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How To Clean Your Front Load Washer Naturally

Even though your washer is used for washing things….it still needs to be cleaned! Learn how to clean your washing machine naturally. By following these steps for cleaning a front load washer with our DIY washing machine cleaner, you’ll be able to say bye bye to that mold, mildew and gross smells coming from your washer!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CollectiveBias #PersilLaundry

You use your washing machine for cleaning clothes and, well, washing things. But have you ever actually taken the time to clean your washing machine?

It may surprise you to learn that even washing machines need to be cleaned from time to time. Over time the increased humidity and moisture builds up on the inside of your washing machine and it can lead to mold, mildew, and other gross smells. Yuck!

Cleaning your washer is even more important if you live in places like Florida where mold and mildew are prevalent due to the humidity in the air.

Front load washers, like ours, are also more susceptible to requiring deep cleaning needed because they are more prone to yucky smells. In fact, according to Consumer Reports, 17% of all front load washer owners reported mold and mildew build-up in their machines, compared to only 1-3% of top-load washing machines.

The modern front loading washing machine also requires a different method of cleaning than many older top-load machines.

It’s a good thing that cleaning your washing machine isn’t hard to do! You can make it a regular part of your cleaning routine as a busy working mom with not much effort.

Today we’re going to walk you through the entire process of just how to clean your front-loading washing machine using 3 natural ingredients!

How do you know when it is time to clean your washing machine?

Well, in our case, it was more than obvious! If dirty pictures gross you out – quick, scroll ahead!

Before Pictures of Dirty Washing Machine

Dirt, hair, and mildew built up along the inside of the washing machine window on the front load door
Dirt, hair, and mildew build up long the inside of the washing machine basket, under the waterproof stripping.
Dirt build up inside the washing machine door - it's time to clean the washing machine!

Yuck, right? It was clearly time to clean our front loading washing machine.

Here’s some tall tale signs that you need to clean your washer:

  • You know when even though you’re using an awesome odor fighting laundry detergent and there’s still a weird smell being left behind in your clothes, it’s time to clean your washing machine out!
  • Open the door and take a big whiff – if it smells musty, moldy or just gross, it’s time to learn how to clean your washing machine.
  • Peel back the seal of your rubber gasket…if you see mold or any yuckiness, it’s time.

The more we’ve used our washing machine the past several months with a growing family, the dirtier it has become. We’ve been busier than ever, so cleaning our washing machine has really taken a back seat and it’s gotten really bad!

It was in desperate need of deep cleaning, so I thought it would be a perfect chance to teach you how to clean your front load washing machine naturally! I think you’re going to love this tutorial!

To make this DIY washing machine cleaner, all you need is baking soda, water and vinegar.
We use vinegar, water, and baking soda to clean our front load washing machine.

What you need to clean a washing machine:

  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Essential oils (optional)
  • Water
  • Baking soda
  • Cleaning rags

How to Clean a Washing Machine in a Few Simple Steps!

Step 1. Make the vinegar cleaning solution.

I mix about half water and half white distilled cleaning vinegar. We use the cleaning vinegar, which is slightly more acidic. Regular white distilled vinegar works just fine too!

It is important to dilute the vinegar with water because vinegar by itself can damage rubber seals and hoses in some washing machines. Diluting the vinegar with water brings the acidity down to a safer level to be used on the rubber parts of the washing machine, like the gasket.

If you don’t like the smell of vinegar, you can mix in some essential oils. I added about 10 drops of lavender.

Safety tip – Never ever mix vinegar with bleach! You’ll notice that I do not use any bleach in our DIY washing machine cleaner solution, but I just wanted to point it out in case you were wondering if maybe adding beach would help…Don’t!

If you decide to use bleach instead, that’s fine. Just don’t add vinegar! For DIY washer cleaner, we used natural ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.

Using a wet rag to clean dampened with vinegar and water solution, wipe down the inside of your washing machine, starting with the areas by the door.
Using a rag dampened with vinegar and water to clean the interior window of my washing machine.
Wiping the rubber door of washing machine with a wet rag soaked in water and cleaning vinegar.

Step 2. Wipe down washing machine using the water and vinegar solution.

Dip a cleaning rag in your vinegar/water solution and start wiping! I usually wipe down the washing machine in this order:

  • Entire outside of washer
  • Inside of door (this is really where grim builds up)
  • The rubber gasket seal (this is where the mold usually is hiding…we’re going to really deep clean this later, so just wipe it down right now)

Vinegar (an acid) is great for cleaning and lifting hard water stains.

