Your washing machine can harbor mold and mildew if it is not cleaned regularly. And while it’s not always noticeable, there are a few signs that can tell you if your washing machine needs to be scrubbed. If there’s a sulfur smell in your clothes or laundry room, it’s a sign that mold and mildew is growing. Fortunately, there are ways to kill mold and keep it from coming back.
Keeping the lid closed traps moisture, which can lead to bacteria buildup and a bad odor. More might even hide if you use the cold water setting a lot. If you haven’t cleaned your washing machine recently, there may be mold.
I’ll walk you through how to get your clothes and washing machine smelling fresh and clean, and keep bad odors from coming back. Plus, I’ll show you how to spot the gross gunk, clean it up, and keep the bacteria out for good.
Leave the lid open if you are not washing clothes
Mildew thrives in dark, damp areas, which is what your washer becomes after you unload the clothes. Leaving the door open helps ventilate the washer and prevent mold growth.
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Take off your wet clothes immediately
When you plan to throw in a load of laundry, be sure to be home to remove the clothes when the timer goes off. This means that the washer should not be started before going to work or to bed. Not only does this prevent mildew from growing in your washer, it also prevents your clean clothes from getting moldy.
Dry seals and wet parts after each use
After you are done using your washing machine for the day, be sure to wipe down any part of the washing machine that is damp. This includes the lid, drum, door, rubber seals and detergent dispenser (if your machine has this feature). Keep an old towel handy for this purpose.
Be sure to dry the seams with the rest of your washing machine to prevent moisture from remaining. And while mold contamination can happen in any washer, it’s especially common in high-efficiency (or HE) front-loading washers. That’s why you should regularly wash the gaskets and gaskets around the door and keep them dry. The gaskets ensure that water does not leak around the door and also seal out moisture which can promote mold growth. You should also immediately remove pet hair, wrinkled paper, or other dirt from your washing machine.
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Use only HE detergent powder in an HE machine
Liquid detergents can leave a residue in your washing machine, giving mold a food source. So if you have an HE washer, the first thing you can do to control mold is to make sure you use laundry detergent made specifically for this type of washer, which will produce less suds. (Look for the letters HE on the soap container.) Better yet, skip liquid detergent and switch to powder detergent or pods. And whichever you choose, be sure to use only the amount needed to wash your clothes. If you use too much, your clothes may have odor and residue.
The best way to kill mold and bacteria
If you have mold in your washing machine, here’s how to get rid of it:
1. Start by putting on gloves and grabbing an old towel you don’t care about.
2. Mix a solution of bleach and hot water OR vinegar and hot water. Never mix bleach and vinegar as it creates chlorine gas which can be harmful to you.
3. Dip the towel into the mixture and begin scrubbing any visible mildew. Be sure to hit the detergent dispenser and around the seals.
4. If there is a seal around the door (front-loading washers have this), clean it thoroughly and thoroughly and dry it, including all wrinkles.
5. Run a wash cycle on the hottest setting your machine offers with one cup of bleach or vinegar. (Not both!) If you use bleach, pour it into the bleach compartment. If you are using vinegar, pour it into the detergent slot. If your machine has a self-cleaning cycle, you can use this setting. This should kill any hidden mold you may have missed.
6. Then use another old towel and wipe all the moisture out of your washing machine. This includes the drum, distributors, seals, and any other areas you can reach.
seven. Finally, leave your washer door open to allow air circulation and dry out any parts you missed. Doing this monthly will help prevent mold growth.
Once you’ve cleaned your washer, it’s time to move on to the rest of your home. Start in the bathroom: Here’s a simple one-hour science tip for strip your shower head, and here how to unclog a toilet without a plunger.