How To

Why does your front-loader washing machine smell like mildew?

The other day, Web Watch was asked whether we knew anything about FRONT-LOADING WASHING MACHINES.

Of course, we did. So we sat down on a nearby chair to hear our friend’s problem.

He was having trouble, as he had gone over to his girlfriend’s house to do some laundry (and, we’ll assume, have a little bit of “we time” while the wash was getting done).

But his girlfriend had a front-loading washing machine, and it just stunk up the place.  It smelled so bad, our friend said, that he was concerned about whether it would actually get his clothes clean.

Web Watch told him not to worry.  Front-loading washing machines are great.

But you have to follow these simple steps to ensure that it doesn’t get all stinky on you:

Tide Washing Machine Cleaner
Tide Washing Machine Cleaner

It’s really easy to understand:  the reason that front-loading washers get a bum rap is because people don’t know how to take care of them. The instruction manual is very clear about the proper care and feeding of a front-loader washer, but let’s face it: nobody actually reads those manuals, right?

So that’s where Web Watch can step in and help you.

  • At the end of every wash cycle – if you’re not planning on doing another load right away – take an old rag that you have lying around and wipe out underneath the rubber skirt that’s at the front of the machine.  Water can occasionally never drain completely from there and can settle.  So just wipe it out – it will take you all of 10-20 seconds to do after you’ve moved your clothes out of the washer.   Heck, you could even use a still-damp sock that you’re about to put into the dryer.  Whatever it takes, just be sure to wipe out the water from that area.
  • When you’re done doing wash for the day, just leave the washing machine door open.  This is the biggest issue that Web Watch had turned up when discussing this with people who are interested in front-loading washing machines… they just don’t want to leave the washing machine door open.  Web Watch says, “hey, it’s in your laundry room. Who cares that the washing machine door is swung wide?”  But for some, this is an absolute deal-breaker and they will refuse to do this one thing, solely because of how it looks.Trust Web Watch on this one.  Even if you don’t take the time to wipe out the rubber skirt area, you’ve GOT to keep the washer door open to let the entire drum area air out.  If you insist on closing the door and keeping it closed without letting the water evaporate, then there’s nothing that you’ll be able to do to keep the washer from becoming smelly over time.

    And while you’re at it, you know that detergent drawer at the top of the machine?  You’ll want to crack that open at the same time you leave the washing machine door open, just to be sure that any sitting water up there doesn’t grow stagnant.  And once in a while, just pull that detergent drawer completely out of the machine and give it a good cleaning by hand in the sink.  You’ll see what we mean when you go through that process (assuming you can take the drawer out in your particular model).

  • Once a month, run a cycle of bleach through the machine using the manufacturer’s recommended “Cleaning Cycle”.  They may have one explicitly labeled as such on the machine, or they may say to run an empty load through on full-hot/sanitizing cycle.  However you need to do it, running a bleach-filled empty load on a regular basis will help keep your front-loader smelling clean.

Doing these simple steps is pretty much all you need to do to keep your energy-efficient front-loading machine in tip-top smelling shape.

Of course, you could get one of those packaged “washing machine cleaners” if you feel you have to, but you shouldn’t ever let your washing machine get to that stage in the first place.