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It’s been a decade since we bought our front-loading HE washer and I’ve managed to keep it smelling clean for 10 years! With just three simple steps, you too can banish the funky, mildew, and moldy smelling clothes washer. Here’s How to Keep Your HE Clothes Washer and Laundry Smelling Clean!

How to Keep Your HE Clothes Washer Smelling Clean

How to Keep Your HE Clothes Washer Mold Free for 10+ Years

We all know the HE (High Efficiency) washer uses a lot less water than the old top load clothes washers. And, they cut down on drying times with a super spin cycle that leaves clothes damp not wet. With all those positives, you’d think everyone would be clamoring for an HE washer. Unfortunately, HE washers can start to stink if they grow mold or mildew inside. What would you say if I told you that after 10 years I’ve cleaned the inside of my clothes washer twice? It’s true, the only times I had to clean it was once when the washer sat in our garage for over a month closed up during renovations. And the second time is when we had a house guest who didn’t know to do three things to keep the washer clean and smelling fresh.

Do These 3 Things After Every Load of Laundry:

  • Wipe out the gasket
  • Leave door open to dry
  • Open detergent drawer (or remove to let it drip dry.)

Here’s how to keep your HE front loading washer clean and fresh like the day you bought it:

1. ALWAYS wipe the door off after each load.

he washer freshness cleaning window

2. ALWAYS wipe out the gasket (top to bottom) to remove any water and moisture. This is the main area that will get mildewy first. Gently pull the gasket toward you to wipe inside and behind the gasket. Wipe especially well around the drain holes at the bottom.

washing machine clean upkeep rubber seals

3. Leave the door open after your wash is done to thoroughly air out your washer. Obviously if you have a closet instead of a laundry room, this can be a problem. Your best bet will be to invest in a top load HE washer when it comes time to replace your washer. Until then, try your best to keep the washer open about 30 minutes after you’ve washed a load.

he washer airing out to keep clean

4. Open or remove the detergent drawer to allow it to air out.

Pulling Out detergent drawer on clothes washer

If you still have odors or smelly laundry, try some of these remedies:

Visible mildew

Inspect inside and around the gasket for signs of mildew (usually black spots.)

he washer mildew cleaning bleach, toothbrush and container

Mix a small amount of bleach and water in a container. Dip an old scrub brush or old toothbrush into the mixture. Scrub mildew spots with the brush. Wipe clean with a clean rag dipped in water to remove the bleach mixture. Repeat as necessary. When the mildew has been removed, wipe dry with a clean rag.

smelly washer cleaning using old toothbrush

Smelly Washer:

Does your washer smell like a locker room. To eliminate smells, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda inside the drum. Add a cup of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser.  Press start to run the washer empty on the hot water setting.

If this doesn’t eliminate all the odors, you can run the washer empty again but this time put 1/2 cup of bleach in the detergent dispenser.

Remember to open the washer immediately, wipe out any moisture, and leave the door open to air dry.  (I can’t stress how crucial it is to do this after EVERY LOAD.)

Smelly Clothes:

Do your clothes, or more likely your towels, come out of the washer smelling like a locker room? Believe it or not, you could be using too much detergent. Liquid detergent is often the culprit. Particles from the soap don’t wash out of your clothes completely and bacteria from sweat and more end up sticking to the fabric. Try switching to a powdered detergent or use this DIY laundry detergent which is low sudsing (and also costs pennies). You can also try this Smelly Towel Cleaner (affiliate link) additive to your laundry, that I use when our towels start to get a little funky (especially the dog towels.) It helps get the odor out.

Remember: Never use more detergent than is called for (even if the item you are laundering looks like this jacket.)

super dirty jacket. Clean clothes in he washing machine tips

Speaking of dirty clothes. I must share this hands down BEST Stain Remover recipe with you:

Miracle Stain Remover

I’d love to hear if these tips helped Keep your HE Clothes Washer and Laundry Smelling Clean!

he washing machine cleaning pretty handy girl

Like this post? You’ll definitely want to learn how to prevent dryer fires:

prevent fires replace dryer hose

And don’t miss How to Clean Out Your Dryer Ducts to Prevent Fires.

how to clean out your dryer ducts

 

128 replies
  1. Lizzy Ford
    Lizzy Ford says:

    Great tips!
    I have noticed that once I started using vinegar in the fabric softener slot that my front load washer no longer smells. And no, my clothes don’t ever smell like vinegar.
    Same thing for my dishwasher. Vinegar in the rinse aid slot. Ahhh the power of vinegar.

