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A white, front-loading washing machine in a storage room.

How to Clean Mold from Your Washing Machine

Introduction

Do you have dark green or black mold accumulating in your washing machine? In this post, we’ll tell you why mold is growing in your washing machine, how to clean mold from your washing machine, and how to prevent it from rearing its ugly head again in the future.

 

What are Molds?

Molds are a type of fungi that occur naturally in the environment. They are produced indoors and outdoors where moisture and oxygen are present.

 

Why Care About Mold Growing in Your Washing Machine?

Molds can have negative health effects on you and the other members of your household. These side effects can range from mild to severe depending on the person. In some, mold reactions could include mild irritation of the skin or eyes (similar to a light allergic reaction), while in others it could cause severe asthma attacks.

 

According to the EPA, mold growing in your home produces microscopic and reproductive cells called spores which can travel throughout your home and grow more molds in new places.

 

Why Molds Grow in Your Washing Machine & Where to Look for Them

Molds tend to grow in places that have moisture, oxygen, and some bio-material for the molds to feed on. Molds tend to grow in washing machines because washing machines are constantly cycling water (moisture) and detergent (bio-material).

 

If after cleaning your clothes, your washing machine doesn’t dry quickly enough, there’s a high chance that mold will start growing.

 

There are several places in your washing machine where molds are most likely to grow. For your machine and most others this will include

 

  • The detergent dispenser
  • The drum
  • The rubber seal or gasket (for front-loading machines)
  • The inside door of the washing machine

 

Supplies You’ll Need to Remove Mold from Your Washing Machine

Some cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment sitting in front of a washing machine

Before you start to clean mold from your washing machine, you’ll first need a few items to ensure you’re protected and effective.

 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):

 

  • Gloves. Wearing gloves while you clean molds are a good idea because your hand may come in direct contact with molds as you clean. Your best bet will be a pair of rubber gloves that go mid-way up your arm. However, if you are using a non-toxic cleaning solution (which we would recommend) and you don’t have any existing allergy to molds, simple latex gloves may be fine. But if you know you are sensitive to mold or don’t want to take the chance, just go with a good pair of rubber gloves.

 

  • Face Mask. Molds give off spores when disturbed, which you can then inhale into your lungs. Because cleaning molds naturally disturbs it and sends its spores into the air, it’s a good idea to wear a mask.  A simple N95 disposable mask will be fine for most people. If you’re more sensitive to mold, try using a higher-quality face mask such as a half-face mask with P100 filters or a full-face mask.

 

  • Goggles. It’s a good idea to wear safety goggles not just because of molds but also because of the cleaning solution you will be using. Without safety goggles, your cleaning solution could splash into your eyes and cause irritation.

 

Recommended Cleaning Tools:

 

  • Water
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Microfibre Cloths or towels
  • Bucket – Alternative: Spray Bottle
  • Vinegar – Alternative: chlorine bleach OR hydrogen peroxide (*never mix cleaning solutions together without confirmation that they are safe to be mixed.)

 

Steps to Clean Mold from a Washing Machine

In the next few steps we’re going to manually clean the mold from the problem areas of your washing machine.

 

Step 1: Prepare Your Cleaning Solution Using Green Products

Mix your hot water and vinegar together in a bucket based on a 4:1 water-to-vinegar ratio. You may prefer to use bleach instead of vinegar. Just remember that while bleach can kill mold, it is also harmful to people and family pets. Also, be aware that the EPA does not recommend using bleach to clean mold in most circumstances. Although it may be necessary in cases where someone in the home is immune-compromised.

 

Overall, we stay away from toxic chemicals for cleaning unless it is absolutely necessary. For most homes, it will not be necessary to use bleach.

 

Step 2: Clean Mold from Rubber Seal and Gasket

A hand pulling back the rubber gasket (also known as a seal) and revealing mold in a white front-loading washing machine.

If you have a front-loading washing machine, remove the gasket (the rubber piece that creates the seal between the door and the washing machine). Place the gasket in your cleaning solution and let it sit for 10 or 15 minutes. You don’t have to let it sit in the solution but the longer you let it sit the more mold it will kill.

