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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. 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?

  2. 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.

  3. 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 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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.


  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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 🙂


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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

  2. […] 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 […]

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