How To Clean A Washing Machine The Right Way

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Cleaning your washing machine might sound redundant, but just think about all the grime that your washer handles on a regular basis! That grime can collect on the inside of your machine over time, making it less efficient and less effective. Taking the time to give your washing machine some TLC is a big part of keeping it working well!

In today’s blog post, I’ll be sharing everything you need to know in order to clean your washing machine! I’ve included methods for cleaning both front-loading and top-loading machines in this post, so no matter what type of machine you have, you’ll know exactly how to clean it by the end of this post!

Related: The One Laundry Hack You Need To Know If You Have An HE Washer

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

How It Works

The key ingredients in both cleaning methods are bleach and vinegar (read more about the do’s and don’ts of cleaning with vinegar). Bleach kills bacteria, mold, and mildew, while white vinegar dissolves soap scum and tough mineral deposits. You will also need a measuring cup, sponge, bucket, and cloth. After using them in the steps outlined below, your washing machine will look newer, smell better, and most importantly, clean your clothes more effectively.

Related:  9 Things You Need To Do To Avoid Costly Washer & Dryer Repairs

How To Clean Your Front-Loading Washing Machine

For cleaning instructions for front-loading machines, click this link or keep scrolling!

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 1 – Vinegar Wash

Add 2 cups of white vinegar to your machine’s detergent tray or pour it directly into the wash drum. Run a wash cycle using the hottest water setting to get rid of mold and mildew and to dissolve mineral deposits.

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Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 2 – Bleach Wash

Once the first wash cycle is done, add 2 cups of bleach to your machine’s detergent tray or pour it directly into the wash drum. Run another hot water wash cycle to remove stains and eliminate germs that may be lurking in the wash tub.

(Note: If you prefer not to use bleach, you can use 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide for this step instead.)

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Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 3 – Rinse Cycle

After the second wash cycle is complete, run an additional rinse cycle to flush out any remaining grime or residue.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 4 – Detergent Tray

Once the rinse cycle is done, remove the bleach dispenser, fabric softener dispenser, and any other removable parts from your washer’s detergent tray.

Fill a bucket with warm, soapy water, and drop the detergent tray pieces into the bucket and let them soak for a few minutes. Clean each piece thoroughly with a sponge or cleaning rag, dry them, then return them to their original position in your detergent tray.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 5 – Finishing Touches

The last step involves a few finishing touches, including cleaning the rubber seal around the door and cleaning the exterior of the machine.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Add 1/4 cup of bleach and 1 quart of warm water, then dampen a clean cloth with the bleach solution. Wipe down the rubber seal as thoroughly as possible, then go over it again with a dry cloth to absorb any remaining moisture. Finally, use a damp cloth to wipe down the outside of your machine, and you’re done!

How To Clean Your Top-Loading Washing Machine

For more on how to clean a top-loading machine, click the link or scroll down.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 1 – Bleach Soak & First Wash

Fill the washer drum with hot water, add 1 quart of bleach, and let it soak for about an hour to eliminate mold and mildew. After an hour, run a complete hot water wash cycle.

(Note: If you prefer not to use bleach, you can use 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide for this step instead.)

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 2 – Vinegar Soak

After the cycle is done, fill the washer with hot water again and add 1 quart of white vinegar. Let it soak for another hour.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 3 – Wipe Down

Meanwhile, dip a microfiber cloth or sponge into the vinegar water. Use your dampened cloth to wipe down all the nooks and crannies of your washing machine, including the knobs, the lid, and the exterior.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

If your machine has built-in dispensers for fabric softener or bleach, be sure to wipe those down as well.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Step 4 – Second Wash

After an hour of letting the vinegar soak, run another hot water wash cycle. Your trusty washing machine will be sparkling clean!

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

… And Don’t Forget Your Dryer!

Your washing machine isn’t the only appliance that needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly. Your dryer needs attention too! Follow the link below to get my easy tutorial on cleaning and maintaining your dryer.

Related: How To Clean And Maintain Your Dryer To Avoid A Fire

Read This Next

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Homekeeping Tips

  • Instead of throwing the bags away in the cereal boxes; save them! I do a lot of canning and the pealing’s from the apples, peaches or even potatoes get pretty heavy; and the cereal bags are just prefect for those heavy peals! They don’t even leak !!!!

  • FYI: From the Department of Health: “Cold water should be used for dilution as hot water decomposes the active ingredient of bleach and renders it ineffective.

  • Full wash/ rinse cycles need to be run between use of vinegar and bleach. If they come in contact with each other, it could kill you. Just avoid bleach and don’t out vinegar in your machine more than once or twice a year as it’s corrosive and will ruin the machine, especially front loaders.

  • I have a top load washer with a load sensor. it does NOT fill with water, even with clothes in it…. only enough to almost cover them. ;\ There is NO way to have the washer fill with water unless i use a bucket or something and even then, when i turn the machine on, it will empty the water out :( Does anyone know how to do the suggested cleanings with that kind of challenge? thx!!

    • Are you sure there’s not a “cleaning” function on your washer? If not, maybe you could add a couple white towels to the washing machine just to add enough weight?

  • We have a newer washer. It does not fill up all the way, or anywhere near all the way. It only allows enough water to cover the clothes. We also use a cleaner designed for these machines, whenever that light comes on. For our rinse water, we put white vinegar in the fabric softener area. So the machine gets that cleaning every time we use it.

  • Even though it is tempting to use bleach–it is very detrimental to one’s health.
    When used as a cleaning agent, bleach remains on surfaces and continues to emit fumes. Recent studies have revealed that children who have had exposure to bleach in their homes are more likely to suffer from respiratory illness. In addition, various studies have linked the use of bleach in a household to a higher prevalence of asthma and allergies.
    And there are many more reasons not to use bleach. Use the alternatives.

  • One issue I have that I don’t know how to solve: the rubber seal on my front-loading washer — it gets moldy right in the center under the window. I have tried everything I can think of both to clean it off and to prevent it, but nothing works. Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

  • There is one more step that is helpful. At the bottom of your washer there is a little trap door. This should be opened and allowed to drain into a container. You would be surprised at the junk. There will be coins, small toys, and things like bobby pins, etc. I was told by a repair man to clean this several times a year to make the washer perform better. I couldn’t believe the things it collected in this small drain.

    • It depends on how often you use it – every 3 months is usually good for most people, but you can clean it more or less often depending on your washer :-)

  • I’ve been doing this for a few years. I clean our washer about every 3 months. We live in a state with hard water. When my dark work clothes start showing residue from laundry detergents is when it’s time. I will definitely check out the dryer cleaner blog.

    • One thing I forgot to mention. I try to leave the washer lid up after I’m done doing the laundry. It really helps to prevent mold from forming inside the machine and the awful smell. This important if you live somewhere with lots of humidity and high mold counts.

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