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How to Clean
a Washing Machine

April 11, 2024

Washers work hard to eliminate dirt, stains, and odors—and it’s a dirty job. But how often do you give your hard-working appliance the cleaning love it deserves? We get it if you struggle with how to clean a washing machine and dryer. Most of us don’t think as much about cleaning appliances as we do the rest of our homes. The Maids® is here to help you learn all about cleaning a washing machine so you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

Cleaning a washing machine removes detergent, fabric softener, and grime that often transfer to clothes. This housekeeping skill also eliminates germs that cause odor and illness for a more pleasant and healthier home. These steps are safe and effective for most washers, but check your owner’s manual if you have yours!

How To Clean a Top-Load Washing Machine

Understanding how to clean a washing machine is easy and doesn’t require many cleaning supplies. All you need is an empty washer, baking soda, white vinegar, cleaning cloths, and a toothbrush. Baking soda is a natural whitener and mild abrasive, while vinegar disinfects and cuts through grime. Once you learn how to clean a washer, you can confidently put this on your house cleaning checklist:

  1. Pour two cups of baking soda into the washing machine, then run the washer on the longest cycle using the hottest water.
  2. Once the cycle has finished, pour two cups of white vinegar into the washer and run it on the same cycle.
  3. Remove the detergent and bleach dispensers and rinse them. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a mixing bowl and let the pieces soak.
  4. Clean the inside and outside of the appliance with microfiber cloths. Use a toothbrush to get into the crevices.
  5. Finish the job using a microfiber cloth dampened with water to wipe off the vinegar and dirt.
  6. Rinse the parts you left soaking, and put everything back together.

An easy way to minimize how often you clean your washer is to monitor how much detergent you use. Many people think the more dirt, the more detergent —but more detergent doesn’t always mean cleaner clothes.

Too much can reduce the friction needed to remove dirt and cause buildup. Be mindful to always use the correct amount of detergent for your specific load.

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How to Clean a Front-Load Washer

Front-load washers use less water and require less detergent than top-load washers. However, they are also notorious for developing a musty odor. The sealed system’s damp environment and lack of airflow lead to smelly mold and mildew. Most often, odors from mold and other contaminants in the rubber door gasket are created when water puddles.

Here’s how to clean your laundry machine and get it laundry-fresh.

  1. Pour a cup of white vinegar and run a cycle with the highest temperature and load settings.
  2. Remove the detergent dispenser and other attachments and let them soak in a vinegar and water solution.
  3. Remove any lint, hair, and other gunk from around the seal.
  4. Spray a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar on a microfiber cloth and wipe the inside of the drum.
  5. Spray the gasket thoroughly and clean it with a microfiber cloth.
  6. Rinse the attachments and put them back in the washer.
  7. Run a washer cycle with cold water to rinse and remove the remaining vinegar odor.

One way to minimize the moisture that attracts mold and mildew is to wipe the seal after each load. Leaving the door open after each use also helps reduce moisture.

How Often Should I Clean My Washing Machine?

Now that you know how to clean a washing machine, how often should you do it? A top-load washer should be cleaned about twice per year on average. Front-load washers use less water than top-loading appliances and are prone to buildup around the seal. Clean your front loader monthly to prevent much of the buildup and odors.

How dirty your laundry gets and how often you wash also affect how often you should clean a washer. When you use your washer frequently, and the loads are heavily soiled, you may need to clean the appliance more often. The same applies if your home has hard water to prevent mineral buildup.

Tips to Keep Your Washing Machine Cleaner Longer

None of us likes to clean more often than we have to, so that’s why we’re always up for time- and work-saving tips. From deciphering laundry symbols to managing hard water deposits, we help you handle laundry like a pro. Here are a few field-tested tips for keeping your washing machine cleaner longer.

  • After every load, empty the washer to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • Leave the lid up on top-load washers to help the moisture evaporate.
  • After washing excessively dirty clothing, wipe the washer drum with a damp microfiber cloth.
  • Pet owners should leave the washer lid or door open until pet hair is dry. Once the hair is dry, removing it with a vacuum’s soft brush attachment is easy.
  • Run the washer’s cleaning cycle or a cycle with the hottest water setting at least monthly.
  • Check the drum for chipped or worn places in the finish to prevent rust stains. Touch up any rusty spots with a paint kit designed for washer drums.

When you know how to clean a washer and keep it in optimal condition, clothes are cleaner, and your appliance can last longer. You also minimize the risk of unhealthy mold, mildew, and germs causing illness for better health.

The Maids: Your Partner for a Cleaner, Healthier Home

We’re on a mission to make housekeeping more manageable with professional cleaning guides and popular house cleaning services. Because The Maids is one of the only residential cleaners to clean for health, every visit creates a healthier home. If you want to enjoy a clean and healthy home more often, count on The Maids to make it simple.

Discover the joys of healthy cleaning when you get your free personalized quote today.

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