How to Clean Your Washing Machine

Rose Morrison

Nov 13, 2020

how to clean your washing machine

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You may be thinking, “Why do I need to clean an appliance that cleans things?”. Well, even washing machines need some extra attention sometimes, just like your oven or dishwasher. Substances can build up, and you may require a little extra help removing them.

Luckily, you can learn how to clean your washing machine in a few simple steps. Here is a quick guide on how to start. Once you feel confident, you can make it part of your routine.

1. Use White Vinegar

White vinegar is a fantastic cleaning agent, adept at neutralizing odors and killing bacteria. To clean your washer, use 2 cups of white vinegar instead of laundry detergent. Run an empty load on the hottest and largest setting. The vinegar will help break down any dirt particles or hard water recirculating in your washer and deodorize.

While some suggest bleach for cleaning your washing machine, it’s full of chemicals that can be dangerous. White vinegar is just as effective and much safer for you and your home. 

2. Run an Empty Cycle

After running a hot cycle with white vinegar, rerun the washing machine on empty, without adding any detergent or cleaners. This will help clear out any remaining particles and neutralize any odors.

There’s no limit on how many empty cycles you can run, so do a couple if you think it’s necessary.

cleaning your washing machine with baking soda

3. Add Baking Soda

If you still worry about the state of your washer after two cleaning cycles, consider doing one-third of a load on empty but adding baking soda.

Baking soda is one of the best soap-scum fighting agents out there. Utilizing it after using white vinegar can be especially helpful if you have particularly stinky contents, such as heavily soiled clothes or cloth diapers.

4. Clean the Rubber Seal

If you have a front-loading washing machine, you may find that the round rubber seal is a great host for mildewy, musty smells. Cleaning the rubber seal with a bit of warm water and vinegar is an essential step when caring for your washer.

Be sure to let it dry fully to prevent any future mold growth. If you use your washer regularly, you will probably want to clean the rubber seal at least once a month, or as needed.

If you have a top-loading machine, you remove any trays or containers and use a combination of warm water and white vinegar to wipe everything down. 

a woman on the floor doing laundry

5. Remove Clean Clothes Immediately

The key to preventing stinky odors and particle buildup in your washing machine is to empty it promptly. Leaving clean clothes in the washer or keeping the lid closed between cycles allows mold and mildew growth, giving your clothes an unpleasant odor and making it difficult for the washing machine to clean items properly.

Just be sure to exercise caution when leaving a washing machine door open if you have kids or pets.

How to Clean Your Washing Machine Properly

The truth is, you probably aren’t cleaning your washer as often as you should be. That’s OK – most people don’t!

However, now that you know the secret to how simple it can be, try cleaning your washing machine at least once a month or after particularly dirty loads. This will help it run more efficiently and keep your clothes smelling fresh, extending the life of the appliance in the process.

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