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Do I Need to Leave My Washing Machine Door Open?

a front loading washer with the door open to prevent mildew from forming
Andrey Popov/Shutterstock

If you’ve recently switched from a top-loading washing machine to a front-loading washing machine, here’s a new habit you might need to pick up: leaving the door ajar.

Top-loading washer lids don’t seal, so whatever small amount of liquid is still inside the drum chamber just evaporates between loads; the humidity inside the chamber typically never gets high enough to create problems with mold and mildew. You can’t go wrong leaving the lid up, just to play it safe, but it’s not really a big deal.

Front-loading washers, however, do seal—a tight seal is a rather important design feature if you want the water in the horizontal drum and not all over the laundry room floor. The downside of that design is if you close the door when you’re done with the load, you’re sealing in the moisture. That sealed up environment is a perfect environment for mold and mildew to flourish (which isn’t so great for your health, and you’ll definitely end up with gnarly smelling clothing and towels).

In light of that, you won’t be surprised to know many people have had issues with mold and mildew in their washing machines. It’s such an issue, in fact, that over the last few years multiple class-action lawsuits have been lodged against a variety of appliance makers hinging on the argument that their machines are defective and prone to molding.

We’ll stay out of the debate over the engineering merits of various washing machine models. This simple fix works regardless of what kind of front-loading washing machine you have: Leave the door open.

That’s it. Although I’ve always left my front-loading machine wide open between uses (because my laundry room has adequate space to do so, and I have no reason not to), you really need to leave it cracked only a few inches to ensure the humid air can evacuate the machine.

Laundry Lasso

This simple product keeps your washer door from closing.

If your machine is in a closet or communal area of your house and you want to keep it cracked without the door wide open and in the way, handy products like the popular Laundry Lasso or this simple snap-on-brace can help to keep the door ajar when you’re aren’t using the washer.

Whether you just leave the door open or you use a little helper tool, the critical part is letting the air circulate to remove the warm damp conditions mildew thrives in.

Finally, although the door is the most important part you can also pull the detergent drawer open slightly too. That adds a second pathway for moisture to leave and helps any residual water in the drawer system evaporate too.

In the end, you’ll have a dry drum and no more mildew coating the door seals or hoses—which means no more funky smelling towels or work clothes that smell like you left them in a gym bag.

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »

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