How To Clean Your {Front Loader} Washing Machine!

clean-front-loaderThis post is brought to you by Amazon where you can get deals on household cleaners!

You had to know THIS was coming.

Earlier this month I shared important information from a Mom/firefighter about how to give your dryer a tune-up, then last week I posted about cleaning your dishwasher.

Well, it’s a new week and today…by special request….I’m going to tell you how to clean your washing machine…specifically your high efficiency washing machine.

(Don’t worry you “LOW efficiency” washing machine owners — which includes yours truly — I will get to you soon.)

The reason I’m focusing on the HE washers today is because I had lunch with my niece Ashley last week and she was complaining about “smelly clothes” coming out of her HE washer. To be honest, I didn’t know much about HE washers except that they use less water and you usually wash with cold water, which required using a certain kind of low-sudsing detergent.

Well, after tonight, I feel like I could write a novel on the HE washer. :-)  I have read dozens of online articles and I think I have a pretty good idea what Ashley’s problem is. Apparently it’s a VERY common one.

Since the HE washers use less water and energy (less HOT water)…detergent residue, dirt, mildew and minerals can build up inside the machine. This results in odors and laundry coming out less than clean.

There are some things you need to do each time you do a load of wash AND…you REALLY need to give your HE washer a good cleaning once a month! Fortunately, the machine will do most of the work for you!

High Efficiency Washing Machine Care
how to clean your front loader
  1. Begin by filling the washing machine with hot water on the largest load setting. Make sure there is no laundry in the washer.
  2. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the water to get rid of odor problems. (Most HE washers should have a “clean cycle” on it and you can add vinegar or bleach on that setting). 
  3. Allow the washing machine to run through a complete wash and rinse cycle.
  4. Fill the washer a second time with hot water, also on the largest load setting.
  5. Add 2 cups of bleach to the water to help with stain removal.
  6. Again, allow the machine to run through a complete wash and rinse cycle.
  7. If all of the stains are removed, run an additional cycle without adding anything to the water. This will thoroughly rinse away any remaining residue.
  8. Remove the bleach dispenser and fabric softener dispenser and soak them in a bucket of warm water. When they have soaked long enough, remove them from the water, lay them on a towel, and spray them with an all-purpose spray cleaner. Wipe away any dirt with the towel.
  9. Dry the dispensers and return them to their original places in the machine.
  10. Finally, inspect the rubber door seal for mold and mildew. Pull back the seal to examine the hidden crevices. Mix 1 cup of liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of warm water. Moisten a clean white cloth with the bleach water solution, then wipe down the seal to remove any mold and mildew. Allow the solution to remain on the seal for five minutes, then wipe down the door seal with a clean, dry white cloth.
how to clean your front loader

Follow these steps and your HE washer should be in tip-top shape once again and the stinky smell gone. Just remember…you need to do it REGULARLY! (once a month at least).

To keep the “smellies” from coming back…do the following EACH time you do a load of clothes:

1. Leave the door open after washing and always take items out of the washer when not in use.
2. Wipe down the rubber seal and drum.
3. Take the soap/softener drawer out to dry.

These simple steps should keep your HE washer running efficiently AND clothes smelling fresh! (the best of both worlds!)


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  1. Carole says

    This was AMAZING!!! My washer looks like new. Thank you, thank you. Happy Birthday, Jillee. I hope you day was one of your very BEST!!! Thanks for your help.

  2. Unknown says

    I chose the "delicate" cycle that helps with the weight problem. On mine there is an "add garment" light that is on during the filling, I let it fill for a few seconds, pause the machine, add the vinager or bleach, and let it run, I also have a "no spin" selection I use during this.
    My dispenser drawer also has a latch in the back that allows it to come all the way out. OH MY GOSH It was so nasty in there! Especialy on the roof (or ceiling) part of the drawer holder. I cleaned it the same way you suggested to clean the rubber and it worked great! THANK YOU for all the posts! It has motivated me to get done all these little things that I know in the back of my head I need to do but just put off! LOL!

  3. Jule Barta says

    Thank you for posting this, I have an HE and hate it. I have so many problems with stinky clothes and feel the clothes do not come out as clean. I will admit I do not clean it regularly and the idea of paying more for a machine that requires more maintenance (Monthly cleaning) just gauls me. I wish I would have returned the machine when I first got it and bought a good used top loader for a heck of a lot less. I have not noticed any savings in water as I often have to double wash my clothes. If I forget them in the machine for more then an hour they start to stink. I will have to be more active in cleaning and thankfully my machine as a cleaning cycle, but I used it for got to open the door when done and 2 days later it stank even worse. Sorry to rant, just those thinking of buying one, think twice. I had a great used Kenmore for 20 years that cost $150 when we could no longer fix it I thought I would treat myself with a fancy new HE. Big mistake.

  4. Sandi K. says

    Despite my frustration with how to add the vinegar/bleach, your post still inspired me to pull out that dispenser drawer and really scrub at it. I wiped the seal down good too. I just wanted to thank you for your daily inspiration to get things done around here! I'm so glad I found your blog!

  5. Stacy says

    Love my HE!! Instead of fabric softener I use 1/4 C of white vinegar and I have never had a smell problem. This also cuts down on the chemical residue from the fabric softener. You have great ideas – thanks so much!

  6. Georgeann says

    I would love an HE but it is not in the budget at the moment since the other one is still kicking.

    I clean ours out once a month. I figured it is the least I can do for the poor thing. The first time I cleaned it out I thought I was going to get sick with how bad the water looked. It took me about 3 times to get the water to look better. I know it washes for 3 kids every day but nothing crazy.

    I will admit our washer has looked better since I started making our laundry soap a few years back.

  7. Anonymous says

    I have a HE washer that I bought 7 months ago. I love it! I couldnt afford the matching drier, but thats ok.I bought it brand new as last years model…huge savings. I did notice a savings in the water bill and electric! The washer spins the clothes so dry that when I put them in the dryer it takes under 40 min. to dry compaired to almost 1 hr!
    Mine also has a sanitizer setting. Takes over 2 hours to clean, using extremely high temp setting, compaing it to using your self cleaning on your oven. Also uses less soap! Would never go back to a regular washer!

  8. Anonymous says

    One thing to add–many HE washers have a filter. My LG has a filter down on the bottom left front and a drain hose. I make sure to regularly let the hose drain out, then remove and clean the filter with bleach. I have occasionally even poured diluted bleach into the drain hose. Then I will wash something with bleach with an extra rinse cycle. Basically I like my washer, but I have to say I am not a fan of having a washing machine that has to be…um…washed.

  9. Anonymous says

    I have an HE Washer also….They make something called smelly washer that I got online (….You run a cycle and add like a tablespoon of this to it once a month and it takes care of the problem….I also leave my door open once I put the clothes in the dryer and never leave wet clothes in the washer.

  10. Delise says

    My HE washer has a "tub clean" setting, I add a little bit of bleach and then let it go. I do leave the dispenser drawer and the door open when it's not in use. I have had my washer for 3 years and have never had a smell problem. Love your blogs Jill!


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