Are your clothes coming out of the wash less fresh than they once did?
Or is there an unpleasant odour wafting from your front load washer?
If so, it might not be your laundry but your washing machine that might need a good clean!
A well-maintained front load washing machine doesn’t just wash your clothes—it refreshes them and breathes new life into them.
However, like all appliances, your washer requires a bit of upkeep.
About Your Front Loading Washing Machine
As the name suggests, a front load washer opens at the front.
It has a rubber gasket or seal around the door to prevent leaks and hold the water in.
This means you need to bend or crouch to load the drum, unlike a top load washing machine where you can simply add clothes in from the top.
Front load washing machines are popular in many households due to their efficiency and functionality.
With a larger washing capacity, better water usage and excellent cleaning performance, they can take your laundry chores to a new level of ease and effectiveness.
But, like any other appliance, front load washers need a little TLC to stay in their best condition.
Why Clean Your Front Load Washer?
Over time, residues from laundry detergent, fabric softeners and dirt from your clothes can build up inside your front load washing machine.
This accumulation can lead to unpleasant odours, reduce your machine’s efficiency and even damage your clothing.
Keeping your front loading washing machine clean means your washer remains in peak working condition, giving your clothes a thorough and fresh clean every time.
Steps to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine
You can use liquid chlorine bleach or an all-purpose cleaner to keep your washing machine clean, especially for the gasket.
However, these can adversely affect or damage the washer’s mechanisms if used incorrectly.
So if you want to make a DIY cleaning solution with organic ingredients, there are two right in your kitchen: white vinegar and bicarb soda (aka baking soda).
How to Clean the Front Load Washing Machine Rubber Gasket
The first step to cleaning front load washing machines is to clean the gasket.
The rubber gasket — the rubber seal around the door — often houses residues and mould due to its folds.
Here’s how to clean the seal:
Step 1: Prepare your cleaning materials
Pour three parts white vinegar and one part water into a spray bottle.
Grab a clean microfiber cloth, sponge, and rubber gloves if you don’t want your hands smelling like vinegar.
You can also grab an old, clean toothbrush or small brush to help with detailed cleaning.
Step 2: Peel back the rubber gasket
You will need to expose as much of the rubber gasket as possible – it won’t come off.
Check between the seal and the door for any debris or leftover objects such as buttons, pins and coins.
Remove any chunks of dirt or debris that you find.
Step 3: Wipe the rubber gasket with a clean dry cloth
Wipe down the gasket with a clean, soft cloth to remove any dust or hair that may have built up.
You can also inspect and clean out the lint trap.
Step 4: Douse the rubber gasket with a cleaning solution
Spray the gasket generously with your DIY cleaning solution.
Let it sit for about 10 minutes.
Gently wipe the inside and folds of the gasket with a clean microfiber cloth.
If you have an old toothbrush (or a small soft brush), use it to work the cleaning solution into the gasket folds.
Step 5: Rinse the gasket with clean water
Rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water to ensure no cleaning solution is left behind.
Step 6 (Optional): Clean mildew
If there are black spots on the gasket, that means it’s growing mildew.
It’s likely the gasket isn’t drying enough between washes, or your detergent is leaving too much residue.
Spray with vinegar and hot water (vinegar is a natural mould killer), then wipe clean.
Alternatively, wash with plain soapy water or a mildew cleaner.
You may need to repeat this several times to remove any mildew thoroughly.
If your washer gasket has particularly stubborn or widespread mildew: add one cup of liquid bleach into an empty machine and run a hot cycle.
Then run up to two cycles to clean out any bleach residue or smell from the washer.
You can also dip a toothbrush into a 10% bleach solution to scrub the mildew off.
How to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine Interior
Start by choosing a washing machine cleaner or a homemade solution, such as white vinegar and baking soda, which are equally effective at eliminating odours and breaking down buildup.
With the gasket clean, it’s time to handle your front load washer’s interior.
