How To Clean a Washing Machine

You may think that because your washing machine’s only function is to clean, that it wouldn’t need cleaning; because a lot of people think the same. But just as you would wipe down the sink after cleaning some dishes or scrub your bath occasionally, you need to give some attention and care to your washing machine. But, just like many of us didn’t know that it even needed regular cleaning to start with, we also don’t know how to clean a washing machine.

A dirty washer can cause bad smells, which isn’t great for your laundry or your home, which should both be smelling fresh. Without regular cleaning, the machine can give dark clothes white streaks and white clothes can become discolored. After a while without cleaning, a washing machine can become damage and breakdown. So follow these easy tips so that your washing machine doesn’t become a smelly problem or a financial burden if it breaks.

Cleaning a Washing Machine

So, where to start with cleaning?

You should be cleaning your machine every six months at least, this will give you cleaner & fresher clothes, stop build-ups occurring, and prevent issues with the washer in the future. But there are many acceptions to the six-month rule that you should also consider.

If you are in an area with hard water, then you should wash the machine every three months. This is because hard water has a higher mineral count; these minerals can build up over time in the machine, causing problems. If you do not know which type of water you have, a simple online search of whether you have hard or soft water in your area will find you a site with the answer.

Front loader and high efficiency top loader machines use less water each cycle, which is great for your water bills and not wasting water, but it also means that you should clean the machine more often as less water is rinsing out the dirt.

If you have especially dirty clothes, mud, and stains from outdoor activities, or messy aprons from cooking and baking, then you should also clean the washer more frequently to ensure there are no build-ups.

Areas with humid and hot climates also need to have machines cleaned more regularly as the additional heat and moisture creates a perfect breeding ground for mildew in your washer.


Front-load Washing Machine

To clean a front load washing machine, you will first need white vinegar, baking soda, a spray bottle, and a micro fiber cloth.

We use white vinegar as its high level of acidity helps break down mildew, chemical build-ups, and dirt. Baking soda is used as an abrasive to dissolve dirt and grease. They are both great products for cleaning as they are non-toxic and deodorize, meaning they will not leave any harmful chemicals over that could transfer to your load and they will destroy any orders caused by mold and mildew.

First, you will want to clean the gasket, this is the rubber seal that stops water from leaking out the washer during a laundry cycle.

You can either clean the rubber seal by spraying the vinegar all over the seal. Then dampen the micro fiber cloth and wipe the gasket. As this area is at the front of the drum, it accumulates a lot of hair, mildew, and chemicals. It can be difficult to fully clean due as it is tightly fitted, underneath becomes especially filthy as little water reaches here.

Therefore you may want to remove the seal, this will allow you further clean the gasket in every area. Make sure that you place the seal back tightly so that no water leaks out during the next cycle. If you do choose to remove the seal then you may not need to use the spray bottle, you can just apply the vinegar from the bottle instead.

You will then need to run a cycle. Place two cups of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser and select the longest possible cycle with the highest temperature you can (or the cleaning cycle if your washer has one). Hit start and let the vinegar do the cleaning for you.

Once the cycle has finished, you will need to run it through again. Leave out the vinegar and instead place half a cup of baking soda directly into the drum.

When this cycle is finished, wipe the inside of the drum. Then to finish off, spray the detergent tray with vinegar and a little hot water, then wipe with the micro fiber cloth.

Top Load Washing Machine

To clean a top-load washing machine, you will need white vinegar, baking soda, a micro fiber cloth, and a new toothbrush.

To begin with, add four cups of white vinegar into the washer drum. select the longest cycle at the highest temperature. Allow the cycle to run for five minutes, then press pause and leave the washer for one hour. You can use this time to clean the outside of the machine.

After one hour, let allow the washer to complete the cycle. Then, use the toothbrush to scrub the fabric softener dispenser. You can add small amounts of vinegar if there is leftover detergent built up.

Now, add one cup of baking soda to the washer tub and start another cycle at the highest temperature for the longest time possible.

Once this cycle has finished, wipe the inside of the washer in case there is any grime or mildew.


Whether you have a top-loader or a front-loader, cleaning the outside of the washing machine is the same. People will often forget to clean the outside. But any dirt on the outside can easily make it onto clothes while you are loading the machine and then become dirt inside your washer. It can also hold onto soap scum or build up brine left by hard water from the wet clothes being removed or small leaks if the rubber gasket isn’t fitted properly.

So there are a few things you can do that will prevent this.

The outside of washing machines should be cleaned with a mixture of half white vinegar and half hot water. Again, the acidity of the vinegar will help easily break down any build-ups of mold & brine. Then simply use a sponge or cloth to clean your washing machine with the vinegar water.

Make sure that you wipe down any surfaces that are above the machine, or nearby, to stop dusk and other dirt from falling or blowing onto the machine.

You should also hoover around the machine regularly to stop dust build-ups that can then enter the washing machine. If you have the correct attachments, hoover under the washing machine as well to catch even more dust before it becomes a problem.

Cleaning Tips

Removing washed items ASAP

You should empty the drum immediately after the cycle has finished. Wet clothing will begin to have an unpleasant damp smell quickly, especially in colder weather, which will start to spread to smell your laundry room or kitchen. Emptying washing machines immediately after a wash cycle also allows the machine to dry out quickly. Just like the clothes, the longer a machine is left wet, the quicker it will begin to produce a bad odor. Leaving laundry in the machine can also spread mold due to the moisture. The quicker you get the clothes out, the fresher they will be and the less you will have to clean your washing machine.

Keeping the door open

After a wash, your washer will be wet and hot. These are the conditions that mildew and mold best grow in. So, to prevent this from happening, after each wash you should remove the laundry immediately and leave the door open. Leaving the washer door open will allow the moisture to escape and cool the inside quicker too.

Pet hair

Pet hair is infamous for covering clothes. After petting a cute dog or having a cat on your lap, you might just throw it into the wash and think it is gone. But the hair has just transferred to the machine. Pet hair will get stuck in the washer drum, under the rubber seal, and fill the lint drawer. Pet hair has dirt and germs, but also holds moisture which helps spread mildew and mold easier. So after every cycle, empty the lint drawer and wipe the inside. This will stop mold, smells, and possible blockages in the future.


Do washing machines need to be cleaned?

A washing machine definitely should be cleaned regularly. Having a dirty washing machine will mean you will have dirty laundry. A dirty machine will begin to smell no matter how much fabric conditioner you use, it can grow mold and grime. So make sure you clean your washing machine to have fresh clothing every time.

How often should I clean my washing machine?

You should clean the washer at least every six months, but there are many conditions that can change how often it needs cleaning. It can depend on the type of water in your area, the products that you use, even the type of washer that you have. So make sure you know exactly how often you need cleaning to avoid ruining your clothes.

How do I deep clean my washing machine naturally?

To clean your machine naturally, you should use vinegar water and baking soda. Chlorine bleach and other non-natural products can leave behind dangerous chemicals that can damage your laundry, washer, and possibly your skin.

Full-time writer. Blogger. Dedicated wife. Mother of 3 amazing kids. I love learning about everything from the latest tech gadgets, innovative new home designs and can be found regularly reading up on parenting tips. There is always room to grow!

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply