The biggest criticism of the front loading washing machine is that it breeds mold and musty smells. Follow these 6 steps to naturally prevent mold and musty smells from ever building up at no extra cost or effort.
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Mold and musty smells in a front loading washing machine stem from moisture buildup underneath the door’s rubber gasket, which leads to extra time spent cleaning.
Prevention is the Best Medicine for the Front Loader
What if–at no extra cost or effort–you could prevent mold and musty buildup from ever showing up, eliminating the need to clean? Would the reported benefits of the front loader (water, energy, and detergent savings) make the front loading machine worthy of your purchase?
Based on my experience over the last four years of being the proud owner of a front loader, I say yes.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says Benjamin Franklin.
I can think of a million things I could/should/would do than scrub the nether regions of my washing machine!
Here are my no-need-for-elbow-grease, 6 practices–using natural ingredients–that prevent mold and smelly clothes at the same time. This is my regular laundry practice–not extra steps.
Plus, I’ll share the surprising cost benefits of this plan.
Six Steps for a Clean Front-Loading Washing Machine (plus one NOT to try)
1. Use the right amount of detergent.
Always use the smallest recommended amount of all-natural, high efficiency detergent. More detergent does not always equal more clean.
The high efficiency washing machine uses less water, which means that excess suds are more difficult to wash away. If excess suds are created from excess detergent, a film will form around the rubber gasket and become a breeding ground for mold and smells.
When I use the correct washing setting, our clothes get clean without the extra detergent.
2. Use white vinegar as a fabric softener.
White vinegar, a non-toxic, earth-friendly alternative to dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners, kills 82% of mold. 82% might not seem like a lot, but regular fabric softener has 0% mold-killing properties, so in conjunction with these other tips, white vinegar will help stop mold before it forms.
Don’t worry, it doesn’t leave a scent on clothes and is just as effective as a fabric softener!
3. Use hydrogen peroxide in place of chlorine bleach.
One might think that the extra harshness of chlorine bleach means that it does the job better, but it’s not always so. Hydrogen peroxide works great as a bleach, yet it’s non-toxic, scent-free, and doesn’t leave a chemical residue on clothes like chlorine bleach.
Hydrogen peroxide kills mold, and is also anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial. You might be surprised to find out that chlorine bleach is not as effective at fighting mold as hydrogen peroxide.
4. Use tea tree oil.
Out of all of the anti-mold solutions mentioned so far, tea tree essential oil is reported to be the most effective at killing mold. It is also said to be anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. I add 5 drops of essential oil to my liquid detergent in the detergent compartment.
You’ve probably heard that essential oils are expensive, but if used properly they will last a long time. I bought a 4 oz bottle of this essential oil, which will give me 2400 drops, lasting through 480 loads of laundry…. that’s over 2 years! It costs me only 4 cents per load.
5. Use the sanitize wash setting once a week.
Once per week I run a load of towels and rags on the sanitize setting. This setting heats the water over 140 degrees and keeps it there for about 2 hours. These high temperatures will kill 99% of bacteria.
Once I started this habit, I noticed that my previously mildewy-smelling towels came out smelly decidedly fresh and non-mildewy! I learned that mold is killed at temperatures of around 150 degrees. So while this sanitize option wasn’t meant to kill mold, I believe the high temperatures of this once-per-week load add to the benefits of all the other solutions listed above.
6. Air out the machine.
Allowing air circulation inside the machine will allow leftover moisture to escape. Keep the door open when the machine is not in use. Also, after every load, eject the dispenser drawer and dump out the collected water.
I store the dispenser drawer on top of the machine when it’s not in use so that the dispenser drawer opening can dry out. Sundays are my laundry day, and at the end of the day, I make sure to keep it open to air out throughout the week.
Not to Try: Don’t use the Basketclean feature.
The suggestion from the manufacturer is to run this cycle once per month with a cup of bleach. Do this if you want to, but above I mentioned that bleach is not the greatest anti-mold solution, plus, one cup is a lot of bleach. You’ll be filling your household air with lots of neurotoxins!
Bonus: Cost Benefit
Using all-natural laundry detergent, vinegar instead of dryer sheets, hydrogen peroxide in place of chlorine bleach, and adding tea tree oil costs only 20 cents per load: THE EXACT SAME as running a load using Tide Detergent, Snuggles dryer sheets, and generic chlorine bleach. This analysis was based on sale prices for Tide, Snuggles, and the generic bleach. If you bought these items at their regular price, my solution is actually cheaper.
FYI: My dad is an indoor air specialist with a lot of experience dealing with indoor mold testing and mold removal. He corroborates my 6 tips as the best defense against mold!
When you use these 6 easy laundry practices, you can prevent mold and mildew from ever building up. Non-toxic, eco-friendly options can actually work better, give us cleaner clothes, and save money.
Have you had experience beating mold in your front loading washing machine?