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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Cleaning Your Washer With Bleach

By Dr. Laundry April 14, 2009

Q. My frontload washer recommends cleaning the rubber tubing, as well as the inside of the washer, with chlorine bleach. Is this different from Clorox® Regular-Bleach1?

A. The new HE frontloaders are wonderful for saving energy/dollars, but can develop an odor problem from unremoved water that settles in the bottom of the washer. This creates a very desirable environment for the growth of biofilm, odor-causing bacteria and mold/mildew. To combat this, manufacturers recommend doing a “chlorine bleach” rinse, usually at least once a month. They’ve even added a new cleaning cycle on newer machines. Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 is ”chlorine bleach,” which is industry jargon for any bleach containing sodium hypochlorite active. So any Clorox bleach product including our Clorox® High Efficiency Bleach are appropriate for this use.

If you want to save yourself some extra work, you could probably avoid this problem if you do at least one white load a week with detergent and the recommended usage Clorox® Regular-Bleach1. I call it “Mouthwash for your HE washer.” You will get better cleaning, whitening and stain removal than detergent alone, plus the bleach will eliminate those bacteria, mildew/mold and the biofilm. No “critters,” no need for the extra cycle/cleaning. I would take this approach and then wipe down the rubber seals with a sudsy washcloth, since bleach could react with the rubber seal. Also don’t forget to leave the washer door partially open when you finish washing. This allows the interior to dry out.