Are you wondering about how to remove mold from rubber seal on washing machines? This article has you covered…
The luxury of putting heavy laundry into a machine and having them thoroughly cleaned is almost second to none. And yes, even your canvas shoes can be cleaned in them!
Imagine how difficult it would have been to wash your pair of jeans, blankets and the likes by hand. That’s not a picture many of us will care to imagine.
Advancements in technology have impacted on the efficiency and quality of the washing machines we have today.
All these improvements only make us love our washers even more. And this has made them indispensable pieces of equipment in millions of houses, globally.
Unfortunately, as with many everyday items, our washers tend to be neglected when it comes to keeping them clean.
This is particularly a problem with front loading washing machines. Because they are designed to receive laundry from the front, they are fitted with a rubber seal, also called a rubber gasket.
The function of this rubber gasket is to keep the wash drum air tight. This way, it is impossible for water to escape from the wash tub, except the rubber seal wears out.
If the washing machine is not properly taken care of, mold or mildew will begin to grow, especially around the rubber seal.
What Causes Mold Build-Up In The Washing Machine
- As earlier explained, front-loading washing machines are fitted with air-tight rubber seals to ensure that water does not escape from the washtub.
This is a very important feature in the washing machine, especially when you consider how vigorously the wash drum rotates.
This feature is absent in top-loading washing machines. Now, this is because the washer does not have to fight against gravity to ensure water does not seep out of the wash drum. Top loading machines have a relatively loose top cover.
- The challenge that comes with the rubber seal is that it retains or traps moisture. The trapped moisture becomes a fertile environment for mold and mildew to thrive.
- Due to the design of most washing machine door rubber seals, the mildew grows in nooks and crannies of the seal – inside the folds of the rubber gasket.
This is also accompanied with a terrible odor. Imagine opening your washing machine to load some laundry only to be greeted with an unforgiving odor.
- Due to the sheer design of the rubber seal, it will naturally retain moisture and increase the risk of breeding mold. However, this is not the only factor resulting in the growth of mold.
- The detergent used to clean the laundry also plays a part. High sudsing detergents and liquid fabric softeners add to the growth of mildew in the rubber seal.
They leave a residue in the rubber seal that further helps to retain moisture and provide a conducive environment for mold growth.
- Using cold water during washing cycles also contributes to the growth of mold on the rubber seal. This is because cold water will not easily get rid of soap and fabric softener residue.
So, while using cold water to wash and rinse may be considered eco-friendlier, bear in mind that it might not be the best for the overall hygiene of the washing machine.
- Mold and mildew growth are not only accompanied with terrible odor, but also with very stubborn stains. This implies that high maintenance is required to keep mold off your front-loading washing machine.
Failure to do so will lead to excess buildup of mold in the rubber seal. And when mold builds up there, trying to get rid of it can be quite daunting.
You will, simultaneously, be up against getting rid of the terrible smell and the stubborn mold stains. Though challenging, this is not an impossibility.
Getting rid of mold from the rubber seal can be achieved by following any of the methods we will provide in the article. Let’s dive in.
Getting Rid Of Mold In The Rubber Seal
Get A Rag Or A Clean Towel That Will Be Used To Clean The Rubber Seal
- Before you begin to thoroughly clean the seal, you’d want to do some sort of pre-cleaning. This makes it easier for the cleaning agents you will apply later.
- With some hot soapy water prepared, dip the towel in the water and use it to wipe the rubber seal carefully.
- The seal has some folds that will hideaway tight corners and crevices, make sure you reach those areas with the towel.
- Wipe underneath and around the rubber seal. Remember to clean behind the seal as well.
This Pre-cleaning will remove a lot of slime and dirt, so be prepared for it. When the dirt picked up by the towel becomes too much, dip it in the soapy water solution.
Change the soapy water if necessary, but you shouldn’t have to do so, except the seal is very dirty.
Instead of soapy water, you could use a mildew cleaner to wipe the rubber seal. Endeavour to remove as much slime or dirt as you can in this stage. The remaining dirt should be the tougher stains.
