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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. 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!

  2. 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 .

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

    • 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.


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: […]

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