Washing Machine Door Open Between Washes: Good or Bad?

Chloe Meltzer
by Chloe Meltzer

Your washing machine exists to clean your clothes and make them smell both fresh and clean. If you have ever begun to smell a funk coming from your washer, then you may realize that you are doing something wrong. In fact, practically every household in the U.S. has a washing machine, but most don’t know how to keep them functioning properly.

You should leave your washing machine door open for at least several hours between every wash to avoid mold, mildew, and black soot growth. Leaving your washing machine door closed after running it can lead to foul smells and long-term damage on your appliance. It is equally important to remove all clothing after each wash.

Mold and mildew buildup in the drum of your washer can be especially difficult to remove. Not only will this help to prevent your clothes from smelling funky, but it will also maximize and possibly even extend the life of your washing machine.

Do You Need Appliance Repair Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Avoid Mold and Mildew By Keeping Washing Machine Door Open

Mold and mildew thrive in moist, warm, and damp conditions. When you close your washing machine been wash cycles, you are creating the perfect environment for fungus to grow and thrive. If you have been closing the door on your washing machine, you are effectively allowing mold and mildew to build up inside.

Instead, you should wait ample amount of time for the moisture in the drum of the washer to dissipate. After just a few hours, you should be able to shut the door. By opening the door to your washing machine between uses, you stop fungus from growing in the first place.

This will prevent your clothes from smelling musty, which is often a very difficult odor to get rid of. Experts also recommend drying clothes immediately after being washed, as even just a couple hours damp can encourage mildew to grow on them.

Top Loading vs. Front Loading Washers

If you use a top-loading washer, then you may already be aware that the most lids don’t seal. This means that if there is any liquid inside when your cycle is finished, it will most likely evaporate between loads. Additionally, the humidity inside the chamber usually does not get high enough to cause mold problems. While it isn’t really a huge concern with top loading washers, just to play it safe, you can’t go wrong with living the lid in the upward position,

Front-loading washers, on the other hand, do seal so that they keep the water in the drum and prevent it from falling out of the machine. Otherwise, the water would be all over the laundry room floor. The only negative side of the design of front loading washing machines is that by closing the door after a wash cycle, you completely seal any lingering moisture inside.

This environment leads to all of the problems that come with excessive moisture, including allowing mold and mildew to flourish. This not only creates foul smelling linens, but can also lead to a slew of health problems. Although you don’t generally have to worry about top loading washers, you should always leave the door of your front loading washing machine open between washes to avoid any potential moisture issues.

Other Ways to Keep Your Washing Machine Healthy

1. Clean The Water Filter

By cleaning your water filter regularly you will be able to protect your clothes from dirt and grime. This is because modern high-efficiency washers use so little water nowadays, that the dirt from your clothes becomes more concentrated. This creates more of a chance to clog your filter.

When the filter becomes clogged, your clothes will not be as clean. It can also damage the machine in many cases. Be aware that the filter typically sits in the front of the machine, but can be anywhere depending on the brand. Look in your owner’s manual if you cannot find it.

2. Position Your Drain Hose Properly

Something that most people probably won’t consider, for proper functionality, your drain hose must be positioned in the proper position. The reasoning behind this is that the hose can push the dirty water into the tub, instead of draining it out.

You should avoid positioning your drain hose:

  • Too far above the washer
  • Too low in the drainpipe
  • Under the washer

3. Use the Right Wash Cycle

There are many different options when you wash your clothes in modern washers. You have the white cycle, colors, delicates, and more. What you might not realize is that these programmed cycles are very important for your washer’s health.

The white’s cycle is meant to use with bleach. Typically there is also an extra rinse that helps to get rid of the pungent smell from the bleach. If you use it without bleach it may not even work properly! If you use bleach in other cycles then you may have a smell of bleach afterward.

When using your machine’s delicate cycle, you can actually help to save your clothes. You may not be washing delicates, but it can treat them with a bit more gentleness to help them last longer.

4. Wipe Your Machine Down

If you are done using your washing machine, then a great way to keep it free from mold and mildew is to wipe it down. Be sure to wipe down the drum, door, lid, the rubber gaskets, and even the detergent dispenser. Use an old towel and keep near your washer for easy access.

5. Remove Wet Clothes Immediately

Although sometimes you may run out of the house while washing your clothes, try to lay them out to dry or put them in the dryer promptly. Even a few hours left damp is enough time for mildew to grow.

If you have a habit of leaving your wet clothes in the washer, set a timer. This will help you to avoid forgetting about them and get them dry as quickly as possible.

Clean the Seals

Since mold typically happens in high-efficiency, front-load washers, you need to clean the seals. This means washing both the gaskets and the seals. This will help to avoid leakage which in turn prevents mold. Make sure to dry the seals completely after washing them.

Use Detergent Made for Your Washer

Many liquid detergents leave a residue in your washing machine. This residue actually gives thee mold something to feed on. If you are using a high-efficiency washing machine, then you specifically need a detergent made for it.

Also, rather than liquid detergent, choose powder detergent or pods. This is also more eco-friendly as well.

How to Kill Mold and Mildew in Your Washing Machine

While it’s more common in front-loading washers, both mildew and mold can still form in top loaders. These fungus’ most often develop in laundry rooms that are poorly ventilated or simply if you live in an area of the world that experiences warm, humid temperatures.

Mold or mildew may also grow in your washer if you frequently wash your clothes in cold water – which does not kill mildew-forming bacteria – or if you’ve left your wet clothes in the washing machines for too long. Once you notice that infamous mildew smell, it can be difficult to remove. If you have mold or mildew in your washing machine, follow these steps to stop the spread:

  • Put on gloves and grab an old towel.
  • Mix bleach and hot water together. (Or, you can opt to mix hot water and vinegar instead).
  • Dip your towel in the mixture. Use this to scrub away any mold that you can see. Do not forget to clean the detergent dispenser and the gaskets.
  • Be sure to clean the gasket and dry it.
  • Run a wash cycle. This should be done on the hottest setting your machine offers. Use either a cup of bleach or vinegar. Use the vinegar as your “detergent” (through the detergent slot). Place your bleach in the “bleach” clot. Do not mix these together or it can cause a toxic reaction.  
  • Use your “clean” cycle or any hot water cycle. This should kill any mold that you may have missed while cleaning.
  • Take a different old towel and wipe away the rest of the water in your machine. 
  • Leave the door open to allow for air circulation.

Experts recommend repeating this entire process at least once every few months to help prevent mold or mildew growth from reoccurring.

Do You Need Appliance Repair Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

Is mold in my washing machine dangerous?

Yes. Mold in your washing machine can make you sick. This is dependent on the type of mold. Some symptoms of growing mold can be coughing and sneezing, or allergy-like symptoms of a runny nose and itchy eyes. Dangerous lung infections are possible as well.

How long will it take to get rid of mold and mildew in my washing machine?

It should only take one round of deep cleaning to get rid of both mold and mildew in your washing machine. In extreme cases of growth, it may take two or three rounds.

Will vinegar help to clean my washing machine?

Yes, if you’re looking for a more natural alternative to bleach, vinegar is great for cleaning washing machines and a number of other household appliances. 

Chloe Meltzer
Chloe Meltzer

Real estate agent and copywriter, originally from California. Chloe brings her real estate expertise into her writing to create effective and helpful home guides for you! When not writing or selling homes, she spends her time as a digital nomad traveling the world.

More by Chloe Meltzer