You Also Need To Clean The Soap And Fabric Softener Dispenser
- Solidified soap residue from the soap dispenser could find its way to the rubber seal. When this gets stuck to the seal, it creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
- Use a wet rag or towel dipped in soapy water to clean the soap dispenser.
- It will be advisable to remove the entire soap dispenser from the machine for thorough cleaning. This will allow you to get into the right corners where soap residue will likely be stuck.
- If the dispenser cannot be detached from the washing machine, you could use pipe or bottle cleaners to wash the dispenser down. This would help you reach the nooks and crannies of the dispenser.
- When you are done washing the dispenser, make sure it properly dries before you return it to the washing machine. If the dispenser could not be detached, leave it open to allow air to dry it properly.
The Next Step To Take Is To Run An Empty Wash Cycle On The Washing Machine
For this cycle, you need to set it to the hottest settings, as you’ll require hot water for a more thorough wash down.
If your washing machine has a tub-cleaning cycle setting, this is what you should use to clean the wash tub. Add the following cleaning agents to the wash tub:
- 1 cup of bleach
- 1 cup of baking soda
- ½ cup of powdered enzymatic dishwasher detergent. (Cascade Complete is a good option)
- A commercial residue busting washing machine cleaner (good options are Affresh and Ego-Gals)
- Bleach is a tough cleaning agent and will help to battle the tough mold stains on the rubber seal.
- Baking soda will neutralize the odor caused by the mold growth on the rubber seal.
- The washing detergents will add more cleaning power to the solution to remove stains and deal with the odor.
- Allow the cycle to run long enough. If, after washing, the stains and odor still persist, you will need to repeat the cycle. It is not unlikely that you will require several wash cycles to completely remove the mold stains and the odor.
- If you discover the stains are too stubborn, you might consider adding further additives to the cleaning solution.
- You could also increase some of the additives such as the bleach. Only do this if you consider it necessary.
If All Else Fails
If you have repeatedly tried to get rid of the mold stains through several cycles yet the odor still persists, mold could be present elsewhere in the washer.
It is possible that there is mold growth at the back of the wash drum. Also, the drain or filter could be clogged, which could cause the odor.
If you suspect any of these, you will need to call a qualified repair man to open up the washer and clean up any mold found behind the wash drum.
For the second method, you will need the following materials
- Distilled white vinegar
- Cotton pads/cotton balls
- A clean rag or towel
Vinegar is an effective cleaning agent. It is also adept at neutralizing terrible odors, such as those that will be created by the mold growing in the rubber seal.
If you would rather go through a more hands-on route to cleaning your rubber seal, you would prefer this method. Here are the required steps.
- As always, you will first need to carry out some pre-cleaning on the rubber gasket. Open the door of the front-loading machine as wide as possible.
- You will need to dampen the cotton pad with some white vinegar. Use the dampened cotton pad to thoroughly clean through the entire rubber seal.
- Endeavour to thoroughly clean every area of the rubber seal.
- As we earlier pointed out, the rubber seal usually has numerous folds with inner crevices that may be too difficult to reach by hand.
- This is where the Q-tips will come in handy. Those tight areas that could not be reached with the towel can be reached using these Q-tips.
Endeavour to painstakingly go through all these hidden areas. Mold is more likely to flourish in such hidden areas.
- Pull the folds of the rubber backwards with your hands to unveil some of these hidden areas. You’ll be surprised what you could find there – hair strands are a common one.
Hair will typically find its way to the tight corners in the rubber seal after just a few wash cycles. Use the Q-tips to remove any mold or debris found in these crevices.
- Remember to clean all around and behind the rubber seal. When you are done wiping down the rubber seal, use a clean dry rag to carefully wipe away the white vinegar.
- Bear in mind that you can keep cleaning and wiping until you are satisfied with the amount of dirt removed and till the odor is eliminated.
- To finish up your cleaning, you need to run an empty wash cycle. After wiping the rubber seal with vinegar, it is inevitable that there will be some vinegar-mildew mixture, which is something you do not want. A proper rinse cycle will get rid of these. Use hot or warm water settings for this wash cycle.
- Some machines have a self-cleaning function. If your machine has this option, this is what you need to use to clean it. However, this self-cleaning option could take a while for the cycle to be completed.
