How To Clean Your Front Loading Washing Machine In 6 Simple Steps

If not taken care of properly front-loading washing machines can really start to smell and then your clothes will never seem clean. Let’s avoid this and learn how to deep clean your front-loading washing machine. 


I was blessed enough to receive a brand new washer for my birthday this past year. That means that mine really isn’t that dirty. 


The one I had before was constantly smelly! So while the pictures I’m about to show you, of my new washing machine, are relatively clean, I definitely have experience with a dirty, old, and moldy washer full of dog hair. 


6 Steps To Cleaning Your Front Loading Washer


clean your washing machine

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Step 1 – Clean The Door Seal and Lint Trap


Start by cleaning all the icky small parts of your washer before diving into running a cleaning cycle on the whole thing. I’ve seen other blogs suggest doing it the other way around and it just doesn’t make sense to me. 


Open up your door and clean out the rubber door seal. First, pull open the bottom part that is meant for trapping lint and clean out anything that obviously doesn’t belong. This is where I often find dog hair, hair ties, and toddler socks. 


cleaning your front loading washing machine


The door seal can be one of the main places where mildew and mold can grow so the next step is to inspect this carefully and clean it out with bleach or vinegar, even if you don’t see any obvious mold. 


Take one cup of warm water and one cup of bleach (or vinegar if you prefer) and mix it in a bucket. Use a damp cloth to wipe out the door seal. Pull back all flaps and pay special attention to crevices. 


If you have an older machine you may need to bust out the toothbrush and cotton swabs. You can use those to get in the small areas where mildew or mold has built up over the years.


It may seem like a pain, but it needs to be done. This is especially important if you have a foul smell coming from your front-loading washing machine or if your clothes don’t ever smell clean.


Get it done now and you won’t need to do it again, as long as you keep up with it after this. 


Step 2 – Clean The Drain Trap In Your Front Loading Washing Machine


The drain trap is usually a small door on the front of your washing machine. This will collect coins and any other small thing that didn’t make its way into the lint trap. 


Mine often contains dog hair and I have to clean mine out often. This is the second biggest reason why your laundry might be smelly after you’ve already washed it. 


You can usually push the door to release it. Have a small bowl nearby because when you unscrew the drain trap a lot of water will spill out. 


washing machine drain trap


Unscrew the drain trap and pull it out. There may or may not be things that need to be pulled out. Wash the part that you take out, in your bucket of bleach (or vinegar) and water. 


washing machine drain trap clean out


cleaning your washing machine drain trap


Then use a cloth to wipe down the inside of the drain before screwing the trap back in. 


If you have build up from calcium or something else, you may need to scrub it off with a toothbrush. If it is being stubborn a paste of baking soda, vinegar, and dish soap should help. Make sure you rinse it well before putting the drain trap back together. 


Step 3 – Clean The Detergent Tray


This should be pretty simple. Take out the tray and clean it in the same bucket of bleach and water that you have been using this whole time. 


Use a damp cloth to clean out the area where the tray is placed. 


washing machine detergent tray


Finally, make sure everything is rinsed off and dried off before putting the detergent tray back into place. 


Again, if there is any build-up on the tray you will need a rough sponge or toothbrush to get that off. A paste of vinegar, baking soda, and dish soap should help. 


Step 4 – Clean the Drum Of Your Front Loading Washing Machine


Start by wiping down the inside drum of your front-loading washing machine. The drum, while probably the cleanest part, still has things that may cling to it, especially if you have pets. 


I often have to wipe mine down with a microfiber cloth to catch any extra dog hair that is lingering around in the drum. 


After you’ve wiped out the drum you are going to run a self-cleaning cycle. 


clean your front loading washing machine


Put about a 3rd cup of baking soda into your washer, then 2 cups of vinegar into your detergent tray. Run your front-loading washer on the self-cleaning cycle. 


If you don’t have a self-cleaning cycle, run the washer on the hottest, longest cycle that you can. 


Step 5 – Run a Rinse Cycle And Wipe Dry


Lastly, run your washer on a rinse cycle to make sure you get every last bit of vinegar and baking soda out. 


Finish off by wiping everything dry. 


Step 6 – Wiping Down The Outside


This can be done last or while the rinse cycle is going. Grab your favorite multi-purpose spray a dusting cloth and wipe down the entire outside of the washing machine. Might as well wipe down the outside of the dryer while you are at it. 


Organizing Your Laundry Supplies


Your washer is clean so let’s make sure everything is cleaned up above and around your washer as well. 


First, do a quick declutter and make sure everything in the laundry area has its purpose. 


Then organize your laundry soaps, scent boosters, etc. (Here is how you can make your own scent boosters.)


My organization is pretty simple and nothing fancy. I keep laundry pods in a pretty glass container and then everything else goes into a basket that sits on top of the washer. Here are some other laundry room organization ideas


laundry room organization


Maintaining The Cleanliness Of Your Front Loading Washing Machine


Now that your washer is so fresh and so clean, you will want to keep it clean and not have to do all of that scrubbing again. Here are some tips on keeping your front-loading washing machine clean:


  1. Take your washed clothes out of the washing machine as soon as you can
  2. Dry off the door and door seal when the wash cycle is over
  3. Leave the door open to let the machine dry out and help prevent mildew
  4. Leave the detergent tray open to dry out after a wash cycle
  5. Clean out the lint trap and drain trap often


I hope you find that cleaning your washing machine is easier than you thought. If staying on top of stuff like this is hard to keep up with, consider downloading my How To Start A Cleaning Routine Ebook. 🙂



Here are some other deep cleaning ideas for you: 

How To Clean Your Dishwasher The Easy Way

How To Quickly Clean Your Oven

How To Deep Clean Your Bathroom


How To Clean Your Front Loading Washing Machine


    1. KatiesKottage

      November 8, 2021 at 8:53 pm

      Of course! Thank you for the positive comment.

  1. Camille

    May 11, 2020 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks! I do recommend taking the detergent tray out. I have found that water pools in it even when left open.

    1. KatiesKottage

      May 12, 2020 at 11:13 am

      Thanks Camille, that is a wonderful tip.

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