To clean that, you’ll need:
- White vinegar (or lemon juice)
- Baking soda
- Microfiber cloths
- Clean old toothbrush
- Dish soap or similar detergent
Step 1: Make sure the drum is empty
Remove any clothes or items from inside, and wipe down the drum with a damp cloth to remove dirt or dust.
Step 2: Use organic ingredients for a clean washing machine
Sprinkle a half cup of bicarb soda along the bottom of the drum.
Then pour two cups of white vinegar into the detergent and bleach dispenser.
Run a hot wash cycle and let the whole thing run to completion, including the rinse cycle.
Step 3: Clean the detergent dispenser and fabric softener tray
Remove the detergent tray and fabric softener dispenser, then soak them in warm soapy water.
Rinse and wipe clean, then replace.
Step 4: Run another wash cycle
Run another cycle to remove the vinegar scent and rinse out any residue remaining inside.
Step 5: Keep the washing machine door open and let dry
Leave the door open to let the washing machine air dry. You can wipe down the inside to speed up the process.
NOTE: Check your manufacturer’s instructions to see if your machine has a specific cleaning cycle or special instructions. Otherwise, these steps are enough for general cleaning.
How to Clean a Front Load Washer Exterior
Although it may seem trivial, maintaining the cleanliness of the exterior part of your washing machine is as crucial as the interior.
You can clean the exterior of your washing machine while it’s running the cleaning cycle or after.
Step 1: Wipe your front load washer
Use a clean, dry cloth to remove any dust or dirt on the exterior.
Step 2: Deep clean the front load washer exterior
Dip another cloth into warm water and white vinegar or lemon juice, then wipe down the surface.
Alternatively, you can use half a lemon to add some shine or plain soapy water and a clean cloth.
Step 3: Scrub away stubborn stains
To treat stubborn stains and scuff marks on your washer, dip an old toothbrush into bicarb soda paste (made by adding hot water to bicarb soda).
Use the toothbrush to scrub at any marks that need cleaning, especially along any grooves and around knobs.
Step 4: Wipe the exterior to dry it
Dry the washing machine surface thoroughly to prevent streaks or water spots.
Tips for Preventing Washer Odours Before They Begin
Nipping odour issues in the bud is much easier than tackling them once they’ve settled in.
Here are some proactive steps to prevent unpleasant smells from permeating your front load washer:
Use the Right Amount of Detergent
Overloading on detergent can create a surplus of suds that deposit residue on the drum walls and rubber gasket, creating a perfect breeding ground for mould and mildew.
Refer to your washer’s manual to determine the correct detergent amount for your machine model and load size.
Remove Clothes Promptly
Damp clothes left in the washer create a humid environment that can promote the growth of mould and mildew.
Make it a habit to remove your clothes promptly after the wash cycle is complete.
Leave the Door Open
After a wash cycle, leave the washer door open to allow the interior to dry out and prevent the build-up of odours.
If you have children or pets, make sure they don’t have access to the laundry room or area when the door is open.
Run a Monthly Cleaning Cycle
Even with proper use, residue can build up over time.
Running a cleaning cycle with a washing machine cleaner or a white vinegar solution once a month can help keep the drum clean and fresh.
Use High-Efficiency (HE) Detergent
Front-load washers are designed to use HE detergents, which produce fewer suds and rinse out more effectively, thereby reducing the chances of residue build-up.
Clean the Rubber Gasket Regularly
The gasket is a prime spot for residue accumulation.
Wipe it down regularly with a vinegar solution or mild soapy water to prevent build-up and associated odours.
Spin into Freshness
Keeping your front load washing machine clean is about more than just maintaining its appearance.
It’s an essential step to ensuring its efficiency and longevity and the overall cleanliness of your clothes.
If you want a more thorough clean, you can always hire a professional house cleaner to take care of your front loader, laundry loads, and the rest of your home too.