Knowing how to clean a washing machine is one of those cleaning hacks you may not consider until a sour smell is coming from the laundry room. A washing machine can be a breeding ground of germs, even when its job is to do the opposite. Think about it: Your washing machine works hard to keep your household in order. Everyday items—from sweaty workout clothes to bed sheets to seemingly endless towels—can lead to a less than clean washing machine if you don’t maintain it.
“People still don’t know that washing machines need to be cleaned regularly,” says Alessandro Gazzo, content manager at Emily’s Maids, a house cleaning and maid service in Dallas. “They associate ‘machine for cleaning’ with ‘auto-cleaning,’ and that is not the case.” It’s important to clean a washing machine regularly because they can become a breeding ground for bacterial growth. “Anything from soap scum, detergent, fabric softener, and fiber residues, plus hard water can clog the drain,” he adds. What’s more, if you don’t know how to clean a washing machine, mildew can build up over time, which is not only gross, but can also cause the wash tub to smell. Gazzo recommends cleaning your washing machine regularly and deep cleaning it every three to four months.
AD shares top cleaning secrets for how to deep clean both front-load washers and top-loading washers using a DIY cleaning solution of white vinegar and baking soda. The best part: Wiping away dirty residue won’t take you longer than 30 minutes. Add these cleaning methods to your to-do list once every four months, and your washing machine will stay at the top of its game cycle after cycle. Plus, if you know how to clean out a dryer vent, then laundry day might even be something you look forward to.
Is bleach or vinegar better to clean a washing machine?
Chlorine bleach and white vinegar are common cleaning ingredients proven to deal with mold, mildew, and everyday gunk. White vinegar is highly acidic, so it’s an excellent way to kill unwanted slimy accumulation that tends to grow in a wet environment. Bleach, on the other hand, is an oxidative agent (that’s why it gets your towels bright and white). When it comes to cleaning a washing machine, your cleaning solution depends on the issue at hand. “If you have mold or mildew, both vinegar and bleach are effective, but bleach is more effective,” Gazzo says. “For removing odors, I would say vinegar.”
Some people, however, prefer white vinegar because it’s not as harsh as bleach. Unless, of course, your washing machine has been completely neglected, and is now a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, and you want a power cleaner. In that case, you can set the washing machine to a normal wash cycle with hot water and add a quarter of a cup of bleach. If you do go with bleach, check your washing machine manual to make sure it is compatible.
What is the best way to clean inside a washing machine?
To get started, you’ll need a few common household items: a spray bottle, distilled white vinegar, baking soda, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and an old toothbrush. Even though you’ll have the same cleaning supply list for a front-loading and a top-loading washing machine, the method is a little bit different.