How to Clean Mold From Your Washing Machine (& How to Prevent It)

It's easier than you think to get rid of mold in the washing machine. You've already got everything you need.

Published January 4, 2024
Woman cleaning washing machine

If things are smelling (or looking) a little less than fresh in your washer, don't worry. We've all been there, and we've got some really easy ways to clean mold in washing machines — from using natural products like vinegar to the old standby of a bleach solution.

Cleaning the mold from your washer is important because it keeps the spores out of your household air and reduces contamination of your clothes. Plus, things will smell a lot better in your laundry room. This won't take long, so grab your gloves, and let's go.

Five Spots Where Washing Machine Mold Lurks

First off, it's best if you can identify where the mold actually is. This lets you directly target the problem area and get things nice and fresh again. Mold usually looks like brown, grey, black, or green streaks or specks in your washer, although you might not be able to see it at all (you can still smell it). Here are a few of the common mold locations and how to spot the culprit:

Dirty detergent container
  • Gaskets - The rubber seal around the washer is prime mold land. The gasket is designed to keep water from leaking out of the machine, but it also tends to trap moisture.
  • Lip of the lid or door - Front-loading machines sometimes have a lip on the door, and the lid of top-loaders also tends to have a lip. It's totally human to forget to clean under there, but it's a prime spot for mold. It's dark and damp, after all.
  • Detergent dispenser - You know that little drawer where you put the pod or pour the detergent? That gets wet, but no one thinks to clean it. It's a mold hot spot for a lot of machines.
  • Inside the drum - Your washer has a drum or tub that spins while it's washing your clothes. This has little holes to let the water through, but it can also grow mold inside and behind those holes if you forget to leave the door open to let it dry.
  • Filter - A filter keeps those little things your kids leave in their pockets from washing down the drain and clogging things up, but it's also pretty great at trapping mold.
Fast Fact

While both front loaders and top loaders can have mold problems, more people tend to report issues with mold in washing machines that are front-loading models. This may be because of design issues, although you can overcome the problem with some cleaning hacks and a few adjustments.

How to Remove Mold From the Seal on a Washing Machine

Let's start with the biggie. Pretty much everyone deals with this problem at some point, so it's the first place to tackle if you're smelling something gross in your washer. You'll need some rubber gloves, a clean rag, hot water, and vinegar.

  1. Put on the gloves to protect your hands and reduce the ick factor.
  2. Mix a solution of one part white vinegar with four parts hot water.
  3. Dip the rag in the vinegar solution and thoroughly wipe off the gasket. Keep wiping until you don't see any residue on the rag or on the seal of the washer.
  4. When you're done, let the door stay open to dry (this is a good practice to prevent mold anyway).
Quick Tip

If you're still seeing green, grey, or black mold in the washing machine gasket after you've wiped it down, try using an old toothbrush to get under the surface of the gunk. A mixture of five percent bleach with water can also help kill the mold.

Steps to Get Mold Off the Washer Door

If the door or lid of your washer has mold on it, you're in luck (really). It's actually one of the easier places to clean. Grab a rag and a five percent bleach solution, plus your trusty rubber gloves.

Cleaning washing machine with cloth
  1. Wearing the gloves, dip the rag in the bleach solution.
  2. Thoroughly wipe the inside and outside of the door, paying extra attention to the lip of the lid and the hinge area. Keep wiping until you don't see any mold residue on the rag.
  3. Let the bleach water air dry.

How to Clean the Detergent Dispenser

If there's a funky smell or slime trail in your detergent dispenser, this is another easy fix. Again, it's all about the bleach water.

  1. Put on gloves and make up a solution of five percent bleach with hot water. You'll need enough to fill a small sink or bucket.
  2. Remove the dispenser drawer if you can and place it to soak in the bleach water for a few minutes.
  3. While it's soaking, use a clean rag dipped in the bleach water to wipe down the area around the drawer or dispenser unit. If it's extra bad, an old toothbrush can help you get into the crevices.
  4. Pull the detergent dispenser drawer out of the bleach water and inspect for mold. If you still see any, use the rag or toothbrush to clean it off. Rinse it well and put it back.

How to Clean Mold in the Washing Machine Drum

You might not be able to see the mold in the washer drum, but you probably know it's there. For this, you can using a product designed for cleaning washers (find it in your laundry aisle), or you can go the DIY route. This is about the easiest thing ever.

  1. Grab your old friend, the white vinegar, and pour two cups into the washer.
  2. Close the door and run a cycle on the hottest setting you have.
  3. When the cycle is done, open the door and let the machine air dry.

Steps to Get Rid of Mold in the Washer Filter

Cleaning the washer filter is one of those things a lot of us forget to do. It's out of sight, so it's also out of mind most of the time. It's a big mold culprit, though. Here's how to tackle the job.

  1. Locate the filter (often on the front of a front-loading machine) and remove it.
  2. Soak the filter in hot water and a little bit of laundry detergent. Leave it soaking for about 15 minutes.
  3. Grab an old toothbrush and scrub all the crevices of the filter, removing any mold and debris. If you notice that there's still some gunk, let it soak a little longer and try again.
  4. If there's still mold on the filter, switch to a five percent bleach solution instead of the soapy water. Make sure you use gloves.
  5. When it's clean, rinse the filter in clean water and replace it.

Keep Your Washer Mold-Free

Knowing how to clean mold in your washing machine can help you get your laundry room (and your laundry) fresher smelling. Keep it that way by preventing mold where you can, which means leaving the washer door open between loads and wiping up any standing water. Your clothes (and your nose) will thank you.

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How to Clean Mold From Your Washing Machine (& How to Prevent It)