If you’ve opened your washing machine and found black, slimy gunk, your first reaction is to panic. There is no way the washing machine is cleaning your clothes if it has this gross back gunky stuff all in it. The good news is you found it and you can now do something about it; the bad news is it’s probably mold.
As West London Plumbers, a plumber in West London, explains, mold likes to hang out in wet, dark, and moist places. This makes your washing machine the perfect spot for mold to chill out in. Now, while mold is the most likely cause, there are a few other things that could be lurking in your washing machine.
One cause is that you could simply be washing your clothes at lower temperatures too often. If you use non-biological detergent (Arm & Hammer, Tide, Purex) then it won’t dissolve properly at lower temperatures. If you’re going to use low temperatures, use a biological detergent (Formil, Persil).
Another idea of what this black gunk could be is a build-up of grease and bacteria. This is a relatively newer issue when it comes to washing machines. It did not begin to become a major problem until around the 1980s when the world began to care about the environment more and put environmentally friendly labels on detergent.
Is it Dangerous?
If this build-up of grease and bacteria is what the issue is, then you need to take care of it immediately. It is probably everywhere and has been known to destroy crucial parts of the washing machine and begin to smell.
How to Clean Mold
If it’s mold, you should act quickly. It’s not dangerous unless you breathe it or breathe around it for long periods of time or have previous respiratory problems, but you don’t want it in your house because that means it’s in the air and you’re breathing it, which is not good for you at all.
To eliminate mold in your washing machine, especially if it is around the seal, you should begin by very carefully wiping it out (making sure not to touch it or breathe it in) and then run a cycle as hot as it can possibly go.
Ensure you wipe out any excess water when each cycle is finished in order to avoid mold growing in your washing machine again. I know my family is conscious about mold in the washing machine and we leave the lid/door open between loads in order to allow air to flow and water to evaporate.
How to Clean the Buildup
In order to get rid of things like grease build-up or detergent build-up, people like to use bleach. However, bleach is not recommended for the washing machine because it is toxic and can harm your washing machine as well as hurt your family’s health. Cleaning your washing machine with vinegar is a better and safer alternative to bleach. I am going to provide instructions for top-loading washing machines.
It is recommended that when you begin the cycle to clean your washing machine, you make it hot water with the largest load setting possible.
Once the washing machine is full of water, you should open it and put in around 3 cups of vinegar and ¾ cup of baking soda, then you should stir. Let the water sit and soak the solution into the black gunk while you scrub the lid, preferably with a toothbrush that you will never use again and you soaked in the water before scrubbing.
Once you are done with cleaning the lid of the washing machine and you are certain that you got it all, shut the lid and let the cycle finish. After this cleaning process, it is recommended that you run an extra cycle of hot water to ensure that it gets as clean as possible.
What If You Have a Front-Loading Washer?
Now we can walk through how to clean a front loading washing machine. Begin by spraying vinegar around the seal where the door shuts, then applying baking soda to a clean rag and rubbing it around the seal. Then you should apply peroxide around that same area to kill mold or mildew.
Next, you should wipe down the inside of the door of your washing machine with the same materials you used on the seal. If you feel like your washing machine has an odor you would like to eliminate, put 1/3 cup of baking soda into the drum (where you would put the clothing to wash) of the washing machine. Put 2 cups of vinegar into the detergent tray, start the cleaning cycle and you’re done.