This is how I clean a front loading washing machine with vinegar so clothes smell fresh and the washing machine is mold-free.
Since I live in a condo and the rules don’t allow for in-unit washers, I am forced to use the shared laundry room. I’m a bit germ-a-phobic so doing my laundry in a machine which I don’t know what has been washed in it, i.e. smelly diapers kind of icks me out.
To save my sanity I clean the washers before I use them. I use the same two washers and spend a few hours every couple of weeks washing the sheets, towels, heavy clothes, and other items that are the best machine washed. Lingerie and lightweight cotton tops are usually hand washed and lined dried.
Here are my simple step by step instruction on cleaning your community front loading washing machine washing machine.
The problem: smelly laundry after it comes out of the washer.
Soon after moving into my condo and using the laundry room in the building, I noticed my clothes had a faint smell of mildew. How could that be I just washed them in hot water and fragrance-free detergent. Since the washer are High Efficiency (HE) and use less water, I put fewer clothes in the washer to avoid overcrowding.
Nothing worked, I washed my laundry on the heavy cycle which provides an added rinse cycle, then wash again on normal without detergent. I have extra sensitive skin and use only fragrance-free detergent and NEVER use dryer sheets or fabric softener. However, I have recently started using Wool Dryer Balls.
Why you need to clean the front loading washers.
Water and moisture can sometimes pool in the rubber gasket that seals the door. If not cleaned mold and mildew grows and sludge forms inside the gasket and clogs the draining holes. Also, this part of the machine will collect hair, lint and goodness knows what else. Now you have the perfect environment for mildew, mold, and smelly clothes.
How to Clean A Front Loading Washer
The first always check the owners manual for your washer model, if it's a community washer then the brand should be on the washer someplace or the model inside the door.
Next gather your supplies:
In my building, each unit has an assigned locker so I leave my supplies downstairs next to the laundry room.
- Disposable Mask - If there is any mildew or mold in the washing machine you don’t want to breathe any of it.
- Disposable Gloves - with the Pandemic, we all have these around now.
- Paper Towel - to wipe out the icky stuff from the gasket.
- Vinegar - standard distilled works just fine but you can also use cleaning vinegar which is a percent or two higher in acidity.
- Baking Soda - get the generic stuff because it all works the same.
- Old Tooth Brush - I have a few cheap toothbrushes I keep in my laundry room locker.
Clean the rubber gasket on a front load washing washer
Gently lift the rubber gasket and use the paper towel to remove any yucky stuff that might be hiding. Pour a little bit of vinegar and baking soda under the gasket and wipe away any mold or mildew.
Clean the inside walls of the washer
Add a cup of Distilled White Vinegar and 1 cup of Baking Soda directly into the washing machine. When Combined they create a bubbling action and will gently scrub any debris left behind in the washing machine.
Clean the detergent compartment drawer
Google the machine model and search for the instruction manual on how to take the detergent compartment drawer out and clean all the compartments thoroughly. Soak it in warm water with a mix of vinegar and baking soda. Use an old toothbrush if you have to but clean out any stains or remaining residues and get underneath. Also, the compartment can get grimy so use paper towels with a little vinegar to clean that as well.
Maintaining a clean washer
Before putting in a load of clothes, peel back the rubber door seal and wipe down the inside gasket with a little vinegar on a paper towel.
Do not let the wet clothes sit in the machine, take them out as soon as the wash is complete.
When done washing leave the door open to allow the water and moisture to evaporate.
You might think this is a lot to do for a washing machine you don’t own, but you do use it, and if you're like me a few extra minutes for fresh mildew-free clothing, sheets and towels are more than worth it.
That's all! now you know how I clean a front loading washer.
More frugal tips to take care of your clothes: Five Tips for Softer Line Dried Clothes and How to Wash Kitchen Towels