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How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

September 17, 2022

Front load washers are different from top-load washing machines in several ways. For one thing, they’re efficient; they don’t use nearly as much water as their top-load counterparts (using a front loader can save up to 2,000 gallons of water a year).

Pros of a Front Load Washer

how to clean a front load washing machine 2Instead of dragging your clothes through a deep pool of water, a front load washer uses gravity to rotate the drum; this allows the front load washer to cycle the clothes in and out of the water while using half the amount of water. If anything, that makes them that much better for the environment.

And because they use less water, they also require less energy to heat the water (high-efficiency front load washers even more so).

That’s not all, front load washers also spin clothes much faster than top load washers. This means your clothes will come out a lot drier.

In other words, you won’t have to put them in the clothes dryer for nearly as long and that translates to energy savings.

Cons of a Front Load Washer

The front-load design means you must bend down to get your clothes in and out of the machine.

As you can imagine, this can be challenging for those with joint or mobility issues. Not only that but there’s no way to put clothes in mid-cycle (as opposed to top-loaders where you can just open the lid and pop them in).

Importance of Cleaning Your Front Loading Washing Machine

how to clean front load washer moldCompared to top-load models, front load washers also require more cleaning. Why? It’s harder for water to evaporate from the inside and because of this, they tend to have grime residue problems.

The air-tight door doesn’t help either (moisture tends to get trapped within the seal). In fact, it’s not uncommon for grime to form on the door gasket, and over time, that can lead to an unpleasant odor, which if left alone, can actually get onto your clothes.

That’s why it’s so important to clean your front load washer regularly, ideally once every two weeks or so (it depends on how often you use the machine).

And there are several ways that you can do it. In fact, that’s what we’ll be going over in detail below. Keep reading to find out how how to clean your front loading washer!

How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

Method #1 – Use ACTIVE Washing Machine Cleaning Tablets

ACTIVE Washing Machine Cleaner tablets are specifically designed to remove dirt, grime, grease, and residue buildup from front loaders and are compatible with most front load washing machines including those by GE, Electrolux, Maytag, LG, Miele, and Whirpool.

active washing machine cleaner mainAnd they’re super easy to use. If anything, they’re even easier to use than vinegar or bleach. For one thing, there’s no measuring involved.

All you have to do is add one tablet to the washer directly to the drum (do not put them in the detergent dispenser) and you’re good to go (one pack comes with 24 tablets, which should last you a year). Did we also mention that they are septic-safe?

Tip: We recommend wiping the inside of the washer with a clean microfiber cloth before using a foaming tablet. As for the nooks and crannies, you can scrub them with an old toothbrush.

Once you’ve added an ACTIVE tab, run a normal wash cycle. You can also run a ‘cleaning cycle’ if there’s one—it’s meant to clean the inside of the washer, which you’ll be doing. And make sure to use the hottest possible setting.

Once the tablet is exposed to water, it’ll automatically break down into its active ingredients. Not only will it clean the inside of your washer, but it’ll eliminate unwanted odors as well.

When the cycle is finished, open the washer door and wipe away any residue that’s left on the gasket and drum (we recommend using a microfiber cloth). That’ll prevent unwanted residues from forming.

Method #2 – Using White Vinegar and Baking Soda

Spray the inside of the drum with white vinegar; its acidic properties will help break down any grime, grease, or stains. Once you’ve done that, wipe the surfaces with a microfiber cloth.

how to clean a front load washing machine vinegarNext, clean the gaskets (the rubber seals around the glass door). Chances are, there’ll be grime buildup, scum, maybe even some hair.

Measure two cups of white vinegar and pour it into the detergent dispenser. Set the machine to the hottest possible water setting and run a wash cycle. The heat will help get rid of some of the reside that is inside.

Add 1/2 cup of baking soda directly into the drum once the cycle is finished and run it again on the same wash settings. The powder will gently scrub the inside, which will help with stains, residue, and buildup.

Not only that but it’ll also get rid of any smells.

Spray the inside and outside of the door with vinegar once the cycle is over and wipe it with a cloth. When you’re finished, leave the door open; that’ll help get rid of some of the excess moisture.

Method #3 – Run a Cycle With Chlorine Bleach

Add half a cup of liquid chlorine bleach to the washing machine dispenser drawer. Do the same thing with the bleach dispenser compartment; fill it all the way up to the highest level.

Choose the hottest water setting and run a normal cycle. The bleach will remove other remaining contaminants.

When the cycle is finished, wipe the washer door opening and gasket. If there are stains or residue, you can clean it with diluted chlorine bleach (mix 1/4 cup with 4 cups of water). Glue residue from labels or tape can be removed with a bit of warm water and detergent.

If necessary, you can also repeat the bleach cycle for double the cleaning power.

Tip: Never mix chlorine bleach with other cleaning products—it can release toxic fumes.

Maintaining the Detergent Tray and Dispenser

how to clean a front load washing machine detergent trayCleaning doesn’t stop at just running cycles; regular maintenance includes taking care of often overlooked parts like detergent trays too.

Start by pulling out the detergent tray after the cycle is complete. Rinse it under warm soapy water then scrub gently using an old toothbrush to clean all nooks thoroughly, ensuring there’s no residue on the surface.

