How to Clean a Washing Machine

Your washing machine can accumulate dirt, scum, minerals and mold over time and believe it or not, this machine that cleans your clothes also needs to be cleaned.  Find out several ways to clean your washing machine whether it’s a top loader or front loader and how frequently you should be cleaning it to keep your washing machine in good condition and your clothes looking fresh.

How to Clean a Washing Machine

There are commercially available products to clean a washing machine as well as homemade cleaner methods.  I’ll walk through both.  Let’s start with a product that you can purchase.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  Thanks for the support!

How to Clean washing machine with Affresh

Affresh is my go to for cleaning my washing machine.  It’s inexpensive and a super easy process.  Also, I’m not a fan of the smell of vinegar so that’s another reason that I prefer to use the Affresh tablets.

If your washer has a self clean cycle, choose that setting.  If it does not, be sure to change the water temperature to the hottest setting and run the longest cycle.

How to Clean washing machine with vinegar

Clean washing machine with vinegar

Vinegar is acidic and will help to break down any soap scum, grime and hard water deposits in your washing machine.

What type of vinegar to use

You’ll want to use a distilled white vinegar to clean your washing machine.

How much vinegar do you need?

1 to 2 cups of vinegar should be sufficient for cleaning purposes.

How often should you clean a washing machine?

Most recommendations are to clean your washing machine once a month.  That said, it totally depends on how often you use it.  We’re a family of two and we don’t do that much laundry in our home.  Cleaning 3-4 times a year has been enough for us.  Keep an eye out for grime and dirt accumulation in your washing machine or a musty smell and that will be your indication to give it a little love.  I would also recommend that you keep the door open on your machine when it is not in use.  This would apply to both front and top loaders as keeping the door open allows the drum and gaskets to fully dry in between loads.

How to Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine

How to clean a top load washing machine

Step 1 – Clean the inside of the washing machine

First wipe the inside of the washing machine with a clean wet cloth.  This will remove any built up debris and grime on the drum.  Also be sure to clean the underside of the door on the top of the washing machine.

Next, either place an Affresh washing machine cleaning tablet into the machine per the package recommendations.  Or if you are using vinegar, fill the liquid detergent dispenser with 1-2 cups of vinegar.

Step 2 – Run the washing machine empty

Once the cleaning solution has been added, either set your machine to the clean cycle if that is an option or select the hottest water temperature and longest cycle.  Then run the machine.

Step 4 – Wipe down the drum

After you have run an empty cycle with the cleaning solution you will likely notice scum on the drum of the washing machine.  Using a clean wet cloth, wipe down the drum to remove any of the material that was loosened during the cleaning cycle.

How to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine

How to clean a front loading washing machine

Step 1 – Clean the door and gasket

The gasket (rubber seal around the door) is usually where the stench in front loading machines comes from.  Water can get trapped behind the gasket causing mold or mildew issues.  This is why many recommend that you keep the door open when your washing machine is not in use.  This gives better airflow to allow the gasket to dry.  When cleaning your front loading washing machine be sure to clean the rubber gasket well.

If you are using the vinegar method, just spray vinegar around the gasket and wipe clean and dry with a clean cloth.

If there are tight spaces that you are unable to access with a towel try using an old toothbrush to clean the rubber seal.

Step 1 – Clean the inside of the washing machine

First wipe the inside of the washing machine with a clean wet cloth.  This will remove any built up debris and grime on the drum.

Next, either place an Affresh washing machine cleaning tablet into the machine per the package recommendations.  Or if you are using vinegar, fill the liquid detergent dispenser with 1-2 cups of vinegar.

Step 3 – Run the washing machine empty

Once the cleaning solution has been added, either set your machine to the clean cycle if that is an option or select the hottest water temperature and longest cycle.  Then run the machine.

Step 4 – Wipe down the drum

After you have run an empty cycle with the cleaning solution you will likely notice scum on the bottom and sides of the drum.  Using a clean wet cloth, wipe down the drum to remove any of the material that was loosened during the cleaning cycle.

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How to Clean a Washing Machine

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