Despite constantly being used for cleaning, washing machines have all the necessary conditions for mold and bacteria growth: water and residue build up. Have you noticed a musty smell in your washing machine or mold and mildew growing in your detergent dispensers? You are not alone.
Follow these 5 prevention and maintenance tips to keep your washing machine and your laundry clean and healthy:
- Washing With Hot Water. Energy conscious homeowners are using more cold water to wash their laundry. Mirroring this change in laundry habits, detergents are designed to be effective with cold water washing. Using hot water can help kill bacteria and keep your washer from smelling musty. Hot water use on highly bacteria prone items like musty towels, stinky socks or other odor laden materials can prevent bacteria from growing on the clothes and in your washer. Hot water washing reduces detergent and fabric softener build up, a common source of odor and bacteria. Running your machine periodically without any laundry with hot water and either vinegar, bleach or baking soda is a great cleaning option. For best results, let the water sit in the machine for several minutes before you complete the washing cycle.
- Wash Mold From Detergent and Fabric Softener Dispensers. Build up of detergents and trapped dirt or lint combined with a moist environment are perfect conditions for fowl smelling mold growth. In some machines, these come out really easily and can be soaked and scrubbed with either a bleach based cleaning solution or vinegar. If you can’t remove them, simply clean them in place. Avoid using too much detergent. High efficiency washing machines require a lot less detergent and most homeowners are actually putting in too much leading to build up and odors. Follow with Tip 1 for best results.
- Clean the Rubber Seal. Most washing machines have a rubber sealing rim around the wash basin. Periodically wipe this with a bleach based cleaner or cleaning wipe to remove residue build up.
- Use Washing Machine Specific Cleaning Products. Many companies make detergents or pods that are specifically designed for cleaning your washing machines, particularly front loaders. Found in the laundry product section, these can be used to help remove odors and bacteria.
- Don’t Let Wet Loads Sit. I am a big culprit in our house for starting a load of laundry and then forgetting about it…for days. If your laundry is starting to smell, it is a good idea to re-wash everything in hot water to help kill any bacteria. If the washing machine is not cleaned following a bad smelling load…the smell will linger and spread to the next load and so on. Follow your preferred washing machine cleaning procedures to get rid of that smell.