How to Get Rid of a Mildew Smell from a Front Load Washer

Damp clothing can leave mildew smells in your washing machine.
Damp clothing can leave mildew smells in your washing machine. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Front-loading washing machines are popular because their design allows for greater laundry-holding capacity, better drying power and reduced water usage. These washers tend to be more expensive, however, and some consumers report problems with the door seals and leakage. Consumers have also reported mold and mildew problems with these units. You can control mildew problems in your front-loading washer with a few special tips.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Water
  • Clean cloth

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Vinegar and Bleach Method

Run the "Clean Machine" cycle. Some front-load washer models have a "Clean Machine" cycle that is designed specifically to clean your washer in between washloads to reduce mold and mildew build-up.

Add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the main detergent dispenser and set the machine on hot wash to eliminate the mildew odor.

Wipe the interior of the washer with a vinegar solution of ½ cup vinegar to 1 gallon of water. Use this solution to clean the gaskets, fittings and door. Allow the entire washer to dry thoroughly.

Add 1 cup of liquid bleach to an empty cycle if odors remain. Add the chlorine bleach to the detergent compartment and run the wash cycle without adding detergent.You should run a bleach-only cycle every month as a monthly maintenance procedure to keep mildew from building up.

Open the front-load washer's door and allow the interior to dry.

Baking Soda Method

Add 1 cup of baking soda to a plain hot water cycle in the middle of the cycle throught the main detergent dispenser. MrsCleanUSA recommends using baking soda to eliminate moldy smells from your front-load washer.

Wipe the washer's interior with a clean towel to remove excess water when the cycle is finished.

Leave the door open for 15 minutes to air out the machine.

Vinegar and Baking Soda Method

Mix 1 part baking soda to 2 parts vinegar, and add enough water to the mixture to make 3 cups.

Add the mixture to the machine slowly using the main detergent dispenser as it fills with the hottest temperature cycle of water. Hit the "pause" button to stop the machine to add the solution.

Open the washer door when the cycle completes and wipe the washer's interior dry with a towel.

Leave the washer door open to allow air to circulate inside of it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Remove washed clothing from the washing compartment immediately after you finish washing a load. This will help to reduce the moisture that helps mold and mildew to grow.
  • Leave the door open after washing. Allowing air to circulate through the interior of the machine will help to dry the remaining moisture and will help to keep the machine mildew-free. Additionally, it will help to dry out rubber gaskets and other vulnerable parts.
  • Models that have steam cleaning cycles will also do a good job of killing mold and mildew.
  • WhirlpoolCustHelp warns that using more than the recommended amount of bleach will cause damage to the machine over time.


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