How to Clean a Front Load Washer

Get rid of odors and mold with items you probably already have on hand.


 Yaroslav Kushta/Getty Images

Front load washers have taken the laundry room by storm. They can hold large loads of dirty laundry, a dryer can be stacked on top, and they use less water than most top load washers. But there can be one downside—a funky odor that permeates the laundry room and the freshly washed clothes.

Here's the bad news: It might be a result of using too much detergent and fabric softener. The excess laundry products trap soil and cling to the inside of the washer and behind the rubber door seals, encouraging mold and mildew to grow. Add that to a dirty, blocked air vent and you can end up with some serious funk.

Here's the good news: Cleaning is simple and requires only a few common supplies.

How Often You Should Clean Your Front Load Washer

Your washer handles lots of dirty clothes, so a monthly cleaning will keep it smelling fresh. If you wash heavily-soiled clothes often or live in a hot, humid area, clean it twice a month—or as soon as you get a whiff of a bad odor.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Small nylon-bristled scrub brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Small bucket


  • Liquid chlorine bleach
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • All-purpose cleaner


How to Clean a Front Load Washer

  1. Check the Washer Drum

    Be sure that the drum is empty before you start cleaning. There should be no clothes in the washer.

  2. Mix a Cleaning Solution

    In a small bucket, mix a solution of 4 cups of warm water and one-fourth cup of chlorine bleach.

    If you don't want to use chlorine bleach, substitute one-half cup of hydrogen peroxide with 4 cups of warm water. Never mix bleach and hydrogen peroxide.

  3. Clean the Door and Door Gaskets

    Dip a microfiber cloth in the solution and wring until it is not dripping. Gently scrub the door, including the edges and glass. Gently pull back the edges of the door gaskets and wipe away any dirt, mold, or residue inside.

    If the residue won't budge, dip a small nylon-bristled brush (an old toothbrush works great) in the solution, scrub, and then wipe away the gunk with the microfiber cloth.

  4. Clean the Washer Drum

    If the washer drum feels sticky or looks discolored, use the cleaning solution and a microfiber cloth to clean the drum.

  5. Clean the Dispensers

    Consult your machine's user manual (or look online) to determine how to remove the detergent dispenser drawer(s) and inserts for bleach and fabric softener. Rinse the drawer and inserts with hot tap water to remove residue. If they are heavily coated with built-up residue, soak them for 10 minutes in hot water, then rinse. Allow the drawers to air-dry.

  6. Clean the Dispenser Drawer Holder

    Dip a small brush in the cleaning solution and use it to clean away any residue or mold in the washer's dispenser drawer holder. Check the opening with a flashlight to make sure that it is clean before re-inserting the dispensers. Run a short cycle (prewash) without any laundry products to flush the dispenser system.

  7. Clean the Outside of the Washer

    While the short cycle is running, clean the outside of the washer on all sides with a microfiber cloth and all-purpose cleaner. Check the air vent on the back of the washer to make sure it's dust-free.

  8. Check the Water Pump Filter

    Most front load washers have a small door near the bottom of the appliance that can be opened to remove any lint or debris caught in the water pump filter. You may find sticky lint, coins, buttons, or even a sock that is causing a slow drain, odor, and leaving lint on your clothes. Remove the filter and rinse with hot water or soak if needed.

  9. Run a Cleaning Cycle

    Now that you've cleaned the most troublesome spots, run a final cleaning cycle. Add 1/2 cup of liquid chlorine bleach to the detergent dispenser drawer and fill the bleach dispenser compartment with chlorine bleach. Run a normal cycle setting with warm water. Your washer should now be fresh and clean.

Tips to Keep Your Front Load Washer Clean

  • Use less detergent. Because a front load washer uses less water, excess detergent traps body soil and gets left behind to become food for mold growth.
  • Use distilled white vinegar instead of liquid fabric softener to help remove detergent residue and soften clothes. Just add it to the fabric softener dispenser.
  • Make sure the washer vent is not blocked and keep it free of dust.
  • If your laundry room doesn't have good air circulation, add a fan or a dehumidifier. Leave the washer door slightly open after every load to help the interior dry more quickly.
  • Clean the water pump filter often to remove smelly wet lint.
  • Run a cleaning cycle with chlorine bleach at least monthly.
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