Tiny Spores Big Headaches
Mold is a tricky problem to pin down. The source can be difficult to identify, and mold is notoriously hard to get rid of. It can also be more than a mere nuisance for people who are allergic to it. Mold that grows in washing machines can be problematic even when the machine is not in use, says Melanie Carver, a spokesperson for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Mold can trigger allergic symptomsincluding sneezing, itching, runny nose, and congestionand can also be an irritant to the airways.
Molds and bacteria can occur together, though their odor may help you tell them apart in the laundry room. Some molds and bacteria produce and release microbial VOCs it depends on the species, says De-Wei Li, Ph.D., a research mycologist for the state of Connecticut. The stinky smell is often from bacteria, and musty smell is from molds.
But how does mold find its way into your washing machine in the first place? It very well may have started with youor on you. Mold spores can be found almost anywhere, indoors and out, and you and your clothing are a movable feast.
Dirty laundry is a major source of mold spores in the washer, says Li, who conducted lab work on washer mold earlier in his career. You wear the clothes, do your routine, and bits of food, soil, and airborne fungi can land on your clothes.
More food for mold.
Cleaning Tips For Front Loader Washing Machines
How to clean a washing machine front loader
Front loaders are the most common type of washing machine, but they are also at most risk of mold growth because of their door design. The rubber gasket around the door creates the perfect environment for mold to grow because its dark and damp. The folds in the rubber that create the door seal provide hiding places where you might not notice mold is accumulating until its already established.
Its a good idea to check around the door of your front loader once a week as part of your usual cleaning routine. Pull back the rubber to inspect between the folds and give it a quick wipe down with a rubber-safe, antibacterial cleaner. If you see black marks on your cleaning utensils, thats an indication that mold and mildew are growing inside the machine.
To further help dry out your washer between loads, use a microfiber cloth to wick away any moisture around the door and basket . Microfiber is best for this because its highly absorbent and doesnt leave lint behind.
How To Clean Front Load Washer Drum
Before cleaning your front load washer drum, check to see if your machine has a Clean Washer cycle. This setting runs at a certain temperature and adds cleaning solutions or tablets at a specific time. If your washer has this cycle, check your use and care manual for directions on how to use it.
Heres how to clean front-loading washing machine drum without a Clean Washer cycle:
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Remove The Soap Holder Tray
Believe or not, the tray that holds the detergent, bleach or fabric softener will get dirty and you might even see mold on it.
To remove the tray pull it all the way out and pop out
Wipe down all compartments with the vinegar and water solution. If you find you have mold in any of the compartments, you must kill the mold by soaking it in a solution of half vinegar, half water for a week.
Once its soaked for a week, wash with hot soapy water. Unfortunately, just washing with hot soapy water wont kill the mold.
If youre wondering why you cant just throw tray into bleach to kill mold, its because vinegar is far superior at killing mold than bleach.
Front Load Or Top Load
Front load washing machines are relatively new on the home appliance market and have quickly gained popularity for their efficiency and cleaning abilities. Despite all the benefits they have to offer, there is one common complaint that seems to plague owners: stinky laundry. Wiping down the interior of the washer with cleaner, using extra detergent or running everything on the longest, hottest cycle does nothing to help dissipate the scent. However, one simple cleaning task will not only eliminate the issue, it will keep your washer in tip-top condition.
HE washing machines use less water and less energy which in turn can result in more mildew, mold, detergent residue and buildup in your washer. Some washers have a separate cleaning cycle as an option I have that on my washing machine and run that cycle after I wash cleaning rags every week. Im pretty sure that that is the secret to a non-smelly HE washing machine.
The best way to clean your front loading washer is simple:
- Select the hot water setting. If your machine does not have a hot water setting, then select a white or a stain cycle setting.
- Select the extra rinse option if your washer has that choice.
- Add ¾ cup of white vinegar OR ¾ cup non-chlorinated bleach to the bleach dispenser or fill to its max level.
- Allow the cycle to run until it has completed.
- To ensure that no vinegar remains in your washer, manually select an additional rinse cycle if your washer does not have a 2nd rinse cycle selection.
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I: Cleaning The Washing Machine
Clean Drain Plug And Filter Once A Month
Many people completely overlook this step and as a result, their HE front load washer doesnt work as efficiently.
The filter catches random items that arent supposed to be in the wash like coins, hair ties or anything else youve left in your pockets. Not cleaning this out on a regular basis is likely to prevent your washer from working efficiently.
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How To Prevent Mold In Washingmachines
- Use only the right detergent. If you have a High-Efficiency washer, use High-Efficiency detergent. Non-HE detergent leaves behind too manysuds that promote mold growth. Use only the recommended amount of detergent forthe same reason.
- Leave the door open after each wash to allow moisture inside themachine to escape. Doing so prevents the formation of a damp environment inwhich mold can grow.
- Remove wet clothes immediately after a wash. Not only does thisprevent moisture and mold buildup, but it also prevents your clothes fromsmelling musty.
- Wipe the door gasket with your mildew cleaner regularly. Do soat least once a week to eliminate moisture and detergent residue that promotesmold growth.
- Use a dehumidifier where you keep the washer if the area ishumid. Humidity from outside the machine may contribute to the mold inside it,so make sure to fix the water or humidity problem. Set up a dehumidifier in theroom.
How To Clean Mold From Front Load Washergasket
This is going to take some elbow grease so beready!