    Reply
    • Donny McClure
      Donny McClure says:

      I should have taken pics, I tore our LG front loader apart when the panty just started smelling moldy, on the backside of the tub was a 1/4 inch thick layer of scum ….. a biomass of micro bacteria probably the one related to soap scum I think its called Pseudomonas aeruginosa a gram negative prokaryotic bacteria meaning it reproduces every twenty min meaning it can go from one cell to milliions in 7 hours 🙂 Anyways I cleaned it and sterilized not disinfected it and its been fine for another 4 years. Would love to be able to clean it without taking it apart. For bleach to work as a disinfectant… won’t kill endospores ( gram positive bacteria) so it’s not a sterilizer…. it needs to be completely submerged in a 10 percent bleach solution for at least 10 min. Hope this helps

      Reply
      • Lab tech
        Lab tech says:

        Fact check. Gram negative bacteria can form spores too. In fact some of the worst bacteria are gram negative spore forming rods.
        Bleach is a disinfectant, not a sterilizer. ..this means you are killing most pathogenic bacteria on an inanimate object. For sterilization you must kill 100% of the microbes and in most cases this will require either steam or gas (ethylene oxide) sterilization with an autoclave (pressure cooker can do it old school style).

        Reply
  2. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    Thank You, Thank You….
    I am new to the front load HE washer / dryer world & have never done any of those suggestions….
    I am on my way to go & do them now… Thanks…. K.

    Reply
  3. Shell we
    Shell we says:

    Just wanted to chime in that sometimes that stinky smell comes from a filter on the bottomof the washer getting clogged. I figured this out when we were renting & they replaced our washer with an abused front loader & trying all of the above tips didnt work.

    Reply
    • Eric
      Eric says:

      Is there any way that you know of to access this filter without hiring a techniciam? or does this require taking the whole thing apart to access?

      Reply
      • anon
        anon says:

        The filter is user cleanable. Usually you pull bottom panel, then twist and pull to remove filter. There are usually instructions once you pull off bottom front panel.

        Reply
  4. Marti
    Marti says:

    Good tips; I’ve done everything except the baking soda. Hadn’t heard that one before. The vinegar wash is the one that usually does the trick for me. Is yours a Frigidaire by any chance?

    Reply
    • Heidi
      Heidi says:

      hi, we just moved in a rental with an HE Frigidaire front loader and it smells terrible. so the vinegar with an empty load works for you?

      Reply
      • Marti
        Marti says:

        Yes. I also leave the door open just a little all the time. When they are closed, they get that musty, soured smell. If yours is bad, I’d do everything Brittany recommended.

        Reply
  5. jessica@fourgenerationsoneroof
    [email protected] says:

    You are cracking me up with this post! Believe it or not, I was just thinking the other day, my washer smells……why? Yes, my towels sometime smell disgusting. I actually run my washer a couple times with no detergent or clothes and you would be amazed at the soap suds even without adding detergent. My husband thinks that half the bottle needs to be added!

    Reply
  6. maude
    maude says:

    I have found that a very effective way to clean the gasket around the door is to use an old terrycloth towel. The roughness of the terrycloth is very helpful in removing the gook that seems to develop there.

    Reply
  7. Shannon
    Shannon says:

    My mother always left the lid of our top load washer open and when I moved out I always shut mine. When I mentioned to her my washer was smelling she told me to open the lid. Letting it air dry would solve it and to run white vinegar through the bleach dispenser when doing towels would freshen the washer and make the towels smell fresher. Has always worked for me. I also wipe out the drum and inside ledges with bleach water a few times a year.

    Reply
  8. kim
    kim says:

    We hat the first front loading machine the Maytag Neptune it boy did it get stinky. We tried everything and still no luck. We ended up getting rid of it and bought a top loader. Hubby wouldn’t buy another front loading.

    Reply
  9. jonie
    jonie says:

    I always remove the dispenser drawer after each wash.
    The little bit of water left there will caused mold around that area too.

    Reply
  10. Colleen Taylor
    Colleen Taylor says:

    Brittany, so very helpful to know this since I just had a washer repairman here a week ago. My from load Maytag washer is almost a year old so still under warranty. The repairman told me there are HE washer cleaners out there to buy & he said I would have to go to an appliance store to find them. He told me the Tide cleaner isn’t any good & to get another brand. I haven’t gotten around to it yet so you saved me some $$. Thank YOU.
    I also read your DIY washer mix ingredients & you answered my question about if that was an ok thing to use on HE washers! You are a GEM! Thank you again!!!

    Reply
  11. Carol
    Carol says:

    Even tho I use a homemade detergent I always double rinse my towels. I had problems with them smelling even tho they were clean and my sister told me to rinse them twice. My top loader has a place to set for 2nd rinse so I only do for towels. I learned from my mother to leave the lid open to let the washer dry out. If it has been a day since I washed I will close the lid until I need to wash again. There are only 2 of us so don’t need to wash as often as when the girls (3 of them) were home. Since I have soft water, I only use 1 TBSP of detergent in my washer. I had heard years ago that using too much detergent is what makes clothes look gray. Who knew?!

    Reply
  12. GinaMero
    GinaMero says:

    Yeah, there are many things you can do to stop the smell. The instruction book actually says to wipe the door and leave it open 10 minutes after last wash. My thing? Once in a while for grins I use no-name (you can use name but it’s pricier) mouth wash in the detergent slot on the speed wash setting. Works great.

