When it comes to washing machines, front loaders are definitely the latest trend. These high-tech machines are highly efficient and easier to load and unload — not to mention more attractive than their older counterparts. One of the only drawbacks to a front-loading washer (or high-efficiency top loader) is the fact that they must be cleaned periodically. This cleaning is necessary to prevent and eliminate odors, since these machines are more prone to mold and mildew (even if you can’t smell it!). Lucky for all of us, these cleanings are very easy to do.
1. Wipe Down Your Gaskets
Those rubber gaskets are meant to keep your machine from leaking — a good thing for sure. But they’re so good and keeping water inside that they don’t always dry completely, leaning to mold and mildew build-up. Gross!
Grab a white rag and soak it in a 50/50 mix of bleach and water. Pull out the edge of your gasket, and give it a good wipe until it looks clean. If you have trouble getting the gunk out of there, soak an old white towel in the same solution, and stick it inside the gasket where the gross stuff remains. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so, the scrub the gasket with a small brush. Afterward, get a dry cloth and dry everything out. When you’re done, you’ll want to run the rags you’ve used through a hot wash cycle.
2. Run Your Machine
After your gasket is clean, cleaning the rest of your machine is pretty hands-free. Simply run it through a complete cycle at the hottest setting, adding 2 cups of vinegar to the cycle. (You don’t necessarily need that expensive washing machine cleaner!) If your manual urges you not to run the washer empty, you can throw in a couple of clean dish towels. NOTE: DO NOT ADD BLEACH. Bleach and vinegar together results in toxic fumes!
3. Clean Other Surfaces
If it looks dirty, you can clean your detergent dispenser with a 50/50 water/vinegar solution. If the dispenser cup is meant to be removable (it may not be), you can even check and wipe down the area underneath. You can use the same solution for wiping down the other surfaces inside the door, especially near the bottom, where water may be pooling.
4. Keep it Clean
Most front loaders will remind you when cleaning needs to be done. Don’t skip it! If your washer doesn’t remind you, go through this process once a month. If you don’t see any mold, you can use a vinegar solution on your gasket instead of bleach. To help keep mold at bay, leave the machine door open to dry after each load, and remove wet clothes promptly after every cycle.