Why Does Your Front Load Washer Smell Bad? Laundry Expert Explains

Front load washers are common in homes these days, and many use them to do their laundry. However, over time, some of these front loaders developed smells that may be irritating. 

Why does your front load washer smell bad? In general, bad-smelling front load washers may be caused by mold, mildew, sludge, and gunk. They may appear in many parts of the washer, such as the gasket, drum, filter, or dispenser. You may remove them using home cleaners or a washing machine cleaner. 

According to appliance experts, a washing machine cleaner is one of the best ways to clean your front load washer. You should also do so regularly to maintain its cleanliness. 

To clean your front load washer well, consider using the Glisten Liquid Washing Machine Cleaner and Deodorizer, designed for front load washers and in a 6-pack. Get yours delivered to you by clicking here.

How Does Front Load Washer Differ From Top Load Washer?

Front-load washers may be smaller than top load washers and may have a modern appearance compared to top load washers. Front load washers are usually more power and water-saving. However, they can be harder to repair and may have worse smell and mold issues.

DifferenceTop Load WashersFront Load Washers
SizeLess footprint, tallerLarger footprint, shorter
AppearanceMay appeal to minimalistsMay appeal to modernists
Maintenance and RepairEasierHarder
Power and Water ConsumptionUses more energy and waterUses less energy and water
Smell and Mold IssuesLess likelyMore likely

The earliest washing machines were top load and had been so for decades until Bendix introduced the front load washer in 1937. It uses a rubber gasket door sealer technology that makes it possible to seal the door of the washer and keep the water in. 

Since then, people have continuously compared the two. However, in general, they differ from each other in many ways:

Size: Front load washers tend to have less vertical height than top loaders. On average, you may expect the height difference to be around 8 inches. However, front-load washers tend to have a larger footprint. 

As a result, you may see more front load washers stacked, as it has a sturdy footprint, and it’s not too high that if you stack a dryer on top, you cannot reach it. 

Appearance: This is something debatable. Some prefer the clean and sleek appearance of top load washers, while some prefer the modern look of a front loader. Some may also find the front load washer’s glass door to help to monitor the wash cycle easier. 

Some users think that the movement of clothing and water is interesting and therapeutic to look at. 

Maintenance and Repair: Generally, it may be easier to maintain and repair a top load washer. It may be easier to reach the motor of a top load instead of a front load washer. Top load washers also do not require frequent cleaning and maintenance compared to front load washers. 

Power and Water Consumption: Generally, you may assume that front load washers use less power and water to perform their work compared to top loaders. The savings may be quite significant, up to 2000 gallons per year. 

Smell & Mold Issues: The elephant in the room. Unfortunately, front load washers tend to have more smell and mold issues than top loaders. This is because of its structure. The front load washer’s door gasket will likely trap dirt, mold, detergent, and eventually smell. In contrast, top load washers do not have such an issue.

Why Does Your Front Load Washer Smell Bad?

In general, your front load washer smells bad because of mold, and mildew. You may have smelled the gunk on the door gasket. However, the same gunk may have built up in many parts of your front loader. Improper use and maintenance likely caused the smell.

Overusing detergentDetergent not washing away completely, getting trapped in door gasket, drum, filters. Becomes smelly over time.
Overloading clothesMore water and detergent are pushed to the gasket door, meaning more gets trapped there. Becomes smelly over time.
Lack of maintenanceDirt, gunk and sludge not removed. Develops smells over time.

When your front load washer smells, you may wonder where it comes from. Usually, the smell may originate from the front door rubber gasket. 

The reason is that sludge or gunk has formed on it and may have interacted with the bacteria in the air, which produces a bad smell that annoys you. 

You may wonder why the front load washer designers did not design gaskets that do not trap sludge. The answer is they did, but the problem may have originated from you. You may not have used your front load washers properly. Perhaps you have done some of these:

Too Much Detergent: Many of us are used to using top load washers and assume that front load washers operate similarly. We load the washers with detergent and soap, wanting to ensure good, clean laundry. 

However, front-load washers do not need much detergent, as they also do not use much water. As a result, these overloaded detergents may not wash away well from the washer and end up trapped in the gasket, filter, and piping of your washer. 

Overloading: We also may have the habit of overloading our laundry. While overloading is generally not encouraged in both top of front load washers, top loaders may be able to handle overloading better. 

Front washers, when overloaded, may not wash well since they take less water. It will also likely push more water toward the door, meaning more water and detergent may be trapped on the door gasket. Sludge and gunks may build up easier, contributing to a bad smell in the long run.

Lack of Maintenance: Many also do not exercise proper maintenance on their front load washers. Many either rarely clean their washers, or they never do. Parts of a front load that need cleaning include the gasket, filter, drum, and dispenser. 

Sludge, gunk, and dirt trapped in these places may eventually build up. Coupled with the warm and humid environment of a washing machine, they easily can become breeding grounds for bacteria, resulting in a bad smell.

How To Clean A Smelly Front Load Washer?

To clean a smelly front load washer, you will need to clean the door gasket, drum, detergent dispenser, and filter. You can clean these parts with home ingredients or use a professional washing machine cleaner. You may also need cleaning equipment such as cloth or brushes.

