The front-loading washing machine is the hottest thing in laundry technology. Admittedly, that’s not saying much, but front-load washers have many great qualities. Not only is it more fun to watch the clothes tumble through washing and drying, but front-load washers are also more efficient with both electricity and water. Front-load washers use less soap, less power, less water, and a ton of great computerized features. But they do require a bit more at-home maintenance than the old dinosaur top-loading washers you’ve worked with in the past.
Whether you recently bought a front-load washer, moved into a home that already had one, or have decided to take better care of the washer you have, it’s never too late to learn a few smart maintenance tips.
1. Keep it Level
Your front washer needs to be level on the ground. This is actually true of all appliances, but even more important for a front-load washer. Being level means that the top of the washer is flat according to gravity, whether or not the ground underneath it is level. Leveling your washer is surprisingly easy. Grab a bubble-level and test in on each side of the washer top. If the bubble is in the middle, you’re good. If the bubble tips to one side, twist the feet of the washer to lift up each corner until it’s level.
Some washers have self-leveling back feet, so you only have to level the front two for the entire washer to become level. But test with the bubble level before you’re finished.
2. Transfer Wet Clothes Quickly
The single biggest challenge with front-loading washers is that mildew smell. You, a front-load washer owner, likely know what we’re talking about already. Something about the super-tight seal to hold the water into the front-loading door and the way the door gaskets are designed locks in moisture (and the ever-present mold spores that are everywhere) into the washer. So front-load washers tend to cause mildew more often than unsealed top-load washers.
Because of this, you need to move those wet clothes fast. Use the timed delay setting and expedient task-completion to make sure wet clothes never sit in the washer more than 30 minutes after the washing machine sings it’s little completion song.
3. Leave the Door Propped Open
For the same reason, it’s actually a bad idea to leave your washer door sealed closed when the machine is not in use. A closed front-loading washer is, unfortunately, a Petri dish for mildew. This means you need to pop the door open and make sure it stays ajar when the washer is not being run. This does, we know, tend to leave the washer door hanging open in the path of your laundry room, so it’s a smart idea to get creative. One option is to roll a towel long-ways and hang it over the top of your washer. Open the washer door and hang the towel into the ajar space, then let the washer door swing closed. This will allow airflow without the door swinging out into the room.
4. Run Empty, on Hot, With Vinegar
One great way to reduce the amount of mildew that tries to live in your front-loading washer is to wash it empty every now and then. Specifically, wash it empty with the hottest water possible and one or two cups of vinegar into the soap dispenser. A few tablespoons of borax or baking soda can add some scrubbing action. Weekly or monthly, this empty cycle fully sanitizes your washer, scrubs any soap residue, and keeps your laundry fresh. Plus, you don’t have to wash your clothes directly with the vinegar.
5. Wipe Down the Rubber Seal with a Towel
Every single time the washer runs, wipe down the rubber seal. If you peel that sucker back, you’ll see that caught water (among other things) pools up inside the folds of the rubber seal. Even though there are often drain holes, those holes are quickly clogged with general laundry scum. New models of front-loading washers have some engineering innovations to help the seal drain and vent, but currently, in-home models do not.
We advise that you keep a towel nearby (or the household towel hamper). Just a quick swipe all the way down into the gasket. Wipe all the way around, but the bottom where the water accumulates in the most important.
6. Run Numerous Smaller Loads
Front-loading washers are far less welcoming to oversized loads than top-load washers. This is because they’re designed to use less water and more agitation, which is better for smaller loads. But because they are more efficient, it’s also less wasteful to do multiple loads rather than one enormous laundry load. So don’t be afraid to break up your washing into the small color-and-fabric sorted loads you’ve always (or never) wanted to. Or just wash without sorting every other day instead of once a week. The good news is this creates more chances to whistle the songs your washer and dryer chirp in lieu of buzzers.
7. Scrub it Down
In addition to cleaning out the gasket regularly, it’s also occasionally necessary to wash your washer. Soap drips on the outside and soap scum built up inside the dispensing cups can eventually cause problems. But a wet washrag or sponge can quickly solve that problem. Every few weeks, take some time to scrub down your washer anywhere you notice built-up grime or dripped soap.
8. Check The Hoses Occasionally
Finally, remember to check the hoses in the back. This is also a good idea for any type of washer. Keep the washer at least four inches from the wall (to make room for the hoses) and at least once a year, check the hoses visually. Make sure the hoses are not cracked, corroding, or kinked. Also, watch for signs of occasional leaks in the form of wet or dried puddles on the floor. Often, small leaks from the hoses don’t become serious enough to notice from the front of the washer because the puddle never grows very large.
—Your front-loading washer takes a little more maintenance than the older models, but most would say it’s well worth the benefits of the new design. For more helpful appliance tips, contact us today!