How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

Why didn’t anyone tell me about the horrible stink that was going to form and lurk in my front load washer? I was a top loader washer gal for years, in fact that is the only kind of washer I had ever used except for the ones at the laundry mat.

How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine | Frugal Family Home

So, when our top loading washer died after 25 years of service. Four of those years were washing cloth diaper three to four times a week. My washer had been a great trusted washer, never given any trouble until one day it shut off in mid cycle. I was left with a washer full of yucky water and extremely heavy wet clothes. After troubleshooting the problem it was apparent, it was time to go shopping.

I had heard about the water savings that the front loaders offer. Our water bill is our highest utility so anything that could cut it down a little was something I wanted to know about. But no one warned me about the stink that would come. And stink it did.

So smelly that I couldn’t even be in the room when I ran the load of wash. It was enough to make you lose your lunch. Oh so bad. I knew I had to do something. Everyone was complaining. Being the frugal person I am I turned to the YouTube (do you subscribe to my channel?) to discover just how to get rid of that awful smell.

Here’s the Steps I Took to Banish the Smell from My Washer

The door seal can really built up slimy muck, be sure to clean it well.

Step 1. Clean the Front Door seal. Just run a rag around the inside of the door seal and wipe it clean. I used an e-cloth to wipe out the seal on the inside. You won’t believe all the muck I found, yuck! I didn’t take a photo of the muck, no one wants to see that.

Did you know your front load washing machine has a trap that needs to be cleaned?

Step 2. Clean the Trap. You might need to look in the owners manual to see exactly where your trap is located. Some models have it right in the bottom of the front panel. Ours was located behind the front panel, which I removed and then back towards the middle of the machine.

Once I located the trap. I place a bowl under it with a towel under the bowl before I opened it. Open it slowly as water will run out or gush out if you open it too quickly.

Be sure to clean the trap plug too, it can collect dirt | Frugal Family Home

After the trap was open, I cleaned the plug I had just removed and then used a towel to clean out the trap. It wasn’t as bad as the seal but still it was yucky! After it’s all clean, replace the plug and place the front panel back on, if needed.

Be sure to clean the detergent drawer when cleaning the washing machine | Frugal Family Home

Step 3. Clean the Detergent Drawer. Now I would have liked to remove this drawer to clean it, but I found out after trying unsuccessfully to remove it, that I need a special tool to get it out. So be sure to check your owners manual, for how to remove the detergent drawer to clean it.

Cleaning Solution for a Front Load Washing Machine | Frugal Family Home

Step 4. Run the washer with Vinegar and Baking Soda. After the washer was cleaned, I added baking soda to the washer along with 1/2 cup of water and 2 cups of vinegar and started the load. It foams up a little and cleans as the washer runs.

Optional Step, if Needed. After completing the four steps above the smell was so much better, but not totally gone. So I began to suspect that the drain tube might be contributing to the problem. So, I ran another load with bleach this time. Trying to kill any mold or whatever it was that was making my washer stink so bad. That seemed to do the trick.


Now that I know I need to clean my front loading washer, I can add that to my monthly tasks to do, or at least every few months. I also discovered a few thing you can do to help maintain a clean washer.

  • Leave the door ajar after running the washer
  • Wash more often, if I run a load of laundry a day instead of waiting a few days and then running two loads, the washer stays smell free
  • Run your clothes on the hot water cycle occasionally
  • Use 1/4 cup of Washing Soda(affiliate link) with each load
  • Use Affresh (affiliate link) on a regular basis to keep the washer clean

There you have it how I got rid of the awful stink that was taking over my washer and how I’ve been keeping it at bay. I hope  this tips are helpful for you. If you have any other tips that worked well for you please add them to the comments below.


See all the posts in this series, 

31 Days of Frugal Homemaking Tips, Tutorials and Encouragement

Just so you know the links in this post are my referral links. When you use them and make a purchase I can make a little money at no extra cost to you. You can see my disclosure policy for more information.

3 thoughts on “How to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine”

  1. We had a stinky front loader too Shelly. Hubby basically did what you did, but with a different monthly cleaning routine. Once a month we operate the washer on ‘Basket Clean’ mode, with bleach one month and vinegar the next, and so on. Also, leaving the door open after a wash, and a small rag pushed into the rubber seal wicks the extra water out. Thanks!

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