How to Clean a Washing Machine


Cleaning things that are designed to clean our stuff is an odd concept. Why does a dishwasher need washing when all it does is spray hot water and detergents around? It does though, and the same is true for washing machines. A washing machine washes itself when it runs a cycle but every once in a while it needs a thorough clean to make sure it runs properly. Washing machines filter out a lot of junk from our clothes that we don’t think about including fluff and hair. That stuff gets caught in the machine’s filter so you’ll need to clean that out as part of a thorough clean.

Benefits of Cleaning Your Washing Machine

On average washing machines last 14 years. When you consider that the average washing machine runs seven cycles per week, that’s 364 cycles per year and a total run of over 5,000 washes in its lifetime, that’s a long life and you’ll only get those numbers if you regularly maintain your machine. The most basic maintenance you can do is to clean it but if you keep the machine on a level surface and don’t overload the drum, it will run better and last longer.

How to Wash a Top-Loader

Front-loaders use less water and are more energy efficient but they’re more expensive to buy so top-loaders remain a popular choice. You’ll need white vinegar, baking soda, and an old toothbrush before you run the washing machine in its hottest and longest setting to start the cleaning process. Open the lid and wait for the washing machine to fill with water. When it does add a quart of the white vinegar and then close the lid. Now open the lid and put a cup of baking soda into the machine. Let that mix around for a minute and then interrupt the cycle. Leave the lid open for an hour which will give the water, baking soda and vinegar time to mix. In the meantime, remove any parts you can and soak them in the sink. Anything you can’t remove should be scrubbed with the toothbrush. When the hour is up, replace everything, close the lid and continue the cycle.

How to Wash a Front-Loader

You’ll also need vinegar and baking soda for this job but the way they’re used is a little different. Take a bowl and mix water with the baking soda then add that solution to the washing machine’s detergent drawer. Pour two cups of vinegar into the drum and run on the hottest and longest setting. The washing cycle will do the hard work for you so all you’ll need to do is to remove stubborn mold with a brush before cleaning any residue with cold water.

Other Maintenance Tips

You should always use the minimum amount of detergent as using too much will create a film on the drum and hoses that leads to mold. You should also use the minimum amount of fabric softener for the same reasons. Don’t let a load finish and sit in the drum for hours as this creates a breeding ground for mildew, and when you’ve finished emptying the drum leave the door open so that air can circulate inside the machine which will also prevent the buildup of mold.

How Often Should You Clean?

The recommendation from washing machine makers is to wash the machine once a month. This will help maintain the machine and it will also make sure your clothes come out smelling fresh. If you’ve taken the time to clean your washing machine, why not do the same with the clothes dryer? To do this, you’ll need to turn off the machine, remove the lint filter and clean with a vacuum cleaner, which you’ll also need to remove fluff, dust, and hair from the drum.