We’ve all opened the washing machine door to that smell before; mould. It stinks, and it can ruin your clothes if left untreated. More than this, it can lead to the creation of black mould spores, which are dangerous to inhale and can make you incredibly sick. It’s unsightly, it’s unsafe, but you don’t need to live with a mouldy seal. In this brilliant, yet concise, guide, I have all the information you need to clean your washing machine seal and get it back to perfect condition.
The Procedure for Cleaning the Door Seal
Let me start things off with some quick, but very handy, tips on how to clean the door seal (and keep it that way). First, you should remember that cleaning at low temperatures regularly or quick cycles will cause the mould to form faster. Regular cleaning of the seal should be enough to prevent this, as well as nasty marks and stains on your laundry.
A great way to clean the seal is to run the machine at 90 degrees a few times, but with no laundry inside. Instead, place a cup of bicarb in there to get things nice and clean. Trust me; it will look great afterwards. It’s also a good idea to use the sodium carbonate on the drum so that the seal is reached, and the cleaning solution spread evenly.
How Do You Remove Black Mould from Rubber?
It’s not too tricky, which will definitely come as a relief. First, a little background on rubber. It is a porous material, which means that liquid and air are able to pass through small openings in its surface. This is why cleaning it is such an important task. It takes a little time and effort, yes, but the results are so worth it. How do you remove the mould? I’ve got a little step by step for you below.
How Do You Clean a Mouldy Washing Machine?
Let’s get onto the important part; cleaning your mouldy washing machine. Before we get into my aforementioned steps, let’s take a quick look at the things you will need. Once you have each of these items to hand, you can get started on the cleaning.
You Will Need:
- Bleach or white vinegar
- Spray bottle
- Cloths (preferably microfiber)
Steps to Remove the Mould
#1 First, run a normal wash cycle using hot water and bleach (or vinegar if you prefer it). The amount that you use will depend on the size of your washing machine, so dilute in relation to one load of laundry; one cup. Do not use a combination of bleach and vinegar as this causes toxic fumes.
#2 You can also mix one-part bleach or vinegar with four parts water in a spray bottle if this is easier for you. If you are using vinegar you can use equal parts vinegar to water if you prefer, and then spray it on and around the seal.
#3 Using gloved hands, wipe away the excess spray from the seal so that you can scrub off all the mould and gunk. Get right inside the grooves so that you can reach the hidden areas; both cleaning them and preventing mould from returning.
#4 Using a clean cloth, wipe the areas clean and ensure that all of the moisture has been removed. If the mould is really stubborn, you can let the solution sit there for a while and soak in the bad stuff to make it easier to get rid of.
#5 Spray the seal with clean water in order to rinse it, and then wipe it with a cloth to ensure that it is nice and clean again.
The above video also demonstrates a great way to get rid of mould on your seal. It’s quick and easy, as well as ideal for those who prefer to use chemical cleaners in order to remove toxic growths like mould.
Can Mould in Washing Machine Make You Sick?
Yes, it absolutely can. The mould found in washing machines is black mould, one of the most dangerous around. It can cause a scratchy throat and coughing, or even lead to you feeling unwell. However, for those with asthma and allergies, it can be a lot worse. It can trigger reactions and difficulties breathing, or even a chest infection if it gets into the lungs. This is why getting rid of and preventing the mould is so vital.
Additional Tips and Advice
Looking for a few more handy tips and tricks? Well, I have them here for you. These are sure to make keeping the seal perfectly clean for the lifetime of your machine:
- Clean the seal using my recommended steps on a monthly basis
- Don’t overuse the bleach or it will wear the seal out
- Keep the seal as dry as possible. You can use several methods, including removing wet clothes quickly, wiping it dry after use, leaving the door open slightly, and using a dehumidifier
- Some detergents cause mould growth, if you feel this is the case consider switching
- Commercial cleaners for front-loading machines can help reduce mould
- Consider liquid or powder detergent as capsules can leave goo from the wrapper
- If the drainage holes are near the door, check for clothing that is stuck as this can get mouldy quickly
Can You Replace Washing Machine Rubber?