PartsHow To Clean
Door GasketSpray with 1:9 bleach and water solution, and scrub to clean.
DrumAdd 2 cups of baking soda into the washer and two cups of white vinegar to the soap dispenser. Run a hot wash.
Detergent DispenserRemove the detergent tray, and scrub with dishwashing liquid.
FilterRemove the detergent tray, and scrub with dishwashing liquid.

Clean The Washer Door Gasket

The washer door gasket is probably the major part you need to clean regularly to ensure no mold and mildew. To clean the washer door gasket, prepare the following:

  1. Start by putting on your gloves, and open the washer door.
  2. Lay a cloth underneath the door to catch any residue or cleaner liquid later. 
  3. Peel back the rubber gasket. You will likely see nasty gunk build-up if the smell comes from the gasket. 
  4. Physically remove any of the gunk you can with your hands. 
  5. Now mix up a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water, and load it into your spray bottle. 
  6. Spray down the gasket generously, and brush the gasket to remove leftover contaminants. 
  7. Wipe away with a clean cloth, and observe if additional cleaning is required. 
  8. If yes, repeat spraying, brushing, and wiping until the gasket is clean enough. 

Clean The Washer Drum

If you add too much detergent into your front load washer, it may not wash off completely. Some may become trapped and then become caked up in the drums or behind the drums as well. 

You may need to clean the drum to remove these excess detergents. Cleaning the drum may also help to remove bad odor. To clean the washer drum, prepare the following:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • A pair of cleaning rubber gloves
  • Bleach (optional)
  1. Start by mixing about two cups of baking soda with some water to form a thick paste.
  2. Open up your washer door.
  3. Put on your cleaning rubber gloves, and rub the baking soda paste onto the drum surface. A thin layer is enough.
  4. Pour two cups of undiluted white vinegar into the detergent tray. 
  5. Set up your washer to run a cleaning cycle. If you cannot find it on your washer, run a regular wash with the hottest water you can set. 
  6. When the washing cycle is done. Open up the door and observe the drum. They should be clean and sparkling. 
  7. If the bad odor still persists, consider a harsher cleaning. Pour two cups of undiluted bleach, and run a wash cycle with the hottest water you can set. 

Clean The Detergent Dispenser

Front-load washers run less water per wash, which means less water runs through the dispenser. Suppose you overload your detergent with washing powder. In that case, not all may be diluted and may become dirty and smelly over time. 

To clean the detergent dispenser, prepare the following:

  • Dishwasher liquid
  • small angled brush
  • A pair of cleaning rubber gloves
  • Bleach (optional)
  1. Start with removing the detergent dispenser tray from your washer. You may need to take a look at your user manual to see how to remove the tray from your washer. 
  2. Put on your cleaning gloves.
  3. Add some dishwasher liquid, and start scrubbing with the small angled brush. These should help to remove soap scum and any detergent residue. 
  4. When scrubbing, ensure to scrub the nooks and crannies, as these are where many scums may form. 
  5. For harder stains, consider using bleach to help with the cleaning. 
  6. Rinse with hot water before reinstalling the tray to your washer. 

Clean The Washer Filter

Another part you may want to check is the washer filter. Washer filters may also build up residue, detergent, dirt, and hair, eventually forming gunk and sludge. This sludge may eventually slow the water flow through the filter, making cleaning less efficient. 

To clean your washer filter, prepare the following:

  • A flathead screwdriver
  • A piece of clean cloth
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • A brush. We recommend a small angled brush.
  • A pair of cleaning rubber gloves
  1. Start by turning off the power switch to your washer for safety. 
  2. Locate the position of your drain filter. In many cases, they should be at the bottom right of your washer. Consult your user manual to confirm it. 
  3. The filter usually has a piece of coverage in front of it. You may need to use a screwdriver to gently pry it open. Again, your user manual should instruct you how to open it. 
  4. Lay a cloth underneath the filter covering to catch any water later. 
  5. Put on your cleaning gloves.
  6. Remove the filter. Most filters can be removed by either pulling them out or gently twisting them slightly to remove them. Your user manual should have the instructions. 
  7. Allow any leftover water to drain, and then remove any physical sludge you can see by hand. 
  8. Take the filter to a sink, add some dishwashing liquid, and start scrubbing away. 
  9. Rinse with hot water for good measure before reinstalling the filter back to your washer. 

Can You Use A Washing Machine Cleaner?

You can use a washing machine cleaner periodically to ensure the cleanliness of your front load washer. These cleaners are usually loaded onto your detergent tray. However, you may still want to regularly inspect parts that may get dirty easily, such as the door gasket, filter, and drums, to ensure their cleanliness.

Many makers understand that cleaning front-load washers may take time and effort, which is why many washing machine cleaners are on the market. 

Some come in powder or liquid form that you load to your detergent tray or in tablet form that you simply throw into your washer drum. You then run a cleaning or wash cycle to clean it.

The key is to perform cleaning regularly and consistently.

Consider using the Glisten Liquid Washing Machine Cleaner and Deodorizer. This cleaner is designed for front-load washers, meaning they may not need much water to be effective. 

The cleaner also comes in a 6-pack, meaning you can always have some ready to work when it comes time to clean your front load washers. Get yours delivered to you by clicking here.

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Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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