    Reply
  13. KellyStewart
    KellyStewart says:

    I have found that by using a small cup to prop open the door between washings, it gets enough ventilation so that it doesn’t get mildewy. We use an old detergent cup between the door and the machine itself. Workd like a dream!!

    Reply
  14. Ginger
    Ginger says:

    I have had my front load washer about 4 years and have never had to clean it, other that wiping down the outside. I add baking soda to every load along with the detergent , it keeps the machine clean as well as the clothes, it works for me. I do have some build up in the dispenser drawer that I have to clean, but the inside is mold free!

    Reply
  15. ANNA LEE
    ANNA LEE says:

    I am mom to 21 kids (14 at home now). We have LOTS of laundry and I use inexpensive detergent. Our front loading machine smelled horrendous for years. Then I started adding 1/2 cup of BORAX to every load. It not only stopped the smell in my clothes, but it stopped the smells in my machine. I have never had a problem and I never leave the door open to dry out (although I wash so darn many loads there is rarely a 1/2 hour in between!). Opening the door and wiping can’t hurt, but I don’t do either. About once a month (or more) when I have very smelly clothes, I also add a 1/2 cup of white vinegar. What was a daily problem is now non-existent.

    Reply
  16. Nikki F.
    Nikki F. says:

    The secret that no one wants to tell you about HE washers is that they were made for powdered soap. If you use the liquid, yes even the stuff made for HE washers, it slowly breaks down your seals and leaves that smell. My washer in the very tiniest print buried in the manual said something about that and we contacted the company to check. We were told if you want your machine to last for many years to come use only powdered soap. We’ve had ours over 3 years now, never a smell. We’ve forgotten a load in there for a day every once in a while, leave the door closed always and never one a smell. We also have pets, so lots of dirty loads and nothing. So please ppl with front load HE machines heed my advice and NEVER use liquid detergent.

    Reply
    • John B.
      John B. says:

      We have a Kenmore Elite front loader that is 9 years old. We have always left the door open after washing and have never cleaned the seals or gasket. Our wash is always fresh and we have never had odors in the clean clothes or towels or in the washer itself.

      Reply
      • Clare
        Clare says:

        I have a kenmore elite front loader and just noticed it has mold in the gasket and bottom of the door. I am sensitive to mold and afraid it may be in the clothes I washed even though they do not smell. Help!

        Reply
    • Rachel
      Rachel says:

      You are absolutely correct!! I have been told this many times and we only use powder detergent. Also you don’t need to use as much as you think, a couple tablespoons goes a long way. The liquid gets stuck up and causes the smells.

      Reply
  17. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    I have had a front load HE washer for a couple years. I am finding that I need to disassemble the detergent/bleach/softener dispenser and scrub it thoroughly with a anti mildew cleanser , as mildew/mold is growning in there. Does this happen normally, to others? any tips to keep this from happening?

    Reply
    • Danielle at Washer Central
      Danielle at Washer Central says:

      Cindy,

      I had the same problem in the past and a friend suggested that it was due to us adding too much chemicals to the dispenser; more than was required for a particular load. We started adding a little less detergent/bleach and the problem pretty much disappeared.

      By the way, some front loaders have a self-cleaning cycle that also cleans the dispenser; perhaps your model has that available?

      Brittany, thank you for the advice. I always make sure to keep the door open after a cycle, but I must admit I sometimes close it simply because it annoys me and messes with the “artist” inside me, if that makes sense 🙂

      Reply
  18. heidi
    heidi says:

    We just moved into a rental with a Frigidaire HE front loader. I was so happy because I believe the front loader move the laundry around more so it gets really clean. Then it the time came to do my first laundry. Boy was it smelly! so I googled all the tricks and when I pulled back that gasket I almost passed out. The previous renters probably never did it. I scrubbed and scrubbed but I couldn’t get it all. I am hoping that if I do it often enough it will eventually come off. Now it’s much better but still smelly so I will go ahead and try the vinegar and baking soda. Now finally my question: do I use it once in a while with an empty load or do I add it to every load I do? I used to put a cup of vinegar in every load at my old place because I used very cheap detergent, but that was a regular front loader. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Heidi, did you try a diluted bleach to clean the gasket. You want to eliminate any mold from the gasket and other places water might sit in the washer. Then if you are diligent about wiping the moisture every time you do a load of laundry you shouldn’t need to do the vinegar each time. Not that it would hurt anything to add it though. I usually run it with the clothes. But, if I ever need to really give the washer a good clean I’d run it empty.

