Seems like a washing machine should stay squeaky clean all on its own, right? After all, a washer spends most of its life sloshing soapy water around. What’s cleaner than that? Unfortunately, dirty clothes sneak bits of hair, dirt, and food into your washer that work themselves into all those hard-to-reach spots. Combine that with a warm, wet environment, and soap residue that builds up over time, and you’ve got yourself a perfect recipe for mold and mildew. And who wants to wash their clothes in that?
Um, no one.
Don’t worry. This story has a happy ending. You can learn how to clean a washing machine in just a few easy steps, and get the job done right using only ordinary household staples. Note- always consult with your appliance manual for any special instructions regarding machine use.
How to Clean a Front Loading Washer
1. Clean the Door
Using a clean, wet rag, wipe down the inside and outside of the door. Dip your rag in a little white vinegar for extra cleaning power. Avoid using abrasive brushes or scouring pads, though, as they can easily leave scratches.
2. Clean the Rubber Gasket
If you’ve had your washer for a while, but never inspected the rubber gasket’s nooks and crannies, buckle up. You might be shocked by all the hair, mold, and gunk hiding out in there. Don’t feel bad. It happens to the best of us. Using a utility rag, wipe out any visible build up, frequently rinsing out your rag. Then, using an old toothbrush dipped in vinegar, scrub all those hard-to-reach spots. It may take a little extra elbow grease, but it’s worth it.
3. Run a Vinegar Cycle
Pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar into the liquid detergent well, then run a wash cycle on the hottest water temperature. Vinegar has properties that help to loosen and remove soap scum and mildew stains.
4. Wipe Out
After the cycle finishes, inspect the washer’s interior and wipe away any visible particles.
5. Run a Baking Soda Cycle
If your machine was extra dirty to start with, consider a second cleaning cycle using the scrubbing magic of baking soda to help deodorize and remove any remaining soap scum. Just pour 1/3 cup of baking soda directly into the drum, then run a full cycle using warm or hot water.
Between cycles, leave the door open. This will help the machine dry thoroughly and discourage mold and mildew.
How to Clean a Top Loading Washer
1. Fill the Drum with Water
Start a regular wash cycle (without clothes) and stop when the drum is full of warm water. Note- If your machine doesn’t fill with water until the door is close then you may need to add the vinegar in step 2 first.
2. Add Vinegar
Pour in 3 cups of white vinegar and either stir or briefly resume the cycle to mix well. Let the mixture sit for one hour so the vinegar can work its gunk-destroying mojo.
3. Clean the Washer’s Exterior
While you’re waiting, dip a clean utility rag into the warm vinegar solution and use it to wipe down the washer’s exterior. An old toothbrush will help you get into those pesky crevices and hard to reach spaces.
4. Resume the Wash Cycle
Let the cycle run all the way through.
Your washer is now officially clean! Doesn’t that feel better? You now know how to clean a washing machine, and you’ll enjoy renewed confidence that your clothes will come out clean every time.