How to Eliminate Mold in Your Washing Machine
A high-efficiency washer like a top-load or a front-load machine has become an integral part of most lives. Using less water and less energy, they leave our clothes clean like never before.
However, their basic design of being sealed completely with rubber gaskets tend to trap the moisture and form a fertile ground for mold and mildew growth. The residual laundry detergents and fabric softeners serve as the fodder to enhance their growth. A tendency to cold wash aggravates the problem further. The front-load washing machines are more vulnerable to it than the top load.
The situation becomes graver with us not being able to spot these mold and mildew as they flourish under the gaskets, hidden from our eyes. You only become aware of them one fine day when you are greeted with an obnoxious foul smell on opening your washing machine or from your washed clothes.
But, with just a few care and precautions, you can easily eliminate the mold problem from the roots. We would not only share a few vital tips that would prevent the growth of mold and mildew in the first place but would also inform you about how to tackle the existing mold and mildew from your washing machine, especially the front load ones. Check it out!
Tips to Prevent Mold Formation
Preventing mold formation is surprisingly easy if we follow the following basic routine and stick with it while doing our laundry and after it.
Always use high-efficiency detergent
There is specific high-efficiency washing powder available for washing machines as they can clean and rinse clothes using less water. You must always use that detergent and not the usual detergent in a washing machine. While costing less, the standard detergent would always leave a residual soap behind that would be the fodder for bacteria and mold growth.
Hence, it’s better to pay more for detergents meant for washing machines for the health and longevity of the machine. You must also take care to follow the instructions and use the specified amount of detergent. A higher amount would again be detrimental.
Molds and bacteria love moisture and flourish well in damp places. Post washing your clothes, the tub including the tub strainer, door gasket, soap dispenser drain hose, etc. get wet and remain damp. You might not be able to access the tub or the drain hose but the tub strainer or the drum in which you put your clothes are accessible.
Post cleaning the laundry, the gasket of the front load should be pulled gently towards you and wiped with a dry towel along with the drum. Likewise, the top load should be wiped from the top along the basin area and below the frame of the machine.
The soap dispenser should also be dried out. Finally, the dispenser and the main front or top door should be left open for the moisture to dry out completely. If the area is not too hot, then you can also use a dehumidifier or a pedestal fan aimed towards the washing machine to dry it completely.
Remove washed laundry immediately
Many tend to leave the washed laundry inside the machine for hours before letting them out to dry. They have plenty of moisture within them and accelerate the formation of mold and bacteria inside the machine. Hence, they must be immediately transferred to a clothes’ drier or sun dried after washing.
By any chance, if you have forgotten to take it out, it is best to rinse it once again with vinegar or color-safe bleach/bleach, depending on white or colored clothes. This second washing would eliminate the obnoxious odor from the clothes as well as the washing machine.
Try to skip on fabric softener liquid
We may love the fresh smell of fabric softeners in our clothes but it tends to leave a gummy build-up that the molds love as well. They thrive on it to flourish unabated in your washing machine. Hence, it best to avoid them in the machine. You may use them manually. Else you can use softener sheets in the dryer instead of the softener liquid.
However, the best fabric softener you can use is vinegar. They not only freshen your clothes but also act as a mold and bacteria formation deterrent.
Run preventive wash cycle
A preventive wash cycle can take the health of your washing machine notches higher. It takes care of all the bacterial and molds growth inside the machine along with residual soap and any gummy build-ups. It must be run at least once a month and even more frequently if required.
For it, place a healthy amount of vinegar or liquid bleach inside the soap compartment and run the ‘clean washer’ cycle. In case your washing machine does not have this option, choose the heavy-duty cycle at maximum temperature and run a washing cycle with no clothes inside the machine. Post it, wipe the machine well and even under the rubber gaskets and let it dry.
Both vinegar or liquid bleach leaves no residue or smell. However, you need to confirm with the manufacturer that they are an approved mold remover and would not damage the machine over time. You can also use a drum cleaner for the purpose. They are easily available online nowadays.
Maintenance and replacement
It is important to regularly inspect the water hose and other pipes for any leak, wear and tear or mold formation. You may need to replace them every three to four years for optimum washing machine health. If ignored, these lead to water damage and pave the way for mold formation.
Eliminating Existing Mold from Your Washing Machine
The above maintenance tips go a long way in preventing mold formation. But if you have a persisting and old mold existing in your washing machine, try the following steps.
Clean the rubber gasket
The area underneath the rubber gasket and between its fold is the perfect place for molds to thrive. You can view them as black spots or black areas. To clean them, wear a glove and take a mixture of warm water and vinegar or bleach or even a soapy solution. Remember not to mix vinegar and bleach as they create chlorine gas that is harmful to your washing machine. Now carefully and thoroughly clean the rubber gasket with this solution and an old towel cloth. Remember to clean between the folds and underneath the gasket as well. Also, be mindful of cleaning the machine door as well. Let it dry thoroughly before closing the door.
The process might be repeated for tough mold spots as all would not get eliminated at the first go.
Clean soap/softener dispensers
The dispenser is an area that we barely pay attention to. It should be cleaned after every washing cycle to remove all residual detergent and softener. If it is detachable, remove it and clean away all traces of residue. Dry it before fixing it back. ‘
There are many washing machines where the dispenser is fixed and non-removable. In that case, its drawer should be opened and cleaned with a damp and dry cloth subsequently. A soft bottle brush can be used to reach the deep insides of the dispenser and clean the area.
Run the cleaning cycle
Now, we would deep clean the machine. For it mix about one-fourth cup of bicarbonate of soda with about one-fourth cup of water. Likewise, take about two cups of vinegar in another container.
Before getting started, clean the inside and outside of the washing machine with a dry cloth to remove visible dust. Next, out the bicarbonate of soda mixture inside the soap dispenser and pour the vinegar directly inside the drum. Set your washer to normal mode and the highest cleaning temperature. Run the machine without any clothes for the longest cycle.
While the machine is running; you can make a mixture of white vinegar and warm water. Dip a clean soft cloth on it and wipe the front and exterior of the washing machine. Next, wipe them with a dry kitchen towel to eliminate all dust and bacteria.
Once the washing cycle is completed, open the machine and wipe the interiors including the rubber gasket and underneath its area with a soft cloth. Dry the machine well before closing it.
Repeat the entire steps to tackle tough mold formations.
Sometimes, your washing machine still smells even after you have executed every cleaning method described above. It implies that the mold might be growing behind the drum or possibly in your drain or filter. In that scenario, it is best to call for professional help who would dismantle the machine and thoroughly clean it from the deep interiors.
As a precautionary measure, you must go for a professional mold removal service by a professional at least once a year. It keeps your machine healthy and mold-free for certain.
Keeping your washing machine mold-free not only keeps your clothes clean and healthy but also extends the health and longevity of your washing machine. If done regularly, you would never face any mold problem and always enjoy clean and fresh laundry.