- After the cycle is done use a damp cloth to dry out the wash tip and seal.
For this third method, we’ll look at alternative cleaning agents that you can easily prepare from household items.
In this method, you will have to create your own mold removal solution. Of course regular commercial mildew cleaners can be used if you so desire.
Here are a few homemade mildew cleaners that you can easily make to clean the rubber seal:
- Mix 2 cups of water with ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and ¼ cup of lemon juice. Note that hydrogen peroxide is a very effective cleaner. This combination of cleaning agents should effectively combat the mold and inhibit its growth on the rubber seal.
- Mix 2 cups of water with ½ cup of lemon and ½ cup of distilled white vinegar. For this one, white vinegar can be used as an alternative hydrogen peroxide, it is also an effective cleaning agent and an odor neutralizer.
- Mix 1-part vinegar and 4 parts water. This solution is only effective if the mold growth on the rubber seal is only in very small amounts.
- Mix 1-part bleach and 4 parts water. Bleach is a harsh cleaner, ideal for very tough stains. It is very effective in removing stains caused by mold and mildew. If the aforementioned mixtures do not effectively remove the mold stains, then you can consider using this mixture.
- Once your mixture has been made, place it carefully in a spray bottle. The spray bottle will be used to dispense the cleaning agent at will all over the rubber seal.
- While cleaning the rubber seal, it’s advisable that you wear rubber gloves on your hands to protect you from the harsh chemical cleaning agents, especially bleach. Y
- ou could also wear a dust mask to protect you from inhaling mold spores which could be detrimental to your health.
- Spray the mixture on the rubber seal or on a clean rag or towel. Wipe the seal thoroughly with this mixture.
- As was described in other methods, ensure you reach the tight nooks and crevices around the entire rubber seal. Be sure you carry out a thorough cleaning.
- In some washing machines, the rubber seal can be removed and washed separately, if this is possible it will help you reach the difficult areas of the seal.
However, many folks don’t bother removing the seal as it might require some technical skills to remove and replace the seal.
- If the stains prove too stubborn to remove, allow the cleaning solution to sit on the stains for a few minutes. Use a soft brush or an old toothbrush to wipe away the stains.
Aside The Rubber Seal
- With the rubber seal cleaned to satisfaction, you need to turn your attention to the drums and hoses of the washing machine. You want to eliminate any traces of the odor given out by the mold, from the wash drum and the hoses of the machine.
- To do this, you will need to run a wash cycle on the washing machine. Set the cycle to use hot water for more thorough cleaning.
- Add the cleaning mixture earlier made to the wash tub.
- Allow the wash cycle to run long enough, then drain it out. This should eliminate traces of the mold odor. Allow the washing machine to dry out after wiping it with a clean, dry towel.
If The Smell Persists
- If you can still perceive any musty smell from the washer after following these steps it is very likely that there’s mold growth beyond the wash drum of the washing machine.
- This is certainly the case if mold can no longer be observed on the rubber seal, while the mold odor persists.
- A qualified repair-person will be required to open up the machine and carry out an inspection to locate where the mold has grown. They will consequently clean it out as required.
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How To Prevent Mold From Growing Inside Your Washing Machine
Removing mold from the rubber seal of your washing machine can be a herculean task. And the longer the mold has stayed on the rubber seal the more difficult it will be to get rid of it.
Some rubber seals are permanently stained because they were not frequently cleaned. So, rather than wait for mold to grow on the rubber steal, it is smarter to prevent it from growing in the first place.
This can be achieved by adopting some routine practices to keep your machine sparkling clean. Let’s walk through a few of these:
Leave The Door Open
This is so simple, yet very rarely practiced. That’s possibly because it appears counterintuitive. But really, when you think of it, it makes so much sense, that you start to wonder why it did not occur to you.
Mold thrives where there is moisture. Eliminate the presence of moisture, and you eliminate mold.
Every washing machine uses water. This makes it a perfect environment to retain moisture, and consequently, mold.
The best way to combat this is to ensure that the inside of the washing machine is kept dry at all times. Thus, the washing machine door will have to be left open so the wash drum can be air dried.
