stuck. If left in the washer, these items can develop mold and mildew.
- Use a high-efficiency laundry detergent. Regular detergents are more likely to allow mold and mildew to develop.
- Every month or two, run a cycle with a washing machine cleaner tablet or half a cup of bleach. White vinegar and baking soda can also be used.