If your laundry seems a little less than fresh lately, it may be time to clean your washing machine. Like all appliances, your washing machine will benefit from regular maintenance, and it only takes a few minutes to do. All you have to do is perform a few easy tasks after each wash, and then use a little bleach every month or not. Not only will your washing machine be beautiful and clean, but your clothes will be too.
To clean a washing machine, you’ll need:
- A washing machine
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 cup baking soda
- Hot water
- A bucket
- A sponge
- A spray bottle (optional)
- Before you clean your washing machine, it’s important to read through the instruction manual that came with your unit. While generally safe, the steps and cleansers recommended below may cause damage when used with certain types of materials. Check your manual for any warnings, and, if available, follow the manufacturer’s maintenance procedures. If you no longer have your manual, look online or consult your manufacturer to get safe guidelines for cleaning your washing machine.
- If you’ve never cleaned your washing machine before, unplug it to give it a thorough cleansing. Make sure that the drain on your washer is open so that any dirty water will drain out. Then, prepare a cleaning solution by mixing eight cups of hot water with one cup of baking soda and one cup of white vinegar in a bucket.
- Using a sponge dipped in your cleaning solution, wipe down the outside of the washing machine to remove any dirt or grime. Open the lid or the door, and clean both the inside and outside. If you have a front-loading washer, scrub at the rubber that seals the door, removing any slime or residue. If your machine loads from the top, scrub the areas around the lid and wipe away any accumulated dirt or mildew.
- If you can, remove the detergent drawer. Soak it a combination of two cups of hot water and two cups of your cleaning solution for about ten minutes, then rinse it clean and leave it to air dry. Dip a brush in cleaning solution and scrub the compartment where the detergent drawer sits. If your drawer isn’t removable, scrub the detergent drawer and the area where you pour bleach or fabric softener as well as you can. You can also put some cleaning solution into a spray bottle to squirt hard-to-reach areas. When the area is clean and dry, replace the detergent drawer.
- Finish cleaning your washing machine with bleach. Plug your washer in and turn it on. Add the maximum amount of bleach recommended by the machine’s manufacturer. You should be able to find this information in your instruction manual, or it’s sometimes printed in the “bleach dispensing cup” attached the detergent cup. Choose the hottest setting available and run the machine through a complete wash cycle.
- To maintain your clean washing machine, tend to it regularly. If you wash a load of particularly dirty clothes, wipe down the basin with a sponge or cloth to remove any residue. Check the lint filter after every wash cycle to remove any lint, and if your machine drains into a laundry tub, use a strainer in the drain to collect any lint or dirt. Empty the strainer regularly to prevent your machine from clogging.
- About once a month, clean and disinfect your washing machine. Add the amount of bleach recommended by the manufacturer (in the machine’s instructions or on in the dispenser where bleach is added) and run the unit on the hottest cycle to kill bacteria and prevent any kind buildup. If your washing machine begins to smell bad, add one cup of white vinegar or one cup of baking soda, and run the machine on the hottest cycle as needed.