How to Clean a High Efficiency Washing Machine

Hi! My name is Samantha and I am the blogger behind Simply Organized! I LOVE reading along here on Anna’s blog. She has taught me so much, especially when it comes to natural cleaning with white vinegar, and she throws a pretty awesome themed party too! Anna has a GREAT post for cleaning a standard top-loading washer, but if you are struggling with a mildew smell coming from your HE front-loading washing machine, my post here on Anna’s blog will show you how to clean a high efficiency washing machine and get rid of those odors! Thank you SO much to Anna for letting me share this with her sweet readers!

A few months ago, we were experiencing an awful mildew smell from our HE washing machine. After hours of research, our machine is now fresh and better than new.

There are a few possibilities, but here are the 3 top I discovered through my research:

*Maytag (our machine’s manufacturer) said the number one cause of odor is from using the wrong detergent or too much detergent. The wrong type can cause too many suds. The more suds = the more residue to get stuck in the nooks and crannies where mold can live and breed. You should be using detergent that specifically states it’s safe for use in a HE machine. There is a little HE emblem on the detergent bottle or box that clearly states it’s safe for your machine, and the machine requires a very small amount when using the correct detergent.

This goes for anything you are putting into the machine: fabric softener, color safe bleach, etc. 
*HE washers seal tighter and use less water than a standard washing machine. It has been reported that HE machines only use 1/3 the water that a standard top loading machine needs. The machine also uses a low-suding detergent. Because of this, over time HE washers can have residue, minerals and dirt build up in the machine. That residue is what leads to mold and mildew. 
*I know cleaning your washing machine sounds silly, I mean, it’s a washing machine after all – shouldn’t the inside already be clean? With you running soap through it day in and day out? Not exactly. Try to remember that your machine is cleaning dirty, germy clothing – sometimes several loads a day. And remember, the new HE machines have little nooks where residue and dirt can hide. Those areas need to be cleaned monthly. This is similar to your shower having to be cleaned. Soap scum and gunk can build up in your shower, even though you are using soap and water while you’re in there.
Step 1. Clean the inside of the machine: Wipe out the entire washer drum using bleach, white vinegar or your favorite household cleanser. If you have what you think might be mold, you may want to go the bleach route to be extra safe.
Step 2. Clean the rubber seal:  Pay special attention to the rubber seal around the door while cleaning the washer.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

Simply pull back the rubber to expose what is hiding and growing underneath. Take a look at what was hiding in the rubber seal of our washer…

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

Pretty yucky, right?  It doesn’t always look like this. I let this build up for more than two months in order to take this photo.

Using a spray bottle, soak the inner ring in undiluted white vinegar or bleach and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Then, using a new rag that is soaked in white vinegar or bleach, wipe down the inner ring again. Then wipe the entire ring dry with a new clean, dry rag.
Step 3. Remove the detergent tray and sterilize: Since the odor is sometimes caused by too many suds, this area needs your attention. When i removed my detergent tray it looked terrible…
Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

Make sure you take the tray apart for a complete cleaning. Here’s a look at the inside of our tray…

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

I soaked the tray and its pieces in hot, hot water and a small amount of dish soap.

 After 15 minutes i wiped it clean with bleach spray and a rag. good as new!

Step 4: Clean the inside of the detergent compartment: Don’t stop with just sanitizing the detergent tray. You’ll also want to clean inside the detergent compartment. I was shocked to see the inside of our compartment…

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

If you are having a tough time getting your cleaning solution back there, try using a spray bottle. I used clorox clean-up bleach spray to reach the back and into the nooks and crannies up top. Do you see these nooks in the top of our detergent compartment?

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

I used a toothbrush to scrub that area clean. After spraying into the compartment, let it sit for about 15 minutes before wiping clean.

