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DIY: How to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine

Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine

When you open your clothes dryer’s door, you naturally expect to enjoy the scent of freshly laundered clothes. However, when your favourite-smelling laundry detergent and fabric softener scents are replaced by the putrid, musty smell of mould, it’s time to learn how to clean a front loading washing machine.

While this is a common problem with front-loading washing machines, the good news is that the problem is relatively easy to fix.

In some cases, this musty smell is the result of allowing the wet clothes to sit for too long in your washing machine before transferring them to your dryer. If this is your situation, another round of washing and drying the load should do the trick.

On the other hand, your front-loading washing machine could be the source of the unpleasant odours.

Regardless of how many times you wash the load and how quickly you transfer the washed clothes into the dryer, your clothes will continue to carry the pungent smell of mildew until you clean the machine.

So, exactly how do you clean a front loading washing machine?

Why Your Front Loading Washing Machine Stinks

All types of washing machines can develop a foul odour, but this issue is particularly problematic with front loading washing machines.

This is because front-loading machines are designed to be highly efficient.

They use less energy and less water without sacrificing the quality of the results that they produce. However, more soap residue, dirt and even minerals from the water can accumulate inside the machine. As this matter accumulates, mildew can form.

There is a general tendency to leave the lid on a front-loading washing machine closed when the machine is not in use.

This means that airflow is eliminated, and the moisture that remains after each wash will take much longer to dry out than it would if the lid remains open after use.

The combination of these factors has a problematic result.

Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine

The Critical Need to Clean A Front Loading Washing Machine Regularly

If you are like most people, you toss some truly filthy items into your washing machine.

This may include clothes stained by food and beverages, mud, oil and perhaps even vomit, blood and other substances.

Your washing machine does some heavy lifting, and this can take a serious toll on it over time.

Even if your washing machine appears to be clean on the exterior and in the drum, interior components may be covered in filth.

You cannot expect your front loading washing machine to clean your clothes if it is filthy.

The accumulated matter inside the washing machine may also contain bacteria, and the culmination of the bacteria with the other debris can ultimately impact the temperature of the water.

While you understandably wash your dark-coloured clothes with cool water, you may need to use hot water to cut through stains and to deal with tough messes.

The impact of the hot water on your cleaning efforts is reduced when the temperature is moderated by your washing machine’s build-up.

There is another important reason why your front-loading washing machine needs to be cleaned regularly.

The equipment must be clean in order to function efficiently.

When various components are covered in a thick and growing layer of detergent, mildew and other matter, the washing machine cannot work as efficiently as it needs to.

This can create unnecessary wear and may contribute to repair issues and decreased longevity.

Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine

How to Vanquish Unpleasant Smells

If your washing machine or your laundry has unpleasant odours, now is the time to learn how to clean a front loading washing machine.

However, the best time to clean the washing machine is before you notice a foul odour.

These simple steps will get the job done right.

1. Read the Instruction Manual

Most front-loading washing machines can be cleaned using these easy steps, but you should always verify that the methods are safe before using them. Pull out your owner’s manual to read the cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer before proceeding.

2. Gather Your Supplies To Clean A Front Loading Washing Machine

Cleaning your washing machine is usually easy to do with the right supplies nearby. Before you get started, gather all of the items that are needed to get the job done right. These items include:

  • White Vinegar
  • Bicarb Soda
  • Bleach
  • General-Purpose Spray
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • A Large Bowl or Pot
  • A Measuring Cup
  • Paper Towels
  • A Sponge

3. Clean the Detergent Tray

If your front-loading washing machine is like most others, the detergent tray is removable. Pull this tray out, and clean it in the sink.

It may be covered in sticky detergent residue as well as hair or lint, minerals and even mould on the underneath side.

Both white vinegar and bicarb soda have mould-killing properties. You can soak the detergent tray in a bowl or pot with the white vinegar.

An alternative is to soak it in a mixture of hot water and bicarb soda. After 30 to 60 minutes, remove the tray from the bowl or pot.

Wipe it down and rinse it before placing it back in the washing machine.

If you can see filth underneath the detergent tray’s port, use the vinegar or bicarb soda to clean this area before returning the tray to its home.

Keep in mind that tea tree oil can be added to the vinegar or bicarb soda to improve the smell and to add an extra boost of power to your cleaning efforts.

4. Clean the Door Gasket

Front-loading washing machines are designed with a rubber gasket around the door.

This gasket prevents the machine from leaking water when it is operating. Both the outer portion of this gasket and the concealed area underneath it can become caked with hair, mildew, bacteria and other debris.

While the detergent tray is soaking, use a paper towel to wipe down the inner and outer surfaces of the gasket.

You may need to repeat this process several times until all of the debris has been removed. Then, pour white vinegar on the sponge.

Use the sponge to scrub down the inner and outer surfaces with the white vinegar.

If necessary, rinse the sponge and any debris that it has gathered with water, and repeat this process until the sponge remains clean when you wipe it over the surfaces.

5.    Clean the Window

While you have the white vinegar and paper towels nearby, turn your attention to the window on the washing machine door.

White vinegar will remove all soapy residue and can leave a streak-free shine. Simply dab some vinegar on a paper towel, and start wiping.

6.    Choose the Right Cleaning Cycle To Clean A Front Loading Washing Machine


After the detergent tray, gasket and window are clean, you are ready to turn your attention to the drum.

Many washing machines have a cleaning cycle.

This may be labeled as such, or it may be called “Tub Clean” or something similar.

If your washing machine does not have one of these cycles, choose a hot water cycle. Before proceeding further, ensure that the drum is empty.

7.    Run Bicarb Soda and Vinegar Through the Machine

There are various methods that you can use to tackle cleaning the drum.

One of these is to pour a half-cup of white vinegar into the detergent tray. Run this through a cleaning cycle.

An alternative is to combine a quarter-cup of water with a quarter-cup of bicarb soda. Place this mixture in the detergent tray in place of the white vinegar, and run this through a cleaning cycle.

If you are dealing with a serious mould issue, you can combine white vinegar and bicarb soda together.

To do this, pour vinegar in the detergent tray, and sprinkle bicarb soda in the drum. Then, run the cycle.

8.    Use Bleach for Tough Odours

White vinegar and bicarb soda are natural cleaning products that are very effective at producing the results that you need to see.

However, if these steps do not rectify the problem, you may need to use liquid bleach.

Keep in mind that bleach should never be combined with white vinegar or bicarb soda. If you use bleach to clean your washing machine, it should be used alone.

Pour the bleach into the detergent tray, and run it through a cleaning cycle using hot water.

9.   Wipe Down the Exterior To Clean A Front Loading Washing Machine

Before you can feel great about the cleanliness of your washing machine, take one final step. Using a few paper towels and the general-purpose cleaning spray, wipe down the entire exterior of the machine.

Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine

Take Regular Action to Prevent Smells from Returning

Now that you know how to clean a front loading washing machine, you can walk through these steps every month or two to prevent odors from returning.

If you want to stretch out cleaning sessions further and reduce the chance of mould growth at the same time, leave the door open when the machine is not in use.

You can also keep a rag nearby to wipe down the gasket after each use.

For even better results, run the ventilation fan in your laundry room for approximately 30 minutes after each load to help the drum and gasket dry out faster.

If you’ve enjoyed this article on how to clean a front loading washing machine, perhaps you’ll find our article on how to fix a zipper useful too!

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