How to Clean Moldy Seals and Stinky Washing Machine Drums.

Washing machines deal with filth on a daily basis. Dirt, grime, sweat, germs, oil, and bodily fluids all get tossed into the washer without regard for the machine itself. Ironically, this means the very appliances we use to clean other things tend to be the dirtiest. 

When it comes to cleaning the home, washing machines are one of the most neglected appliances in the house. They are often the nastiest thing we clean at here at House Work. (Probably 80% of the washing machines we clean have mold and stink to high heaven.) Today we’re going to focus on how to get them sparkling so that your clothes aren’t soaking in a barrel of filth.

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Washing Machines


Front-loading washing machines are often the worst offenders when it comes to their level of filth. Besides some machines just omitting an unpleasant odor, we often find mold. Before you start cleaning, grab some gloves and a mask. We’re using bleach, so you need to be extra cautious. Opening a window or turning on a fan is recommended. Also, be careful not to let bleach splash on your clothing or anything else nearby (wear crappy clothes just to be safe).


Front-loaders have a rubber seal at the front of the drum that gathers hair, coins, socks and any other grime and debris that goes through the washing machine. It often collects a gross, slimy build-up of hair and dirt, and about half the time, there’s mold. To put it simply, front seals are usually freaking nasty. 

Step 1: Before you begin, put down an old towel to protect the floor. 

Step 2: Open the machine door and pull open the seal to really see what’s going on in there. Start by pulling out as much gunk as possible with a paper towel. 

Step 3: Grab some bleach and a scrub brush, small enough to fit into the seal of your machine. Make sure your washing machine is empty, and pour about half a cup of bleach straight into the seal. Grab your scrub brush and begin scrubbing the inside. Scrub all around the seal, working your way around the circumference of the drum. (Make sure you pull the seal away from the drum, and you should see a plastic piece where more sludge is usually hiding. Hold back the seal while you scrub in there.) 

Step 4: Once you’ve lifted as much mold and staining as possible, use a paper towel to wipe out the seal. Sadly, sometimes the mold will stain the rubber when left too long, but the bleach will disinfect and kill any active mold.


After the seal, detergent drawers are the second most offensive part of a washing machine. Pull your drawer out, and you should see a little push tab near the back. Push down on the tab and pull the drawer out at the same time. Look into the slot where the drawer came out and scan for any mold or detergent buildup. The top is usually where we find the most mold. Grab your scrub brush with some bleach and water again and get scrubbing. Use a paper towel to wipe away the excess after you’ve lifted the mold. 

The drawer you just removed can also accumulate mold, hard water deposits, and detergent build up. Take apart the inserts of the drawer in your sink and use bleach and a scrub brush to clean off any mold or filth. Rinse well. If it has hard water deposits, let it soak in vinegar for about a half-hour or as long as needed, then scrub with a brush. Make sure you thoroughly rinse and dry it off before putting the drawer back together and into its slot. If there are rust stains, you can use Iron Out on a cloth to remove them. Always leave your detergent drawer slightly open in between washes to allow airflow; this helps prevent mold growth.


Once you’ve cleaned the seal and the detergent drawer, it’s time to clean the drum and door. 

Some doors will build up with limescale or soap residue, leaving a white coating. Gently scrub inside the glass door with bleach and water. If this doesn’t lift everything, wipe off the bleach, grab powdered Tide® and water on a microfibre cloth and wipe to remove any remnants. If it’s still not entirely off, then the bleach cycle you’re about to do should leave it sparkling. 

Fill the bleach dispenser in the drawer with bleach to the top line. Close the door, and set your machine to the longest and hottest cycle possible. The bleach cycle will clean not only the drum but also the glass and seal. Once the cycle is finished, your machine should be sparkling and smell clean. To keep up with the cleanliness of your machine, use Tide® washing machine cleaner and follow the instructions on the packaging. You typically use it once a month, but if your machine is horrible, use it every week for three weeks.

Pro tip: To maintain the clean smell and make sure the mold doesn’t come back, leave the door and detergent drawer slightly ajar between washes. We love the Door Doc® (Canada) (USA) for this!

Top Loader Washing Machines

At House Work, we LOVE top loaders. They are much easier to clean and don’t grow mold or hold onto dirt as easily as front loaders. 

To clean a top loader, start by pouring some bleach into a bowl and grab a scrub brush. Dip your brush into the bleach, then scrub the seal around the top and the softener dispenser in the middle of the machine. Sometimes the dispenser comes apart so you can scrub them in the sink. Don’t forget to scrub or wipe the inside of the door and where the door rests. Pull out any grime with a paper towel, then pour one cup of bleach into the washer tub. Set your machine to the hottest, longest cycle and hit start. Top loaders don’t stink up as quickly as front loaders, so you shouldn’t have to do a bleach cycle often. Use Tide Washing Machine Cleaner monthly to keep your machine fresh and clean! 


Before you wipe down the machine, make sure to vacuum behind and under. (Pull it away from the wall if you can, but watch your floors!) If you can’t move your machines, grab a Swiffer® (Canada) (USA) and glide it under them to pull out any lint and debris. Now, grab your Tide and water mixture with a clean rag. Wipe the sides, front and top of the machine thoroughly. For the finishing touch, use Windex® to polish both sides of the glass door and, of course, the machine’s exterior.

After your machine is clean, you will feel so much better knowing your clothes are genuinely getting clean! Now click here for all things dryers.

For a list of our favorite products, click here.

– Georgia @ GoCleanCo

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