Step 5: Clean the inside of your washer door: Using white vinegar or bleach, clean the inside of the washer door. Sometimes you can clearly see residue built up here – but most times you can’t even tell anything is lurking. You’ll be surprised how much cleaner the door looks and the amount of scum that was hiding on the door. Here is my door looked after cleaning – sparkling new!

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

Step 6: run a clean cycle on the machine: Once you have completed steps 1-5, add 1/4 cup of bleach or white vinegar to the detergent tray and run the machine on its clean washer cycle. Most HE machines have a “clean cycle” or “affresh cycle”.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

There is a product called affresh that you can use with your clean cycle on the machine.

Our clean cycle runs for 1 hour 5 minutes with very hot water. I walked in occasionally to see what was going on inside the machine and there was some aggressive water sloshing. There also seemed to be a lot more water than you would have in the drum while washing clothing. So, I would suggest using your clean cycle as opposed to a regular hot water cycle.Step 7: completely wipe down the inside of the washer again: Once the clean cycle has finished, open the door and thoroughly wipe down the inside of the washer again. Why? Here is the washcloth I used to wipe out the inside of the rubber seal AFTER the first clean cycle.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

Again, gross! I couldn’t believe there was still dirt in the ring after the above steps.

Step 8: Air out your washer and the detergent tray overnight: Once the washer is clean and dry inside, leave the door and detergent compartment door open to completely air out any water residue that was missed or is hiding in areas you can’t reach.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

After airing overnight, smell the washer with a fresh morning nose to see if the odor still exists. If the odor is still there, you may want to do 1 or 2 additional clean cycles to completely remove all of the residue. Don’t worry – the smell will go away. If you haven’t run your washer through this cleaning process before, you may need to do this 2-3 times to remove all of that built-up residue from the internal parts of the machine. I could tell a huge difference after one clean cycle and one overnight air dry, but it took a few additional cleanings to make it go away completely. Don’t give up too quickly! 

Once you have a clean smelling washing machine, complete this cleaning process each month. Just because you got rid of the smell doesn’t mean it won’t return. You need to maintain that fresh, sweet smelling machine. Think about adding this to your monthly household cleaning maintenance program.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

If you have done this process 3 or more times with no success, you may need to get a little deeper into the machine.

 *Make sure your machine is level.
Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

If the machine isn’t level, it may not be draining completely.

*Consult your owner’s manual to find out if the manufacturer has specific cleaning advice for you.

*If your machine has a filter or drain opening that you can easily access, that area may need to be inspected and cleaned. In some machines, items can get caught in the filter or drain area. A few reports I read mentioned coins or debris being stuck down there, and those items can be the mold and mildew culprit.

*Bring in a professional or a very handy person you know to help solve the issue.

*Contact the maker of your machine. Since the printing of your owner’s manual, the company may have new or better tips for you to try, or they may work with you even further to help solve the problem.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor *Use less soap! After owning a machine for a while or doing laundry for years, many of us don’t measure out detergent before adding it to the machine. We aren’t as precise as we were when we first started doing laundry.  This isn’t good for an HE machine. Especially because the suds can be one of the main culprits for mold and mildew. Make sure you read through your owner’s manual completely to understand exactly how much detergent the machine requires. Sometimes for large loads you may need only a few tablespoons of detergent. Our owner’s manual gives you an example of what types of clothing should be washed on each cycle, and how much detergent you should use in those cases.They are called HE for a reason = less water. Because they need less water, chances are the machine needs less soap.
*Use only HE detergent.I’ve heard that powdered detergent creates fewer suds for this modern washing machine, as opposed to liquid, but liquid is still fine to use, just use a smaller amount.*If possible, use detergent free from dyes and perfumes. Those additional additives may add more residue to the washing machine.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

*If you are using a detergent that says it is “2x the cleaning power“, you may need to use even less of it.

*If you are concerned that you are adding too much detergent, but don’t want to cut back, consider adding the extra rinse cycle to each load. This will ensure your clothing is getting rid of the additional soap residue, as well as any residue inside the machine.

Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

*Sanitize your washing machine each month – religiously.

*Wash the soap dispenser at least once a month, especially the container where the detergent sits. As well as the compartment.
*Leave the washer door and soap dispenser drawer open between loads. This will allow your machine to completely air dry. When the door is closed, there is less opportunity for the machine to dry out. That moist atmosphere is prime for breeding new mold and mildew.

*Wipe down the outside and inside of the rubber seal after each load to remove any water and dry it completely.
*Fabric softeners have a waxy base and tend to leave lots of residue in HE machines. Consider using white vinegar as your go-to fabric softener or the teeniest amount you can get away with putting in the machine.
Remove High Efficiency Washing Machine Odor

*Try to remove wet clothing from the washer immediately. I know sometimes this is easier said than done, but if you leave the wet clothing in the washing machine too long, the mildew smell is more prone to return.

*Put 1 tablespoon of baking soda in the drum after each load. This will be there for the next load and will continue to absorb smells while you aren’t using the washer.

*Use powdered bleach for colors and liquid bleach for whites. This helps with mold suppression.
Thank you Samantha!!!  Visit Samantha over at Simply Organized for more great tips and ideas!
About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

Leave a Comment



  1. Debbie McKinney says:

    Thank you so much for posting this, I have been having mildew problems with my washer and now I know what to do. Can’t wait to try it.

    • Hi Debbie! I’m glad this post was helpful. :)


    • Jessica McKinney says:

      Hi Debbie. This comment is not about your post or anything to do with the tips given about the washing machine. I saw your last name and I had to leave a comment. We have the same last name! Didn’t know if we might be related or not. Lol

  2. Hi Anna! Great discussion. Just an FYI on cleaning the filter in the HE washer –. some of the older washers do not have an easily accessible filter, but all have a filter and they all need to be cleaned. On my GE Duet HE Washer, I have to take the front panel off (the screws are under the panel, which is a ^&*(! to get off. From there, you can access the filter (ours had a baby sock, pen cap, one of my hair elastics, and a handful of change, and they were all gross and nasty. Also, you can get items inside the rubber gasket around the door. That’s where we found the other baby sock hiding out.

  3. I take my detergent drawer out after each washing. Water sits in it. I dump it out and I also leave the door open when I am not using the washing machine. If you have had to clean out your front loader more than once, this was the answer for us. We now don’t have any build up. We do however, run the machine empty on hot with bleach and vinegar about once a month.

    Happy cleaning!

  4. This is a great tip! Who knew vinegar was so useful. Wondering if you have tips on getting the lint of
    all the hard to reach places of the front loading dryers…it seems like lint is always inside the lint trap building up?

    • I don’t have an HE washer so I don’t have any tips for you but I’ll FB this and see if any of my other readers have any ideas! :)

    • I keep an old toothbrush near the washer and dryer. I take the lint screen out and carefully use the toothbrush to collect the lint inside the front of the dryer. I also use this toothbrush to clean out the soap dispenser and the gasket on the washer.

    • I use the same type of brush that I use to clean the coils under my refrigerator. It works very well..

  5. Hi Anna:

    I just bought a Maytag HE machine and there are puddles of water left behind on the gasket after each wash cycle. The glass door also has lots of water droplets on it. A repair person came out today and said this is normal. It scares me because of what I’ve heard about the potential for mold in these machines. I specifically asked him to make sure the machine was level but he said that wasn’t an issue– without checking at all. The machine is mounted to a dryer and I am pretty sure that it isn’t level. As the machine model (MHWE251) looks almost identical to the one displayed above, I am interested in hearing your thoughts. Please advise. Thanks in advance for your comments.



