How to Avoid High Efficiency Front Loading Washer Smell

With the right care, you should still consider a front-loading washer.

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If you're looking to buy a new clothes washer, you will come across a plethora of reviews and opinions. It's widely known that front loading washing machines are better than top loaders for 3 reasons:

1. Front-loaders use less water than top-loading machines.

2. Gentler on fabrics than a traditional agitator, meaning your clothes will stay looking great for longer.

3. Your clothing sleeves are less likely to tangle than with other washer types.

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However, many buyers are concerned about going with a front-loading washing machine because of bad experiences or reviews. Many buyers are concerned about the foul musty smell that comes from the rubber door gasket. The bad washer smell is mildew caused by soap residue and bacteria.

Mildew loves to grow in wet, dark environments with limited air movement. Many people install their washing machine in a dark area, like a laundry room, basement, or laundry closet. Your dark laundry area is the perfect environment for mold growth!

Washing machines are naturally wet after you use them. When you shut the door after running a cycle, you are limiting the airflow. This is especially true if you have a front-loading washing machine in your second home that doesn't get used regularly. 

You should still consider a front-loading washer because this smell is avoidable!

1. Use less detergent and fabric softener

The leading cause of washer maintenance issues comes from using too much soap. Avoid a service call and the icky washer smell by using less laundry soap. There’s no need to fill the soap reservoir to the fill line. Manufacturers are making the reservoirs smaller and smaller to prevent issues.

Pro Tip: When you order laundry detergent, make sure you look for the high-efficiency (HE) label.

Even the most soiled laundry loads only need about two tablespoons of HE liquid detergent. If you use too much soap, your clothes will collect soapy residue, which can irritate your skin. Your washing machine will also collect soap, especially in the gasket where the bad smell comes from.

2. Leave the door open

The leading cause of mildew build-up in front-loading washers is leftover water residue in the door gasket. When you leave the door open to your washing machine, you allow moisture to evaporate over time. Opening the door will also allow fresh air to enter the washer drum.

If you can’t leave the door all the way open, many washers have a magnetic catch that keeps the door ajar. This way, you can leave the washer door open enough to let air in but not compromise the appearance of your laundry space.

3. Wipe water residue from the washer door gasket

When the cycle is complete, simply take a towel and wipe away excess water and residue from the washer gasket. To keep your front-loading machine looking great, wiping the gasket should become part of your laundry routine. The combo of leaving the door open between cycles and wiping the gasket will prevent the washer smell in most cases.

4. Run a self-cleaning cycle

Many washers offer a self-cleaning cycle. Essentially this is a high-temperature wash cycle designed to eliminate mildew-causing bacteria from the washer drum.

If your washing machine doesn’t have a clean washer cycle, you can still clean your washer. Simply run a sanitize or hot water wash every 2-4 weeks. Some brands also recommend purchasing Affresh washing machine cleaning tabs to remove residue and improve the washer smell.

Consider a GE Washer with the UltraFresh Vent System and OdorBlock™

GE took two years to fix the single most significant issue front load laundry shoppers encounter. The UltraFresh Vent System with OdorBlock™ is available on select Front Load washer models.

The washer is made with bacteria-resistant parts, especially areas notorious for soap residues like the door gasket and detergent dispenser.

The GE UltraFresh Vent System drains excess water from the washer gasket and dries the inside of the tub to prevent bacteria and mildew growth. This washer also allows you to pre-load detergent into the machine to eliminate the guesswork in adding soap to your washer cycle.

You should still check the gasket for excess moisture and leave the washer door open in between cycles.