Note: If your detergent tray does not come out, refer to your washing machine’s user manual or manufacturer’s website for help.

More Tips to Keep Your Front Load Washer Clean

Cleaning an HE Front Load Washer

Many front load washer are high-efficiency (HE) washers. As the name suggests, they don’t require as much water and energy to clean your clothes compared to standard washers. The only thing is that you’re limited as to what detergent you can use.

Because these machines use less water, they require a specific type of detergent that creates fewer soap suds. Using standard detergents would produce too many suds and that can affect its cleaning performance. In some cases, it can even overflow the washer.

Leave the Washer Door Open

front load washer cleaning door openLeave the washing machine door open after using your front load washer (it doesn’t matter if you’re washing clothes or washing the machine itself—you always want to leave it open afterward).

That way, excess moisture will be able to evaporate; this will prevent humidity issues, which can lead to grime and other residue issues. Not only that but it’ll prevent contaminants from accumulating as well.

As a general rule, you want to leave the door open for at least 3 to 4 hours before closing it again.

Don’t Use Too Much Laundry Detergent

More detergent isn’t always better. In fact, it can actually make things worse. For one thing, it’ll create too many soap suds, which can lead to residue buildup inside the machine.

Not only will that trap odors but it can also clog hoses and that can be an expensive problem to fix. That’s not all, it can also make your clothes smell bad (excess soap suds will allow the fabric to hold onto dirt and other residue).

That’s why it’s so important to follow the recommended guidelines when adding detergent. Read the label if you have to; never pour liquid detergent into the washing machine without measuring it first.

Don’t Overload the Machine

how to clean a front loading washing machineDon’t overload your washing machine; that can damage it over time. As a general rule, there should be at least 6 inches from the top. If you have to stuff your clothes in, chances are, you’re adding too much.

Also, try to mix small and large items in the same load. That’ll help keep things balanced when the machine is running (if the load is unbalanced, it can cause the machine to vibrate excessively and that can damage the washer).

Clean the Filter Regularly

Don’t forget to clean the filter every once in a while, ideally once every 3 to 4 months (most top loaders have a lint filter inside the washing tub). You don’t want it to be covered with lint as that can affect its performance. In some cases, it can also lead to an odor.

If necessary, soak the filter in hot water. That’ll help loosen any trapped residue so that you can remove it easily.

Check the Hoses

Top load washers have three hoses: a hot-water hose, a cold-water hose, and a drain hose. Generally speaking, you want to inspect them on a monthly basis.

Check to see if there are any cracks or brittleness. Even if they seem fine, it’s best to replace them every three to four years. That’ll help prevent accidents before they occur.

How to Clean a Front Loader Washing Machine – FAQs

How do you deep clean a front load washer?

We recommend ACTIVE Washing Machine Cleaner for the best deep cleaning results. Run a hot cycle with an ACTIVE tablet, then wipe down the seals after the cycle is complete.

What is the best cleaning solution for a front load washing machine?

ACTIVE Washing Machine Cleaner offers the most thorough cleansing. It targets grime build-up and odors in your machine effectively and with minimal effort.

How do I clean and deodorize my front load washer?

Cleaning regularly using white vinegar or specialized cleaners like ACTIVE will help eliminate odor-causing grime and residue.

How do you run a front load washer cleaning cycle?

Add an ACTIVE Washing Machine Cleaner tablet into the drum and run the longest cycle possible. Afterward, wipe down any remaining residue with a damp cloth or sponge.

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Picture of Ethan Clarke

Ethan Clarke

Ethan Clarke is a seasoned expert in appliances and household waste systems. Referencing his extensive experience as an appliance repairman, Ethan shares his invaluable knowledge through detailed maintenance & troubleshooting manuals. Ethan’s insights help homeowners understand and maintain their appliances efficiently, ensuring longevity and optimal performance. He’s here to provide practical, easy-to-follow advice for all your appliance needs.

Comments (6)

  • Jess Reply

    I have a lot of foam after running a cleaning cycle with Active. Am I using too much soap? Should I run another cycle or just a rinse cycle?

    December 16, 2023 at 2:22 pm
    • ACTIVE Support Reply

      Hi Jess! That’s odd, there usually isn’t much of any soap leftover after cleaning – however it can depend on which washing machine cycle setting was used. Try a rinse cycle if you find soap leftover. Next time, if your washer has a “heavily soiled” option or something similar, that cycle usually has a 2nd rinse which should eliminate any stubborn leftover soap. Feel free to reach out any time if you have more questions. And thank you so much for using ACTIVE!!

      January 29, 2024 at 3:42 pm
    • Ed Benavente Reply

      Can I use the washing machine tablets in my dishwashing machine as well?

      March 1, 2024 at 12:11 pm
      • ACTIVE Support Reply

        Hi Ed! The washing machine tablets are not approved for use in a dishwasher. For that, we recommend using ACTIVE Dishwasher Cleaner which is specifically formulated for dishwashers 🙂

        March 11, 2024 at 10:19 am
  • Patsy Conger Reply

    How often do you use the tablets to clean the washing machine?

    April 10, 2023 at 7:57 am
    • ACTIVE Support Reply

      Hi Patsy! We recommend using these cleaning tablets twice a month. Thanks for asking!

      May 1, 2023 at 12:27 pm

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