    • Sheryl I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I emailed the author of that post but still haven’t heard back from her. I don’t actually have front loading machines so I don’t really have any great advice for you. I’d say if you’re pretty sure it’s not level then have a handyman, or your husband, level it and see if that takes the problem away. Water definitely shouldn’t be puddling like that so if it continues I’d call the manufacture. Sorry I don’t have more to offer. :/

  6. I use Charlie’s Soap and always leave the door open so moisture inside the machine can evaporate. Two years ago I wanted to buy a front loading HE machine, but heard about the “smell problem”. Did a LOT of research before buying my machine. At that time I found Charlie’s Soap mentioned in consumer reviews of HE machines. After reading a huge number of positive reviews, I ordered some Charlie’s to use in my new machine and I have never had a problem. You only use 2 teaspoons for a regular load. Charlie’s Soap does not contain the extra waxes, colors, and fragrances, etc., that regular grocery store detergents contain (even the HE ones). So it doesn’t build up on the outside of the drum. I order it online and a small container of it lasts a long long time because you use so little. And the cloths some out smelling clean, not perfumed. And things are soft without ever using any fabric softener. If you use Charlie’s and leave the door open, you will never have a smell problem with an HE machine. If you have been using regular detergent, or too much of the HE detergents, you may have a waxy buildup on unseen parts like the outside of the drum. The buildup is what the mold and mildews grow on. Do a machine cleaning, or 2, or 3 depending on the buildup and then use Charlie’s and leave the door open. I love this product, and no I do not have any connection to the company.

  7. This is the very best HE washing machine post I’ve ever read. Thank you so much!

    My washing machine doesn’t have a noticeable odor, and I do leave it open to air dry in between loads of laundry, but my bras (of all things) have developed a mildewy smell. It’s awful! Anyway, I’m going to go through your steps first thing in the morning. Thank you!

  8. I am writing to tell you my method of getting rid of the nasty smell… i mix my own laundry additive [i use instead of downy pills things or the gain pill things found in the softner section]. i mix 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup super washing soda, 1 cup borax, and 1 grated fels naptha laundry soap bar. i reused a gain container – i add one cap full to each load of laundry [in addition to my tide and downy] – my laundry has never been fresher!

  9. make sure your washing powder has a bleaching agent, some like liquid do not hAVE IT

  10. Awesome post. So thorough! I may be purchasing a second-hand washer and this cleaning job will make me feel so happy. :)

  11. We have a $2000.00 machine, and our clothes stink! We’ve cleaned it several times, but I have an exceptional nose, and I can smell it, in fact it gets so bad when I start sweating at work (construction worker here!), that I can’t hardly stand it.
    If I could get my money back, and buy my older machine back, I would.

  12. The salesman we bought ours from told us to always leave the washer door open when not in use, and we’ve never had much problem. Of course, I agree with all your advice, but also leave the door open!

  13. Kathleen says:

    I made my own laundry soap recently. But it occurred to me that it might not be good for HE washers. However, the blogger mentioned that suds can cause the mildew. Any advice on which way to go on this?

    • I really don’t know, sorry Kathleen. I still have an old school washer and dryer. I would call a service man or try it and see what happens.

  14. This is a great article, thank you in advance. When I bought my front loader, they told me to make sure to clean the front of the washer ring area. I now have this smell I need to get rid of. I will defiantely follow the steps you posted, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. I have been doing laundry for 40+ years and never washed the machine itself a single time and I never had mold or mildew. Enter my new top loading HE machine and after one month of use the smell is awful. Why in the #@!&% would anyone want to buy a machine, costing way more than my last one (that never had an ordor problem) that requires pages of cleaning instructions. I have way better things to do than spend hours scrubbing and investingating every nook and cranny of my new high-dollar washing machine. I think I’ll be reading the newspaper ads and looking for a gently used “old” machine that doesn’t require I scrub it inside and out once a month… What is wrong with applicance designers, are they insane? Which reminds me of the refrigerator that has coils underneath the bottom freezer door and no way to get a vacuum nozzle in there to clean the gunk…


      Thank you so much for your suggestions. They really work! Especially for windows, dishwasher and clothes washer cleaning.

