10 Quick Tips for Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Ryan Merchant

Written By Ryan Merchant

Published 02/07/22
Quick Tips for Cleaning Your Washing Machine

It may sound counterintuitive to clean an appliance that is designed to wash away dirt and grime, but believe it or not, your washing machine needs the occasional scrub to keep it working efficiently.

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Why It’s Necessary to Clean Your Washer

Your washing machine may not be as clean as you think. While most of the oils, dirt, and microparticles from your dirty laundry are flushed down the drain after a rinse cycle, some trace amounts stay behind and accumulate over time. Lint, hair, and dust gather inside your washer too, and these often function as surfaces for bacteria and grime to cling to.

Your home’s water quality is something to consider as well. The high mineral content in hard water causes scaling on your washer’s drum and other internal components. These minerals collect on your freshly washed clothes, and they impair the efficiency of your machine. Some minerals, notably sulfur, can cause a foul odor too.

Finally, there is the issue of mildew and mold. The damp, dark environment inside your washing machine naturally invites mildew. Mold grows easily inside a washing machine too, and normal laundry detergent is not effective in scrubbing it away.

Any of the above issues takes a toll on your washing machine—and on your clothes and skin by extension. Periodically cleaning your appliance will ensure you have clothes that feel, smell, and look cleaner. It will also likely extend the lifetime of your washing machine and reduce the frequency of professional maintenance.

How to Keep Your Washing Machine Fresh and Clean

Maintaining and cleaning washing machine components does not necessarily require a professional’s expertise. With some elbow grease and a few common household products, you can get your washing machine as clean as it was on the day you bought it. Here are ten helpful tips.

1. Facilitate air flow between cycles.

Leaving your washing machine’s door open when it is not in use is one of the simplest things you can do to maintain a clean appliance. An open door leads to greater airflow within the washing machine, which in turn creates a drier environment that inhibits the growth of mold and mildew.

2. Run an empty rinse cycle. 

A thorough rinse can go a long way. A full wash cycle without any detergent or clothing can whisk away a considerable amount of accumulated dirt, oil, soap, and other grime. It’s a good idea to run a cycle at the hottest temperature your washing machine can manage.

3. Rinse all removeable trays and filters.

The placement and number of trays and filters vary across different models of top-loading and front-loading washing machines, but nearly all washers have filters and detergent trays in some form. Trays are easily choked with soap and mineral scaling, and filters are likewise clogged with dust, lint, hair, scum, and grime. Remove all removeable trays and filters, consulting your appliance’s user’s manual as needed, and thoroughly clean them with hot water and an all-purpose cleaner.

4. Maintain a dry drum.

Again: A dry washer is a clean washer. In addition to maintaining an open washer door, consider drying the internal drum of your machine after each use. A clean rag, towel, or microfiber cloth can do the job well.

5. Scrub accessible surfaces and gaskets.

If you notice visible scum or mold inside your washing machine, or if you find your clothes smell like mildew, you should scrub all internal surfaces. Understanding how to clean washing machine drum surfaces and other components of the appliance is relatively simple. Use a clean microfiber cloth or brush and some diluted bleach (or other appropriate cleaner). Use firm, consistent pressure to scrub all around the internal drum, and be sure to clean the rubber gasket, or seal, around the rim of the door. This is an especially common place for mildew and mold to proliferate. 

6. Consider cleaning washing machine with bleach.

Bleach is a very effective cleaner. Add one or two cups to your washer and start the longest possible cycle. If you can, pause the cycle for 30 minutes for a deeper clean. Bleach is strong, and the lingering smell may affect your clothes on your next cycle, so consider running another empty cycle (without bleach) before doing a load of laundry.

7. Try cleaning washer with vinegar and baking soda.

If bleach is too strong for you, consider an alternative. You can make a homemade washing machine cleaner in several ways, but one of the most common is a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda. Add two cups of vinegar to the detergent dispenser and a half cup of baking soda to the softener dispenser. Run a long, hot cycle just as you would if you had used bleach.

8. Treat your water.

If you have hard water, you can mitigate the effects of mineral scaling by treating your water to make it softer. Water softening systems can be pricey, but they eventually pay for themselves by extending the lifespans of your laundry and kitchen appliances.

9. Use less detergent.

Most homeowners use more detergent than they need. You only need about a tablespoon of detergent. Adding more will not make your clothes any cleaner—just the opposite, in fact. Too much detergent will leave a film of soap on your clothes and machine.

10. Inspect your washing machine regularly.

Keep a close eye on your washer. Look out for unusual odors and sounds. If you notice new problems, such as your washer leaking from the bottom, act quickly. These symptoms could signal that your washer is long overdue for cleaning and maintenance.

Beyond Cleaning

Some appliance problems can’t be resolved with a little bleach. You can protect your washer and other home appliances and systems against mechanical breakdowns by investing in a home warranty. Consider a Liberty Home Guard plan for unparalleled coverage and service. Use our website for a free quote or call (866)-424-0560.


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