      Reply
      • Heidi
        Heidi says:

        yes I tried the diluted bleach when I pulled it back there weren’t any spots. it was one black gasket. I got it down to just spots but that took a while. I also found the “washer fan” online it dries out the left over water in your outer drum. it sounds awesome and a permanent solution, but it is also $70 for a tiny little fan you put on the existing air outlet. sorry but I don’t have 70… well thanks for the quick reply. I think this machine needs an empty run

        Reply
        • Brittany Bailey
          Brittany Bailey says:

          Whoa, $70 for a little fan that pushes air into the drum. Honestly, if your washer doesn’t smell now, if you wipe out the gasket and drum after each use. AND, leave the door open, you should be fine. If you want a fan, buy a cheap $20 and aim it in the drum during the day, but I think that might be overkill.

          Reply
  19. Karen
    Karen says:

    I always do whites last and I use bleach. I have had my washer since 2001 and I’ve never had a problem with mold or mildew. When I am finished, I leave the door slightly ajar.

    Reply
  20. Melanie Benjamin
    Melanie Benjamin says:

    Hi! Do you put the1/2 cup of baking soda in the drum of the front loader with your clothes or in dispenser with the powder detergent?

    Reply
  21. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    I have a Maytag Neptune that has the mold. I have tried all of the suggestion made, and the mold is still there. I leave the door open, I dry the gasket and have run vinegar and the commercial products, all to no avail. I’m about ready to trade it in on a different machine!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Kathy, can you see the mold? Or just smell it? If you can see it, you might need to be more aggressive and clean it with a store bought mold and milder killer. It is also possible there there is mold where you can’t see it. I’d try to google how to open your machine and clean it everywhere.

      Reply
  22. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    I haven’t taken the case off the machine, I don’t feel like I should have to do that after spending the kind of money they want for these machines. A local news station did a report on this specific brand, the company admitted that mold and mildew were a problem with these washers, their suggestions were the same as yours. I have taken a name brand “mold killer” with a plastic knife and a toothbrush, it did not budge it. It is not in the larger part of the gasket, but the small groove that is against the door. Like I said, I’m in the market for a new one, maybe an upright – sans the agitator. Thanks for the fast reply. I’m new to the blogs. Just signed up for a bunch a few days ago, now I’m not getting anything done. So much to learn!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Kathy, that really sucks ;-(. I’m so sorry you are in this predicament. I wonder if Maytag customer service could help you get a new machine that doesn’t have the same design. It never hurts to try. Good luck. And glad you found the blog.

      Reply
  23. Kat
    Kat says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPmNtO-QAcU

    Depending how handy you are, you might want to try removing the rubber. You could either clean or replace it. Mold can grow into the rubber and be permenent, but sometimes you can remove enough to eliminate the smell. Im not sure how much a replacement gasket would cost but for sure less than a new washer.
    Check out this how to video. Seems pretty straight forward if your handy.

    Reply
  24. Julie Irato
    Julie Irato says:

    Maybe a silly question – but how do you use powder detergent in these machines? just put it in the drum vs using the dispenser?

    Reply
  25. Autumn
    Autumn says:

    I had a tech come out one day when a power surge shorted our washer and he said the same thing: keep the door open. He also found a long lost sock in the gasket (oops!), so I check/wipe it regularly now. I also sometimes spray the gasket with Method shower cleaner to keep it smelling fresh and girly. Love that stuff.

    Reply
  26. Linda
    Linda says:

    I am interested to know this also. When you put the baking soda or Oxi-clean in you put it in the drum, right, so would you put the powdered detergent in the drum also? Also, how much powdered detergent do you you per load?

    Reply
  27. Linda
    Linda says:

    Sorry, my post did not go where I thought it would under the question that was asked. The question was if you use a powdered detergent do you put the detergent in the drum or in the dispenser?

    Also, I would like to know how much detergent to use per load. I believe I have been putting too much liquid detergent in my machine. I’ve had an even more awful smell of late which has led me to use a little more detergent…vicious cycle. 🙂 Thanks for your help!

    Reply
  28. Pam
    Pam says:

    I have been cleaning my front loader with bleach wash and Affresh, baking soda and vinegar and all have been working for me for a couple of years. Mostly I use the washer clean cycle with bleach only. Three weeks ago we noticed a very strong mildew odor so I cleaned the washer as usual and the smell was still there. Did it again and the smell was still there. I kept telling my husband the smell seemed to be coming from the back of the washer. We pulled it out from the wall, washed everything back there and the smell was still there and we only smelled it when we ran a load of wash.Well after three weeks of all this we pulled the washer out again and I sniffed the area where the outlet hose goes into the wall and nearly fell over! We pulled the hose out and it was 15 inches of packed, black,greasy, smelly gunk!! We disconnected the hose and have thoroughly blasted it out with hot water from our hose,scrubbed it with bottle brush and toothbrush and soaked it over night in bleach water, blasted it again and now it is fresh and clean. Brought the hose and hot water in and blasted the pipe in the wall and sprayed Tilex in there and will blast again!
    Moral of the story is remember to pull the outlet hose out and clean it regularly when you clean your washer! It has not been a pleasant experience!