    • I agree completly. Who has time to clean a washer? But even more iinfuriating is if the HE saves water then why am I spending money on HOT water to clean the machine? I’ve only ever washed clothes in cold water. The old top loaders cleaned well and did not smell..

    • Another example of the stupidity of government requirements.
      Do not buy a HE machine if you can avoid one.

  16. Shea Joy says:

    When all is said and done, HE washing machines are NOT SUFFICIENTLY WELL DESIGNED, since the mildew smell is pervasive. I’ve had goo results with simply using the product sold for cleaning the washer and leaving the tray open that holds the detergent. It would be a simple design improvement to add ventilation to HE washers. Shame on the manufacturers.

    • alleecmo says:

      my MIL just bought a GE set that has a 6×6 FAN on the back, immediately behind the soap dispenser! I guess the manufacturers have heard our pleas.

      The first generation HE washers seem to have been engineered to keep repairmen employed, with all their non-user serviceable bits.

      I run Affresh thru mine monthly & ALWAYS leave the door open, but occasionally still get that stink. Especially if I’ve forgotten a load. THANK YOU for this VERY detailed how to!!! I’ve got some work to do!

  17. I don’t do many loads a week (maybe 1 or 2 maybe 1 every 2 weeks, it varies) but I also leave the door open when done to let it dry out. Seems to help quite a bit.

  18. I honestly think anyone who buys a high efficiency front-loader is crazy. I would never do this much maintenance on a washing machine. Avoid the problem by avoiding the product.

  19. Ann Hurley says:

    Thanks for the info very helpfull However is there anyone else out there that absolutely hates the new washing machines. I had an older model agitator one that got the clothes sparkling clean every time and I never had to “wash it” I understand about the water conservation etc but I have to use so much more spot cleaner, sometimes having to re wash clothes because stains don’t come out. Between the extra cost of extra cleaining products and products to clean the machines and having the dismay of finding clean towels in the linen closet not smelling so fresh I am getting more and more upset……how can using more cleaning products, washing clothes twice help the enviroment. I think the extra use of these products far outweigh the savings in water use. Heaven help the poor women who’s husband does manual labour and has a houseful of kids.! Thanks for letting me vent about the high cost, high maintenance of high efficient washing machines that are not so efficient at all!

    • My old washer from the 80’s started to smell, when the repair man came out, it was all full of mold around the outside of the drum. Anything that runs with water can lead to mold. There were a few other things wrong so we looked for a new one. With three girls, we needed a large washer/dryer so we went with a front loader. We wipe down the rubber seal and door if we aren’t doing another load, and also empty the soap tray from standing water. It’s been 2 1/2 years and the washer is fine. I do run affresh through it monthly and clean the soap tray/area also.

    • I also HATE my high efficiency washer. I have had it for 3 years. It is a Maytag. It does a terrible job at washing my clothes. I feel it runs a little water through the clothes, if I use Tide or other “free and clear” detergents, then the clothes smell like sweat – the same as they did before I put them in. Sometimes, I take clothes out and they are not even completely wet…..So I have to run them through another wash cycle. VERY EFFICIENT RIGHT????? I bought this at Sears and bought the protection plan (laugh, laugh). I had them come out for the maintenance check. This was total joke. When I told him that my clothes on occasion was not wet at end of wash cycle, he told me I should put it on different wash cycle. I have to wash some items on hand wash because it spins so fast and wads up my clothes so badly that they are so wrinkled it is almost impossible to get the wrinkles out – even with ironing – I HATE ironing!!!
      My Sears technician told me that Affresh was not a good cleaner and I needed another cleaner – Washer Magic. It cost me over $70.00. Of course it is suppose to be a years supply, but I am really disappointed that the technicians have now became salespeople. My washer does not smell. My clothes smell not like mold and mildew but sweat…..IN OTHER WORDS THE D– WASHER DOES NOT CLEAN THE CLOTHES!!! I really do hate this washer!!! NEVER AGAIN WILL I BUY A HIGH EFFICIENCY WASHER AND I WILL NEVER BUY SERVICE AGREEMENT……

