Is there mold in your washing machine? Here’s How To Kill It ASAP

This story is part of Try thisCNET’s collection of simple tips to quickly improve your life.

Chances are you have a weekly laundry schedule for washing your clothes, towels, and bedding. But is cleaning your washing machine on that weekly to-do list? If not, I have a good reason why you should start today.

Your washing machine can contain mold and mildew, making your laundry smell less fresh. Like other appliances, your washing machine needs a good scrub on a regular basis, especially if your laundry has a sulfur smell. The good news is that if there’s mold in your washing machine, it’s not that hard to kill it.

Here’s how to make your clothes and washing machine smell fresh and clean again, and how to keep bad odors away in the future. In addition, I’ll show you how to recognize the gross gunk, clean it up and keep bacteria out for good. (We also have many more tips for how do you get pet stains out of carpets?, how do you remove makeup stains from your bedding?and how do you clean your mattress?.)

The best way to kill mold and bacteria in your washing machine

If you have mold in your washing machine, here’s how to get rid of it. Doing this monthly will help prevent mold growth.

1. Put on gloves and grab an old towel you don’t care about.

2. Mix a solution of bleach and hot water OR vinegar and hot water. (Never mix bleach and vinegar – it creates chlorine gas, which is toxic.)

3. Dip the towel in the mixture and begin scrubbing away any visible mold. Make sure you have the detergent dispenser and around the gaskets.

4. Front loader machines have a gasket around the door. If you have a front loader, thoroughly clean and dry it, including all creases.

5. Run the wash on the hottest setting your machine offers with a cup of bleach or vinegar. If using bleach, pour it into the designated compartment. If you are using vinegar, pour it into the detergent opening.

If your machine has a self-cleaning cycle, you can use that setting. This should kill any hidden fungus you may have missed.

6. Use another old towel and wipe off any moisture in your washing machine. This includes the barrel, dispensers, seals, and any other areas you can reach.

7. Leave the washer door open to allow the airflow to dry out the missed parts.

Leave the lid open when not washing clothes

Mold grows in dark, damp areas, which is what your washing machine becomes after you unload the clothes. Keeping the lid closed traps moisture, which can lead to bacteria build-up and a bad odor.

Leaving the washing machine door open will help ventilate the room better and prevent mold from developing in the first place.

Remove wet clothes immediately

Damp clothing is another breeding ground for mold. If you throw laundry in, make sure you’re home to take the clothes off as soon as the timer goes off

Not only will this prevent mold from growing in your washing machine, but it will also keep mold out of your clean clothes, bedding and towels.

Dry damp seals and other parts after each use

After you have finished using your washing machine for the day, be sure to wipe down all damp areas of the washing machine. This includes the lid, drum, door, rubber gaskets and detergent dispenser (if your machine has that feature).

Keep an old towel handy for this.

Make sure to dry the seals along with the rest of your washing machine to prevent moisture from sticking. And while fungal contamination can happen in any washing machine, it is especially common in high-efficiency (HE) front loaders. Therefore, regularly wash the gaskets and seals around the door and keep them dry. The gaskets ensure that no water leaks past the door and also seal well in the moisture that can promote mold growth.

You should also immediately remove pet hair, crumpled paper, or other debris from the machine.

read more: How to buy a washing machine

washing machine compartment pulled out

If you have a high-efficiency (HE) washing machine, use a washing powder made for HE machines.

Taylor Martin/CNET

If you have a high efficiency washing machine

Liquid detergents can leave a residue in your washing machine, turning mold into a food source. So if you have a highly efficient washing machine, the first thing to do to control mold is to make sure you use a detergent made specifically for this type of washing machine, which produces less foam. (Look for the letters HE on the bottle.)

Better yet, stay away from liquid detergent altogether and switch to powder or pads. Whatever you choose, make sure you don’t use as much as you need to wash your clothes. If you use too much, your clothes may have an odor and residue.

After you’ve cleaned your washing machine, it’s time to move on to the rest of your home. Start with the bathroom: here’s a simple one hour hack for it disarm your shower head and how do you unclog a toilet without a plunger?.

More home cleaning tips and tricks

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