How to Clean Your Washing Machine

Is your washing machine in need of a cleaning? Do you smell odors in your clothes after washing them or do you detect a foul smell when opening the door to your washing machine?

Washing Machine Cleaning Tips

Washing machines work hard to get your clothes clean, but over time your washer can build up with the soap scum left behind by detergents. Even worse, your dirty laundry contributes to the build up of dirt, body oils and hair trapped inside your washing machine’s gaskets, seals, filters and soap dispensers. This can lead to the growth of mold and/or bacteria inside your machine, which end up making your clothes and washer emit musty or foul odors.

To get your washer looking and smelling great again, just follow these simple steps.

  1. For safety, always unplug your washing machine before starting to clean your machine. We also recommend consulting your washing machine owners manual for specific cleaning recommendations.
  2. First, clean your soap, fabric softener, pre-wash and bleach dispensers. Often times you will find small amounts of water left behind in these dispensers, allowing mold and mildew to grow within them. Great tools to use include a toothbrush to scrub inside and around each dispenser and a soft brush or pipe cleaner to dislodge mold or mildew in the pipes.
  3. Next, locate and clean your machines filter to remove grime, build up and stale, standing water. The filter is usually found in the lower part of the machine and can be found in your owner’s manual. If you do not have the user’s manual for your machine, you can usually find them quite easily by going to the manufacturer’s website and searching for a pdf version of the manual by model and/or serial number. Start by removing any debris and then cleaning with a mild cleaning solution and rinse well before putting back into the washing machine. You can use a rag to soak up any stale water that is sitting in the filter housing.
  4. Next, be sure to clean your door gasket with a gentle cleaner, as you do not want to damage the gasket material. Most can be cleaned with a solution of warm water, vinegar and baking soda, but if you are in doubt, consult your owner’s manual. Be sure to remove any mold or mildew that has built up inside the rim of the door gasket. This may require wiping it with the vinegar and baking soda mixture and then letting it sit for a few minutes to allow it to wipe off more easily.
  5. You can clean the exterior of your washing machine with any mild cleaner and a cloth or non-scratch sponge. Glass doors can be cleaned with your favorite glass cleaner.
  6. Now you are ready to focus on sanitizing the inside of the machine. You can do this by adding 2 cups of bleach to a front load machine or 4 cups to a top load machine. Never mix any other cleaners with bleach, as this could be toxic. You should then run the machine on it’s hottest cycle with a 30 minute soak mid-way through. Once the cycle is complete, we recommend running a separate rinse only cycle to ensure all of the bleach has been removed.
  7. Next we also recommend following up with a second cleaning cycle using white cleaning vinegar to further remove hard water build up from your machine. You would run this cycle in the same manner as above by adding 2 cups to a front load machine and 4 cups to a top load machine. Then add 1/2 cup of warm water mixed with 2 Tablespoons of baking soda to your machine’s detergent dispenser. Now, run your machine on the hottest temperature with a 30 minute soak and then run one additional rinse cycle after the cleaning cycle has ended.
  8. If you are looking for a less toxic solution to sanitize your washing machine, you could substitute white vinegar for the bleach cycle and follow the same procedure above, repeating two full cycles. If using the vinegar only cleaning solution, we recommend adding 1/2 cup of warm water mixed with 2 Tablespoons of baking soda to the detergent dispenser during the first cleaning cycle. There are also a number of commercial washing machine cleaning products available for purchase in stores and on Amazon, which are designed to clean the inside of your washing machine and remove odors.
  9. Once you have completed the cleaning of your washing machine, you can extend the time between cleanings by leaving the door open, helping it dry out between washings.
  10. We hope you have found this helpful and thank you as always, for your support of The Cleaning People RI! Questions can be directed to

Leave a comment