Ever since I posted an article on cleaning a top load washing machine I have gotten so many comments and emails about cleaning a front load washer. I had heard that they were hard to keep clean but I have had zero experience taking care of them.
Then, a couple of weeks ago I got an email from one of the guys that my husband works with (Thanks Mark!!) about how he cares for his front load washer. It was perfect timing because my sister had complained about her smelly front loader. My sister was kind enough to let me come over and clean her washer. 😉
I am so excited to share with you today how to clean your front load washer and the easiest tip for keeping the smell permanently gone. I will warn you there are a lot of very disgusting pictures! Who knew a machine built for keeping clothes clean could get so dirty!!
You will want to start by draining out any water from the washer. On the front of the machine, you should find a place to do this. My sisters had a drain and a filter. We used a small tray to catch all of the water because it was so low to the ground.
After we drained it we took out the filter and cleaned it. The before and after was amazing!! It smelled like a fish tank before we cleaned it.
Once we clean the filter and drained it then we put the filter back in and closed up the drain. I got started on the inside of the washer. The large rubber seal on her washer was covered with mold and gunk. I used some rags and a 50/50 mixture of vinegar & water to wipe everything down.
You will also want to use the vinegar mix on the area between the rubber gasket and the drum. This is where we found the most mold and gunk.
Isn't that just lovely? No wonder there was a smell. You will also find a drain area on the rubber seal. Make sure that you clean out the drain area really well. Hairs, lint, and other things will clog it and cause mold and mildew. I started by using a toothpick to clear the holes.
Once I cleared all of the holes in the rubber gasket I pulled back the rubber gasket to find this blocking the drain below. It was a giant piece of moldy laundry detergent, lint, hair, and who knows what else. There are really no words for this.
Once you are sure you have properly clean the rubber seals and as much as you can get behind them this job gets WAY easier.
You will want to run a quick wash load with a cup of vinegar. We just used the liquid dispenser and added the vinegar there. The vinegar will get in the washer and the drain and help kill off any mold or mildew that is in the washing machine.
FREE Appliance Cleaning Schedule!
Keep your appliance clean with this easy appliance cleaning schedule!
When that load is done then add a cup of baking soda and run a quick wash. This time we used the powder dispenser to run it through. The baking soda will help to get rid of any funky smells your washer may have.
Finally, and this is the weird one. If you use liquid soap in your front loader you will want to run a quick load using powder dishwasher detergent. Why do you ask? Liquid laundry detergent often contains animal fats. If 100 percent of the detergent isn't washed away after the load is done then the animal fat will settle causing your washer to smell bad. The powder dishwasher detergent will work just like it does in your dishwasher and clean away the grease and fats. After the quick wash with the dish detergent, your front loader should smell great and be mold and mildew free.
The difference in my sister's front loader was amazing. Not only does it look much better with the mold and mildew gone but it can drain much better now with the drain unclogged.
After going through all the work to clean your front loader you can keep it from smelling and accumulating mold and mildew just by switching to powder instead of liquid detergent.
Update: It's been 2 years since we cleaned my sister's machine and the smell has stayed gone just by using powdered detergent. I don't if all powdered detergent works as well but she swears by this detergent on Amazon.
It's an easy switch and keeps you from having to clean it all the time. I also highly recommend you keep the door open between cycles to let it air out too.
With a little work, your front load washer can be clean and mold free. Plus you can prevent the smells from ever coming back again!
Want to remember this? Save these tips on how to clean your front load washer to your favorite Pinterest cleaning board.
Get my laundry stain removal printable
Subscribe (free!) to my newsletter and as an added bonus I will send you the laundry stain removal printable!