How to Clean your Washing Machine


Hi there Somewhat Simple readers!  I am so excited to be here with you today.  I am Anna of Ask Anna, I’m a new contributor to Somewhat Simple, and I’m excited to start sharing cleaning and organizing tips with you ever month.  Today, I’m going to share one of my most popular posts, and one of Stephanie’s favorites: How to Clean your Washing Machine.  So here we go…


When I first wrote this post back in February my washing machine was in desperate need of a good cleaning, just look at that picture ^^^ (ewww!)


Fill the washing machine up and pour in 2 cups of white vinegar.

Let it set for 1 hour, then start the washing machine over again and let it run through a complete cycle.

When the machine drains if it still has grime on it, use a sponge and some straight white vinegar and scrub it down really well.


(Look at how much better that is!)

Fill washing machine up again and pour in 2 cups of bleach.  Let it soak for 1 hour.


Meanwhile, use Q-Tips to detail all the nooks and crannies.  My washer hadn’t been cleaned since my dad bought it 15+ years ago so it needed a good detailing!  Don’t forget to clean the knobs and the lid too.

Restart the washing machine and let it run through a complete cycle.

Once the cycle has finished you are done; your washing machine will be clean and shiny!


If you have a front-loading machine, don’t worry, you can use these same steps to clean your washing machine but with a few modifications:

  • Instead of putting the vinegar and bleach (at separate times!) directly in the tub and then letting them soak for an hour, you will put each ingredient {at the appropriate step} in the detergent dispenser and run the machine through a complete cycle.


I think the pictures speak for themselves, isn’t the transformation amazing!?  I definitely won’t be waiting another 15+ years to do this again.  I recommend cleaning your washing machine at least once a year, it’s a great task to add to your Spring Cleaning list!

*This post needs some clarification as there are TONS of comments about the dangers of mixing vinegar and bleach. Yes, mixing the two of these causes toxic fumes, but read this tutorial again and see that you are not mixing these two liquids together. Vinegar is used in one step and a washing cycle is run and then beach is used in the next step. No lungs will be harmed in this process! :)

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  1. Mari says

    Is there a tip u can give me oh how to clean the dryer. I accidently left a pen or marker in one of my pockets and started my dryer, now there black marks all around the dryer inside :( how can i get rid of them? Thanks

    • Carol O. says

      You can clean out the black marks with alcohol if it is from a Sharpie. If it is not from a sharpie, you SHOULD be able to clean the drum with vinegar and water.

    • Karen G says

      Sometimes the white eraser sponges work well on those types of stains. My son exploded a pen in the dryer and now you would never know it.

  2. Coach Val Rocks says

    Love this idea and thanks. I will try it later on in towards the winter time as we are having a massive drought right now here in So. Cal. I sure would hope that people are waiting to try this as we are quickly running out of water!! This is a serious situation right now!

  3. Linda says

    to get it really clean, you need to take it apart. you would not believe what is behind the tub. it is really nasty.

    • says

      i actually just went in search of this same thing myself not too long ago. i kept noticing water would stay in the softener dispenser after the cycle had run. turns out is way easier than you think it is. if your he front-loader is like mine (mine’s an lg) there is a little indentation/button between the liquid bleach & softener dispenser areas that, when you push down on it, will let you pull the whole dispenser drawer out. then you can take the whole thing apart and give it a good cleaning in the kitchen sink with some dish soap. then just dry it and put it back. mine took me less than 10 minutes, start to finish – and it was *nasty* up in there!

  4. betty jo van says

    Ran a load of 2 tan slacks and 6 dress shirts with varied prints with my husband’s ballpoint pen in a pocket. Cleaned the washer and dryer. What do I do with the clothes? Is there any hope?

    • momof5 says

      I don’t know how it works after being dried in the drier, but I used to spray the ink from ballpoint pens with hairspray and then throw in the washer. The ink always came right out.

    • Tanya says

      Rubbing alcohol will take the ink out of clothing. (And carpet as I had to do in my son’s room the other day….)

