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 this picture, ewww!

Step 1: Fill the washing machine up and pour in 2 cups of white vinegar. Let it set for 1 hour.

Step 2: 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 scrub it down really well.  Add straight white vinegar to the sponge for the best results.

Look at how much better that is!

Step 3: Fill washing machine up again and pour in 2 cups of bleach.  Let it soak for 1 hour.

While it is soaking 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.

Step 4: 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 {steps 1 & 3}, 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! :)

About Todays Post

This post was written by a guest on Somewhat Simple. If you have any questions regarding the content of this post, please contact the author directly.

Comments

  1. I have alot of red dirt around our area. We have a well, so the red color from the clay comes through our pipes in the water. The showers, totlets, washer, and sinks. So far to clean up I use LimeAway Shower, it’s the only thing that I have found to really clean. Any suggestions, I hate not having White Clothes, they have a brownish tint to them. Thank you

    98
    • MCorcos says:

      Have you tried borax? I buy it at walmart or whole foods.

      99
    • Hi… I don’t known if this will work for you, but I did a comparison cleaning day and divided my white laundry into four loads and used four different methods. They all came out clean, but one batch stood out in how much brighter white it was than the rest… I used a half a cup of oxyclean and a cup of vinegar in addition to my usual laundry soap.

      Good luck!

      100
      • Hi… I don’t known if this will work for you, but I did a comparison cleaning day and divided my white laundry into four loads and used four different methods. They all came out clean, but one batch stood out in how much brighter white it was than the rest… I used a half a cup of oxyclean and a cup of vinegar in addition to my usual laundry soap. (Make that pure white vinegar.)

        Good luck!

        101
    • Tang gets spaghetti sauce out of dishwashers, might work for a washing machine too.

      102
    • I use a product called bar keepers friend it is a substance like comet cleaner but follow directions and it will whiten all whites and colors too. I also see no need in using vinegar if you use bleach in the washer to clean. Bleach will do it all.

      103
    • I have the same problem. I went to Lowes and bought a whole house water filter for about $100 bucks. I had a plumber install it and I change the filter about once every 1 to 2 months. Clay in water problem solved!

      104
    • Al Contarino, NY says:

      I have the best trick for that! Purchase a ‘whole house’ water filter. If you or your spouse have any knowledge with plumbing, it’s very easy to set it up yourself. I even purchased a stainless steel filter for the hot water. Even though all the water is filtered first by the Whole House filter, the water that is directed to the hot water system will collect rust and what-not from the hater. So, with this filter attached after the the water is heated to the hot water line you will be amazed at the cleanliness of your water. Do this and then fill your tub or Jacuzzi. The water will look beautiful with a shade of light blue. That’s the true color of water!
      The next thing you may want to do is get a Reverse Osmosis Filter for your drinking water and coffee pot and for cooking soups or vegetables. Now, we are talking about a Healthy Family with clean clothes!

      105
  2. Hi, I love your website and it has some great tips on here! I just wanted to add a link on here because I am concerned about the bleach and vinegar being used so close together. http://chemistry.about.com/b/2012/02/01/why-people-mix-bleach-and-vinegar.htm
    Please don’t use bleach and vinegar together! It is very toxic.

    106
    • Instead of bleach, try using two cups of hydrogen peroxide or powdered oxygen bleach. Much safer for the environment and you! Plus it can be used with vinegar without the toxic side effects. I do this about once every four months and it works great.

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  3. Will bleach do the work? instead of using vinigar…

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  4. When you fill up the machine, should you use cold or hot water? Thanks!!

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    • Lisa White says:

      On other sites they have said to use HOT water. I am about to do this and am using hot water and my HEAVY DUTY cycle.

      110
  5. ddavidfraser says:

    simple… pour One bottle of Toilet Bowl cleaner into machine , fill with water, run WASH cycle for 5 minutes, then switch OFF for One to Two hours to soak, then restart WASH cycle and run till completion…..Your done, and Your machine is CLEAN :)

    111
    • Lisa White says:

      This sounds like a great and easy idea, but I looked it up to see if I could find any other info, good or bad, on this and I couldn’t find a thing. I would love to try it, but I just worry about if there is anything in there that would damage anything (pipes, machine, hoses, etc.) Would be great if I could get this done in one step rather than taking hours like this program does. Can you give anymore info on it? How many times have you done it? No problems with machine/ hoses since you have? How did you come about this solution? Would love to know more. Thank you.

      112
    • Manasi Ayachit says:

      Is this safe for steel tub machines?

      113
  6. I also learned to take the lint filter from the dryer, using a toothbrush or scrub brush with a tad of detergent to scrub off the film that lint filters, bounce, etc. leave on it. Takes less time per drying cycle now!

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  7. What if you have a front loader washer?

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  8. Thanks for the post, unfortunately the people that have a front loading washing machine need to use other methods to clean effectively. found that the below mold removal methods have worked for my front loader, I hope it helps all of you too.

    Fill a dishpan with one liter of hot water, 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar. Remove any parts that are meant to come off like the detergent drawer or fabric softener dispenser. Soak them in the dishpan for 10 minutes before scrubbing them and rinsing them under a stream of cold water.

    Mix another batch of cleanser in the dishpan with one liter of hot water, 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar. Dip a scrub brush in the solution and use it to scrub the area in around the fabric softener and detergent dispensers. Scrub the entire interior of the washing machine and door.

    Fill a spray bottle with the cleansing solution and use it to spray hard to reach areas of the washing machine. Let the cleanser sit on the washing machine before rinsing it off with a second spray bottle of clean water.