Cleaning the soap and detergent trays and drawers of the washing machine using a rag soaked in water and vinegar solution.

Step 3. Clean soap trays and drawer.

Remove your soap trays and wash those in the kitchen sink. Wipe down the entire inside of the drawer with the rag soaked with the vinegar solution.

If you have a lot of built-up grime in the detergent drawer, you can add some baking soda and scrub with an old toothbrush.

The baking soda helps add some scouring power to the mixture (along with the bristles of the toothbrush).

Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) is a mild alkaline that acts as a gentle abrasive as a powder. Also, chemically, baking soda helps clean and deodorize odors.

Your washing machine should come with a sticker that indicates where the filter is and how often to clean your washing machine and the washing machine filter.
Removing the dirty washing machine filter.
Cleaning and emptying the washer filter using a towel and rag with vinegar and water solution.

Step 4. Empty and clean the washing machine filter.

Be sure you take out the filter and get all the gunk out. We DEFINITELY were overdue for cleaning ours out.

I can’t believe how much stuff was in there! We also found one of my toddler’s socks, goodness gracious.

Once you toss everything out from inside the filter into the trash, you can give the filter a good rinse in the sink.

If there is any grime or mold growing on the filter, scrub with the baking soda and vinegar solution before putting it back into the washing machine.

When cleaning your washing machine - especially before cleaning the filter - tuck a towel under the washing machine to catch any excess water that might spill out.

Warning – Before you open up your washing machine filter door, be sure to line your floor with towels. A surprising amount of water usually comes out and goes under the machine (could be up to a quart of water).

We always have multiple full-size towels ready. To get it nice and dry, feed a dry towel under the machine and out the corner to dry everything up.

Use a toothbrush and baking soda solution to clean the inside of the rubber gasket of the front loading washer
The easiest way to clean the rubber gasket of your washing machine is with baking soda and a toothbrush to get all the gunk and dirt out.

Step 5. Clean the rubber gasket of the washing machine.

Sprinkle rubber seal (aka rubber gasket…aka door boot…whatever you wanna call it) with baking soda.

To really start fighting that mold and mildew, sprinkle the inside of the gasket with baking soda and start scrubbing with your rag dipped in the vinegar. Most of it will wipe right up.

For the tough spots, you can grab a toothbrush and scrub. The combination of baking soda, vinegar, and toothbrush really is the secret sauce when you’re cleaning your washing machine.

I find the bottom part of the seal gets the worst. This is probably because if there’s any water left in the washing machine, this is where it would rest.

For this area, you can sprinkle baking soda all over (on both the inside of the seal and back behind it as well). Then soak your entire rag in the vinegar cleaning solution and tuck it into the rubber gasket and back behind it too. Let that sit for a good ten minutes or so.

Next, grab the soaked rag, wipe everything again.

Pour baking soda and the vinegar and water solution into the detergent drawer of your washing machine before running the cleaning cycle.

Step 6. Run the washing machine clean cycle.

Toss the rest of your baking soda into the drum of the washing machine along with any towels or rags you used.

Fill the soap tray with a full cup of the vinegar cleaning solution.

Next, run your washing machine on the “Self Clean” cycle (or just the longest/hottest cycle if you don’t have a cleaning cycle). It may also be called “Sanitize” on your washing machine. Ours goes a full 4 hours!!

This clean cycle has a speed that is strong enough and hot enough to whip the gunk off of the inside of the machine. Adding the baking soda and vinegar solution helps break down the gunk.

After your washing machine is done with the clean cycle, open the door immediately and wipe everything down again to dry.

The interior window of the washing machine door is cleaned and wiped down after running the cleaning cycle.

