If the washing machine cleaned itself alongside our clothes, life would be so much better. But your washing machine needs regular cleaning — especially for front loading washing machines. They may be more energy efficient and use less water for washing, but they need more thorough maintenance to keep them clean and functional.
Fortunately, cleaning a front loading washing machine is straightforward enough! To ensure you have clean clothes for the rest of your machine’s lifespan — or, if you live in a rental apartment, for the rest of your lease — here’s a guide for how to clean a front load washing machine, inside and out.
About Your Front Loading Washing Machine
As the name suggests, a front loader opens up front, unlike a top loading washing machine. It has a rubber gasket or rubber seal around the door to prevent leaks and hold the water in. This means you need to bend or crouch in order to load the drum, unlike a top loader where you can simply add clothes in from the top. Check out our in-depth comparison of front load vs. top load washing machines to learn more about their differences.
What front load washers lack in ease of access and capacity, they make up for in efficiency. They have a higher upfront cost but a lower per-load cost, since they use less water and energy to wash clothes. Front loaders can handle larger items like doonas better. They’re also gentler on fabric, since they use gravity and friction to clean clothing, as opposed to a top loader’s agitator. And you can stack your front loader on top of a dryer to save space, like in a European-style laundry!
On the other hand, a front load washer is trickier to clean than a top loader due to the door seal. They have smaller capacities, and take longer to wash per cycle. They also distribute fabric softener less efficiently — so keep all this in mind when owning one!
Why Clean Your Front Load Washer?
A clean washing machine means clean clothes — it’s that simple. Over time, residue from detergent, water, and dirt accumulates inside. This can cause mould, mildew, and bacteria to build up, which can damage both the machine and the clothing you wash. These can cause health risks, from allergies to skin conditions.
Cleaning a washing machine also goes with its general maintenance, to prolong its lifespan and keep it running efficiently.
A front loader in particular needs to be thoroughly cleaned since the rubber seal poses a mould hazard. You’ll need to deep clean your washing machine every other month, if not every month, to maintain it. And not just the exterior — the interior mechanisms of your washer also need cleaning. This way, you’ll make sure your clothes stay clean too!
If you want to ensure a more thorough clean, you can always hire a professional house cleaner to take care of your front loader and the rest of your home too. But if your lease is almost up, you’ll need things to be extra clean for the next tenant, so hire a professional bond cleaner and get everything looking good as new.
How To Clean A Front Loading Washing Machine
You can use liquid chlorine bleach or an all purpose cleaner, especially for the gasket, to keep your washing machine clean. However, these can have adverse effects or damage the washer’s mechanisms. So if you want to go DIY and use more natural cleaning products — or just don’t like the bleach smell — there’s two right in your kitchen: white vinegar and bicarb soda.
Cleaning A Front Load Washer Gasket
The first step to cleaning front load washing machines is to clean the gasket. Beforehand, mix equal parts white vinegar and water into a spray bottle for cleaning.
- Peel back the gasket to expose as much as you can — it won’t come off, but you can check between the seal and the door for any debris or leftover objects such as buttons, pins, and coins. Remove any that you find.
- 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.
- Douse the gasket in the DIY cleaning solution and let it sit for a few minutes. Then wipe away with the microfibre cloth.
- 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 thoroughly remove any mildew.
NOTE: If the mildew is particularly stubborn or widespread, you can add one cup of liquid bleach into an empty machine and run a hot cycle. Then run another one 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.
Cleaning A Front Load Washer Interior
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)
- Bicarb soda
- Microfibre cloths
- Clean old toothbrush
- Dish soap or similar detergent
- Make sure the drum is empty. Remove any clothes or items from inside, and wipe it down to remove any dirt or dust.
- Sprinkle a half cup of bicarb soda along the bottom of the drum.
- Pour two cups vinegar into the detergent dispenser (or lemon juice) then run your hottest wash cycle. Let the whole thing run to completion, including the rinse cycle.
- Remove the detergent tray and fabric softener dispenser, then soak in warm soapy water. Rinse and wipe clean, then replace.
- Run another cycle to remove the vinegar scent and rinse out any residue remaining inside.
- 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 if it has any special cleaning instructions. Otherwise, these steps are enough for general cleaning.
Cleaning A Front Load Washer Exterior
You can clean the exterior of your washing machine while it’s running the cleaning cycle, or after. First, wipe your front load washer with a dry cloth to remove any dust or dirt on the 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.
For more stubborn stains and scuff marks, 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.
Front Load Washer Maintenance
Some tips for maintaining your front loader include:
- Leave the door open between cycles to let the washing machine dry
- Don’t let your clothes sit in the drum for too long
- Wipe down the interior of the washer regularly
- Wipe down the gasket with distilled white vinegar regularly
- Keep your laundry room clean to avoid dirt getting into your front loader
Also, regularly check the seal for mould — you do not want that on any of your outfits.
And that’s a wrap for how to clean a front load washing machine! Just be sure to repeat the process after a few months — a clean machine means clean clothes!