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How I Kept my High Efficiency Washer Mold Free for 10+ Years

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


129 replies
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  1. JenJen
    JenJen says:

    We have a Bosch Nexxt 500Plus Series HE front-loading washer, about 12 years old. I think I’ve traced the musty odor in our house to this smelly front-loading washer! I can’t imagine the horror lurking inside if we were to take it part. Every day, I hope and pray it will be its last day, but noooooooo it hangs on and hangs on. It smells and the laundry smells after being washed. We’ve been using liquid detergent all this time (didn’t know any better) and probably too much. I’m going to use the suggestions mentioned above. A small load is washing now with 20 Mule Team Borax which we happened to have on-hand. Next I’ll do several more washes with Borax, and will wipe down the gasket with bleach and clean the detergent dispenser. And will clean the gasket after EVERY wash. If the smell doesn’t go away then we’ll take a deep breath and look inside but hopefully things won’t come to that.

    question: What is a good commercial powdered detergent, or is Borax most recommended?

  2. 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.

  3. 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.)

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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…

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.


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