    Reply
  29. Sylvia
    Sylvia says:

    I found mildew in the soap dispenser. I have’t heard anyone to mention to take out the dispenser and clean it and the back where the water and soap goes into the machine.

    Reply
  30. Ruth
    Ruth says:

    I have a top HE washing machine and there is absolutely NO way to clean them!! Since they will not fill with water until you have clothes in it, there is no way to clean it. If anyone has any tips on how to clean one of these machines, Please Please let me know

    Reply
  31. Saundra Wood
    Saundra Wood says:

    I clean my front loader soap dispenser when it needs it, but after every wash I prop the dispenser door open with a soft cloth and leave it until the next wash. That way air circulates in there. and I always leave my washer door propped open after done using the machine. I do clean the door and inside, but opening these 2 areas every time keeps the build-up & odor from forming. Air circulation seems to work. I have an LG front loader. it is in the basement. I only use HE liquid detergent, and measure what I use per load. We have very expensive water/sewer rates, so a front loader is a must for me. I will put some white vinegar in it also with the wash. It is great for just about everything.

    Reply
  32. Claire B
    Claire B says:

    Kim, I’ve definitely got to agree with you there. I’ve had a front loader now for a year, have done all of this stuff that is supposed to eliminate odors and such, and nothing really seems to work. My clothes are icky, and my towels smell worse afterwards than they do before I wash, plus come out all stiff and nonabsorbent. If the washing machine is so temperamental that you have to baby it through every use, then it’s pretty useless in my book. Let Kelly Ripa play barbie with her clothes washing – I’ve got better things to do with my time.

    I had front loaders when I lived in Germany and the Netherlands both, and they worked well. I’ve finally figured out that it isn’t the washer, it’s the detergent. This so-called detergent that we get here doesn’t really clean anything. The cleaning industry is so obsessed with ‘protecting the environment’ that all cleaning products have become ineffective at actually, you know, CLEANING, for nameless fear of some horrible consequences. Oh, for the days when products actually worked!

    Try taking your clothes to a commercial laundromat once a month, and use an old fashioned top loader that uses lots of water – it’s the only way to get your towels and bedding feeling and smelling clean.

    As for me, I’m moving soon and will get rid of this horrible front loader and get something that will actually clean my clothes. God, I miss my 40 -year – old Maytag!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Claire, I’m so sorry you’ve had this experience. Interesting what you say about the Germany and Netherlands washers. We vacationed in Europe and had no issues with the washers, but the dryers were horrible until someone showed us how to empty the built up water reservoirs.

      Reply
  33. Cindy
    Cindy says:

    Thanks for all the tips. My new washer is Electrolux, and the door is on a spring so that it can either be closed or wide open. I want it open just a little bit so the cat can’t get inside. Has anyone come up with a way to do that? Thank you!

    Reply
    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Cindy, can you cup a scrap of wood to put in the door or use a pool noodle cut to the height of the door and propped into it? Not knowing what the Electrolux looks like, I’m not sure what to suggest.

      Reply
  34. How to Rid your Front Washer of Mold
    How to Rid your Front Washer of Mold says:

    I tried numerous things. I learned that if I use powder laundry detergent, the problems with mildew will go away. My theory is that the liquid detergents probably contain some type of enzyme or are made of animal fat(s) which acts as a food source for in this case “mold”.

    Reply
  35. Betty
    Betty says:

    We have a GE Front Loader. We tried to use vinegar in the fabric softener compartment, but before we could close the drawer, it was already leaking out. How do you use it and make sure it goes into the final rinse. Thanks in advance

    Reply
  36. Lauren Coleman-Lochner
    Lauren Coleman-Lochner says:

    Hi, everyone. I am working on a story about how detergent makers are suffering as more consumers switch to high-efficiency washers and no longer use too much detergent for their loads. It sounds like this is depressing detergent sales. I would like to include comments from HE machine users about their experiences. A couple of questions: do you use regular detergent in your HE washers, or detergent specifically for HE machines? Also, are you more careful about using the proper amount in your HE machine because of concerns about the warranty? If anyone would like to discuss this, my contact info is below. Thanks and best, Lauren

    Lauren Coleman-Lochner
    Consumer/Retail Reporter
    Bloomberg News
    Bloomberg Businessweek
    731 Lexington Ave.
    New York, NY 10022
    +1-212-617-4673
    [email protected]

    Reply
  37. Nikki
    Nikki says:

    You have the same exact washer as me! I am so glad I found this post. I will be following your tips and probably going back to making my own detergent. Thank you so much for posting this 🙂

    Reply
  38. Beth Shay
    Beth Shay says:

    I have had a front loader for a couple years. While the machine does not smell (Vinegar only for ‘softening’ and keeping the door open always), my towels smelled NASTY- even fresh out of the dryer. I found a product called Smelly Washing machine Cleaner and its sidekick, Smelly Towel Cleaner (catchy names, huh? lol) I purchased them at Ace Hardware, but I believe you can get them online as well. They are kinda pricey, but they go a long way and you don’t need much. I am amazed at how well they worked even the 1st time. I have no affiliation with this company. It is VERY nice to not smell like a funky towel when you have just stepped out of the shower. Brittany, I love your blog . Its one of the few I read every post!

