How to Clean Your Front Load Washer

D3 Appliance
July 8, 2024
Washer Repair

Front-load washers typically need cleaning more often than top-load models since they’re more prone to residue buildup and mold. This is especially around the door seal, but these issues can occur in other areas too. When cleaning is neglected, it can lead to unpleasant smells coming from your washer—which nobody wants!

This article will walk you through how to clean your washer—including the drum, the door seal, and the detergent dispenser—effectively and simply. Before we begin, here’s a list of materials you’ll need:

  • Cloth or sponge
  • Toothbrush
  • Rubber gloves
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Dish soap
  • Bleach (optional)
  • Washing machine cleaner (optional)

How to clean the door seal

The door gasket on front-load washers is the area most prone to grime and mold build-up, so be sure to clean it regularly. Here’s how:

  1. Open the door to access the door seal.
  2. Mix dish soap and warm water in a container.
  3. Dip your cloth, sponge, or toothbrush in the warm, soapy water and wipe the entire door seal. Be sure to pull back the seal to clean under it and in all the nooks and crannies where grime gets trapped.
  4. You can spray on or apply white vinegar to help clean the seal and remove odors.
  5. Keep scrubbing and wiping until the entire seal is visibly clean.
  6. If you need more cleaning power to remove stubborn grime or mold, use a mix of 1/4 cup of liquid bleach and 4 cups of water.

While cleaning the door seal, it’s also a good idea to clean the door glass by giving it a wipeover. You can use the same warm, soapy water and vinegar spray to clean it.

How to clean the detergent dispenser

Detergent residue often builds up in the dispenser, as can mold and mildew. Here’s how to clean it:

  1. Remove the detergent dispenser from your washer. If it can’t be removed from your model, check the user manual for instructions on cleaning.
  2. Soak the detergent dispenser in a container of warm, soapy water for five minutes.
  3. After soaking, scrub it with a cloth, sponge, or toothbrush until it’s clean.
  4. Wipe it dry with a dry cloth and put it back in your washer.

How to clean the drum

There are various ways to clean inside your front-load washing machine, using different cycles and cleaning products while the drum is empty. Here’s how:

Run a clean cycle

Some front-load washers have a cleaning cycle you can use:

  1. Empty the drum.
  2. Add 2 cups of vinegar to the drum.
  3. Run the cleaning cycle.
  4. When finished, add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum.
  5. Run another cleaning cycle.

Alternatively, rather than vinegar and baking soda, you can use washing machine cleaner, which typically comes in tablets or pouches. Simply add the washing machine cleaner to the drum instead of the vinegar or baking soda and run a cleaning cycle.

Run a wash cycle on empty

If your front load washer doesn’t have a cleaning cycle, you can use a wash cycle instead. Here’s how:

  1. Empty the drum.
  2. Add 2 cups of white vinegar to the detergent dispenser.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum.
  4. Run your washer on a heavy-duty wash cycle with the hottest water setting.

Clean the drum with bleach

If your front-load washing machine requires a heavy-duty cleaning, you can opt for bleach. Follow these steps:

  1. Empty the drum.
  2. Pour 1 cup of bleach into the detergent dispenser. Never use bleach with baking soda or vinegar! Always use it by itself.
  3. Select a heavy-duty wash cycle and the hottest water setting.
  4. Run the wash cycle.
  5. When the cycle is finished, run a rinse cycle with hot water to ensure all the bleach is removed from the machine. Do not skip this step as bleach can stain your laundry.

Clean the drain filter

It’s worth cleaning the drain filter about once per month to prevent blockages and bad odors. Here’s how:

  1. Locate the drain filter. It’s usually near the bottom of the washer on the front panel, hidden under a small, liftable panel.
  2. Place some towels on the floor near the filter and have a shallow container handy to catch any spills.
  3. Twist and pull out the drain filter, catching any water that spills out with your container.
  4. Rinse the drain filter under running water to clean it, or soak it in warm soapy water and then scrub it with a cloth or toothbrush.
  5. Wipe the filter dry and reinstall it.

Wipe the interior and exterior of your washer

Now that the door seal, drum, dispenser drawer, and filter have all been thoroughly cleaned, it’s worth giving the entire machine a final wipe-down.

If any areas haven’t been cleaned yet, such as the buttons, display, or exterior panels, you can wipe them with a damp, soapy sponge or soft cloth.

Once that’s done, wipe the entire interior and exterior of the washer with a clean dry cloth or paper towels to remove any remaining residues, and then buff up the surface for a nice shine.

How often should I clean my front-load washer?

You should give your front-load washer a thorough clean once per month, using the methods outlined above. It’s also a good idea to give the door seal and drum a quick wipe down with a dry cloth or paper towels after each wash.

Final considerations

There are a few final things to consider to help ensure your front-load washing machine remains as clean and odor-free as possible.

First off, ensure you’re using only HE detergent if you have a high-efficiency washer. Most modern washers are HE. This will ensure there aren’t excess suds, which can lead to mold and grime.

Next, leave the door open slightly after each cycle, to allow the machine to air dry. Also, take out the damp laundry as quickly as possible after each wash cycle finishes. These steps prevent the creation of a damp environment in your washer, which leads to mold and odors.

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