Washing machines are meant to clean our clothes and linens for us, but many of us forget that the machine needs cleaning too. After weeks of regular use, there can be buildup of grime, mold, leftover detergent, and mineral deposits from hard water, which can cause laundry to appear dull and gray, or leave white streaks on dark clothes.
Using a commercial cleaner or bleach or vinegar in separate hot water cycle rinses will wash away bacteria, mold, oil, dirt, soap scum, and mineral deposits from the washer drum and hoses.
So now that you know to clean your washing machine, how exactly are you meant to clean it? We got you covered! Below, you’ll find out how to properly clean your particular washing machine in just a few easy steps. Keep reading to find out more!
How Often to Clean a Washing Machine
The answer to this can really depend on your specific type of washer and the quality of water in your area. If you have a top-load washer, it should be cleaned at least twice per year. If you live in an area with a lot of hard water, you should clean your washer every three months to prevent mineral deposit buildup. High-efficiency top-load washers and front-load washers use much less water than standard machines and that actually means that they need to be cleaned more often, usually once a month.
Your washer should be cleaned more often if you live in a hot, humid area as mold will be more of an issue. In addition to cleaning the washer drum, each dispenser on your machine should be cleaned every four to six weeks to keep it working efficiently.
What You’ll Need
Luckily, the cleaning process is actually pretty simple. You’ll only need a few items before you get started, so here is what we suggest:
✔️ Cleaning rag or microfiber cloth
✔️ Old toothbrush
✔️ Chlorine-based bleach
✔️ Distilled white vinegar
NOTE: Do NOT use bleach and vinegar at the same time! I will create toxic chlorine gas which can be dangerous and even lethal in many cases!
How to Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine
When cleaning your top-load clothes washer, start by making sure there is no laundry in it and no detergent or fabric softener in any dispenser. Don’t add any detergent to the washer during this process. Here is how to properly clean your top-loading washer:
✔️ Fill Washer With Hot Water
Use your washer’s settings to fill the drum of your washer with hot water, and then stop it before it starts to agitate. Remember to use the hottest temperature setting on your machine.
✔️ Add Bleach
Measure and add 1 quart of chlorine-based bleach to the hot water in the washer, but no detergent or vinegar.
✔️ Run a Wash & Spin Cycle
Set your washer to run the longest wash and spin cycle so that it goes through a full rinse and drain session. Make sure the bleach is completely removed before the next step, you can do this by running a second rinse cycle if necessary.
✔️ Fill Again With Hot Water
Once it has been rinsed, use your washer’s settings to refill your washer with the hottest water, stopping it before it starts to agitate.
✔️Add Distilled White Vinegar
Measure and add 1 quart of distilled white vinegar to the hot water, remember to not add detergent or bleach to this cycle either.
✔️ Run a Wash & Spin Cycle
Start the washer to run the longest wash and spin cycle again and allow the washer to rinse and drain so that there is no vinegar left behind. Run a second rinse cycle if necessary.
How to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine
Front-load washers require a different cleaning technique as they not only harbor soil but can develop bad odors that transfer to clothes. Cleaning your washer will remove the dirt buildup and the mold and mildew that can form in the machine after each use. Here is how to properly clean you front-loading washer:
✔️Add Bleach to the Dispensers
Measure and add 1/2 of a cup of liquid chlorine-based bleach to the detergent compartment of the dispenser, filling the bleach dispenser compartment to the highest level.
✔️ Run a Normal Cycle
Set your washer to run through a normal cycle with warm water and allow the machine to run the complete cycle.
✔️ Wipe Seals & Door
When the cycle is complete, use a soft, cloth to dry around the washer door opening, the flexible gasket seal, and door glass. This will help remove any mold residue, which would have been killed by the bleach filled cleaning cycle.
How to Clean Washer Dispensers
Newer models of washers have handy built-in dispensers for detergent, fabric softener, and bleach. Much like the washer itself, these will need to be cleaned regularly so they work properly. Here is the proper way to clean the dispensers on your washer:
✔️ Empty the Washer
Start by making sure your washer is completely empty of laundry.
✔️ Heat the Vinegar
Pour one cup of white vinegar in into bowl or saucepan to heat up in the microwave or on your oven.
✔️ Clean the Dispenser
Pour the now heated vinegar into your washer’s dispenser and allow it to sit for a few minutes to loosen any buildup. You can also use one cup of unheated hydrogen peroxide if you would prefer.
✔️ Run the Washer Through a Normal Cycle
Set your machine to run using a normal cycle. The vinegar that has sat in the dispenser will be released into the water, where it will help remove any remaining buildup before being rinsed away.
✔️ Clean the Removable Dispensers
If you have removable dispenser drawers, they can be submerged in a bowl of warm vinegar for several minutes, scrubbed with an old toothbrush to remove any buildup, and then rinsed with warm water and replaced.
Extra Tips for Keeping Your Washer Clean
✔️ Leave the lid of your top-load washer open after you have run a load to allow the drum and seals to dry out and avoid growing mold and mildew.
✔️ After washing heavily-soiled clothing, wipe the drum with a multi-purpose cleaner and then run a rinse only cycle. Or, you can repeat the cleaning cycle using chlorine bleach.
✔️ If you find brown spots on your laundry, it may be rust from your washer. Use a flashlight to check your washer carefully for any chips in the finish. You can replace the washer drum or get a kit to repair and repaint the porcelain coating.
✔️ Never store your laundry products on top of the washer at any time, as spills can damage the finish or electronic controls.
Check out this video and see more hacks on how you can clean your washing machine quickly and easily!
If you’re looking for some help staying on top of your numerous loads of laundry, give us a call! We’re happy to help and provide you and your home with everything you need to be happy and healthy all year long.