    Reply
      • Lesa
        Lesa says:

        Funky towels…..stop using dryer sheets. Use plain old white vinegar in the rinse, or a good homemade softener. This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure that you dry your towels soon after the washload is finished. Letting them sit in the washing machine wet can contribute to the smell as well. I have a front loader and I frequently wipe the gaskets; remove and clean the dispenser. Yes it may seem like a hassle, but a washing machine is a tool and should be treated well. I also have a top loader. True, I don’t have to do anything to it, except leave the lid cracked open, but it doesn’t clean as well, or efficiently, as my front loader.

        Reply
  39. Andy J.
    Andy J. says:

    Thanks for this post! I am now obsessed with cleaning my HE washer after noticing “that smell.” But can you please post a warning for other cleaning-obsessives who might try to mix bleach AND vinegar at the same time? This creates a really dangerous toxic cloud of doom! So do one and/or the other but never at the same time! I may have learned this the hard way 🙂
    Thanks!

    Reply
  40. Regina P.
    Regina P. says:

    I am having a problem with my front load washer that I’m not even getting any answers for on any google site – maybe someone can give me some insight. When I leave my washer door open after a load – many times the drum fills itself with water (not every time – but many times) and I’ll walk into my laundry room flooded with water where it’s dribbling down the washer from the drum. Has anyone had this type of problem with their front load HE washer?

    Reply
  41. David V.
    David V. says:

    We had a similar problem and found it to be the water inlet valve. Here is an excerpt from a DIY website:
    The Water Inlet Valve on your washing machine is used to fill the tub with cold, warm or hot water for the wash and rinse cycles. The valve is operated by electric solenoids that are controlled by the timer or electronic control board and the water level control/water level selector switch or pressure switch. If your washer continues to fill during a cycle, the water inlet valve could be at fault. To verify that the valve is at fault, unplug the washer when the symptom occurs. If the washer continues to fill, then the water inlet valve is defective. If the washer stops filling, then the problem is related to the electrical circuit that controls the valve.
    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  42. christine
    christine says:

    Front load washers are great. From day 1 never ever use liquid detergent and never ever ever use liquid fabric softener. Both have surfactants(animal fats ie:chicken grease) and build up in the machine. That in combination to leaving doors shut. Go on you tube and follow the directions on how to make powder laundry detergent. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmpYbJtzWXI.. I am by no means an advocate for any website I just happen to find this website useful and made it myself and it works great. I have a whirlpool duet and use this with vinegar as fabric softener. I put 1-2 tbsp. of the laundry det in the drum and add a capful of downy unstopabbles for yummy smell. then add vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser. add clothes and turn on machine. Once load is done I wipe inside the seal with a small dry washcloth and leave door open. Now if you have inherited a machine from someone who hadn’t taken those steps you need to thoroughly clean out the machine. pull it out, take off hose and clean that out. then I recommend using blech in fab sft dispenser and in bleach dispenser as manual says for cleaning cycle and hot water. do that and its supposed to sanitize the machine. Ypu want all your ducks in line so you don’t forget to clean everything. I was a big fan of fab softener b/c I love soft yummy smelling laundry. I use the unstopables. they don’t seem to leave a residue. and I use vinegar as a rinse EVERY TIME. hope this helps.

    Reply
    • Theresa
      Theresa says:

      I wish I had seen this before we bought another top loader specifically because of this problem. I am so short that a front loader would have been wonderful. But the thought of having laundry that smelled bad was too much.

      I wonder since I already have the top loader now if there is any place on it that might grow mold and would need to be watched? Definitely getting the front loader next time and just putting these things into practice.

      Reply
  43. Dannye
    Dannye says:

    I am new to the HE front load washing machine. I purchased mine used. The seller was moving and sold both for $300! I am so glad that I have found this forum. I had NO IDEA that a washing machine needed to be “washed”! Really?? So I guess the good old days of just washing a load and going about your business is gone. I have spent two days cleaning all the suggested areas in the post, and found mildew and gook in all of them. I think now everything is nice and clean. The only thing I am concerned with is some of the areas still have the mildew stains that won’t go anywhere. I’ve used baking soda and vinegar mixture, and have also run clorox in a separate cycle and the mildew stain is still there. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply
  44. Marc
    Marc says:

    U.S. Marine invents device to eliminate front load washer woes
    Laundry Lasso is the only to keep your door open and out of the way, preventing mold, mildew, and odors.
    Universal, fully adjustable and won’t damage your machine.