      • I had to purchase a new washer about a year ago. I purchased a HE top load Maytag. I thought I would like a front load, but that meant spending even MORE money for a platform for it to sit on just to make it comfortable to put in & remove items. I am all for the environment, but like the others writing here, I have to wonder just what the advantage is. If I want my towels & most other clothing to at least seem like I washed them, hot water & an additional rinse is required. Even with delicate fabrics using a warm water, an additional rinse is needed. Still, using only hot or warm water & always an additional rinse, washed items never have the fresh clean smell as the laundry done in my old washer.
        I think these machines were offered to the public before they were perfected. I wish my old washer didn’t die until the companies making these machines get it right. Making such an investment & being stuck with an inferior product is a real bummer. I just had to purchase a new stove & I was sure to avoid the brand name appliances I purchased for over 40 years.

  20. I found the source of the smell from my washer – it turned out to be coming from the standpipe (the one that the outflow hose drains into). I know what the first response will be, “that’s sewer gas”. No it’s not, as the standpipe joins onto the utility sink drain, which of course, has the p-trap. I flushed the standpipe with hot water, and now the smell is gone. Yay!

  21. We leave the door open and haven’t had an odor issue, however, when I run the “clean washer” cycle there are an awful lot of suds! This time, I ran the cycle as usual with bleach (I don’t like Affresh – don’t trust what’s in it and don’t like the smell) and then ran two more times without bleach or anything. On the third time, I’m still seeing suds! I use liquid 7th Generation HE 2x detergent through the dispenser with it set to use less detergent. It is set on soft water to match our water hardness (goes through a softener). Do I need to keep running the clean cycle until it runs clear? Can’t imagine how many times that might take!

  22. thank you!!!!!!!! :-) This is very helpful!!!!!

  23. Great tips. Completely comprehensive and extremely helpful. I’m going to give this a try in the morning!

  24. Marti Hicks says:

    Fabulous washing machine vinegar cleaning method and well explained. thank you. As I type, washer running with the vinegar to clean basin.
    I found the holes in gasket on front loader all blackened with gunk. After doing your cloth soaking suggestion I sprayed each hole
    With vinegar and let sit about 10 mins, then took q-tips and gently inserted in each side of the holes. With each insertion gunk came out, Thought this may be an tip to share.

    • Marti Hicks says:

      Re: q-tip hint
      I should have mentioned that the holes go all the way around the gasket crease, approx 15 holes. A headlamp, flashlight can be used, or you can simply locate by feel.

  25. The above cleaning instruction were great. I never would have looked under the gasket. I still am infuriated by the fact that I have to use a HOT water cleaning each and every month. I have always washed our clothes in cold water. It’s not efficient to use hot water with an empty washer. Clorox? – that sure is earth friendly. If I had it to do over I would keep my old top loading Kenmore washer. It
    But, Thanks very much for the cleaning instructions.

  26. I have wiped down my machine with bleach and mold cleaner but the smokes are still very visible. Is the problem too far past remedying?

    Thanks for your article!


