Whirlpool® washer and dryer set

How to clean your front load washer

Your washing machine helps you care for your family’s laundry, but after a while your machine may need cleaning. If you notice a smell in your laundry room or see buildup and grime inside your washer drum, it may be time to give your appliance a proper clean. Use this guide to learn how to clean your front load washer to get rid of smells.

Why does my front load washer smell?

Over time, water and laundry products like detergent and fabric softener may create residue buildup inside your washer. Without regular cleaning or proper usage, the warm, damp environment can also cause mold and mildew growth in the washer drum and along the door gasket, leading to a smelly washing machine.

When do I need to clean my front load washer?

Your washer cleaning schedule may vary depending on how frequently you do laundry. Generally, it is recommended that you clean your washer after every 30 cycles as part of your appliance maintenance routine.

While some machines require manual cleaning, select Whirlpool® washers offer a Clean Washer Cycle that uses high water volumes and affresh® Washer Cleaner1 or bleach to clean your washing machine’s interior.

Person putting clothes in the washing machine Person putting clothes in the washing machine

How long does it take to clean a front load washer?

Cleaning times may vary depending on the soil level of your machine and wash cycle times, but it will typically take between 10–15 minutes in addition to the run time of your washing machine’s cleaning cycle.

How to clean a front load washer

Use the following instructions along with your appliance’s user care guide to learn how to wash your front load washer and get rid of smells to help keep your family’s laundry smelling fresh and clean.

  • Washing machine cleaner, like affresh® tablets

  • Cleaning wipes (optional)

  • Clean, dry towels or rags

  • Mild detergent
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Step 1: Empty out machine

Before you begin, remove any laundry from the washer drum.

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Step 2: Place washer cleaner inside machine

If you’re using an affresh® washing machine cleaner, place the tablet on the bottom of the washer drum. If you don’t have affresh® tablets, you can use other cleaning products like liquid chlorine bleach as long as it is approved in your appliance user care guide.

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Step 3: Select a wash cycle

Once you’ve added your cleaning products, close the washer door, select your wash cycle and press start. Some washing machines offer a washer cleaning cycle, but a normal wash cycle using a hot water setting, or a sanitize cycle can also be effective.

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Step 4: Clean the door gasket

Using a cleaning wipe or damp cloth, clean the gasket and interior door window. When cleaning the gasket, make sure to clean under the rubber lip to thoroughly clean every crevice.

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Step 5: Clean the detergent dispenser

Some dispensers are removable, some aren’t. If you have a removable detergent dispenser, take it out of the machine and soak in hot water or clean with mild detergent before rinsing and drying it. For a dispenser that cannot be removed, use a cleaning wipe or all-purpose cleaner to wipe down its surface. Dry with a clean towel.

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Step 6: Schedule a service

If you’re still noticing a smell coming from your washing machine after you have cleaned it thoroughly, you may need to schedule maintenance service with a licensed technician to further investigate the issue.

Should you leave the door open on a front-loading washer?

The gasket seal on your washer door prevents leaks during the wash cycle, but the seal can also prevent the empty tub from drying properly when the door is closed. It is recommended to leave your front load washer door ajar after a wash cycle to allow airflow and help prevent mildew growth.

Tips to prevent front load washer odor:

  • If you typically use cold water in your laundry routine, run a hot water cycle every once in a while to help clear out detergent buildup.

  • Always leave the washer door ajar after a wash cycle to allow proper airflow while the washer dries.

  • Maintain a regular cleaning schedule for your washing machine.

  • Unload your washer as soon as the cycle ends to help prevent mold and mildew growth.

  • If your laundry room is typically damp or humid, place a dehumidifier in the room.

Shop affresh® laundry cleaners

Keep your laundry room looking and smelling clean with the help of affresh® laundry cleaning products. Affresh® cleaners are formulated to remove the odor-causing residues and grime that laundry loads can leave behind.

Shop Whirlpool® front load washers

Whirlpool® front load washers combine flexible installation options with innovative features that help you care for your family’s clothes. Browse select models with features like the Steam Clean Option to remove everyday stains with increased wash action and heat, or the Presoak Option that adds extra time to the wash cycle to soak your soiled clothes.

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1. affresh® brand products and the recommending brands’ products are all owned and distributed by Whirlpool Corporation.