Andthere you have it! The best way to clean mold in a washing machine as well ashow to prevent mold in a washing machine.
Looking to keep your washing machine smelling fresh at all times? This all-natural washing machine deodorizer is incredible!
Are you interested in learning more about HOW washing machines clean laundry as well as the science behind detergents?
All of the information and more can be found in my article on the best laundry detergent to remove mold. There is even a DIY mold removing laundry detergent recipe!
Read Also: How To Know If You Have Mold Allergies
How To Maintain Your Washing Machine With Regular Cleaning
How to sanitize a washing machine during regular cleaning
An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure and cleaning your washing machine as part of your normal routine will help keep it in prime condition and prevent odors or stains on your clothes.
Pro Tip: Many washing machines come with a preset cleaning cycle, so consult your user manual.
Once a month, run your washing machine on a hot cycle with a cleaning solution in order to sanitize the drum and flush the pipes. You can use bleach, vinegar, soda crystals, or any of the DIY solutions weve recommended, or purchase a specialist washing machine cleaner.
Use the right laundry detergent in your washing machine. High efficiency washers need high efficiency detergent, otherwise they will create too many suds. This leads to a buildup of residue and soap scum that can cause smells, blockages, and bacteria growth inside your washing machine. If you have been using the wrong detergent, a couple of hot rinse cycles should clean out the pipes.
Dont leave wet clothes in your washing machine. Were all guilty of this sometimes, but damp clothes contribute to a moist atmosphere where microorganisms can flourish. Moving your clothes immediately also prevents them from getting musty and needing to be washed again.
If your laundry room is particularly prone to being humid, use a dehumidifier to strip some of the moisture from the air. The drier you can keep your washing machine, the longer it will last.
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Only Use He Detergent Powder In An He Machine
Liquid detergents can leave a residue in your washing machine, giving mold a food source. So the first thing to do to keep mold in check is to make sure you’re using a laundry detergent made specifically for your HE washer, which will produce fewer suds. Better yet, steer clear of liquid detergent and switch to powder detergent or pods. And whichever you choose, make sure you’re using only as much as you need to wash your clothes. If you use too much, your clothes may have a smell and residue.
If you’re using an HE washer, it’s best to use a detergent made for HE washing machines.
How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell In Front Loader Washing Machine
This article was co-authored by Ashley Matuska. Ashley Matuska is the owner and founder of Dashing Maids, a sustainably focused cleaning agency in Denver, Colorado. She has worked in the cleaning industry for over 5 years.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 20 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,328,236 times.
If you have a front loader washing machine, you may notice a moldy smell spoiling all your towels and clothes. This is because front loading washers have multiple parts that can remain wet after a washing cycle. There are multiple products you can use to clean your washing machine, but its best to wipe the parts down as well. There are also lots of tips you can use to prevent mold smell from accumulating in your machine.
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Clean And Descale Your Washing Machine With Vinegar
Many washers have a self-clean feature, which usually includes using bleach on a special setting. We highly highly recommend against using bleach because it is classified as a pesticide under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. Its also a lung and skin irritant, asthmagen, a carcinogen, and is involved in more household poisonings than any other chemical! 2
What should you use instead? Plain old distilled white vinegar will do the trick for basic cleaning. To verify this, we even called the manufacturers of several appliance brands of front- and top-loading washers. They all whole-heartedly agreed that white vinegar is an acceptable and beneficial alternative to bleach! Plus, if you have hard water it will help descale and reduce mineral deposits which can wear down your washer over time. Read more about The Impact of Soft And Hard Water On Laundry here. So, youre safe to make the switch .
Cleaning Detergent Drawer In Front Loader Washing Machine
Front loader detergent drawers can be a haven for detergent buildup, mold, debris, and germs
- Remove the entire detergent drawer
- Wipe out the empty cavity with a microfiber sprayed with Branch Basics All Purpose
- Spray the drawer with Branch Basics All Purpose
- Use an old toothbrush or scrub brush to clean thoroughly
- Wash and rinse with warm water
- Dry cavity and drawer
- Return drawer to washing machine
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How To Keep Your He Clothes Washer Mold Free For 10+ Years
We all know the HE washer uses a lot less water than the old top load clothes washers. And, they cut down on drying times with a super spin cycle that leaves clothes damp not wet. With all those positives, youd think everyone would be clamoring for an HE washer. Unfortunately, HE washers can start to stink if they grow mold or mildew inside. What would you say if I told you that after 10 years Ive cleaned the inside of my clothes washer twice? Its true, the only times I had to clean it was once when the washer sat in our garage for over a month closed up during renovations. And the second time is when we had a house guest who didnt know to do three things to keep the washer clean and smelling fresh.
Leave The Door Open Or Ajar
To prevent mold and mildew from growing and keep smells at bay, its best to leave the washer door open or ajar after each wash until the washer thoroughly dries out.
You might also consider leaving the door open all the time to prevent mold from growing. If your washer is in a high traffic area, you might consider using a laundry lasso to keep your door ajar while its not in use.
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Final Thoughts On How To Clean Your Front Load Washing Machine
Unfortunately, front load washers do need more maintenance than regular washing machines. Keep a monthly cleaning schedule and remember to keep the door to the washer open at all times and youll be amazed at how clean your front load washer stays.
Have any tips on cleaning your front load washer that we missed? Let us know below!