For best results, here’s some front load washing machine maintenance tips to use going forward:

  • To keep the mold at bay, always keep the front load washing machine door open when it’s not in use. This helps BIG TIME to prevent mold from growing. We definitely try to do this in our house, even though our toddler hates it when any doors are opened. (Yes, even my 2 yr old is Type A).
  • It also helps to keep the dispenser drawer where you add the detergent open so it has a chance to dry out in between uses.
  • Empty filter every 2 months. You can see we weren’t…ahem…doing this. Gross.
  • Repeat this tutorial for how to clean washing machine every few months (or when you start noticing the grime building up on the door or in the rubber seal). Most washing machine manufacturers recommend a dep cleaning of this nature at least every 6 months.
  • Wipe out the drain of the rubber seal frequently…especially if you have dogs like we do. Hello, dog hair.
  • Try clipping a washcloth to the side of your washing machine as a subtle reminder to wipe the rubber gasket, drum and glass door down. Then just toss the washcloth into the machine when done and it will clean with the next load.
  • Get in the habit of wiping down the glass on the washer door in addition to the rubber gasket.
  • If you’re looking for an alternative way to clean the inside of your washing machine, you could also try to tablets. Although, I’ve never tried them, I’ve heard from several readers that mention they work great. Several recommended Affresh Washing Machine Tablets.
A look at the clean inside of the rubber gasket - the waterproof strip in the door of the washing machine - after cleaning it with baking soda and water.

Look at how pretty it is now?!

The clean interior rim of the front load washer, after scrubbing it down with baking soda and water.

Earlier this year, we added the second kiddo to our family. If you think your laundry is a lot with one kid, you’ll be shocked how the piles get bigger with the 2nd kid.

Lately, we feel like all we do is laundry. And it’s not that smells-not-too-bad adult laundry…it’s the why-can’t-I-get-this-god-awful-smell-out kind of laundry. The gross stuff.

With two kids and tons of laundry, we often frequent the laundry detergent aisle at the supermarket!

I was so pumped to try out Persil® ProClean® Laundry Detergent and knew that the 2-in-1 Odor Fighter would be the right choice for us.

I headed to Walmart to grab the Persil laundry detergent and found it right where I expected – in the laundry aisle.

After trying this stuff out, I was surprised just how well it breaks down the odors and makes our clothes smell great – even the baby’s gross ones!

Not to mention, it helps remove tough stains and if you’ve had a baby – you know a thing or two about tough stains. If you haven’t tried Persil yet, you’re going to love it.

Update: It’s been a few years since we first wrote this article about Persil and we seriously don’t ever use any other laundry detergent! It is now tried and true one of my favorite household items.

Cleaning your washing machine is a not-so-fun part of adulting, but if you stay on top of it, it shouldn’t take long to get your front-loading washing machine spic and span again! Armed with the awesome Persil laundry detergent and a super clean washing machine your clothes will finally smelling fresh again!

How to clean a washing machine:  before and after pictures of a washing machine door and rubber gasket, before cleaning and after cleaning.

How often do you clean your front load washing machine?

Let me know in the comments below!

Cleaning rubber seal of washing machine door

How To Clean Front Load Washer

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $5

Does your washing machine smell sour and mildewy? Here's how to clean a front loading washing machine in just a few simple steps! Use 3 natural ingredients to scrub down your washing machine, leaving it clean, fresh, and ready to work!

Materials

  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Essential oils
  • Baking soda 
  • Water

Tools

  • Cleaning rags

Instructions

  1. Make vinegar cleaning solution (half water, half white distilled cleaning vinegar, 10 drops of essential oils for smell)
  2. Dip cleaning rag in solution and wipe down washing machine (entire outside, inside of door and rubber seal)
  3. Clean soap trays and drawer
  4. Empty filter.
  5. Clean rubber gasket with baking soda and vinegar solution.
  6. For tough spots on the rubber gasket, use old toothbrush and scrub.
  7. Run washing machine clean cycle (or just the longest/hottest cycle)

Notes

  • Warning – Before you open up your filter door, be sure to line your floor with towels. A surprising amount of water usually comes out and goes under the machine. We always have the towels ready. To get it nice and dry, feed a dry towel under the machine and out the corner to dry everything up.
  • To keep the mold at bay, always keep the washing machine door open when it’s not in use. This helps BIG TIME to prevent mold from growing.
  • Empty filter every 2 months.
  • Repeat this tutorial for how to clean washing machine every few months (or when you start noticing the grim building up on the door or in the rubber seal).
  • Wipe out the drain of the rubber seal frequently.

2 thoughts on “How To Clean Your Front Load Washer Naturally

  1. This was very helpful, thanks! My rubber gasket was so stained with mold that I couldn’t get it all off. I poured baking soda on it and straight vinegar and scrub like crazy with a toothbrush. It definitely got cleaner, but not as clean as yours. If you have any suggestions for super hard to clean mold stains, please let me know!

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