How to Prevent Your Washer from Making Your Family Sick

Are you and your kids getting sick without any known explanation? It’s possible that your washing machine is the culprit!

Front end loading machines, those washers with doors that open outwards, are notorious for developing a buildup of mold on the bottoms of the door gaskets. The gaskets are the seal that prevents water or detergent from leaking out of the washer.

How does this affect you and your family? The mold bacteria will get released into the washer every time it runs, staying on the clothes. Even if you run the clothes through the dryer afterwards, the mold particles can remain and then will stay on your body throughout the day, causing a whole lot of headache.

Even if it isn’t staying on the clothes, mold buildup in the gasket of your washer will affect the air quality of the room, and by extension, the whole house. So how do you know the problem is mold?

First, know the major symptoms. 

Signs of possible mold exposure include: 

  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Persistent watery eyes
  • Red rashes on random parts of the skin
  • Problems taking deep breaths or persistent wheezing
  • Dry cough
  • On and off fever

You can look here for more information on how to identify mold poisoning. Mold poisoning can be very serious and cause a whole host of lung and breathing problems that can last for years.

It’s critical that you find the source of the mold right away. If you have a front end loading washing machine, open it up and inspect the gasket closely. If it has a rubber overlay, lift it up to check the bottom interior for mold. You’ll recognize the mold immediately due to the black or green spots.

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Clean or replace?

Gaskets are relatively inexpensive to replace, but it’s worth trying to clean out the mold before tearing your washer apart and buying new replacement parts.

You can use white vinegar and water on a damp rag to wipe away the mold, or use most varieties of household cleaner.

Do not use bleach, as this will degrade the rubber of the gasket. If the mold is not coming off from your own cleaning attempts, order a new gasket.

Other ways to get mold and prevent mold

If the gasket appears clean, you should also check underneath the washing machine to see if you have a leak. A persistent leak can cause water damage and mold to develop on the floor underneath.

This can be a particular cause for concern if you or a loved one have a bedroom or office right below the room where the washer is located. Usually, water leaks are caused by a problematic water pump. This is easy to take out and check.

If you just a single part of the washing machine is causing a water leak, you’ll want to search online for replacement washer parts right away and get that fixed.

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The good news is that for most washing machine repairs, you can take out the bad part, order a new one, and install it on your own, saving money in the process and giving yourself a well earned pat on the back for taking on the job yourself.

Besides routinely checking and cleaning out your gasket, especially those hard to see parts, another good proactive measure you can take to prevent mold build up is to leave the washing machine door open when not in use.

This is a good idea because it allows the exterior airflow to come into the washer and prevent excessive moisture accumulation.

Ajar washing machine doors can also be the demise of curious cats, so if you do have an adventurous pet, always remember to look inside the machine before tossing clothes in and hitting the start button.

Lastly, don’t leave your clothes in the washing machine for too long after it’s completed the washing cycle.

A helpful way to keep this consistent is to only run the machine when you’re staying at home, so that you hear the beep when it’s come to an end, and can transfer clothes into the dryer or hang them up right away to avoid any mold growth on the clothes.

Julie Higgins
Julie is a Staff Writer at She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.

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