    Laundrylasso.com

    Reply
  45. Linnie
    Linnie says:

    I’ve an electrolux front load washer. The dispenser drawer is full of water after each wash. I didn’t know about using powdered detergent until I came across this site (thank you!), so have been using he liquid detergent since we purchased this washer 8 years ago. What do I need to to do to stop the dispenser drawer from filling up w/water? Thank you so much! Love all the tips—some that I’ve been utilizing & some that I shall start ASAP.

    Reply
  46. Brittany
    Brittany says:

    Thanks for your tips! I’ve had my front loading washing machine for about six months and last night when I opened it I smelt that musty-mildewy smell. I knew I had to act quick. I will definitely give your ideas a try 🙂

    Reply
  47. Hilda
    Hilda says:

    I have a different problem. My white towels come out of the washer with big brown swirly spots on them. This happens only to the white towels and my white sheets. All my other whites are o.k. I clean my machine regularly. This has been a mystery to me for a long time. Help.

    Reply
  48. Wendi
    Wendi says:

    I just moved into a house that has a front loader HE washer and dryer and I’m guessing it’s probably about three years old. Anyhow it smells funny, so I googled how do I clean my HE front load washer and your blog was the first one that came up. My question is after you scrub with bleach, and I have used straight bleach and a toothbrush, on the black only spots and they still don’t come out do you have any suggestions?

    Reply
  49. Iggy
    Iggy says:

    I disagree with the Front-Loader “facts” of always being better than a Regular or Normal Top-Loader. I definitely wouldn’t ever buy a HE Top-Loader, watch it “wash” and you’ll agree. Sorry but, with Front-Loaders not even living 6-years on average and Top-Loaders living an average of 20-years, I’d have to say Top-Loaders win every time and in every way.

    I’ve never had any problem with any Regular Top-Loader’s cleaning and/or untreated stain removal. And who cares about water? My bill’s $30 and has never even hit $40. But, if I use anymore heating or cooling it’s blatant in my electric/gas bill. Now, I do only cold washes with Coldwater Tide (works amazingly well) and have no energy affect with my Top-Loader and saw no appreciable change in my bill from before I went cold.

    If you want to pay A LOT more from start to a sprint-finish, then a Front-Loader is what you want. If you want the UNBEATEN tried and true cheapest route, then a Regular (“wasteful”, according to liars and frauds) Top-Loader is what you need. Hey Front-Loaders, is it ecological or economical to throw away your forced obsolescence garbage purchase THREE-TIMES (minimum) as often?

    Reply
    • Kelly
      Kelly says:

      Hmmm. I must have read these steps somewhere before, because those are the exact things I would do after I was done using the washer. After wiping it down, wiping the rubber at the bottom, pulling it and dabbing all the water up, Then I’d let the rag absorb all the water in the soap dish and take those out and let them sit on a dry rag. Then I left the soap drawer and the door open all the time, until it was time to use the washer again. ONE TIME it stank, and that was because I left the door closed and didn’t wipe it down. I moved and left the Washer&Dryer with the house, and purchased a top load. My Samsung front load was LOUD. It was down a hall in a room with a closed door, and I still heard it in the living room. Movers told me it was a problem with the drum, that the washer was balanced. I’ve never had a drum problem with a top load. I bought a top load HE. Last top load I had I also left the lid open and a repairman told me that wasn’t necessary. I know it’s not necessary, but it’s not hurting anything either, and I just want to make sure it airs out lol.

      Reply
  50. maria anjos
    maria anjos says:

    I have an HE front load for 14 years . Besides the smell which requires cleaning the rubber and keep the door open i have not had a problem.

    Reply
  51. Cheryl
    Cheryl says:

    To help eliminate the mildew smell in a front load washer, all these suggestions are good. Can’t believe the most important one isn’t listed. You have to remember that you washing with 2.5 to 3 gallons of water where top loads use 10 to 15 gallons. With that, do NOT use the recommended amount of laundry detergent the manufacture suggest. Use only about a small table spoon, learned from a service tech. I cleaned my front load 2 years ago and reduced the amount of detergent, wipe the door off and leave it open just a bit. The smell has never returned.

    Reply
  52. Christi
    Christi says:

    I switched to a powdered detergent a few years ago at a neighbors recommendation. I haven’t had trouble with the smell since.

    Reply
  53. Lara
    Lara says:

    I live in the Arizona desert, so I care a LOT about water. Had my front loader going on 10 years and no probs – I let the door stay open during the last dryer load and close up when I pull those clothes out. (This along with the gasket wiping). Once in awhile, I’ll run the “clean drum” cycle. LG washer and dryer.

    Reply
  54. Carol
    Carol says:

    I inherited a top load HE washer when we moved to this place. I love it. I use vinegar in the softner spot and do a second rinse on towels. Since I have started doing that I have not had funky smelling towels. I started this with my regular washer before we moved. I agree that leaving the lid open is critical to keeping the mold and mildew away. I also run the clean washer cycle with a special washer cleaner about once a month to help keep it fresh.

