Prevent Front Load Washer Odors

How to Clean a Front Load Washer for Best Results

How to Clean a Smelly Front Load Washer
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Front loading washers are gaining popularity in the United States. These high-efficiency washers that use less water are a standard in Europe and around the world. But, the transition from top loaders to front loaders has been difficult for many and has resulted in washers that hold odors and have mechanical problems due to improper use and cleaning. Over time, residue from laundry detergents and fabric softeners may cling to the inside of the washer.

In warm, humid weather, mildew or mold may form, particularly if you have forgotten damp clothes in the washer for a few hours. Keeping the washer fresh and clean is an important step in keeping your laundry fresh.

To keep your front load washer operating smoothly, here are some tips for proper and thorough cleaning. Your washer should be cleaned monthly or more often if you have exceptionally heavily soiled clothes.

How to Clean the Inside of a Front Load Washer

  • Note: Before you begin, be sure the washer is completely empty of laundry.
  • Add 1/2 cup of liquid chlorine bleach to the detergent compartment of the dispenser drawer and fill the bleach dispenser compartment to the highest level and run on the Normal Cycle setting.
  • When the cycle is complete, dry around the washer door opening, flexible gasket and door glass. These areas should always be clean to ensure a water tight seal. It is a good idea to wipe these down after every load.
  • Take the time to clean the inside of the gaskets and the edges. Dirt and residue can get trapped and mold begin to grow on the backside of the gaskets.
  • When extremely soiled items have been washed, a dirty residue may remain on the drum. Remove this by wiping the drum with a nonabrasive household cleanser. Rinse thoroughly with water. Or, repeat the entire cleaning cycle using chlorine bleach.
  • If your washer has any plastic in the drum, it may become stained from fabric dye. Clean these plastic parts with a nonabrasive household cleanser or repeat the bleach cleaning cycle. This prevents dye transfer to future loads.

How to Clean the Dispenser Drawers

Detergent and fabric softener may build up in the dispenser drawers. Residue should be removed once or twice a month. Never overfill the drawers to prevent damaging electronic components of the washer.

  • Consult your washer user manual to learn how to remove the drawer. Most have a safety latch but can be removed easily.
  • If the drawer has inserts for the bleach and fabric softener compartments, remove those from the drawer to clean separately.
  • Rinse the drawer and inserts with hot tap water to remove traces of accumulated powders and liquids. If they are particularly coated with built up residue, allow them to soak for ten minutes in hot water and then rinse.
  • Use a small soft brush to clean the drawer opening on the washer. Remove all residue from the upper and lower parts of the recess.
  • When the drawer and inserts are clean, return the bleach and fabric softener inserts to their proper compartments. Replace the dispenser drawer and run a short cycle, like the Prewash cycle, without any laundry in the drum.

How to Clean the Outside of the Washer

  • Weekly, when washing is completed, wipe the top and sides of washer with a damp cloth.
  • As needed, clean the outside cabinet with mild soap and water. Never use harsh, gritty or abrasive cleansers.
  • If the door or console becomes stained or there is mildew growth, clean with diluted chlorine bleach - 1/2 cup in 1 quart water. Rinse several times with clear water.
  • Remove any glue residue from tape or labels with a mixture of warm water and mild detergent.
  • Never store or place laundry products on top of the washer at any time. Spills can damage the finish or the electronic controls.