  27. I’m sorry. It is not supposed to say ‘smokes’ but mold ‘spores’

  28. Heather Odden says:

    I invested the money in a good front loading washer and after a while I discovered the problem with the smell that builds up for all the reasons you have written about. I am on disability now and now living on a very limited income I was very frustrated to learn I had to buy the expensive Tide cleaner to solve the smell, so today I thought to look up on the Internet and found your helpful sight. That was an hour ago. Guess what? One packet of Walmart’s Great Value Dishwasher Detergent opened and poured into the soap compartment did the trick! Boy am I relieved! Every penny counts in my world and this will save me some and my sanity that was being challenged with the extra expense to use my washing machine.. I decided that I had better go buy the $21 big box of detergent that was strongly recommended to me when I purchased the machine. The salesman gave me a box when I first went home with my new washer and I knew the cost per load was just pennies because of how little you use. I just never went back to buy another box. Now I will start a detergent collection at the top of the washer and put the price of each load in when I do the laundry so that I will have the $21 when I need it every time from now on. Isn’t it funny how small things can grow into such immense challenges if we don’t stop to take a close look at what we could do to solve them when they originally come up?
    I am sitting here smiling and feeling pretty proud of myself for handling this in a new sensible and easy way.
    I live in a cabin in the woods with my three dogs (hippie” standard ;poodles who have never had a foo foo do in their lives so they don’t even look like poodles) and three hens who are still laying eggs like it is summer time and it is -11 with wind today! So, I have plenty of things to keep me entertained without putzing with the expensive washing machine I bought before I had to stop working.
    Thanks for all the great ideas!
    majahnae/Heather I am on Gmail and Facebook somewhere. I lost my ability to use computers when I moved here and didn’t have Internet for six years while I was busy converting a two car garage into a home.

  29. I have an LG. There is a small door on it that has a hose to drain excess water and a plug for excess lint. If you have a washer with this drain the hose every few washes. The first time I did it the water stunk but now that I do it more often it’s fine. My washer has never had a smell inside and it’s 2 yrs old. Once a month I run it using just bleach( no clothing). That also helps.

  30. just bought an HE machine and was wondering how to keep it clean. this is great! thanks!

  31. I have a top load washer…..what is the difference. Where is the moldy smell coming from? How can I fix this problem? I’ve tried the name brand packets that you drop in a wash cycle……It’s good for 1-2 days….that’s it.

  32. Your blog was full of great information, but I wanted to add one more. Sometimes we don’t always get to remove a load of laundry immediately from the washer and it develops a sour smell after time. Can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me especially with towels. Once the smell was there I never could get rid of it until I started adding a cup of hydrogen peroxide (not the same strength as the peroxide for hair) to the wash cycle before adding clothes. I buy 2 bottles in the pharmacy section at Costco for about $2-3. Hydrogen peroxide is a non-clorine bleach and won’t harm colors. Its also great at removing blood (learned this when my granddaughter was born). Now my towels smell fresh after being washed. I do this with every load of wash I do now.

  33. Awesome post! Thank you sooooo much! Was getting extremely frustrated with washer but feel like there’s hope:) thanks again!

  34. I used your instructions to clean my machine and to my surprised I found a lost pair of my panties inside the rubber seal! It must have been there for many months. Yuck!

  35. I have smoke colored shower doors, what is a good cleaner for these?

  36. I have been doing this for a long time and it does help, I also keep the door open. My machine has a drain at the bottom that monthly I empty and clean everything I can with white vinegar.

  37. Victoria Sargent says:

    Thanks so much for posting how to remove odor from your front loader and how to maintain your machine. I just purchased the rubber seal for my daughters front loader, this is the second one to be replaced. I do not own a front loader (but I love how they wash) and when I saw and smelled their machine I sat down and read the entire owners manual for their washer & dryer (reading operating manuals is a habit of mine) I had shared with them that leaving wet cloths in the machine is not recommended, over loading the machine is something else they tend to do. My sister has had a beautiful front loading washer/dryer for about eight years and she has never had to repair or replace any part of her machines, she said that her machine is dried after each use, door is left open when not being used (no young children) she does not use dryer sheets in her dryer (manufacturer says the oils on the sheets get into the lint area and that causes the clothes lint to stick to the sides of the lint trap). Sorry for rambling I never leave comments and I apologize for that (I really enjoy everything you and the talented people who I have found on your web page share). I was just glad I have something more to share with my daughter/son-in-law & their roommate. I do not preach or demean any of them, I give them information and hope they find it valuable.
    Thanks Anna,

  38. I have an He washing machine but it’s a top loader it just doesn’t have an agitator. It had an affresh cleaner sing on it still so should i still use this method or do have another suggestion?

