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How to Clean a Washing Machine Inside & Out

Jennifer L. Betts
clean front loader watching machine

Learn how to clean a washing machine through simple steps. Explore what to use to clean your top and front loader washing machine with ease, and find out how often you should be cleaning your washing machine.

How to Clean a Washing Machine That Loads in Front

Your front-loading washing machine cleans your clothes, but it needs to be cleaned sometimes itself. When it comes to cleaning your front loader washing machine, you need to grab:

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Toothbrush

  • Spray bottle

Clean the Detergent and Softener Drawer

The first step to getting your washer sparkling is to clean out the detergent and softener drawers. There are a few ways to do this.

  1. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar.

  2. Spray down the drawer.

  3. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

  4. Use the toothbrush and cloth to remove all the detergent residue.

If the drawer is removable, pull it out and soak it in a sink with water and vinegar for 15 minutes. You can then clean out the residue.

put clothes in the washing machine

Clean the Gasket

After the drawers are clean, you want to focus on cleaning the gasket.

  1. Spray down the gasket with vinegar.

  2. Wipe it down with a cloth.

How to Clean a Washing Machine Tub

You are ready to dive into cleaning the washing machine tub. Learn the steps for getting your washing machine drum gleaming.

  1. Set the machine to the highest and hottest setting.

  2. Put two cups of vinegar into the detergent dispenser.

  3. Run the cycle.

  4. Add 1 cup of baking soda to the drum after the cycle ends.

  5. Run it through another cycle.

  6. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe out the drum.

  7. Sprinkle a little baking soda on a toothbrush to get any crusty areas.

How to Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine

Top loading washing machines take a different method when it comes to cleaning. Since it loads from the top, you can allow the vinegar to soak for a bit. But first, you need to grab these supplies.

  • White vinegar

  • Baking soda

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Toilet Brush

  • Rubberband

  • Toothbrush

How to Clean a Washing Machine Drum

For a top-loading washing machine, you diver right into the drum.

  1. Use the highest, hottest setting, and fill the drum.

  2. Add 4 cups of white vinegar.

  3. Allow it to soak for an hour then start the cycle.

  4. Once the cycle completes, add a cup of baking soda.

  5. Start a new cycle.

  6. Wipe out the drum with a microfiber cloth.

If you are too short to reach into the drum to wipe it out. On a clean toilet brush, wrap a microfiber cloth around the end. Secure with a rubber band. Use the wand to wipe out the inside of the drum.

Top view of white washing machine

Clean the Washing Machine Dispensers

With the drum grime-free, you need to focus your efforts on the fabric softener and bleach dispensers.

  1. Spray the dispenser with vinegar and allow them to sit.

  2. Use a toothbrush to scrub out the dispensers.

How to Clean the Outside of the Washing Machine

The outside of your washing machine can attract a lot of dirt and dust. Therefore, you want to give it just the right amount of TLC.

  1. Spray down the outside and top of the washer with the vinegar.

  2. Wipe everything down.

  3. Create a paste with baking soda and water.

  4. Use a toothbrush to remove any crust.

How to Clean a Washing Machine Without Vinegar

Not everyone has vinegar on hand, or you just might not think vinegar is enough to sanitize a washer. In this instance, you can use bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or dishwasher tablets to clean out their washer.

How to Clean a Washing Machine With Bleach or Peroxide

Both hydrogen peroxide and bleach are sanitizing agents approved by the EPA to clean the drum of your washing machine. Learn the steps for using bleach and peroxide in your washer drum.

  1. Use the highest, hottest setting on your washer and the extra rinse.

  2. Add ½ cup of bleach to the dispenser. You can also substitute ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide to disinfect.

  3. Run the full cycle and extra rinse.

  4. Add ½ cup of baking soda to the drum.

  5. Run another cycle.

  6. If the smell of bleach is still there, run another cycle without any cleaners.

How to Clean a Washing Machine With Dishwasher Tablets

Did you know you could clean your washing machine with dishwashing tablets? Well, you can. Get the low down on how to clean your washer out with dishwashing tablets. For this method, you'll use a dishwashing tablet not wrapped in plastic.

  1. Put the tablet where the detergent goes in a front loader or in the drum of a top loader.

  2. Run the machine through a setting.

  3. Wipe out the drum.

How to Get Detergent and Fabric Softener Residue Out of Washing Machine

To remove detergent and fabric softener from a washing machine, you want to turn to vinegar. While the vinegar and baking soda method clean the drum, you can clean out the fabric softener dispenser in a top loader by adding a bit of vinegar to the fabric softener dispenser and running a cycle. This will effectively remove any detergent and fabric softener clogs.

How to Clean Mold Out of Washer

When it comes to hidden mold or mildew in your washer, you want to turn to a mold killer disinfectant. For getting rid of mold, you need:

  • Bleach

  • White vinegar

  • Hydrogen peroxide

  • Microfiber cloth

  • Gloves

  • Toothbrush

Mold in washing machine

Step 1: Create a Mold Killing Mixture

To create a mold killing mixture, you want to mix one of these into a spray bottle. The two recipes you can use include:

  • Mix two cups of water and ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar.
  • OR, you can create a 4-to-1 water to bleach mixture.

Step 2: Spray and Scrub the Mold

With the mixture at hand, you want to glove up and spray down the mold. Allow the mixture to sit on the mold for 10 minutes or so. Wipe it away with a microfiber cloth. For stubborn mold areas, you can scrub it with the toothbrush.

Step 3: Run a Cycle

Using the hottest and longest setting, add ½ cup of your preferred mold killer to the dispenser and run the cycle. Check for any lingering mold once complete. Avoid mold growth by making sure to leave the door open when you aren't washing laundry.

How Often Should You Clean Out Your Washing Machine?

When it comes to how often you should clean your washing machine, it's about every three or so months. You'll want to do it more often if it has a funky smell or if you notice mold or residue in the machine.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Your washing machine is continuously around soap and water, so you wouldn't think it needs to be clean. But it does. Remember all your dirty clothes are going in there. Therefore, you need to take a moment and make sure your washing machine runs at its best.

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How to Clean a Washing Machine Inside & Out