 

Now get ready to scrub. With your soft bristle brush or a towel, scrub the gasket all over and remove all mold. If your gasket is immovable, clean it in place. Now dry off the gasket and put it back in place.

 

**Tip: If you’re using vinegar and you find there are mold spots that are not coming off easily, you can wet the affected areas with your vinegar cleaning solution and then sprinkle baking soda on top of it. The baking soda will begin to bubble when it makes contact with the vinegar, creating a minor abrasive solution that will make it easier to scrub off the mold.

 

Step 3: Clean Mold from the Dispenser

A close up shot of someone's hand disassembling the detergent dispenser of a white, front-loading washing machine to prepare to remove the mold contained in it.

In the same way that you cleaned the gasket, you will clean the dispenser. Place the dispenser in your bucket of cleaning solution. You can let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Now, scrub the dispenser all over and make sure all the mold is gone. After that’s done, dry the dispenser and put it back.

 

**Tip: don’t forget to wash and dry the area where you removed the dispenser from. This area often gets wet and attracts mold too.

 

Step 4: Clean Inside the Washer Door

Next, use your brush or towel to scrub the inside of the washer door. After you scrub the inside of the door, dry it with a towel.

 

Step 5: Clean Inside of Washing Machine Drum

Now, give the inside drum of your washing machine a good wipe-down with a cloth dipped in the vinegar solution. Even though you may not see any visible mold, there could be plenty there that you don’t see. It’s better at this point to cover your bases and remove as much mold as possible now so you don’t have more problems later.

 

Step 6: Add a Detergent & Start Washing Machine

Now it’s time to add a detergent and start a self-cleaning cycle. Add vinegar to the detergent slot in your dispenser. If the manufacturer of your washing machine recommends that you use another type of product for self-cleaning, follow their recommendations.

 

With the detergent added, it’s now time to let the washing machine do some of the work. Select the right wash cycle for your washing machine. Many modern washing machines have a setting specifically for self-cleaning. If there is one, choose the self-cleaning option. If not, choose a long cycle with hot water.

 

Now, start your washing machine.

 

**Tip: It’s important to always follow the specific cleaning and maintenance instructions made for your specific washing machine. If you go against the manufacturer’s instructions, you could void your warranty.

 

Step 7: Dry Washing Machine with a Towel

Your cycle is finished, now manually dry out your machine with a towel. This last step will ensure that you wipe away any lingering mold spores (dead or alive) that could have surfaced after running the wash cycle. Dry down all of the areas previously cleaned (the gasket, dispenser system, door, and drum).

 

If you don’t feel like manually drying the machine again, leave the dispenser tray and washing machine door open and let them air dry completely.

 

Congratulations, you’ve finished! Well… sort of.

 

6 Tips to Prevent Mold from Growing in Your Washing Machine

The truth is, because mold grows where there is moisture and your washing machine uses water, there will always be the risk that mold could return. So, cleaning mold out of your washing machine is more of an ongoing effort.

 

But, don’t worry. With a few tips, you can make staying on top of your mold situation relatively easy.

 

To help you prevent molds from returning to your washing machine, we put together several tips for you to follow:

 

  • Remove your laundry as soon as it is finished;
  • Leave your washing machine door open after each wash so that it can air dry;
  • Leave your dispenser tray open after each wash to allow it to air dry;
  • Use a dehumidifier or fan in your laundry area after your washes to quicken the drying process;
  • Manually dry your gasket after each wash; and
  • Substitute fabric softener for vinegar (many fabric softeners produce buildup and residue that molds can grow on)

 

Here’s an easy procedure to remember that will help ensure you’re always following the best practices in washing machine mold prevention:

 

  1. WASH – wash and remove your clothes from the washing machine as soon as possible once the wash is complete.
  2. WIPE – wipe down the problem areas on your washing machine after your wash is complete.
  3. VENTILATE – leave your washing machine door and the detergent dispenser open, and ventilate the area with the help of a fan or dehumidifier.

 

If you want more tips on how to prevent mold from growing in your home, the CDC  produced this graphic with tips to clean up mold.

 

Conclusion

Removing mold from your washing machine is an easy task that almost anyone can do. Once you complete the cleaning the first time, it will be much easier to maintain a mold-free washing machine with a little preventative action. This will make your home safer and healthier for you and your family.

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