How to remove mold from the rubber seal on a washing machine

Banish mold from washing machine rubber with these easy methods

An open front loading washing machine
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Front-loading washing machines can be convenient, but the rubber gasket around the door is a nightmare to keep clean and unstained with frequent use, quickly becoming marked by mold.

While cleaning your washing machine keeps the marks at bay, specialized cleaners can be more effective at killing the mold spores that cause black stains and musty odors. So, how do you remove mold from the rubber seal?

Here, professional cleaners have shared their best cleaning tips for refreshing your washing machine seal and killing off any mold spores that could contaminate your clothing.

How to remove mold from the rubber seal on a washing machine

When cleaning a washing machine gasket covered in mold, it is important to target both the visible upper surface of the seal and the underside where the water drains away. This is a common, hidden spot where mold accumulates and then spreads around the machine and onto your laundry.

What causes mold on the rubber seal of a washing machine?

White utility room with washing machine

(Image credit: Paul Raeside)

There are a few common reasons why mold grows on the rubber gaskets of your washing machine: 

Moisture Retention: Washing machines, especially front-loaders, tend to retain moisture around the door seal after a wash cycle, creating an ideal environment for mold.

Detergent and Fabric Softener Residue: Residue from detergent and fabric softener can build up on the rubber seal, providing a food source for common types of mold.

Low-Temperature Washes: Frequent low-temperature washes don't effectively kill mold spores, allowing them to thrive on the rubber seals.

Improper Ventilation: Poor ventilation in your laundry room can result in higher humidity levels, which promotes mold growth.

Foreign Objects: Small items like lint, hair, or other debris can get trapped in the seal, creating an environment conducive to mold.

1. Use a specialized mildew remover

One of the best ways to remove mold and dark stains from your washing machine gasket is to use a commercial mildew remover, such as Star Brite from Walmart – especially if the stains are old and need a powerful cleaner to help lighten them, advises Ron Shimek, appliance expert at Mr. Appliance

It's best to wear gloves to protect your skin and spray the solution directly onto the seal, Ron says. Then, use a clean rag or soft-bristled brush to work it into the stains, making sure to target the inside of the seal as well.

2. Go natural with a vinegar solution

While using vinegar to kill mold is hotly debated (vinegar is best for removing surface mold) it is far more effective than using bleach to get rid of mold. So, consider cleaning with vinegar before you risk wearing down your rubber gaskets with harsh chemicals, suggests Tamara Nunes, professional cleaner and owner of Neat Nelly Cleaning Services. 

‘I mix equal parts warm distilled water and white vinegar in a spray bottle to apply liberally to the seals and drum,’ Tamara says. ‘I then scrub with a clean cloth or soft-bristled brush, leave it to sit for 15 minutes or so, then wipe and dry with a clean towel.’

Tamara Nunes
Tamara Nunes

Tamara Nunes founded Neat Nelly in 2017 as a side business when she was pregnant. After several well-received jobs and excellent reviews, she decided to take the role full-time, expanding the business to create a full cleaning team based in Washington DC. 

3. Run a sanitizing cycle on your washing machine

If you don’t fancy scrubbing or want to make sure that any mold within the machine and drum is removed too, then you can run a ‘sanitizing’ cycle for your washing machine, says appliance expert Ron Shimek. 

This is not a setting on the washer itself, but a hot wash on the highest temperature your machine will go boosted with either ‘a cup of bleach, a cup of baking soda, one-half cup of enzymatic dishwasher detergent, or one residue-busting washer pellet,’ Ron says.

Just make sure to run this cycle without any clothes in it to prevent damaging them, he adds.

4. Use a baking soda paste to tackle stains

Baking soda is a natural lightening agent, so is ideal for lifting stains after you have used another product to remove mold spores, says Michael Golubev, mold removal expert and CEO of Mold Busters.

To clean with baking soda, Michael mixes equal parts water and baking soda and applies the paste directly to the affected area. ‘Allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes before scrubbing gently with a soft brush,’ he recommends. ‘Finish by rinsing with water and dry with a clean cloth.’

How to prevent mold on a washing machine seal

Miele washing machine in a stylish farmhouse modern laundry room with sage green cabinets, a sink full of flowers, and a decorative vase

(Image credit: Miele)

Prevention is always better than actually having to remove black mold, and it is relatively simple to do. All you have to do is ensure the machine dries out thoroughly between uses, says Tamara Nunes, professional cleaner. 

There are two ways to do this. Tamara suggests wiping down the seals and drying them with a dry towel after you have used the machine, or you can leave the door open between cycles to allow it to air dry. This process can be sped up if you have a dehumidifier. Leaving your washing machine detergent drawer open or wiping it down will also help to prevent mold growth in this compartment, too. 

It is also a good idea to regularly clean your washing machine to stay on top of any mold that does form, says mold removal expert Michael Golubev. ‘It's a good idea to clean your washing machine rubber gasket at least once a month or more frequently if you notice any mold or unpleasant odors,’ he recommends. 


Does bleach damage the rubber seals in the washing machine? 

When used in large or frequent quantities, bleach can begin to wear down rubber seals, leading to leaks from your washing machine. As a result, it is best to prevent mold growth in the first place to avoid having to clean with bleach or use a bleach alternative such as vinegar when doing laundry if you are trying to brighten clothing. 

Can you use The Pink Stuff on washing machine seals? 

Despite generally being a universal cleaner, The Pink Stuff will not do much to remove mold from your washing machine seal or remove hard-set mold stains. It is a good option to remove detergent stains if you use a powder detergent, however, and can be used to shine up the washing machine door and exterior too.

Removing mold is an unpleasant job, but cleaning the things that we use to clean our homes is crucial for a next-level clean. So it's wise to make sure you're keeping your washing machine and vacuum cleaner fresh and washing microfiber cloths correctly.

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.

With contributions from