Over the years I’ve gotten dozens of emails from readers complaining about unpleasant smells coming from their high-efficiency front-loading washing machines. I was more than willing to take a look into this issue, but I don’t actually own a front-loading washing machine! That makes it difficult to take my usual “hands-on” approach to finding solutions to these kinds of household issues. :-) So I did the only thing I could do – I scoured the internet for information! I read dozens of articles online about washing machine issues, until I had pretty good idea of what was causing those unpleasant washing machine smells.
Since HE washers use less water and energy than standard washers, eventually detergent residue, dirt, mildew and minerals can build up inside the machine. This buildup often results in odors, and can even cause your clothes to come out of the wash in a less-than-clean state.
But luckily, there are a few easy steps you can take to help keep the inside of your washer clean and running right. And fortunately, the machine will do most of the work for you! (I wanted to quickly mention that a neighbor of mine was kind enough to offer to let me use her front-loading washing machine for the photos in this post. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise, so thanks Kimberli!) :-)
How To Deep Clean Your Front-Loading Washing Machine
Step 1 – Wash Cycle With Vinegar
Make sure the drum of your washer is empty, then select the “clean cycle” or “tub clean” setting on your washer.
(If your washer doesn’t have a cleaning cycle, just select the hottest and largest load settings.)
Add 2 cups of vinegar to the detergent tray, which will help get rid of odor-causing deposits and mildew.
Allow the washing machine to run through a complete wash and rinse cycle.
Step 2 – Wash Cycle With Bleach
Fill the washer a second time with hot water, also on the “clean cycle” setting (or the hottest, largest setting).
Add 2 cups of bleach to the detergent tray, to remove stains and germs that may be lurking in the wash tub. Again, allow the machine to run through a complete wash and rinse cycle.
Step 3 – Rinse Cycle
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.
Step 4 – Clean The Detergent Tray
Remove the bleach dispenser, fabric softener dispenser, and any other removable parts from your washer’s detergent tray.
Fill a bucket with warm water and a few drops of dish soap. Drop the detergent tray pieces into the bucket and let them soak for a few minutes.
After soaking for a few minutes, pick the pieces out of the bucket and clean them thoroughly with a sponge or cleaning rag. Dry the parts and return them to their original position in your detergent tray.
Step 5 – Clean The Door Seal And Machine Exterior
Next, pull back the rubber seal at around the washer door to inspect it for deposits, mildew, and other yucky stuff.
If it need to be cleaned, which it probably does, mix together 1 cup of liquid chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of warm water in a bucket. Moisten a clean cloth with the bleach water solution, then use the damp cloth to wipe down the seal.
After wiping the seal down with the bleach water cloth, follow with a clean, dry cloth to help remove any remaining moisture from the seal area.
Finally, use a damp cloth or an all-purpose cleaner to wipe down the outside of your machine to get it looking as clean outside as it is on the inside!
Just follow the 5 steps above, and your front-loading washing machine hould be in tip-top shape once again! And remember that this is a process you should be doing regularly – at least once per month.
Everyday Maintenance For Your Front-Loading Washer
In addition to a monthly deep cleaning, there are a few steps you can take on a day-to-day basis to help keep your washer clean in the long run. Do the following things each time you use your washing machine:
- After completing a wash cycle, take the clothes out of the washer as soon as you can.
- Leave the washer door ajar to let the door and drum dry between uses.
- Wipe down the rubber seal and drum with a cloth or paper towel.
- Pull the detergent tray out to let it dry.
These simple steps should keep your washer running efficiently and your clothes smelling fresh!