The door gasket on your front load washer is one of the most vital components in its functionality. It’s designed to create a watertight seal between the door and the washer tub.
This not only stops water from leaking out as it operates, but it keeps your clothes inside and stops them from spilling out all over your kitchen. It also helps to reduce vibrations and acts as a barrier between the door and tub so they don’t wear each other down through use.
Needless to say, keeping the door gasket clean and in good working condition is crucial to the smooth operation of your front load washer. So we’ve compiled this guide to explain in detail the benefits of keeping your washer door gasket clean and give you clear and easy-to-follow instructions on how to do it.
Why Does A Front Load Washer Gasket Need To Be Cleaned?
It’s easy to assume that a washing machine is a self-cleaning device. Sure, it has detergent and hot water pass through it every time it’s used, but things like detergent deposits and even mold/mildew can accumulate over time and must be cleaned off by hand.
So let’s first examine all the main benefits of keeping your washer gasket clean.
1. Stops Mold and Mildew Forming
Unfortunately, water and detergent alone are not enough to entirely prevent mold and mildew from forming on the door gasket over a prolonged period of time. This is primarily because even after the wash cycle has finished, some water and detergent will stay in the cracks and crevices around the door gasket, making an ideal climate for mold growth.
This mold can be very clingy and won’t simply wash away during a regular clothes-washing cycle, so your only solution is to clean this off by hand.
2. Stops Bad Smells from Getting onto Your Clothes
As bacteria and detergent deposits accumulate around the door gasket, their bad smells will inevitably work their way into your clothes too. If you notice a stale, musty smell on your clothes even though a fresh wash cycle has just been completed, there’s a good chance it’s being passed onto them from the door gasket.
You should ensure to wash off both the rubber gasket and washer tub to prevent these bad smells from transferring to your clothes.
3. Prevents Leaks and Improves Performance
One of the main functions of a front load washer door gasket is to create a watertight seal. Without it, water will leak out, which affects almost every aspect of the cleaning cycle.
Most notably, it will take longer to clean the clothes as it’s now losing water and heat. So if the gasket gets damaged or has detergent accumulation, you will quickly find that the watertight seal becomes breached and triggers these issues.
4. Increases Lifespan and Saves Money
Gaskets are often made from rubberized plastic and will inevitably age over time. However, you can dramatically increase the lifespan of the gasket by cleaning it regularly.
Cleaning removes the dirt and debris that may rub on the gasket and cause friction as it operates. In addition, it helps remove any mold or mildew which can contribute to material deterioration.
So just a quick clean every now and then will dramatically increase the lifespan of your door gasket, saving you money on eventually having to replace it.
5. Increases Cleaning Quality
Due to the adverse effects that occur when a gasket becomes dirty, whether it be bad smells, dirt and debris deposits, or leaking water/heat, you will notice a direct correlation between how dirty the door gasket is and how clean your clothes are.
In order to increase the overall clean quality of your washer, it’s always best to keep the door gasket clean.
6. Increases Energy Efficiency
Your washer monitors the drum’s internal temperature and water level as it operates. So if your gasket seal has been breached and the water or heat level drops, the washer will know this and supply additional heat and water to compensate and bring those levels back up to the recommended values.
However, water and heat aren’t free, so the more your washer has to compensate for a breached gasket seal, the more money it costs you. This means that keeping your door gasket clean can save you money and increase the energy efficiency of the washer.
7. Decreases Vibrations and Component Wear
The gasket material is purposely designed to reduce friction and vibrations between the various components of the washer. So if the gasket material degrades, you will quickly see an increase in vibration levels and the speed at which other components inside the washer wear down.
Keeping the gasket clean and in good condition ensures the vibration levels are kept low and component wear progresses at the minimum rate.
How To Clean A Front Load Washer Gasket?
Now that the importance of keeping your door gasket clean is clear and you understand all the benefits it can provide, let’s discuss the steps you can take to clean your gasket and ensure it’s kept in tip-top shape.
1. Turn the Washer Off
Before doing anything, unplug the washer from the wall outlet to turn the washer off completely or switch the associated switch off at the circuit breaker box.
This is an important safety step, you shouldn’t work on a front-loading washing machine (even if it’s just cleaning) while there is still power being supplied to it, or you will be at risk of electric shock.
2. Locate the Door Gasket
In case you didn’t already know, you will find the door gasket by opening the front-load washing machine door and looking around the edge of the circular opening where you load the clothes.
The gasket is usually grey in color, although if it has been a while since it’s been cleaned, it may be dark grey or even black.
3. Dry-wipe the Door Gasket
Before bringing out the cleaning products, it’s a good idea to wipe the surface down using a dry soft cloth. This helps remove things such as lint, loose chunks of dirt or mold that have accumulated, and any hair that may have gotten stuck in there.
As you do this, be sure to pull back the crease of the gasket on both sides, as that’s where most of the debris accumulates. This will make the rest of the cleaning process much easier.
4. Create a Cleaning Solution
While you can technically use most all-purpose cleaners to wash your door gasket, one of the simplest and most effective cleaning solutions you can make at home is by combining equal parts of water and white vinegar.
If you don’t have white vinegar at hand, just some soapy warm water and a clean microfibre cloth can do the trick too.
5. Apply The Cleaning Solution
Mold and mildew are stubborn things to clean off, so you can’t simply wipe the area down and be done with it. The best solution would be to dip a clean cloth into the water and vinegar solution, wring out the excess water so it’s not dripping, and liberally apply the cleaning solution all over the rubber seal.
Make sure you lift the seal to get the solution underneath the folds. Let this cleaning solution sit for a few minutes, allowing the stubborn dirt and grime to break down.
6. Scrub The Gasket Clean
Now the solution has had some time to work its magic; it’s time to scrub! Take a soft-bristled brush (an old toothbrush works great for this) and scrub the entirety of the door gasket, as always, making sure to clean under the fold and in the crevices.
While you do need to scrub thoroughly, keep in mind that this is a rubber seal, and too much pressure and friction can wear the gasket down. So it’s critical to be mindful of the pressure you use when scrubbing.
7. Wipe the Residual Cleaning Solution Away
Now you need to take a fresh, clean cloth and dampen it by running it under some warm water and wringing out the excess. Use this damp cloth to remove all residues from the door gasket.
8. Dry the Door Gasket
If possible, take another clean cloth to assist in drying the rubber door gasket. You can technically let it air dry, but sometimes air cannot naturally reach underneath the folds/crevices, and leaving them damp just promotes further mold growth.
9. Clean the Washer Drum
Much like the door gasket, the washer drum surface can also accumulate mold over time. So while not mandatory, we highly recommend taking this opportunity to clean the drum too.
Fortunately, this is far less work. Simply run a regular cleaning cycle using the hottest setting available; you can also use some specialized washer cleaner by adding it to the detergent dispenser.
This can help to break down surface grime and detergent deposits left on the drum.
10. Keep Up With Maintenance
While this might seem dreadful and tiresome, you don’t need to clean the gasket too often. Giving the rubber door seals a good clean every 6 months or so is perfectly acceptable and effective for ensuring your clothes stay fresh and your washing machine lasts as long as possible.