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How to Clean a Washing Machine

How to Clean a Washing Machine

You cannot downplay the critical role that washing machines play in homes. Unfortunately, however, they get dirty over time, mainly due to soap scum build-up, which leaves you with a washer that needs a serious refresh.

Learning how to clean a smelly washing machine is necessary if you want to keep grime and mold at bay. Read on to learn how to clean both top loading and side loading washing machines to ensure that they stay clean and fresh.

Do Washing Machines Need to Be Cleaned?

Although your washing machine has made cleaning your dirty clothes simpler, it also needs occasional cleaning to ensure that it does a good job. Cleaning not only eliminates odor but also removes excess soil, laundry detergent, and fabric softener that may stick to the machine’s inner parts, dispenser, and washtub. If these elements are not removed from the washing machine, they can leave stains and marks on your clothes.

Additionally, if you don’t deep clean a washing machine regularly, mildew and mold deposits can form in the rubber door gasket of your front door loading machine if water puddles there.

How to Clean a Front-Loading Washing Machine Using Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and baking soda are simple household items that can make a huge difference in cleaning your washing machine. Here is how you can use them to clean your washer.

What You Need

  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth


  • Fill the spray bottle with white vinegar and spritz the inside of the washer’s drum.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe all around the drum. Be careful not to leave any surface untouched. White vinegar is excellent at cleaning a washing machine drum because it effortlessly cuts through hard water stains, grease, and residue.
  • Proceed to wipe the seals around the door known as rubber gaskets. They need a lot of attention because hair, scum, and mildew are most likely to hide around here. So ensure that you wipe them away.
  • Clean the detergent dispenser by measuring two cups of distilled white vinegar, then pour it into the washer’s detergent dispenser. Set the washing machine to run on its most extended possible cycle with the hottest water.
  • Sprinkle at least half a cup of baking soda into your washer’s drum and run it on the highest and hottest settings.
  • Wipe down the washer’s door and front. Spritz vinegar onto a microfiber cloth, then use it to clean the outside and inside of the door until it shines. Next, run the fabric along the machine’s entire front, ensuring that you wipe the control panel and knobs.
  • Leave the door open to allow the washing machine to air dry. You can also opt to wipe it using a dry microfiber cloth. Drying the washer helps keep mildew and mold at bay.

Check this too: Samsung Dryer Troubleshooting & How to Guide

Cleaning a Top-Loading Washing Machine With Vinegar And Baking Soda

The best way to clean a washing machine is using baking soda and vinegar. Here is how to do it:

What You Need

  • Baking soda
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Toothbrush


  • Add four cups of distilled white vinegar to the washer and turn it on. Set your machine to ensure that it’s running on the hottest and highest setting. However, once the machine is filled up and barely started, pause it to let the vinegar and water sit for at least an hour.
  • As you wait, you can proceed to clean the washer’s other surfaces. Put some distilled vinegar on a microfiber cloth and use it to wipe the bottom and top of the lid, front, and sides of the washer. Ensure that you wipe all surfaces.
  • The washer’s fabric softener and detergent dispensers require a lot of attention. You can use a toothbrush to scrub their openings to ensure that they’re clean and fresh.
  • Once the first cycle is complete, pour in one cup of baking soda and turn the machine on. Ensure that it’s still running on the highest and hottest settings.
  • Leave the washer’s lid open to allow it to air dry. Alternatively, you can opt to wipe it out using a dry microfiber cloth.

How to Freshen Up a Smelly Washing Machine

Having a front-load washing machine is an excellent way of saving water and energy. Additionally, it also treats your clothes more gently and helps you get a superior clean. If one day a terrible smell hits you when you open the front-loaders door, then it might indicate the presence of mildew.

Mildew grows when you fail to clean your washing machine. You may not clean your washing machine when you assume that it cleans itself because of all the water and detergent that runs through it daily. It would help if you washed your front-load washing machine regularly to prevent odors.

The design of the front-load washer also increases the likelihood of it smelling because of the development of mold, mildew, and soap scum build-up. Such washers require high-efficiency (HE) detergents to work together with the design. However, when softeners and non-HE soap are used, there is insufficient water to flush the cleaners away, which might cause the washer drum to become coated with a layer of dirt and soap scum from your clothes. When this combines with the damp heat of your washing machine, it forms a perfect breeding ground for mildew and mold.

Top-load washers can also smell; however, the smells often come from standing water or leftover soap. A spin cycle and a rinse can clear the smell out.

Here is how you can clean a smelly washing machine:

What You Need

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda


  • Mix ¼ cup of water with ¼ cup of baking soda. Pour the solution into your washing machine’s detergent dispenser.
  • Pour two cups of white distilled vinegar into the washing machine, where you load dirty clothes.
  • Run the hottest and highest cycle without clothes.
  • When the cycle is complete, scrub any remaining grime using a vinegar and water solution.

Once you have the smell under control, it is best to establish a sustainable cleaning routine that will help prevent the return of the scent. In addition, having a regular cleaning routine will ensure that your clothes and washer remain fresh and clean.

These tips can also help you to prevent the smell:

  • Remove the detergent dispenser regularly and wash out any detergent residue using soap and water.
  • Allow the inside of the washer to air dry by leaving its door open whenever it’s not in use.
  • Occasionally wipe down the outside using a multi-purpose cleaner and a rag to prevent dust and dirt from entering the washer.
  • Remember to wipe down the inside of the washing machine after every load. Additionally, remove any mildew and mold causing moisture from the crannies, nooks, and hard-to-reach surfaces. Finally, pay special attention to the rubber seal around the door.

Signs That It’s Time to Clean Your Washing Machine

Sometimes you may be unsure of when you should clean your washing machine. Here are some telltale signs that it’s time to clean your washer:

You Find Dirt on Your Freshly Washed Laundry

It might not be real dirt, but substances that resemble dirt make it seem as if soil entered your washing machine as you were doing your laundry. They are often brown, blotchy stains brought about by the mixture of fabric softener and detergent.

You may also note some brown flakes, which don’t stain; however, they are still a significant nuisance. These flakes occur when minerals in water mix with detergent, creating a layer of insoluble oil film, which manifests as the flakes.

If Your Clothes Make You Itchy or Develop Rashes

While developing rashes or an itch might indicate that you have sensitive skin or you’re using inappropriate fabric softener or detergent, it could also mean that mold or mildew are beginning to get to your washer. If you change your detergent or fabric softener but still experience the rash or itch, then it might be time to deep-clean your washer, especially the drum.

You Find Lint on Your Freshly Washed Clothes

It’s perfectly normal to find lint in your pockets; however, seeing it on freshly washed laundry is a cause for alarm. Lint on newly washed laundry is a sign that your filter or washer may be clogged up and requires urgent cleaning.

If you want to clear the lint, you’ll have to wash away the accumulated debris, which doesn’t take long.

You Notice a Funky Smell From Your Washer

If an unpleasant smell hits you when you open your washer’s door, you might have a mildew problem. This problem often affects front-loading washing machines because they use gaskets to seal water during washes.

Mildew thrives under the gaskets, causing several problems, including transferring unpleasant odor onto your clothes.

Check this too: Amana Washer Troubleshooting

Cleaning your washing machine is a preventative measure that can help you put a lot of problems at bay. If you want to slow down bacteria growth, you should let the inside of the machine dry out occasionally. Additionally, wipe your washer’s seals often, and clear the filters and drain around the seal.

It would help if you also considered doing your laundry more often because bacteria rarely grows in a washing machine used every day or every other day; therefore, unpleasant odors reduce significantly.