Are you noticing a funky smell coming from your front loading washing machine? Your machine could be growing mold, mildew and other odor causing bacterias. In front loading washing machines there’s always a chance that not all of the water gets drained from the machine, because the drum is lying on its side. The result of the water not draining properly is water pooling in the rubber gasket that seals the door, allowing odor causing bacteria, mold, and mildew to grow. Add some lint, hair, dust, and whatever else gets shaken out to the mix and you have a sludge that resembles an industrial toxic waste, sitting there adding foul smell to the wash. Gross.

Here’s to never washing your clothes in a dirty machine again! After all, the clothes are supposed to be clean right?

ecokaren’s Tips on How to maintain your front loading washing machine

1. Every time you finish your load, wipe down the water and soak up any remaining water inside the gasket. Peel back the rubber door seal, and clean in there. You’ll notice little grooves. Water sits here, and with collected dust and lint from the clothes, the gunk just accumulates into a sludge that stinks. Wrap your finger with a paper towel, stick in the grooves, and spin the washer slowly. You’ll notice there are draining holes. Clean the holes well. Call me Type ‘A’ but I use Q-tips to clean out the draining holes and an old tooth brush to scrub any stains stuck to the gasket. You only need a little bit of mold spores for them to grow exponentially. Don’t take a chance.

2. Unload the finished load immediately. Do not let the wet clothes sit in the machine for obvious reasons. If you can’t take them out in a timely manner, use the delay washing feature and time the finishing time when you can take them out right away.

3. Leave the door open when not in use to allow the water and moisture to evaporate and not stay inside stagnantly. Be careful with this if you have young children or pets; cats love to crawl inside crevices and this can be a perfect spot for catnaps. Actually, they recommend leaving the lids open for top loaders for same reasons too.

4. Run a HOT cleaning cycle with an empty washer at least once a week. The frequency depends on how many loads of washes you do but in general, once a week of a quick cleaning should be sufficient. I use 50/50 vinegar/water solution to wipe the gasket clean. Don’t forget to clean the inside rim of the glass door as well as the glass.

5. Once a month, I add a cup of Distilled White Vinegar & 1 Cup of Baking Soda (adding both neutralizes the pH but the bubbling action gently scrubs any debris you can’t get to inside the drum) directly into the drum and use HOT water for washing. Then, I add about ½ cup of vinegar into the fabric softener compartment and ½ cup of baking soda into the detergent compartment. This might sound like overkill but I do a lot of loads of laundry because my kids are involved with sports. So, all the grime and dirt that come along with sports uniforms, require more washes, which translates to more frequent cleaning for me. I don’t have a “Cleaning Cycle” as some machines do so I set the wash on “Quick Wash” with HOT water and High Spin Cycle.

6. If the mold situation is really bad, you may need to use bleach instead of vinegar and baking soda. But make sure you run a few empty cycles just with hot water before doing a load of wash. Otherwise, you may end up with tie dyed shirts.

7. Use High Efficiency detergents. If the detergent is concentrated, use half as much. HE detergents produce less suds and have less fragrance than regular detergents. The volume of suds produced by regular detergents acts like sludge to water draining out of the tub. Also, their fragrances mixed with the mildew-y water produce an even worse smell. That goes for the fragrant fabric softeners too. The chemicals in the slimy thick fabric softeners, even the eco-friendly ones like the ones my husband brought home, are guilty of contributing to the foul smelling sludge. Use eco-friendly dryer sheets or dryer sachets instead.

8. Clean the detergent compartment drawer. You can easily take the drawer out – read the machine’s manual – and clean the soap, bleach, and fabric softener compartments. Soak it in warm water with dishwashing liquid or vinegar/baking soda mix. Use an old tooth brush if you have to.

9. Finally, clean the drain pump filter. This should be done about every two weeks. If the drain pump filter gets clogged with debris, the water flow will slow down, and fill up with stinky water over time. Old water that didn’t drain sits here, as does lint and other odd items. The drain pump filter is usually located at the front bottom of the washer. Refer to your washer manual as different machines have different instructions but the bottom line is that it needs to be cleaned out so that water doesn’t sit in the pump.

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