Also, after using the washing machine, make it a culture to wipe it down with a dry towel and then leave the door open to dry.
Once dried, you can close it till the next time you use it. Adopting this approach will save you a lot of trouble in the long run.
Remove Loads In Time
Some folks have the habit of leaving their clothes in the washer for an hour or sometimes two. We’ve all been guilty of forgetting our laundry in the washer before.
Now, while this might happen occasionally, it must not become a habit. Leaving wet clothes in the washer for long periods allows moisture to build up in the rubber seal. This could also result in your clothes developing an annoying musty smell.
So, make it a habit to remove your clothes from the washer immediately when they are done. It would be a good idea to set an alarm to remind you that your clothes are in the washer.
Use The Right Detergent
Soap residue build up in the rubber seal is a big contributor to mild growth. The basicity of soap makes it easier to retain water.
When soap residue gets to the rubber seal, they stick to the rubber seal and overtime become areas for mold to fester.
One way to combat this problem is to make use of low sudsing detergents. There are special low sudsing detergents made for high efficiency washers.
Consider using these for your laundry. If your detergent produces little suds, it reduces the likelihood of soap residue being left on the rubber seal.
It is also advisable to use powder detergents rather than liquid detergents. Liquid detergents usually have more suds.
Nevertheless, if you will use powder detergent ensure it is the type that will easily dissolve in water, especially cold water. Some powder detergents cluster together into balls, rather than dissolve in water.
Such detergents will very likely form residue that will get stuck in the rubber seal. Diluting your liquid soap might also help to reduce excessive suds.
A good way to refuse suds is to use less detergent. You can figure out the right amount of detergent required per wash by experimenting.
You can test if the detergent is too much by placing a newly rinsed cloth in a bowl of clean clear water.
If the water becomes sudsy, then the amount of detergent added in your wash cycle is too much. Also, read detergent labels for directions on the amount of detergent to apply per wash.
Avoid Fabric Softeners
Fabric softeners are notorious for leaving residue that could end up in the rubber seal and promote mold growth. A suitable alternative for fabric softeners are dryer sheets or dryer balls.
If you will use fabric softeners at all, ensure you put the right amount, follow instructions on the fabric softener labels to know the amount of fabric softener to apply.
Over time you could experimentally know what amount of softener will be adequate per wash load.
Clean the Rubber Seal Often
This is a no brainer. The more often you clean the rubber seal the less likely you are to have any mold issues on your seal.
Use a towel to wipe the seal often. If possible do this after each use. This will eliminate moisture in the seal.
Ensure you carry out thorough cleaning, such as the ones described in this article, at least once a month.
Use bleach to clean the machine at least once a month. Just add the required amount of bleach to a hot water cycle.
You could do this with an empty wash cycle or you could add clothes that won’t be damaged by the bleach.
However, be careful not to overuse bleach to clean the rubber seal. It could cause the rubber seal to wear out quickly.
Use A Dehumidifier
If your washing machine is installed in an area that is quite humid, you need to install a dehumidifier in the same place.
Humidity will aid the growth of mold in your rubber seal as it will aid moisture retainment in the washing machine. A dehumidifier will ensure that air drying the washer is effective.
Apply Anti-Mold Treatments
If you realise that mold growth on your rubber seal is persistent despite your best practices and repeated cleaning, consider applying anti-mold treatments to the machine.
One of such products is Concrobium. The product will need to be applied regularly as it will often get washed away by the water it comes in contact with in the washing machine. This should help stop the growth of mold on the rubber seal.
Check Drainage Hoses And Pipes
In front loading washing machines, drainage hoses could be fitted near the rubber seal of the washing machine.
Stubborn mold odor could be indicative of mold growing in the drainage hose. You will have to open up the machine to check for mold growth there.
In fact, some small laundry items could have fallen into the drainage hole and accumulated mold over time. An item like a sock or handkerchief could have fallen in and had mold growing all over it.
In summary, the best way to avoid mold issues with your washing machine is to maintain simple cleaning practices.
It will save you the hassle of removing tough stains, protect the longevity of your washer and ensure you always have your laundry looking clean and smelling fresh after every wash cycle.