  39. I have a Maytag front loader. When they delivered it, the techs told me that there is always water in the drum. He gave the drum a spin and I could here it splashing. I have tried all of the suggestions and the clothes still smell. In my opinion, the only way to correct this is to buy a new washer – top loader. Will never buy another HE machine.

  40. THANK YOU so much for such an awesome website…I’m doing this as we speak…my H.E. Whirlpool Duet is driving me CRAZY with the moldy smell. I hope it works.

  41. Donna McKinnon says:

    Thanks for the help on cleaning the washer.

  42. wade mizelle says:

    Great instructions; I need a good homemade carpet cleaner for an area rug. Can you help? Thanks

  43. Anna banana says:

    FYI if your machine still smells after cleaning you may need to clean filter and drain water from hose which are located on the front lower left corner behind the little door. Have a pan ready to catch water drain hose first then remove filter wash in warm water and soap. Clean inside hole the filter was in. This may help with odor mine was stinky. I am cleaning my machine now love the easy to understand direction and instruction on your site thank you for all your research.

  44. Nancy Velletta says:

    Just a tip on front loading washingachines. I have tried EVERY product out there…some work..for a short time. Then I stumbled upon a product called Techonfresh! Absolutely works like a miracle. Step-by-step instructions on how to de-funk your washer and maintain it that way. Several friends have used this product with total success as well. Worth every penny.

  45. This is a good list of the simple fixes but the unfortunate truth is that by the time you notice mold on the seal or detergent tray, every internal part of the washing machine is probably saturated with mold. The problem with HE front load washers is not an excess of suds or using the wrong detergent (in other words, its not your fault despite what the manufacturers say). The problem is that they are air-tight and do not drain completely so they are basically petri dishes for mold. I recently took mine apart completely to clean and I can assure you that there is no way to get rid of the mold by running a cleaning cycle or putting any chemical into the machine. Despite having done these things on a regular basis, each part had to be SCRUBBED by hand which took three people about 8 hours. Moldy clothes and towels are catastrophic to your health and overall quality of life so you really need to take the machine completely apart and clean it or else get a new washing machine.

  46. These machines hardly save water / energy if I have to put on the HOT water cycle for well over an hr to clean . ugh

  47. Michell Carpenter says:

    Thank you Anna for putting together such a great, easy to use website! It’s very well done, easy to navigate and I love that you can tell a woman designed it! I will be referring to this often. And I’m making sure my 21 year old daughter, whom lives on her own, has your website to refer to when she has “how to do” questions.
    Thanks again,

  48. in your pin you said to use white vinegar is that normal vinegar i am writing to you from australia for some things i have read in some cleaning pins we dont have here.have a nice day

    • Bethany Davis says:

      Hi, Suzan. I’m Anna’s assistant, Bethany. Yes, just regular vinegar (not red wine, apple cider, etc.), but regular distilled vinegar. Hope this helps! :)

  49. Women should design washing machines. They would never design one with this kind of flaw. We always think, “how do I clean this?”. There is a niche in the market for washers that don’t have all these problems.
    Thanks for this post though. I am going to see if I can help my daughter clean her machine so she isn’t embarrassed by stinky clothes anymore.

    • Bethany Davis says:

      :) Glad this will help your daughter with her washing machine! Stinky clothes are no fun! -Bethany, Anna’s Assistant

  50. Helen edwards says:

    I haven’t read all your comments so maybe someone has mentioned it already. A few months after I had my new machine it began to smell of mildew and the problem was I had been continually washing on low temperatures and there was a build up of bacteria. I did several washes at a higher temp and the problem resolved so now I mix some hot washes in with economy washes.

  51. Donna McKinney says:

    Very informative! I’m having problems keeping my front loader odor free. I will be trying your methods. thank you