How To Clean A Front Load Washing Machine

Tell all ya friends and neighbors!

If you’ve got a front load and it’s starting to get the stink of mildew and looking gross, here is the best way to clean it with only 2 ingredients and minimal work!

The truth is this post is a long time coming.

The other truth is that I shoulda done this a long time ago but for a third truth I’m, *checks notes*, ah yes. LAZY.

small laundry room space with tile floor and built in sink with hanging clothes on the wall

Some of you may remember this beauty of a small laundry room makeover we did a while back. Wanna know what’s not beautiful?

dirty inside of front load washing machine

Doesn’t look TOO bad right?

mildew inside of front load washing machine


If you heard a sound, it was me screaming. This is as real as it gets, guys.

mildew inside of front load washing machine

The mildew gets all around both the inside and the outside of the rubber gasket. But why?

I read a long time ago when we were debating between a front load and a top load that to help keep it clean, you’ll want to leave the door open after a cycle to let it fully air dry out. And I do that every single time.

dirty inside of front load washing machine

We also have a second front door on ours that you can open to slip stuff in during the cycle and I leave that open too. Yet it still looks like this.

dirty inside of front load washing machine

This is the top of the gasket. HOW??? That’s not even used. It’s like the dust from the top just floats on down to the top of the gasket here.

dusty top and front of a front load washing machine

Yeah. That dust. Oops.

So if yours looks like this, let me show you how to make it look …. not like this.

How To Clean Your Front Load Washing Machine in 5 Easy Steps

1. Run a self cleaning cycle

woman's hand pushing self clean cycle on front of front load washing machine

Most high efficiency front load washers have a self clean cycle or something similar. The time will vary, but you’ll want to start out by doing this.

1. Run wash cycle with vinegar

glass pyrex cup pouring vinegar into top of front load washing machine

Add 1/2 cup to 2 cups of vinegar to the detergent dispenser. Run a regular wash cycle. I used warm water, but you don’t necessarily have to. I just feel like warm water cleans better but that’s not fact checked so take that with a grain of salt.

As an option, you can add a cup of baking soda to the inside drum of your front loader if you want, but I did not do this. I would highly recommend that if you use fabric softener pretty often that you add this step in, but we don’t so I didn’t. Whatevs.

3. Run wash cycle with bleach

glass pyrex cup pouring vinegar into top of front load washing machine

Add up to 2 cups to bleach and run another wash/rinse cycle. I would recommend doing this with hot water.

4. Run rinse cycle

After this cycle is complete, run a rinse cycle. I actually ran 2 because my husband is a freak about bleach and hates it in any form so I did it to keep him off my back.

5. Clean the inside parts

homemade bleach cleaner spraying a white cloth

You can use whatever cleaner you want (or even do a mix of bleach and water) but since I had my own DIY bleach cleaner made up, I just used that.

woman's hand with white cloth wiping front lip of front load washing machine

Make sure you get all the way around which will be a challenge I found doing the top parts. You shoulda seen me trying to get up in there. It was comedic. But cleaning the gasket is what’s going to keep your washer from smelling like mildew.

That smell puts the EW in mildEW, AMIRITE?!

front window of front load washing machine

If you have a front window/door thing like we do, don’t neglect that. Look how gross that is. EWWWWW.

Just use the same cleaner to wash the inside of this.

Take note of how gross this rag is already. Heaven help.

Last and easiest step is to use a microfiber cloth to dust off the outside of your front loader.

One thing I am not happy with at ALL about this washer and dryer that we have is that the words just freaking scratch right off. Super annoying.

clean inside of front load washing machine

For this little part, I actually wrapped a dryer sheet around a wooden skewer and drug it all around the edge. Since it was mostly dust, it stuck well to the dryer sheet so I was happy with that.

cleaned front lip of washing machine

Admittedly, the inner rubber gasket didn’t come completely clean, even with serious scrubbing and even a test with a magic eraser (which didn’t work, by the way).

However, I still think it’s night and day difference and most importantly, it doesn’t have that gross mildew smell. HOORAY!

white cloth with dirty black mildew on it

Oh, and for those who like crime scene photos, here’s photographic evidence of the mildew that actually DID come off.

How do I keep my front load washer from smelling?

Quite honestly, it requires work. You’ll need to make sure you do preventative maintenance along the way and then clean it like this at least once every quarter (or more if you do laundry nonstop).

Do all front load washing machines have mold problems?

I’m not a doctor, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once. And I’ve polled all my friends that have front load washing machines and they all seem to have this problem.

Listen, if you have a front loader and it doesn’t have a mold problem, you can go ahead and slide in my DMs on Insta and TELL ME YOUR SECRET! I will reward you with virtual hugs and my eternal gratefulness.

Don't forget it, pin it!
How to clean a front loader with 2 ingredients

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