Why You Should Leave Your Washing Machine Door Open

published Dec 9, 2021
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A mashing machine with an open door, no laundry inside
Credit: Getty Images/ Kirill Rudenko

Have you ever opened up your washer after doing a load of laundry only to find that your clothes smell a little musty? It happens to me more often than I’d like to admit, mostly because I get distracted for a few days and forget about the laundry I washed (then have to start the whole process over again). But if you’re more on the ball than I am and your clothes still don’t seem totally clean after running a load, you might have another problem to deal with: mold in your washing machine. 

According to Alessandro Gazzo of Emily’s Maids, a house-cleaning and maid service in Dallas, appliances like washing machines are particularly sensitive to mold growth. “It’s a dark, constantly humid area that happens to be closed most of the time,” Gazzo says. While mold growth can happen in any washer, he says front-loaders are particularly vulnerable because they’re more likely to contain rubber, which mold uses as a food source. (He says mold can feed on detergent and fabric softener residue, too.)

Mold in your washing machine doesn’t just make your clothes smell gross. It can also become a health hazard, especially if it keeps growing. The best way to fix it? Well, first, mitigate the problem. You’ll want to thoroughly clean and disinfect your washer (including the rubber parts and the detergent drawer, which Gazzo says is another mold breeding ground). To do that, run bleach through the appliance with hot water (or you can try a mix of baking soda and vinegar). 

The real work, though, is in the maintenance, and Gazzo has a simple but smart trick for sustaining that fresh laundry smell. “Because mold likes dark, humid places, you need to try and do the exact opposite: introduce constant ventilation and, if possible, sunlight,” he says. 

Every time you finish a load in your washer, keep the door open instead of closing it — yes, even if you’re not using it. Gazzo says the fresh air will cause the water to evaporate faster, ultimately ensuring your washer stays dry and mold-free and your clothes smell the way you want them to.