Front load washer smells like mildew. Help!

We are just about to talk about a problem that surprisingly appears quite common when it comes to front loading washers: What to do if your front load washer smells like mildew (It can be really strong and awful).

And yes, your clothes could also be coming out smelling like hell.

You see, what’s crazy about the issue is that it’s one of those you can easily resolve- and it’s quite easy to prevent as well.

So read this to the end if your front load washer smells like mildew (and you have no idea why or what to do)..

Front load washer smells like mildew – what causes it, how to get rid of the smell, and how to prevent it coming back in the future

What causes the smell

A mildew smell coming from your front load washing machine typically indicates there’s mold buildup somewhere inside your washer.

And since I want to make it easy for you to narrow down to the origin of the horrendous smell, the following are the most probable spots where mould might be (it’s here it could be coming from):

The rubber door gasket

A very common cause of mildew smell in nearly all front-loading washing machines is the buildup of mold on the rubber gasket that seals the door.


Well, this gasket tends to become a breeding ground for mold once there’s enough buildup.

And as I had mentioned, it’s mainly due to the moisture (and heat) that is present in these washing machines (because you have not been observing recommended preventative measures)

So start by checking if the rubber door seal in your front loader has black stains. 

To be honest, the washing door seal is one of the primary culprits when it comes to mold growth (the rubber seals are, in general, designed badly) and there’s a huge chance it is the cause of the nasty mildew smell coming out of your washing machine.

All other hidden spots

Besides the mold formation on the gasket, there’s another likely origin of the obnoxious smell: detergent and fabric softener residues may have accumulated in other hard-to-reach spots in your machine over time.

And again the buildup of these residuals ends up (oftentimes) encouraging the breeding of bacteria and mold.

Why does my front load washer smell like mildew

So, what causes the accumulation?
Well, the most important thing to keep in mind is that mold typically accumulates because of the presence of moisture/residuals in hidden/dark spots and the door gasket.

So why there’s a musty odor from your front loading washer is probably because you have not been doing what you’re supposed to do to keep your washer clean and completely dry (more on this later).

Below we look at how to remove the dreadful mildew smell..


How to get mildew smell out of washing machine (how to get the mildew smell out of a front loading washing machine)

The easiest method is using a specially formulated washing machine cleaner to clean your washing machine on a regular basis (check the manufacturer recommended cleaning product and how often from your manual).

I should say there are alternatives to the cleaner:

A good example is a mixture of vinegar and baking soda- this can also clean your washer thoroughly.

There are also good mold/mildew removers you can spray on the gasket (and then scrub off) if you see black mold there.


There are a few areas where you may need some harder physical work to clean off the buildup (think of the agitator, the drain hose and the like)

But don’t worry…it’s not the toughest job to do in the world.


How to prevent mildew smell from front loading washing machine

Do you recall what I had said earlier regarding the cause of mold growth?

If you can’t, I had said that you’re to blame if mold and residuals have settled in your washer.

Put another way, there are a few preventative procedures you should have been implementing when using and after using your washer to keep the mold (and hence the smell) off your washer.

Let me remind you about how you can prevent mold/residual problems in the future:


Wipe down your washer’s door rubber gasket after each use

The first thing you must not forget to do(all the time) is wipe down that door rubber gasket/door boot seal as well as the inside of your washing machine with a clean, dry cloth after each use.

That helps remove any lingering moisture.


Leave the washer’s door open (a little) in between uses

Leaving the door of your washing machine open when not in use allows air to circulate inside properly and prevents moisture buildup too.


Run a self-clean cycle

See if your washer’s user manual recommends you run a self-clean cycle periodically.

Do that, if so (follow the instructions to a tee) and it will be harder for mold and residuals to form inside your washer – the cycle cleans the interior (including those difficult-to-access areas) nicely thanks to the high heat.


Use the right washing machine soap and do not add too much

Also helpful is using the appropriate detergent and the right amount too (and fabric softener, if recommended) as using wrong products or too much can contribute to unwanted buildup in your machine.


Does using Affresh tablets help?

Only use Affresh tablets if your manufacturer explicitly allows..

The basic rule is to leave the door slightly open when you’re not washing to have the washer dry out 100% between uses.


Do all front load washers smell?


If you clean it as recommended by your manufacturer  –and you make it a habit to leave the washer’s door open after laundry, then your front load won’t get smelly (because there’ll be no dampness/residuals)


Front load washer smells like mildew – final thoughts

Now you know what you need to be doing to keep the washer clean, dry, and properly aerated…

In summary:

  1. Wipe down the rubber gasket and the inside of the machine with a clean, dry cloth after each use to remove any moisture.
  2. Leave the door of your washing machine open when not in use to allow air to circulate properly (it prevents potential moisture buildup).
  3. Use a specially formulated washing machine cleaner or a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to clean the machine on a regular basis (see your owners manual for instructions regarding your specific washer).
  4. Use the right detergent (and appropriate amount) and fabric softener(if recommended).

Do that to avoid the smelly problem.


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