Dear Home-Ec 101,
Even though I leave the door open to air dry, my front loader has mildew in the fold of the rubber seal by the door. Do you have a natural way to get rid of it? I just tried running the Tub Clean cycle with 2-3 cups of vinegar, but the mildew is still there. I can’t soak it in vinegar because the liquid just drains right away through the drainage holes.
Thanks for your help!
Mildewed in Milwaukee
First of all, take comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Mildew in front loading washing machines is a very common complaint. One thing I would suggest is to look closely at those drain holes and have a pair of tweezers at the ready. Far more often than I care to admit, ours get clogged with hair and lint. If those holes aren’t doing their job, then water will pool in the rubber gasket and you’ll have even more mildew fun.
As you have pointed out, prevention is key. It is very important to leave the door of the washer open between loads. I also highly recommend wiping out the gasket after the last load of the day has been run.
Be sure that your detergent of choice is made for use in a high efficiency machine. These detergents are designed to be used with less water than a top loading washer and won’t leave behind as much of a residue.
Is there a chance you are using too much detergent?
If there is too much detergent in the machine, it won’t all be rinsed away and will leave behind a mildew friendly residue. You’ve seen mildew growing on soap scum in a shower? It’s basically the same situation, only in the rubber gasket of your front loading washer.
I would also avoid fabric softener for the same reason. You can use vinegar in the rinse cycle to help rinse away the detergent. Switch to dryer sheets if you must have scented laundry.
Sodium percarbonate is very helpful in dealing with mold and mildew. You’re probably more familiar with the brand names of sodium percarbonate: Oxyclean, Oxybrite, etc. They are all generally the same and are quite safe for use in the home. You’ll want to mix the solution according to the label directions -I can’t give specifics as the concentration varies by brand- and apply to the gasket. Make sure to get in all the nooks and crannies where the mildew tends to get started. Allow it to sit for 10 -15 minutes and then wipe clean with a damp rag and then dry the gasket thoroughly. This should get rid of your mildew and should be repeated every couple of weeks.
If you still notice a mildew odor, you may need to replace the gasket. Consult your owner’s manual for the part number. If your washer is still under warranty, it could be covered, however there are some exceptions for mold / mildew. Be sure to use a qualified technician IF this is required to keep your warranty, otherwise a gasket replacement is a pretty straightforward repair.
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