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How to Clean a Washing Machine

Keep your front loader mold-free! High-efficiency front-loading washing machines use less water and energy, plus get clothes cleaner than their top-loading competition—but they’re also more prone to developing odors and mildew. Here, ways to turn a stinky washer into a clean machine

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  • SKIMP ON SUDS Along with less H2O, h-e front loaders use much less detergent—a regular-size load needs no more than 2 tablespoons. Excess soap can cling to the door and gasket, attracting mold and mildew.
  • CLEAR THE LINT TRAP That’s right, they’re not just for dryers. Washers trap lint too—often in the drain pump, where clothing fibers, extra suds, and soil end up. But unlike in dryers, this lint is damp, so it’s prone to bacterial growth. If you aren’t sure where your lint trap is, check the owner’s manual. Then give it a weekly de-gunking.
  • CLEAN THE GASKET Notice an odor or black ring around the rubber? Use a soft rag to wipe it down with a 1:1 solution of white vinegar and water. Be gentle: You want the grime gone, but you don’t want to rough up or weaken the rubber seal.
  • RUN A CLEANING CYCLE Once a month, run a cleanser through your washer. Lemi Shine Washing Machine Cleaner ($6.99 for four pouches; Target) uses citric acid in lieu of chemical disinfectants, so you don’t need to run extra cycles before you start your next laundry load.
  • KEEP IT DRY Manufacturers suggest leaving the door ajar to allow your washer to dry out after use. If cats, kiddies, or other humans like to swat it closed, consider the Holdy Moldy ($20; Holdy Moldy). Its short, rotatable arm lets you prop open the washer door just the right amount, without it becoming a hazard.