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Tips For Cleaning Your Front-Loading Washing Machine

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A front-loading washing machine is convenient as you get to save money on energy and use less detergent and water.

Unfortunately, the machine can get dirty after several months of use, leaving you with scum buildup and other stuck grime that needs to be cleaned. 

The machine may sometimes leave a nasty smell on your clothes due to accumulated mold/mildew around the lid. 

Understanding how to clean your front-loading washing machine can help eliminate hard-water deposits, detergent, and mold, leaving your clothes fresh and clean.

Front load Washing machine in modern bathroom

Keep reading as we list the steps you need to follow in cleaning your machine and what you’ll need. 

How Often Should You Clean Your Front-Loading Washing Machine?

You may not think about cleaning a washing machine until you have to deal with grime and a musty smell settling on your clothes.

You should aim to clean your front-loading washing machine at least once a month.

However, this doesn’t mean leaving your machine unmaintained for an entire month. Start by doing some cleaning after every use. Wipe any lint off and dry standing water in the seal. 

Every week after use, you can take a cloth and soapy water to wipe around the seal, inside the drum, and the door.

You could run a hot wash if you use plenty of fabric conditioners. That will rinse out the machine. Keep the door open as the machine dries. 

For a monthly clean, empty your washer, use a machine washing cleaner or baking soda, and follow the washing instructions below. 

Select the highest temperature and a standard washing cycle to ensure everything inside the machine is clean. The heat kills the germs inside.

Once done, dry off the seals and door, leaving the machine open to air dry. 

6 Tips for Cleaning Your Front-Loading Washing Machine

Cleaning your washing machine doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips to get you started.

Gather the Supplies Required

Cleaning concept with eco friendly cleaning tools on white table

Start by getting everything you’ll need to clean. You’ll need:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Household cleaning gloves
  • A microfiber cloth
  • A scouring pad
  • A bowl
  • A towel
  • Boiling tap water
  • A toothbrush
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Bleach

Empty the Drain Hose

Man holding drain hose Draining water of front load washing machine

Water sits at the base of your washing machine often, which is why you need to drain it. Start by unplugging the washing machine. Place a towel, unplug the hose, and drain it into a bowl.

The process may take a few trips until it’s empty. Emptying the drain hose also gives you a chance to remove any stuck objects. 

Clean the Washing Machine Detergent Drawer

Cleaning dirty moldy washing machine detergent and fabric conditioner dispenser drawer compartment.

Read your washing machine manual for instructions on how to remove it. Some machines have a release tab, which allows you to pull out the detergent drawer.

Allow the detergent drawer to soak in hot, soapy water.  Use an old toothbrush to remove any build-up of mold and soap.

Rinse the drawer with clean water and dry it with a towel. Check the cavity and clean it before putting the detergent drawer back. Don’t forget to clean the softener compartment, as well.

Clean the Rubber Seals

Cleaning Dirty moldy washing machine rubber seal

Like the detergent drawer, the rubber seals accumulate mold and mildew over time.  It’s one of the places where dirt residue, hair, and other things get stuck. 

Use a microfiber cloth dipped in water and liquid soap to wipe the rubber seals. Check for any residue stuck to the seal and remove it with a toothbrush. 

Clean the Washing Machine Filter

 hand removes dirty and clogged washing machine pump filter

A washing machine filter is underneath the drum door. The filter prevents the dirt and debris from accumulating in the crevices and getting to the pump. 

Most homeowners don’t realize that any dirt that gathers in the filter can lead to a smelly washing machine. 

Your owner’s manual should have instructions on removing and cleaning the filter for your specific machine.

Ensure you have a towel beneath the filter in case any leaks occur. Unscrew the filter and remove any stuck items. Use an old toothbrush and hot water to clean the filter.

Decide whether you’ll replace the filter if it’s old. 

Clean the Machine Exterior

woman wearing a rubber cleaning gloves using a cleaning cloth and spray cleaner wiping on a washing machine

Your front-loading machine also gets dusty over time. Sometimes the detergent can also drip on the machine and may need to be cleaned up. 

Use liquid soap and a damp cloth to clean any external stains and dust. Dry the machine’s exterior with a clean towel to ensure no marks or stains are left. 

Washing Machine Cleaner Options

When thinking of the best cleaner options for your washing machine, you may wonder whether you can use washing machine cleaning detergent or use items readily available at home. 

Here’s everything you need to know about using vinegar, bleach, and other cleaner options.

Washing Machine Cleaner

Image of washing machine cleaning tablets and modern washing machine in laundry room

The best way to clean your front-loading washing machine is to use a cleaner designed for your machine.

Different types of cleaners are designed to remove all grime and grease without destroying your machine. 

Nowadays, there are washing machine cleaning tablets and liquid cleaners that you can use.

With powder tub cleaning products, you’ll need to add them to the detergent drawer and set the washer to a cleaning cycle.

Cleaning tablets also work the same way but go into the tub instead of the detergent drawer. 

Using Bleach

Woman putting bleach poweder into the washing machine detergent drawer

Bleach is an excellent way to disinfect your washing machine. It removes mold and dirt from the detergent drawer and drum effectively. 

Simply pour half a cup of bleach into the detergent drawer and the machine’s drum. Run a hot wash to clean the inside. 

Remove the bleach by running another rinse cycle. Use a dry towel to wipe out the seals and the inside of the washing machine door. 

Note that when using bleach, you must be careful about the measurement as it can overcome and damage the washing machine. That could also void your warranty.

Avoid mixing bleach with vinegar as it releases toxic gases. 


man cleaning washing machine using vinegar on spray bottle wearing yellow gloves

White vinegar is another effective washing machine cleaner option.

In a spray bottle, add white vinegar and spritz the mixture inside the drum. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe around. The vinegar helps to remove any buildup, residue, and hard water stains.

Alternatively, you can put two cups of distilled white vinegar into the detergent dispenser and run a hot wash cycle. Rinse the basin by running one process with plain water. 

However, you should avoid using white vinegar often when washing your machine as it could erode the rubber and other plastic washer parts. 

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your front-loading washing machine involves thoroughly scrubbing the gasket, machine filter, detergent drawer, and rubber seals.

Don’t forget to clean the machine’s exterior and leave the door open to allow the machine to dry completely. 

Regular maintenance can stop mold formation and minimize the musty smell. Wipe the inside drum and the external parts of the washing machine after a load. 

Air out the machine by keeping the detergent drawer and door open an hour after moving the clothes to the dryer. 


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