You may not think of your washing machine as a place for mold, but it is one of the places where mold can grow and thrive if you don’t pay attention. A Consumer Reports article notes that mold spores, bits of food, soil and airborne fungi can latch onto your clothing. Washing machines may have residual moisture or detergent, and when you put your clothes in to do a regular wash cycle, that becomes a perfect environment for mold spores to grow.
If you have noticed a musty or mildewy smell coming from your laundry area, or if you have actually found mold inside your washer, follow these tips on how to clean mold from a washing machine.
A detailed article from prohousekeepers.com addresses how to clean mold from a washing machine, whether it is a front-loader or a top-loader. While front-loading machines have a greater likelihood for mold to develop, both types of washing machines can be susceptible to mold.
You can use several common household goods to clean your washing machine. Two of the most common options are bleach OR a solution of vinegar and baking soda. If you opt for vinegar and baking soda, you’ll need distilled white vinegar. There are options for how to clean mold from a washing machine using bleach or a solution of vinegar and baking soda. An important note: Bleach should never be used with vinegar or other chemicals, as it creates a harmful chlorine gas. Choose either bleach or vinegar and baking soda for this cleaning.
Cleaning a front- loader washing machine
How to clean your front-loader washing machine:
- Step 1. Set your washing machine to the highest temperature.
- Step 2. Pour two cups of bleach into the detergent tray. If you prefer to use vinegar and baking soda instead of bleach, add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum, start the cycle, and then pour 2 cups of vinegar into the detergent dispenser.
- Step 3. Set your washing machine to run on the longest cycle.
- Step 4. Allow the cycle to start, the basket to fill, and the bleach to mix with the water.
- Step 5. Pause the cycle and let the bleach/vinegar and water sit inside the basket for 30 minutes.
- Step 6. Resume the cycle and let it finish.
If you prefer to use vinegar and baking soda instead of bleach, add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum, start the cycle, and then pour 2 cups of vinegar into the detergent dispenser.
Cleaning a top loader washing machine
To clean a top loader washing machine, follow these steps:
- Step 1. If your top loader has a detergent drawer, add two cups of bleach and put another two cups into the drum. If you don’t have a drawer, just add four cups of bleach to the drum. Please note that you should not open the lid of the washing machine during this process.
- Step 2. Start the longest, hottest cycle and let the agitator mix the bleach with the water.
- Step 3. Pause the cycle and let the machine sit for 30 minutes.
- Step 4. Restart and complete the cycle.
If you prefer to use vinegar and baking soda, put 1 cup of baking soda into the washer and start a long, hot cycle. Let the agitator mix the baking soda into the water until it has dissolved (about 10 minutes). Pause the cycle and add 4 cups of vinegar to the hot water. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes and then resume the cycle.
Cleaning rubber seals and trays
Mold can get trapped in the rubber seals of the laundry basket inside the machine. To remove mold from these areas, mix 1/4 cup of bleach with 2 cups of water. Using gloves, dip a microfiber cloth or soft-bristle brush into the mixture and clean the area. Once the mold is removed, dry the area with a soft cloth.
You can use the same solution and, cloth or brush to clean the detergent and fabric softener dispensing drawers and the lint filter. When you have finished cleaning, run a short cycle without laundry or cleaning products to flush the laundry basket.
Helpful mold prevention tips
There are a few easy tips that can help prevent mold from forming in your washing machine.
- After each use, wipe any residual moisture, detergent or fabric softener with a dry cloth.
- Switch from liquid detergent to powder or pods to avoid a residue build-up.
- Leave your washer lid open after use to promote air circulation within the washer drum.
- Keep your laundry room humidity levels low.
- Remove wet clothes right away.
- Run a cleaning cycle monthly (minimum) or weekly (recommended.)
1-800-WATER DAMAGE: Your mold removal professionals
As a living thing, mold remains active only as long as the conditions are suitable. Mold spores can be found virtually everywhere, and they thrive in damp, dark, and warm areas such as washing machines. Mold growth in washing machines tends to be isolated and easy to clean on your own. Finding mold growing elsewhere on your property–on walls and carpet, behind cabinets, or in your basement, for example–is a different story. If you discover mold on your structure or building materials, it’s usually best to have a professional check it out. Mold can spread quickly once it begins to grow, so it’s important to address it immediately.
1-800 WATER DAMAGE® provides restoration services nationwide to home and business owners who have property damage from water, fire, mold, or sewage. Our mold remediation specialists use state-of-the-art technology and advanced methods to stop mold growth and minimize the likelihood of recurring issues.