Everyone should know how to clean a washing machine. Yes, that’s right – even the best washing machines should be washed occasionally. If you don’t, mold and mildew can grow in the drum and gasket, making the laundry smelly. In severe cases, limescale can also build up in the pipes, leading to expensive repairs and perhaps even a complete replacement.
That’s why you should take the time to clean your washing machine. It’s a pretty easy job, whether you’re a machine with front loader or top loaderand if you do, it will work take longer† You may already have what you need at home, so there’s no reason to put it off. Here’s how to clean a washing machine.
How often should you clean your washing machine?
First check your manual to see if your washing machine comes with maintenance. It should advise you how and how often to run it. It is always best to follow what your manufacturer recommends.
What do you need to clean your washing machine
•Either a washing machine cleaner, white distilled vinegar or bleach
If no advice is given, it is good practice to thoroughly clean your machine once a month depending on how often you use it. Between washes, you should also clean the gasket (make sure nothing is loose that could damage the machine) and leave the door and dispenser drawer open to prevent mold.
What should I use to clean my washing machine?
- The best way to clean a washing machine is with a specially designed cleaner such as: Tide Washing Machine Cleaner† These are designed to remove all grease and grime without damaging the machine.
- Bleach is another popular option. While this is strong and will get the job done, it’s worth pointing out that the dosage must be precise or it could froth too much and damage the machine. This may also void the warranty of your washing machine. If you often clean with bleach, make sure you don’t make this mistake.
- White distilled vinegar is another effective cleaner and a sustainable option. However, vinegar will corrode rubber over time, so you should not use this method very often.
- Never mix bleach with vinegar – it creates a deadly chlorine gas
How do you clean a front loading washing machine?
1. Empty the drain hose: Water collects and can remain in the base of your machine for a long time, so it is important to drain it occasionally. The drain filter can also become clogged, so it is also an opportunity to remove any foreign objects. Before doing this, be sure to unplug the power cord for safety. Usually a small panel is located at the bottom front of your machine, either on the left or right side. When you open it you will find a hose and a rotary knob, or just a rotary knob. Put down some towels first. If you have a hose, grab a bowl and drain it by unplugging it. This may take a few times to the sink! If you only have a dial, you’ll need to open it very slowly and let the water drain into a shallow container until it’s empty.
2. Clean the washing machine filter: Once the water has stopped, you can give the filter a cleaning. Unscrew it until it can be completely removed and remove any small objects. Check both the filter itself and the reservoir for foreign objects. Once clear, clean the filter by running it under hot running water and scrubbing with the toothbrush if necessary. You can then replace the filter and hose.
3. Clean the rubber seal on a washing machine: Next, you’re going to tackle the door and gasket. Depending on what you plan to use later, bleach or vinegar can be diluted to scrub away any mold on the seal – use a toothbrush if necessary. Use the same solution to clean the inside of the door as well, keeping an eye out for any dirt build-up.
4. Clean the washing machine drawer: When you pull out your detergent drawer, you will see a small release tab that allows you to remove it completely. When in doubt, consult the manual and do not force it. Once out of the drawer, soak in hot soapy water and scrub off all detergent residue, paying particular attention to the softener compartment. Rinse and dry, then reinsert.
5. Thoroughly clean a washing machine: If you chose to use a washing machine cleaner, just follow the instructions. If you want to use bleach or vinegar, add one of the following sizes to your detergent drawer and run the machine as hot as possible. Remember, do not mix bleach and vinegar together for your own safety.
- ¼ cup (60 ml) liquid chlorine bleach
- 2 cups white distilled vinegar
6. Clean the washing machine with baking soda: To give your washing machine a final clean, you can use baking soda. This will help deodorize it and remove any remaining grime. Add ½ cup directly to the drum and run the hottest setting again.
7. Clean the outside of the machine: Give the outside of the machine, including the controls, a wash with a damp microfibre cloth.
How do you clean a top loading washing machine?
1. Follow the instructions: If you’re using a washing machine cleaner, you should follow the instructions right away, which usually means tossing a tablet into the tub.
2. How To Clean With Vinegar Or Bleach: If you want to use bleach or vinegar, set the machine on the highest load on the hottest and longest setting. Let it fill to the top with water, but before it starts to stir, add one of the following directly to the water. Again, do not mix these together.
- ¼ cup (60 ml) liquid chlorine bleach
- 2 cups white distilled vinegar
Close the door and let it stir for about 30 seconds to mix, then pause the timer, open the door and let it soak for an hour.
3. Clean the washing machine drawer: While you wait, you’ll have time to tackle other areas. If your machine has a detergent drawer, remove it and soak it in a solution of hot, soapy water. Scrub it with a toothbrush to get into hard-to-reach areas and remove any residual detergent or fabric softener. Once clean, replace it. While taking out the toothbrush, scrub around the edge of the door and the top of the agitator using the solution in the machine. Also keep an eye out for signs of mold in the machine that you can reach.
4. Clean the outside of the machine: Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the body and controls. After waiting an hour, you can close the door and let the machine finish the cycle.
5. Clean the washing machine with baking soda: If your washing machine smells particularly bad, baking soda is an extra step to help with deodorization. Just add ½ cup to the drum and do the same setting again. Baking soda also helps shift any final stains.
6. Final Hand: After this wash, use a damp microfibre cloth to wipe the inside of the machine one last time.
And that’s it, your machine should be spotless! If you smell any residual detergent or bleach, feel free to run another cycle.
Tips to avoid smelly laundry
- Leave the door and drawer ajar between washes.
- Do not leave your wet clothes in the drum, even after a drying cycle, because the clothes may still be damp.
- Use your maintenance cleaning program as often as the manufacturer recommends. If you don’t have one and you want to rinse the machine quickly, simply run an empty washing program on the hottest setting to rinse away any detergent left behind.
- Use the correct amount of detergent based on how stained your clothes are and how hard your water is. Using too much detergent can actually make things worse, as the water won’t be able to wash it away properly, leaving soap residue on the clothes and in the machine.
Want more cleaning tips? Here’s how to quickly and easily remove common Thanksgiving stains, how to clean a dishwasher, how to wash a pillow, and how to clean a cast iron skillet and remove rust.