Front-loading washing machines have many advantages over their toploading cousins which have led to their increasing popularity in recent years despite their relatively high cost. This is mainly because they provide several important benefits, including gentler washing cycles, lowered water use and substantially reduced drying times. However, machines in this category also come with one significant potential drawback: a tendency to accumulate mold and therefore unpleasant smells.
Recent redesigns have allowed washing machine manufacturers to largely eliminate this problem. Still, you may encounter mold- and stink-related issues, especially if you own an older front-loading model. Fortunately, you can take several steps to reduce your risks for these issues, and hopefully eliminate them completely.
Don’t Close the Washing Machine Door Between Loads
Mold typically has the easiest time accumulating in a moist environment. You can reduce your risks by eliminating excess moisture. When you close the door of your front-loading washing machine right after you empty it, you’re essentially trapping the moisture in, creating a suitably wet environment for mold growth. By leaving the door open just a couple of inches after pulling out your clothes, you give the appliance interior an opportunity to air out and dry thoroughly.
Keep in mind that an open, accessible washing machine door could be a dangerous temptation for young, curious children. If you have young children, block entry to the room by closing a door or take other precautionary steps. The same warning applies to households with small pets, don’t leave yourself vulnerable to an avoidable tragedy.
Empty Your Machine Promptly When Each Washing Cycle Ends
This is another tip that takes mold’s dependence on moisture into account. When wet clothes remain in your front-loading machine for hours or even days after a washing cycle comes to an end, the odds of mold development naturally increase. Modern washing machines typically come equipped with a beeping sound or some other mechanism designed to alert you when each load is done. If necessary, activate this function on your machine to ensure that you remember to come get your clothes. Even if you can’t put your damp clothes directly into your dryer, remove them promptly. A basket or hamper can provide you with temporary space for clothes storage.
Periodically Clean the Interior of Your Machine
Front-loading washing machines can develop smells as a result of a gradual buildup of detergent residue. Problems are especially likely to occur if you knowingly or unknowingly tend to add more than the recommended amount of detergent to your laundry loads. Some front-loading models now come outfitted with a tub-washing cycle that allows you to conveniently rinse away any accumulated residue. If your machine has this feature, try to use it every month or two. If your machine doesn’t have a self-washing mode, you’ll need to initiate your own monthly cleaning routine.
You can carry out your cleaning sessions by running your empty machine through a hot-water wash cycle. For extra cleaning power, pour a couple of cups of white vinegar or bleach into the machine’s detergent dispenser. If you choose to add vinegar or bleach, make sure to run your front-loading washer through a second cycle with hot water only. Complete the job by drying the machine’s interior (including the detergent dispenser) with a towel. If possible, leave the washer door open a few inches to ensure thorough drying.
Periodically Clean Your Machine’s Door Gasket
The door gasket is the strip of rubber that lines the opening of your front-loading washing machine. It plays a vital role by keeping water securely inside the machine during use. Unfortunately, the door gasket can also serve as an excellent location for mold accumulation. You can help stop this from happening by cleaning the gasket thoroughly with a dry towel. Optimally, you would take this step after completing each load of laundry. However, you can probably get by with a periodic cleaning after every few loads. If your machine has a particular tendency to develop gasket mold, try cleaning with hot, soapy water. Follow up this procedure with careful drying, and also leave the machine’s door open if you can.
Make Sure to Use the Right Type of Detergent
Most front-loading washing machines require the use of HE (high-efficiency) detergent, which produces fewer suds than traditional detergent formulas. Mistaken use of traditional detergent in an HE machine can lead to a range of problems, including increased risks for nasty smells and mold. If your washer is an HE model, make sure to use a product that carries the distinctive blue-and-white HE label.
Also, be aware that use of too much HE-compliant detergent in your front-loading washer can also contribute to mold buildup and unwanted smells. Use of an HE powder instead of a liquid can reduce your chances of excess foaming and residue accumulation. If you don’t have an HE machine, powdered detergents will still pose lower risks than liquid detergents.
Minimize or Eliminate the Use of Liquid Fabric Softener
Like the residue from laundry detergent, residue from liquid fabric softener can build up inside your washing machine over time. Unfortunately, when it does accumulate, fabric softener residue often smells considerably worse than detergent residue. To avoid problems, minimize your use of liquid fabric softener or stay away from it altogether. If you want to protect the softness of your clothes during the drying process, you can rely instead on dryer sheets. These inexpensive products don’t produce a significant residue, and therefore don’t add to your odor problems like their liquid counterparts.
Our handy tips for front-loading washer maintenance will surely help keep your machine free from mold accumulation and problem smells. However, if you continue to experience problems, just contact the experts at West Coast Chief Repair. With decades of experience and up-to-date knowledge of the latest washer technology, we can provide assistance for any issue you may encounter. We can also help you deal with all other washer-related concerns, from minor malfunctions to major breakdowns. Call us today to ask questions or arrange services!