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How to Clean a Front Load Washer

Cleaning your front load washer is important to preventing clothes from coming out smelly or dirty. It can also help keep your machine working efficiently. Here's how to do it.

Getting Started

There's no doubt about it, the front load washer is one of the greatest modern appliances there is. Unlike its top-loading counterpart, it uses less water, energy and detergent but cleans clothes more gently and thoroughly. But there's a downside: These game-changing laundry room staples aren't quite as good at draining water (they don't have as much gravity on their side, of course), so they can collect water in all the wrong places.
Front Load Washer
If you don't occasionally give your front load washer a scrub down, some issues can arise. The moisture that accumulates can lead to the growth of mold and mildew—this can cause a stinky odor that permeates your clothes—not to mention the soap scum and residue that can build up and leave your clothes smelling less clean than they should. But fear not! Cleaning a front load washer is actually quite simple, and we're here to guide you through it.

The Vinegar Spray Method

If you're looking for an eco-conscious approach that doesn't require using any extra water, we recommend the vinegar spray method. This method utilizes distilled white vinegar, which—due to its inherent acidity—serves as a natural disinfectant. The acidic base creates an environment that's inhospitable to those odor-causing microorganisms that can take up residence in your washing machine. To use this method:
  1. Pour distilled white vinegar into a spray bottle. You can add natural fragrances or essential oils to cut down on the harsh vinegar smell, but pure vinegar will work just fine.
  2. Wipe down the barrel, door and gasket (the rubber seal around the door) with a damp cloth to get rid of any surface moisture or dust.
  3. Spray the vinegar in the barrel and on the gasket, door and any nooks and crannies where moisture might accumulate. Let sit for 10 or 15 minutes.
  4. Wipe down the interior of the machine with an old rag or paper towel.
Cleaning Washing Machine

The Vinegar Cycle Method

The great thing about washing machines is that, well…they wash! And this can come in handy when you're looking to clean it. You can use this method when you want to do a deep clean on the machine (once a month or so) or after a particularly heavy period of use. Some people also recommend running vinegar through the machine after manually wiping it down with vinegar for a double-dose of clean.
  • Pour two cups of regular white vinegar into the detergent compartment and run the machine on the longest, hottest cycle available. Depending on the make and model, your machine may also have a designated self-cleaning option you can use.
  • After the cycle is complete, spend time thoroughly wiping down the interior of the machine, including the basket, gasket and any small compartments, using a towel or a microfiber cloth.

Quick Tips for Keeping Your Front Loader Clean

  • Clean the drain plug and filter. These little parts can get clogged with water, hair, lint, coins, small plastic items and more. Each time you do a deep clean, address these issues by pulling the hose out and drain out any extra water into a cup or container. Open the filter door and clean away any gunk using warm soapy water.
  • Get rid of moisture and soap scum after every load. Wipe away any condensation or leftover liquids from the back of the door, the gasket and the detergent compartments with a towel after every load to prevent water from sitting for too long.
  • Let your machine air out. After every load, leave the door open for a half hour or so to allow the interior of the machine to thoroughly dry out and to prevent moisture from settling in and turning into smelly mold and mildew.
Open Washing Machine

A Little Bit of Maintenance Goes a Long Way

Keeping your washer and dryer free of funk and gunk isn't just about ensuring that it leaves your clothes thoroughly clean, but also about ensuring that the unit works at its best. A dirty appliance may have trapped debris and moisture, which can slow the system, put unnecessary strain on certain parts and even compromise efficiency. But learning how to clean a front load washer will help prevent this from happening so you get the most out of your laundry room investment.

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