Skip to main content

How to clean your smelly front-load washing machine

Woman loading laundry into smelly front load washer

Have you noticed a smell coming from your front-load washer? Good news: there's a simple way to clean your washing machine—one that will help your appliance last longer, make your clothes cleaner, and get rid of that odor.

Here at Asurion, our experts have experience with every major appliance, including washers. If you have an issue with your appliance, we can help—whether it's a dishwasher door that won't close or a refrigerator that's too cold. Here's our guide to how to clean your front-load washer without the hassle.

How often should you clean your front-load washer?

Even though its job is to wash things, your washing machine isn't self-cleaning. Plus, front-load washers are highly efficient—meaning they use less water than top-loaders—but that also means that detergent and dirt may not completely rinse away. So, to prevent buildup of mold and mildew from forming in the washer drum or other parts, make sure to deep clean your front-load washer once a month.

When you're ready to get started, gather these supplies:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Cloth, sponge, paper towels (don't use anything abrasive that might damage the appliance)
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Washing machine cleaner (pouch or tablets)
  • Liquid bleach
  • Bucket

How to deep clean your front-load washing machine

Follow these simple steps for the best way to clean your front-load washer.

Clean the detergent dispenser

  1. If it's removable (check your owner's manual if you're not sure), take out the detergent dispenser, or detergent tray, and soak it in warm water.
  2. Wipe it dry, and replace it in your washer.

Clean load-washer gasket and door glass

  1. Mix 3/4 of a cup of liquid bleach and 1 gallon of water in a bucket.
  2. Take a soft cloth or sponge, dip it in the solution, and wipe the gasket, the rubber piece that surrounds the door glass. Gently pull it back so you can clean under it, but avoid pulling it out—it's not meant to be removed.
  3. Remove anything caught in the gasket, like hair, bobby pins, coins, etc.
  4. Finish by dipping the cloth in the solution and wiping the door glass.

Run a clean cycle

If your machine has a clean cycle, check your owner's manual for the washing machine cleaning product to use. Then you should:

  1. Make sure the drum is empty.
  2. Add the product and run the clean cycle.

Run a wash cycle with vinegar and baking soda

If your machine doesn't have a clean cycle or if you prefer not to use a washing machine cleaning product, you can use vinegar and baking soda. Here's how:

  1. Make sure the drum is empty.
  2. Sprinkle a 1/2 cup of baking soda inside the drum.
  3. Pour 1 cup of distilled white vinegar into the detergent dispenser.
  4. Run your washer on the hot water setting.

Run a hot water cycle with bleach

If your machine needs heavy-duty cleaning, try using hot water and bleach:

  1. Make sure the drum is empty, then pour 1 cup of liquid bleach in the detergent dispenser. NOTE: Use bleach by itself—never combine it with baking soda and vinegar.
  2. Run the hot water setting.
  3. Run the cycle again to make sure the bleach is completely rinsed from the washer.

Run a rinse cycle

After running a clean cycle or a hot water cycle with a cleaning agent, run your machine's rinse cycle again without adding any product.

Wipe down your washer inside and out

When the rinse cycle is complete, wipe the lid, opening, door glass, and drum with a clean, dry soft cloth or paper towels.

Ways to prevent a smelly front-load washer

Once you've finished your deep-clean, there are several ways to keep your machine sparkling and smelling fresh:

  • For high-efficiency (HE) machines, use only HE detergent and make sure to use the right amount. (Too many suds can cause moisture buildup and mold).
  • Always remove clothes as soon as the wash cycle is over.
  • Regularly wipe and dry the drum, lid, and gasket.
  • Leave the washer door ajar in between loads.

One simple protection plan for your home's major appliances

Forget what you know about warranties, Asurion Appliance+ is so much more. Cover all your eligible appliances—no matter where you bought them—and get 24/7/365 troubleshooting support, all for less than $1/day. Learn more about Asurion Appliance+ coverage and how you can get total peace-of-mind protection.


*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

No one wants to deal with a broken appliance

With Asurion Appliance+, you don't have to. Our plans cover all your eligible home appliances—no matter when or where you bought them—for $34.99 per month (+tax).

Learn more