    Reply
  55. Denise Amigh
    Denise Amigh says:

    Always have had a top loader. Bought my first loader about 2 years ago and I love it ! “Tide” makes a washing machine cleaner. It’s in the washing machine cleaner , it’s in the laundry aisle where I shop. Drying the gaskets is important . It was mentioned in my owners manual .

    Reply
  56. Grace Spada
    Grace Spada says:

    I agree. Hated my stinky front loader. LG
    Shame on LG or any of them that still are making these overpriced stink machines. I just got rid of mine all because it was impossible to get the stink out. I’m a deep cleaning person but your products should be against the law! I’m furious!

    Reply
  57. RobH
    RobH says:

    No one seems to listen to the “use powdered detergent” comments but it’s true. Years ago I watched a great YouTube video by a repair man on front loaders and the primary reason for both the stink and the early demise of the machine (rear bearing failures), the residue left by the binder in most liquid detergents. He explained how to clean out the residue (easiest is granulated dish detergent and hot cycles) then never using liquid detergent again. I bought a cheap store brand box of dish detergent, ran a number of “hot” loads empty and some with my garage rags (wow that cleaned them) and was amazed how nice the machine smelled. That was years ago, no more odor (ever), no special handling of the machine (we keep it closed and don’t hand clean it, and hopefully many more years with no bearing failure.

    Reply
  58. Mike
    Mike says:

    I wouldn’t use ammonia just because if it’s accidentally mixed with bleach or with a product containing bleach you will create a deadly gas.

    Reply
  59. Cynthia
    Cynthia says:

    Ive had my front loader for well over 10 years and nothing has gone wrong with ours and we have rven moved 4 diffrent times ifbyou follow your instructions iggy then you shouldnt have an issue and if you do your reasearch before you by a product then yiu may have been able to find sometgjng that might ha e worked out for you. But it looks to me like you have something againt a front loader and want to bash people because they like theres. Whats the matter did your front loader shrink your blankey.

    Reply
  60. Rex H Gale
    Rex H Gale says:

    We have taken ALL of these steps with our 6 year old LG and nothing works…help…anything else that has not already been mentioned here…

    Reply
  61. Felene Pollard
    Felene Pollard says:

    I too have an LG front loader a little older than that with the same problem! I am going to try the baking soda & vinegar today & switch to powder detergent. Thank you for any suggestions!

    Reply
  62. Carmen
    Carmen says:

    Last week we completely took apart our front loader because the spin cycle was suddenly very loud. (Our machine is about 10 years old.) My husband figured out the ballbearings were bad and ordered a kit to fix it. While waiting for the part we discovered the drum, all other hidden parts that work the machine, and the water hoses were covered in layers of filth. We power washed and scrubbed it all clean. Now I know why I could never get my machine to stop smelling. It was disgusting.

    Reply
  63. Carmen Sica
    Carmen Sica says:

    Our is an LG and about 10 years old. We took it apart completely last weekend and everything was coated in gunk. We cleaned the hoses inside, gasket, drum, and other pieces. It finally doesn’t stink. It was disgusting. (We took it apart due to a noise. We had to order a $120 kit for the ball bearings. I am glad we took it apart instead of buying a new machine. Good to know the level of gunk that can build up. I am going to switch to powder detergent.)

    Reply
  64. Laurie Powers
    Laurie Powers says:

    I have been battling gross mold on my gasket for years. Tried everything. So disgusting. Finally, in frustration, decided to go with straight bleach. Soaked rags with bleach and tucked them in and around the gasket and let sit for at least 20 minutes. Poured bleach straight into the bottom of the gasket. Probably not great for the rubber but I was ready to give up on this machine. It worked! Mold is gone! Washed two loads of dingy whites just to cycle all the bleach out, and now we are good to go— and I’ll be drying the gasket and leaving the door open from now on.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Want more appliance maintenance tips? You’re going to want to learn How to Keep Your HE Clothes Washer from getting smelly. […]

  2. […] Does your HE Washer stink? Here’s what you can do about it: […]

  3. […] Learn how to keep your HE Washer Clean like the day it was delivered! […]

  4. […] while for daily loads it is just fine and yes I do clean the gasket  and all the other things you are suppose to do the fact is that even though they have the room to […]

  5. […] you are already stuck with a funky washer, follow these tips for cleaning it out and eliminate any odors. Be sure to read the comments because my readers have a bunch of tips to help keep your washer […]

  6. […] How to keep your front-loading washer smelling so fresh & so clean: I just got a front-loading washer so this was particularly helpful for me. The trick is to leave the door open so it can dry properly after each wash, and to wipe out the rubber gasket around the door. The reason these washer can start smelling funky is due to water that doesn’t evaporate and instead starts to mildew. […]

  7. […] Learn how to keep your HE Washer Clean like the day it was delivered! […]

  8. […] Learn how to keep your HE Washer Clean like the day it was delivered! […]

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