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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). This has to do with the way they clean clothes. Instead of dragging them through a deep pool of water, they use gravity to rotate the drum; this allows the machine 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 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. That way, you won’t have to put them in the clothes dryer for nearly as long and yup, you guessed it—that also translates to energy savings. In other words, you won’t have to pay as much on your energy bill (it can easily save you more than $100 a year)!

Having said that, they do have their drawbacks. For starters, the front-load design means that 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).

Why Should You Clean Your Front Loader Washer?

They also require more maintenance than top-load washers. Why? It’s harder for water to evaporate from the inside and because of this, they tend to have mold or mildew problems. The air-tight door doesn’t help either (moisture tends to get trapped within the seal). In fact, it’s not uncommon for bacteria to grow on the door gasket and over time, this 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 washing machine 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!

1. Active Washing Machine Cleaning Tablets

Want to deep clean your washing machine? Then consider using Active Washing Machine Cleaner tablets. They’re specifically designed to remove dirt, grime, grease, and residue buildup from front loaders and are compatible with most washing machines including those by GE, Electrolux, Maytag, LG, Miele, and Whirpool.

And they’re super easy to use. If anything, it’s even more straightforward than using 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 the Active tabs, 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 they thoroughly clean the inside of your washer, but they’ll eliminate unwanted odors as well.

When the cycle is finished, open the door and wipe away any residue that’s left on the gasket and drum (we recommend using a microfiber cloth). That’ll prevent mold and mildew issues in the future.

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.

Next, clean the gaskets (the rubber seals around the glass door). Chances are, there’ll be mold, mildew, 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 germs that are 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. That way, you won’t have to worry about mold and mildew growth. In fact, you should be doing that every time after using the washer.

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 kill off any lingering mold, mildew, and bacteria.

When the cycle is finished, wipe the door opening and gasket. If there are stains or mildew, 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.

More Tips to Keep Front Load Washers Clean

HE Front Load Washing Machines

Many front loaders 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.

Always Leave the Door Open

Leave the door open after using the washing machine (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 mold and mildew issues. Not only that, but it’ll prevent bacteria growth 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 bacteria).

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

Don’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.

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