Yes, you can. There are times when the mould damage is too great, or it has become worn over time. In situations like this, it is possible for you to replace the seal, which can be done by you or a professional. You can pick one up online or from your local hardware store.
How to Remove Mould and Mildew from Front-Load Washing Machine
The basics for this are really to follow the steps highlighted earlier in this guide. Bleach and water, or vinegar and water, are the best ways to get the seal clean. However, I am loaded with some additional advice to help you achieve that new seal feel.
- air it out
- remove loads promptly
- choose detergent wisely
- use less detergent
- avoid fabric conditioner
- dry gaskets
- use bleach
In fact, if you want some really good visual advice for cleaning the seal, it is certainly worth checking out this fantastic video that I sourced. It’s packed with useful information and demonstrations, so I would recommend watching it to get a clear picture of how things are done.
How to Get Rid of Mould and Smells in Top-Load Washers
You’ll find the cleaning process here is practically identical to the one I listed towards the start of this piece. Just remember; clean the gasket out first. This is really important because otherwise, it can be easy for the machine to become clogged or not get cleaned properly. You should also set it to the highest water and temperature level when you are running the cleaning cycle with your bleach or vinegar solution. Other than that, here’s a quick rundown of the tips you should follow:
- clean gaskets
- clean dispensers
- run cleaning cycle
- repeat cleaning cycle
- professional help
If things just aren’t working and the seal is still filthy, you will need to call in professional help. This shouldn’t be massively expensive, but they can either clean it up or get it replaced. It’s a simple method for a situation that can get tricky when left to its own devices.
There are a few possible causes for your washing machine seal getting a little mouldy. Constant washing at a low temperature alongside excessive detergent use can lead to mould building up alongside gel-like dirt all around the seal.
This makes the washing machine smell unpleasant, and can have the same effect on your laundry. Similarly, if you leave your damp laundry in there for prolonged amounts of time, you are increasing the risk of mould growing because it thrives in a dark and damp environment.
Why Front-Loaders Are Susceptible to Mould and Mildew
Most of the time, a foul odour from your washing machine is because of the seal and not the drum. Due to the design of the front-loading washing machine, they are really susceptible to mould and mildew growth. Unlike the top loaders, they are exposed to water and detergent all the time.
This means that while most of it is washed away, some will linger behind and stick; gathering bacteria and growing mould. The top loaders don’t have this issue because of their design, and so they are less likely to end up with mouldy seals. So, a front loader will be more maintenance in the long run, despite being the most popular type of washing machine.
Some Methods to Prevent Mould on Washing Machine Door Seal
I’m going to leave you with a few final pieces of advice for keeping your washing machine healthy ad preventing the mould. Take a look:
- Regularly clean your washing machine’s gasket, and be sure to scrub beneath the rubber flaps, as you’ll often find mould starts to grow there.
- The dispensers of your washing machine might well collect rogue soapy residue, so make sure that you are frequently giving them a look over.
- Every now and then, run a wash cycle through your machine, with either the bleach or vinegar combination which we discussed earlier. Never use both together, as that can create dangerous fumes.
- Try and avoid cold water wash cycles, when you can. A hot water wash cycle helps to stop mould from growing.
I hope that this has been able to help you determine the best way to clean your washing machine seal; whether you want to take a natural or chemical approach. There’s not much to the cleaning process, but there are also fantastic tips and tricks to help you keep on top of things and prevent the mould from returning. Everyone deserves a clean washing machine with clothes that aren’t at risk of staining, and that’s exactly what this can do for you.
Did you find my washing machine seal guide helpful? Are you living a cleaner life, or did my tips fall short? I love hearing from you, so make sure to drop me a message in the comments below.
Gemma Tyler is a freelance journalist with 15 years of experience writing for consumer publications. She has tested and reviewed a wide range of household items from vacuum cleaners to washing machines and dehumidifiers to steam irons. Her attention to detail and exhaustive testing certainly makes her an expert in her field.