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How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

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Front-load washing machines can easily build up mold and mildew inside, especially in the rubber seals. Learn how to sanitize and clean a front load washer the easy way with this step by step tutorial!

One of my most visited cleaning posts is this one on how to clean a top load washing machine. I’m often asked how to clean a front load washing machine but up until our recent move to England we had never had one so I had no chance to try various methods and report back on the best way.

Luckily (or unluckily depending on how you look at it) I was given the chance to clean our machine as soon as we arrived-look at the condition I found it in!

Front Load Washing Machine seal with mold

Gross right? It’s SO important to clean your washing machine!! Not only were our clothes being rinsed with dirty, moldy water but my husband and sons are allergic to mold and were wearing clothes being washed in it!

How to Prevent Mold in Front Load Washing Machine

To prevent future mold buildup after cleaning you can take a few steps every time you use it:

  • take clothes out of the washer as soon as possible after they are done washing
  • leave the machine door and detergent tray open after washing
  • get in the habit of checking the gasket after you run a cycle and wiping it out with a spare towel (I often find treasures like legos and coins in mine!)

Supplies

  • bleach
  • vinegar
  • white towels or old t-shirts
  • rubber gloves

Step by step

  1. Clean the washer seal: Put on rubber gloves and soak towels or old white t-shirts in bleach and tuck into the seal if you have stubborn stains like I did. Allow to sit for one hour before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Wipe the seal of the washer out with the towels (hands in rubber gloves of course) and then throw the towels into the wash basin.
  3. Clean the basin with bleach: Add 2 cups of bleach to the detergent tray and run on the washer cleaning cycle. If you don’t have a washer cleaning cycle option, run on the longest, hottest cleaning cycle your machine has.

NEVER MIX BLEACH AND VINEGAR. These cleaning agents are used in two separate washing cycles in this tutorial. Mixing bleach and vinegar results in chlorine gas and is very dangerous. Please follow the tutorial as directed.

  1. Clean the basin with vinegar: After the entire cycle with the bleach is finished, we will run another cycle with vinegar. (Bleach and vinegar are in to SEPARATE steps) Add 2 cups of vinegar to the detergent tray and run again on the cleaning cycle or the hottest cycle available.
  2. Rinse the basin: Run one last long, hot cycle with just water, no added bleach, vinegar, or detergent.
  3. Clean the detergent tray: Remove and disassemble the detergent tray if possible and soak in warm soapy water for 10 minutes. Wipe out with a rag or sponge, then rinse and dry before returning to the washer.
  4. Clean the exterior: Use a damp cloth or your favorite cleaner to wipe down the exterior of the washer.

If you would like to print the instructions for reference later I have made it easy below.

How to Clean a Front Load Washer

hand holding dirty washing machine seal open

Front-load washing machines can easily build up mold and mildew inside, especially in the rubber seals. Learn how to sanitize and clean a front load washer the easy way with this step by step tutorial!

Active Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • bleach
  • vinegar
  • white towels or old t-shirts
  • rubber gloves

Instructions

  1. Clean the washer seal: If you have stubborn mold in the washer seal, put on rubber gloves and soak towels or old white t-shirts in bleach and tuck into the seal. Allow to sit for one hour before proceeding to the next step.
  2. Wipe the seal of the washer out with the towels (hands in rubber gloves of course) and then throw the towels into the wash basin.
  3. Clean the basin with bleach: Add 2 cups of bleach to the detergent tray and run on the cleaning cycle. If you don't have a cleaning cycle option, run on the longest, hottest cleaning cycle.
  4. Clean the basin with vinegar: Add 2 cups of vinegar to the detergent tray and run again on the cleaning cycle or hottest cycle available.
  5. Rinse the basin: Run one last cycle with just water, no added bleach, vinegar, or detergent.
  6. Clean the detergent tray: Remove and disassemble the detergent tray if possible and soak in warm soapy water for 10 minutes. Wipe out with a rag or sponge, then rinse and dry before returning to the washer.
  7. Clean the exterior: Use a damp cloth or your favorite cleaner to wipe down the exterior of the washer.

Notes

NEVER MIX BLEACH AND VINEGAR. These cleaning agents are used in two separate washing cycles in this tutorial. Mixing bleach and vinegar results in chlorine gas and is very dangerous. Please follow the tutorial as directed.

Need help keeping track of your cleaning? Try this:
Cleaning Checklist Bundle

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46 Comments

  1. This is a friendly warning. DO NOT mix beach and vingear. This produces toxic chlorine gas. I followed the intructions on this site. My house smelled like a pool. Just use either beach or vingaer not both. There should be warning on this site.

  2. Just did the white towels with bleach- you might suggest opening doors and windows- I feel as though I inhaled too much bleach.

  3. I’ve tried numerous ways to clean my front load washer with little to no results. This method has cleaned better than any other. It took my 2 days to get through it because my machine’s self clean is 4 hours. I think I’m going to start doing this every few months to stay on top of the residue.

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