    • April says

      Do not use goof off it will eat plastic and can cause harm ( read label before using). Therefore if there is any elastic in your clothes it will dry rot. Rubbing alcohol or goo gone will work. I use goo gone. Goof off is more abrasive than goo gone. test a small spot first.

  5. Greg says

    I do that every month; pulling the dispensor tray out. I also clean where the dispensor tray goes back in. You will get buildup there too. Finally, below these dispensors is a little door. This should be opened. There is a filter that pulls out that should be cleaned. Also a hose where you take the tip off of and drain the water. This can really smell if not done monthly.

  6. Terri says

    I keep getting what appears to be rust marks on my light colored clothes from the washing machine. Has anyone experienced this and how did you fix it?

    • Jodi says

      You may have places in your machine where the enamel is chipped and it is rusting. Take a good strong light and examine the inside of the drum for any chips. You can buy bottles of enamel repair in the appliances section – it goes on just like fingernail polish.

  7. Missy says

    When I cleaned my washing machine the biggest hassle was the fingerprint stains in the soft plastic or rubber around the knobs. All the scrubbing and every cleaner in my kitchen couldn’t get it off. Until a magic eraser took it off in seconds. I always keep those around now

  8. Tracy Beckett Townley says

    Another thing that wasn’t said, is, there is a space between the drum and washer itself. That needs cleaning as well. I do it every time I do laundry. I went to clean my girlfriend’s washer and almost threw up. Mold and slim lives there if left. Hence, why I do it every time. Now it’s just dust.

  9. Kristina says

    I would suggest doing the fine cleaning of the lid and such when you are letting the vinegar soak for the hour, as opposed to while the bleach is sitting. Breathing in bleach fumes is terrible for your health. If you have a bleach alternative, use that instead. Peroxide would do nicely. If you still need a stronger bleach alternative that truly works, I’ll show you one you might like, plus many other safer for you products. I do education videos for a major manufacturer and can show you the line and how to shop factory direct and save a fortune while bettering your health.

  10. Roberta says

    Bleach is a very toxic chemical, deadly to fish and wildlife. It should be avoided! Using the vinegar is a non-toxic alternative and safe for us and our environment!

  11. Michelle says

    What do you do with the newer top loading machines that have a lot of stuff automatic now? We had to replace our machine recently and this new kenmore one only fills with water with the lid shut. I tried putting it to fill and then pausing it but after a few minutes it auto-drains. I also tried using an empty 5-gallon jug to fill it with the lid open but before I reached the soap scum line it auto drained again DX

    • April says

      As for cleaning the tub. I suggest use the dispense to fill vinegar or bleach( which ever you chose) then choose a soak cycle. Maybe refer to your manual to see if it offers a clean washer cycle. There are washing machine cleaners that do wonders. The enzymes will clean as well as the suds help remove lint and dirt.

  12. Lori Nruno says

    I have ran bleach through my washer twice and in the despencers also and it still smells like mildew and it gives me a bad headache. Do I need to replace my machine? What do I do?

    • April says

      No don’t replace it. Unless u clean the machine on a regular basis it will just happen with your new machine also. I would run vinegar through it or washing machine cleaners (Affresh) will help or there is a cleaner sold at Bed Bath & Beyond or The Container Store ( brand name Freshwave). I use fresh wave in my bleach dispenser when I wash pet bedding because it washes with soap first then bleach is dispensed during last minutes of wash. It leaves them refreshed and minty smelling.

  13. Lynn says

    I put half a cup of vinegar in every final cycle of my washing, it softens the clothes, rinses the last vestiges of soap from them and cleans the machine at the same time.

  14. KingLife614 says

    …I was thinking about this!…wasn’t sure if the clothes would smell…I hate the smell if vinegar but it does it’s job!

  15. April says

    Not at all the vinegar is diluted. My grandmother used vinegar on my grandpa’s work socks. She used to tell me that his steel toed boots would make his socks stink & vinegar was the only thing that took out that smell. Boy was she right!!!