    Put undiluted bleach in a empty spray bottle and use that to spray any areas that still aren’t mold free, or clean. Allow the bleach to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing it and rinsing it away with water.

    Put the detergent drawer and fabric softener dispenser back together. Pour two cups of bleach into the basin of the washing machine. Set your washer to the highest heat setting and longest wash cycle. Allow it to run through to complete the cleaning process

    116
    • I take out the detergent tray after every wash session and let it dry completely. I use q-tips to make sure the inside where the tray inserts is clean. I suppose you could use vinegar on the qtip. All of the detergent trays I have seen come apart which makes it easier to clean.

      I also insert a wash cloth at the bottom of the rubber seal to absorb the excess water (I inherited this machine in our new house and miss my Duet!). I never close the door to the machine. Don’t spend a lot on the front loader cleaners! They are basically bleach and you can run bleach through a cycle without clothes. Using the washcloth has made running bleach through a rare need. Keep the door glass/plastic clean.

      I use baking soda (non-edible huge size at Costco) in every load and it helps with odor and brightness. I never use dryer sheets! The blue dryer balls really do work! If I feel the load needs a real softener, I use a little liquid softener in the wash. A little goes a long way. I used to be a dryer sheet addict. Glad I broke that habit!

      Thanks for all of the great advice!

      117
  9. This did absolutely nothing for my machine. Still looks like your before pics.

    118
    • I am having this same problem, after the soak it still looked like the before so i tried the next step of scrubbing with a sponge and Iv destroyed my sponge trying to scrub it off, I am using straight white vinegar.

      119
  10. Sharon Hemminger says:

    Great ideas ! We have a septic tank so can’t use bleach as it destroys the good bacteria – I use vinegar and elbow grease. Also service tech showed me how to clean the lint screen using an sos pad to remove crusties from fabric softeners (which I don’t use anymore –there are Natura clothes that you leave in the dryer and they don’t have heavy fragrances and are reusable) be sure to support the lint cleaner if it is curved like mine. Hope this helps !

    120
  11. Today, I went to the beach with my children. I found a sea shell and gave
    it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear
    and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off topic but
    I had to tell someone!

    121
    • If you take two tablespoons of white vinegar mix it in a cup of hot water, then pour it into the seashell and let it soak for five minutes, then rinse the vinegar hot water solution off with bleach, that should eliminate your hermit crab problem.

      122
    • LOL!!! We are currently on vacation at a beach and this totally made my day. Thanks! (Give your daughter a hug for me) :)

      123
    • bobbaft@yahoo.com says:

      True story? Tell it again, please!

      124
  12. This method also works for the dishwasher. I put 1 cup of vinegar in my Pyrex measuring cup and run a cycle then run another cycle with 1 cup bleach.

    125
  13. Hi, living in a foreign country where i don’t understand the language is hard – i bought bathroom cleaner thinking it was bleach. I realised when I poured this into my washing machine to clean it. Will this wreck the machine?

    126
  14. Hi i am wondering if you know how to clean front load washer?

    129
  15. great and easy ideas. Very simple to follow. Thanks for sharing it.

    130
  16. Manasi Ayachit says:

    my machine tub is steel tub. do u advise the same method for steel tubs? i hope it won’t harm my machine?

    131
  17. GREAT IDEA ,ONLY I’m ALLERGIC BLEACH.
    SO MUCH FOR THAT IDEA ,GOOD THOUGH.

    132
  18. You need to see this cool reusable lint cleaner! Just take 10 seconds now to see it live at http://www.SecretKidCleanup.com

    133
  19. Annette Myers says:

    Use Shout to remove build-up on the washer’s agitator.

    134
  20. Annette Myers says:

    Use Shout to clean the build-up on the washer’s agitator.

    135
  21. The blog a perfect guide for me as i recently bought a front loading fully automatic washing machine, but i still have a doubt that if i use vinegar and bleach together will it have a negative effect of my machine and should i wash the complete machine once again even after i have cleaned it for the first time after the vinegar and bleach part, s i just want that no bleach should be left otherwise it might affect my cloths, what do you think???

    136
  22. Thanks such a very nice tips sharing of cleaning and organizing of washing machine.Its very informative and simple.

    137
  23. One important addition to this- after you fill your washer each time ADD MORE WATER for the soak time. I add another gallon from the tap. The outer tub gets splashed above the water line and needs to be soaked as well.

    138
  24. Karol Mobley says:

    I use about a 1/4 cup of white vinegar each time I do a load of wash. Simply put it in the softener dispenser AFTER you put in your liquid softener. Don’t use liquid softener? That’s okay, just put in the vinegar. Really keeps your machine clean and all the parts running smoothly. I do wipe down the inside, lid and all, regularly. Works great!! My mom got this tip from a washer repairman a long time ago.

    139
  25. Auntienet says:

    What will dissolve liquid fabric softener buildup? My machine has the fabric softener receptacle in the center of the agitator. One time I was taking out a blanket and the top came off and I discovered there was a thick waxy build up inside the agitator from the Fabric Softener… it’s really disgusting and I didn’t realize that the Fabric Softener was doing this… for years! The only way I have found to clean it out is to remove the top and run a cloth down the sides and scrape it out… Now I do this every few months so the build up doesn’t get too thick…
    Any suggestions on alternatives?

    140
  26. Beth S. says:

    Any suggestions for front loaders?

    141
  27. Rachael Lattimer says:

    Will this eliminate the odors as well!! Mine smells it’s a whirlpool top loader. And I can’t seem to find a lint tray. Don’t all washers have a lint tray?

    142

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