Picture of a typical front loader washing machine, with its door slightly open, to minimize mold and mildew growth on the rubber seal.

How to Clean Front Load Washer Gasket

In this piece, we discuss how to clean a front load washer gasket to remove mold and mildew.  And to that end, we think that your first, best strategy, is to keep the gasket clean in the first place.  Keep it dry when the washer is not used.  Wipe it dry after each clothes washing session. Then, if dark spots do appear, it’s generally pretty easy to clean if you get to them right away.  Avoid allowing these spots to deepen and build up.  Clean the gasket when you see the dirt. Use the  gentlest cleaners first, and save the stronger ones for when that dirt just won’t come off.  We detail all of this below.

How to Clean Front Load Washer Gasket

Keep the Washer Gasket Clean 

Avoid the stains with regular maintenance. Stop them before they start, and act right away if you smell any stale, wet odors coming from your front load washer.

How to Keep the Gasket from Staining

Picture of a Typical Apartment Size Front Loader Clothes Washer from Bosch.
Typical Apartment Size Bosch Front Loader Clothes Washer

Keep the seals dry when you’re not using the washer, and we also suggest using only liquid laundry soaps. This avoids buildup of detergent residues that can occur with dry, powder laundry soaps.

Avoid using too much soap, which can increase the soap residue deposits.

Also, run your front load washer through the manufacturer’s suggested cleaning routines at least once per month, to further slow mold and mildew growth.

Do not let wet clothes sit in the closed washer for too long after the wash cycle finishes, as this will create lots of warm, moist air inside.  And this is a perfect breeding ground for mildew and mold spores.

But when there’s no foul smell, and you’re doing routine washer cleaning, then just wipe in and around the door seal with a water-moistened dishcloth or sponge after each laundry session. This rinses off any remaining soap residue. Finally, wipe the entire gasket dry with an old but clean dishtowel.

Lastly, do not close the door all the way when you’re not using the washer. Leave it open a crack. This allows fresh air into the wash drum and seal areas so they dry faster. Cracking the door also prevents the moist air and the resulting condensation of water on the seal. Keeping your washer as dry as possible when idle helps keeps the gasket stains away.

You should take one or more of the steps below if you find any deposits or stains on the seal that damp-wiping alone does not remove.

Picture of a front loader washing machine, with its door slightly open, to minimize mold and mildew growth on the gasket. How to clean front load washer gasket.
Front loader washing machine, with its door slightly open, to minimize mold and mildew growth on the gasket.

Getting the Front Load Washer Gasket Fully Clean Might Not be Easy

It can be hard to remove all the stubborn mold and mildew without damaging the door seal; particularly on older front loaders.  Why?  Because these have seen many hours of laundering and these gaskets weaken with lots of use. So, we’re not after a pristine cleaning here. We only wish to clean the seal enough that it keeps working well as a seal, and not leak.

We also wish to remove any odors from the washer, that might be coming from the gasket crevices, as shown in the cover picture above.

Further, we’ve found that when the front loader does begin to smell bad, cleaning the door gasket really does not cut said odors too much. To do that well, you need to thoroughly deodorize the inside of the washer, as described in our How to Freshen Up a Smelly Washing Machine post.

Try Wiping In and Around the Gasket with Hot, Soapy Water

Soapy water alone does not clean well in our tests. We found that this only removes the loosest dirt, although it is pretty good at getting out the slime.

An advantage of just a mild soap though, is that it smells the least bad.  Plus, it’s easiest on your clothes and hands, and generally does not dry out your skin. So, we suggest trying the gentlest cleaning techniques like this one first.  Then, only move to the more caustic ones when soap alone does not remove the black stains.

Try White Vinegar

White vinegar is a bit more acid than mild dish soap, and may prove more effective at removing the mildew stains from the gasket. Plus, you don’t have to worry about what will happen to your clothes if you spill some on yourself.

Try Applying Mold and Mildew Cleaner 

Be sure to read its safety instructions first, to check its suitability for front loader washer rubber seals. We suggest Clorox Cleanup.

Bleach Cleans Some Stains

We’ve used straight bleach with low to mid success. Oh, the bleach indeed disinfects the seal as well as removes any musty, damp smells from it. But even after allowing even full-strength bleach to soak on the mold stains for ten minutes or so, we find that the bleach only cleans so well. Even the strongest cleaning solutions may not entirely remove black stains without risking damage to the door seal. Some of these stains might happen as a result of the gasket aging, and there’s no safe way to get rid of all of those, without replacing the gasket.

A bleach solution does however, disinfect, and so, it eliminates any damp mildew smell from the seal. But we suggest letting the bleach soak on the seal for a half-hour before scrubbing with a damp dish cloth or nylon pot scrubber pad. Do not use metal-based pot scrubbers on the delicate door seal, as they might scratch it, and thereby decrease its water-sealing effectiveness.

Picture of a bottle of Great Value brand bleach, front view. How to clean front load washer gasket.
A bottle of Great Value brand bleach, front view. How to clean mold from front load washer gasket.

Replace the Gasket if All Else Fails

If none of these tips for how to clean the front load washer gasket works, and you find the black stains offensive, then hire an appliance repair tech to install a new gasket. But as long as the gasket is not leaking and not smelling, we suggest against replacing it, unless of course, you have extra money that you’re just itching to spend on something. Black stains are tolerable and not harmful, so long as you’ve removed the loose spores with regular cleanings.

Related Posts for How to Clean Front Load Washer Gasket

  1. Freshening Up a Smelly Washing Machine, How To
  2. How to Clean an Electric Kettle Safely
  3. Cleaning Front Loading Washing Machine with Bleach
  4. Front Loader Clothes Washing Machine Pros and Cons
  5. Clean a Cordless Electric Kettle, How To

References for How to Clean Front Load Washer Gasket

  1. How to Remove Mold and Mildew from Front-Load Washing Machines
  2. Cleaning a Front Load Washer, 13 Steps, from WikiHow

Revision History

  • 2020-09-17: First published.