How to Clean Your {Top-Loader} Washing Machine


Clean your Washer? Sounds kind of unnecessary doesn’t it? Yes, it SOUNDS that way…but when you think about all the dirt and grime that cycles through your washer on a day-to-day basis…it actually makes perfect sense! Washers need washing too!

Back on February 20th of this year, I posted about how to clean your front-loader washer at the request of my niece Ashley (even though I don’t own a front-loader).  She was complaining about a funky smell and didn’t know what to do about it.  That led me on an odyssey of sorts where I learned more than I ever thought there was to know about front-loader washing machines.  It was definitely an eye-opening experience. So if you have a FRONT-LOADER, you can find out how to clean it here: How To Clean Your Washing Machine.

For the rest of us…I promised back then I would do a subsequent post about how to clean top-loaders, but haven’t lived up to my promise! Yet.  Crystal gave me a gentle reminder via email the other day, saying she was patiently waiting the aforementioned promised post.  So this one’s for you Crystal!  And me….and the rest of us “low-efficiency” clothes washer owners. I personally think the HE (high efficiency) washers have some significant kinks to be worked out before I will consider buying one.  But that’s just my .02 cents.

One of the reasons I’ve been dragging my feet about this post is because my washer is actually almost new. I bought it “used” 6 months ago from someone who had it in storage and had only used it a handful of times. So I figured it would be kind of silly to “clean” it at this point.  hahaha. Silly is the word allright. Silly ME. Upon close inspection I realized the washer could definitely use a cleaning…especially after I started “looking under the hood”.  OY!

So let’s get to it, shall we?

As usual, there are a myriad of “How To Clean Your Washer” articles out there…each with their own spin, but after reading about a thousand of them, this is the simple method I went with:

  • Fill the washer with HOT water. Add 1 quart of chlorine bleach - no detergent – and let the machine agitate for a minute, then let it sit for one hour.

  • After one hour, allow the washer to run through its longest wash and spin cycle.
  • Immediately fill the washer with HOT water again and add 1 quart distilled white vinegar. Let agitate for a minute, and again, let it sit for one hour.

Using the bleach and vinegar will clean away bacteria, soap scum and mineral deposits from the wash basket and hoses. This is especially important if you live in a hard water area and should be done every three months. Every washer should be cleaned at least twice per year.

  • While it is soaking, dip a scrubber sponge in the vinegar water and detail all the nooks and crannies of your washer, including the knobs, the lid and the exterior.

I used my microfiber cloths to wipe down and then buff the exterior.  Look at that SHINE! :-)

  • If your machine has built-in dispensers, clean those too. I was fairly shocked at how grimy mine were! The fabric softener dispenser was all slimy feeling…and the bleach dispenser was just plain icky! If your dispensers aren’t removable, warm 1 cup of white vinegar in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Pour it into the dispenser and allow it to sit for a few minutes to loosen any build up.
  • After an hour, run the longest wash and spin cycle again.

Your trusty washing machine should now be shiny clean and ready for more abuse. :-)

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  1. says

    Thanks for sharing! Our old trusted top-loader has been looking funky for quite some time, I might try this. Only have to find out where to get bleach…

  2. Alisha says

    I keep my washer cleaner than most, but I love these ideas for the hard water stuff. Gonna try this today. Thanks Jillee!

  3. Rachael says

    Any ideas on how to do this if you have a washer that runs its cycle all the way through even if you have the top open?? Meaning I cant let the stuff sit there for the time suggested bc it will just keep going through the cycle. HELP!

  4. Dana says

    Can you pull the knob out to stop the cycle? Then after waiting the hour push it back in to continue the cycle?

    You should be able to find bleach at the grocery store or superstore near the laundry supplies and/or cleaning supplies.

  5. says

    We live in the country and have a septic tank.. It is a must to keep it working or, as we just found out, it has to be pumped out at the cost of over $300.. My question for you is, will all the vinegar and bleach hurt the working of a septic tank?
    Thank you so much for all the helpful hints.. I love getting your posts..

  6. Audrey says

    My machine doesn’t have a selection for water level. It only adds water up to the level of clothes inside. Any suggestions for me?


  1. [...] way to clean my washer. I finally found my answer on Pinterest there was a link to an article on “How to clean your top loading washing machine”. After reading this article I gave it a try, and it worked! Let me tell you, I was ecstatic my [...]

  2. [...]   I have been trying very hard to get into a cleaning routine.  Mostly because I’m not in school or working so I miss having something to do every day.  So Haylie and I have been doing a chore every single day of the “working week.”  Stuff like cleaning the kitchen, laundry and picking up the living room.  But as of Saturday it went to a deeper level.  I have been deep cleaning, meaning that I have cleaned my washing machine, dishwasher, and dryer, and hard to clean stuff.  Here be links if you care: yesterday I probably spend 5 hours in my kitchen scrubbing and cleaning.  I’m okay with it though because my kitchen is looking really good.  In fact most of my house looks really good from a few hard hours of work on a daily basis.Quite proud of myself.    See, look how good the top looks.    I wish I had a before shot, but then again I’m glad I don’t cause then the world would know how awful it had previously looked.  I know it is not perfect, but I’m proud of the result. [...]

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