Learn how to clean a front load washer naturally. Regular cleaning boosts performance & extends the life of a front-loading washing machine!
Tip: learn to make homemade laundry detergent!
My Old Top Loader Washer
Let me tell you a story about my old top-loading washing machine.
It was an old, white, top-loading hand-me-down washing machine. I did a lot of laundry in that old machine. Like my husband’s work clothes and all the newborn clothes from both of my children. It also cleaned all the other bits and pieces of our four-person household.
As Betsy instructs in her post on how to clean a top-loading washing machine, I always kept the lid open on my washer. I wanted it to air out to decrease the likelihood of mold and mildew. At our new house, I kept that habit up even though our washer and dryer were in the garage.
One day while unloading the washer I felt at the bottom a very soft baby sock. I couldn’t see it, but I remember thinking that it was even softer than usual. So I took a good look as I pulled it up and it was not a sock. It was a small, dead, waterlogged mouse!
You can imagine the shrieking that went on! It’s one thing to find a dead mouse at the bottom of your washing machine. It’s another thing to realize you’ve been squeezing it in your hand. So, I re-washed the clothes and ran a cleaning cycle of the washing machine. And I nearly scrubbed my fingers to the bone washing my hands.
My New Front Loading Washing Machine
I did manage to survive the encounter and haven’t had it happen again! But when my sister- and brother-in-law offered to give us a newer, high-efficiency, front-loading washing machine, we were thrilled. There are many reasons to use a front-load machine, but for me, I think my favorite thing is a pretty much non-existent chance of accidentally grabbing a dead mouse from inside it! Plus they use less water.
We’ve had our new machine for almost a year now, and like all appliances, I have to keep it clean. It was easier to ignore the grime in my top-loading machine because I couldn’t see it, but with my HE washer, it’s noticeable. Also, front loaders use less water, and less liquid means things like soap scum and buildup from fabric softeners happen more often. So I learned how to clean a front loading washing machine and am sharing it with you.
So here are a few tips for cleaning a front-load washer and keeping it fresh:
Cleaners and How to Clean a Front Load Washer
- 2 cups of white vinegar
- 1/3 cup of baking soda
- peroxide (optional)
- cleaning rag
- old toothbrush (optional)
Your HE washer probably has a cleaning cycle, but before you even begin that, you’ll need to do some detail work. The rubber gasket, or rubber seal, at the front of the machine, is notorious for buildup and growing mildew. I’ve also noticed they tend to be a magnet for hair, especially pet hair. The people who had the washer before we did had a few cats, and there was a lot of cat hair stuck in the gasket when we first got it.
Clean Rubber Gasket
I cleaned the gasket by spraying vinegar into the folds and then rubbing them down with a cleaning rag that I first applied baking soda to. The baking soda makes it a bit more abrasive and reacts with the vinegar once contacting the surface-to-be-cleaned. Our gasket has never had the chance to grow much mold or mildew, but if it did I would apply peroxide following the baking soda and vinegar. Peroxide kills mold. Alternatively, you could scrub the inside of the gasket with an old toothbrush. (Peroxide is also the best way to clean your toothbrush!)
Once you’ve cleaned the gasket, make sure to give the door a good wipe-down, too.
Cleaning or Washing Cycle
When you’re ready to run the cleaning cycle, sprinkle 1/3 cup of baking soda into the drum of the machine. (If you don’t have a cleaning cycle, just use the regular washing cycle.) This step delivers an extra odor-fighting boost. Pour two cups of vinegar into the detergent dispenser, or detergent tray, choose hot water, and turn the dial of your machine to the cleaning cycle. The cycle should take from an hour to an hour and a half. No, you don’t need to use bleach, but of course, you can if you’re comfortable with it. Also, we don’t use soap because the soapy water could be contributing to soap scum buildup and even dirt buildup.
Tips for Keeping Your Front Load Washer Clean
Now that you have your tub clean and gaskets clean, let’s keep them clean!
Always Leave the Door Open
Make sure you leave the door open all the time. Except when you’re washing clothes, obviously. This is even more important for front-load machines than for top-loading ones because they become smelly quickly. Every time I have shut the door to my machine, I have regretted having done so the moment I opened the door again.
Don’t Leave Clothes Inside the Washer
Don’t let your clothes sit. I will admit that I used to have a bad habit of letting my clothes sit in the washing machine for a few hours after I washed them. It was never a problem with my old machine, but with my HE machine, the clothes get that strange smell to them quickly. It’s best to remove the clothes immediately after they’re finished washing.
Always Fully Drain and Wipe Out Machine Regularly
Wipe your machine out regularly and be sure it always drains completely. You won’t want to spend the time or resources to do a full cleaning on your machine very often, but if you give it a quick wipe with a dry towel after you are finished with your laundry for the day, it will stay fresh much longer.
Keep The Exterior Clean
Periodically wipe the exterior of the machine down. I’m telling you this because I need to remember it myself. Between the dryer dust and laundry detergent residue, my washing machine can get gross pretty fast. I cleaned the outside of the machine while the cleaning cycle was running, and I’m so much happier to have a washing machine that isn’t covered in dust.
Now Go Clean Your Washer!
Now you know how to clean a front loading washing machine! So what are you waiting for?
What are your tips for cleaning a front load washer?