How to Clean a Washing Machine in 6 Easy Steps

Have you cleaned your washing machine lately? Follow these simple steps for how to clean a washing machine to keep it in tip-top shape.

washing machine with door open with text overlay

Cleaning a washing machine is a task that many of us often neglect. After all, who wants to spend their free time scrubbing appliances when there are so many other fun things to do?

But the truth is, neglecting to clean your washer can lead to some serious problems down the road, like musty odors, mold growth, and even reduced efficiency.

It is essential to make cleaning this appliance a regular part of your household routine. It may be time to clean your washer and dryer if you notice that your clothing is coming out of the washer with unpleasant odors.

Are you ready to learn the easiest way how to clean a washing machine? Let’s get to it!

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1. Check for damage

When you start cleaning your washer you should be paying attention and looking for signs of damage such as leaks. It’s a good idea to check your washer for any leaks every time you clean it.

Look for signs of water damage, such as discoloration or warping, around the base of the appliances. If you do find a leak, it’s essential to have it repaired as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your home.

A small leak in your washer can lead to a soaked and damaged floor, a high water bill, and even the possibility of mold damage that can be very difficult to repair.

These very small leaks can go unnoticed or be brushed off as small spills when you are doing your normal laundry routine.

Be sure to check your hose connections, at the wall and at the machine, for any leaks. Leaks, where your hoses connect to the water supply, can cause damage inside the wall and to the drywall. This can lead to costly repairs not to mention the risk of mold.

2. Wipe Down the Exterior

How to clean a washing machine by cleaning the exterior first

Clean the exterior of your washing machine. This is a simple task that can make a big difference in the appearance of your appliances.

Start by wiping down the surface of the washer with a damp cloth. Use a mild detergent and a soft scrub brush to remove stubborn stains.

Don’t forget to clean the knobs and buttons while you do this. You’ll be surprised at how much better your appliances will look after a good wipe-down.

Keep in mind that this should be done often. When cleaning your laundry room simply take time to wipe it all down with a cloth to help maintain a clean washer exterior so you never have to worry about dust build-up. It’s an easy habit to maintain, just like when you clean your kitchen.

3. How to Clean a Washing Machine Drum

cleaning the rubber gasket inside front loader washing machine

The drum of your washer can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria if not cleaned regularly. This task is often forgotten about because people do not realize that while your washer cleans your laundry it needs to be cleaned as well.

Front-loading drum

  • Clean out any debris inside and under the rubber gasket. Be sure to pull back the folds of the gasket to make sure you get all the dirt and yuck.
  • Use soap and water and thoroughly clean the rubber ring on the machine. Detergent and fabric softeners build up and become slimy and will lead to odors and mold or mildew if not cleaned out.
  • Add 2 cups of vinegar to your machine and run through a complete cycle.
  • Next, add a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum and then run a complete cycle at the hottest temperature. If your machine has a “tub clean” setting use that one.
  • Once the cycle is complete, wipe out the inside of the drum with a microfiber cloth.

Top-loading drum

  • If your machine has an agitator, remove it and clean it thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Clean any debris or detergent or fabric softener that was trapped under the agitator then put it back in place.
  • Add 2 cups of vinegar to your machine and through a complete cycle.
  • Next, add a 1/2 cup of baking soda to the drum and then run a complete cycle at the hottest temperature. If your machine has a “tub clean” setting use that one.
  • Once the cycle is complete, wipe out the inside of the drum with a microfiber cloth.

You can also use commercial washing machine cleaners for this, like this one, to clean your machine.

Check your owner’s manual to make sure you choose the right one for your machine. If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you want to make sure you get the correct type of cleaner for it.

Bonus Tip – after cleaning and after washing clothes, leave the lid of your top loader open or the door of your front loader propped open to help it dry and eliminate odors. When not in use the lid of my front loader stays open all the time.

4. Clean the Detergent Dispensers

When you use liquid detergent and fabric softener, it’s important to clean out the machine compartments for each of them on a regular basis.

Simple pull them out, wash them with soap and water, rinse them thoroughly, and put them back in your machine

5. Clean the Hoses and Pipes

The hoses that connect your washer to the water supply can become clogged with mineral deposits over time.

To clean the hoses, you’ll need to disconnect them from the washer and use a brush to scrub away any buildup.

Once you’ve finished scrubbing the hoses, rinse them thoroughly with water and reconnect them to the washer.

Don’t forget the drain hose! It’s easily overlooked when it comes to cleaning your washing machine, but make sure to flush it with vinegar water and even pour some in the drain itself to get rid of unwanted odors.

Be aware of clogs that can build up in the drain hose too. When water isn’t draining and is spilling out of the drain, you know you have a clog somewhere. Use Draino or another clog-eliminating product to remove it. Worst-case scenario, you may have to call a plumber to fix it.

6. Clean Any Filters

On front-loading machines, don’t forget to check the filter. It’s usually located on the bottom of the left or right of the front of your machine.

  • Place a towel on the floor to catch excess water
  • Pull the filter out and remove any debris inside the machine
  • Then rinse the filter and replace it.

The first time I cleaned out the filter on the front load machine we used to have, I was amazed at all the gunk that was sitting in there. Don’t skip this, you’ll thank me later!

Things to Remember

When doing anything that may put you in contact with the electrical system of your washer when working in the back, be sure to unplug your appliance. This will help prevent you from getting an electric shock.

For some washers that have not been taken apart in many years, you may need to remove the drum to clean out the space inside of your washer to get a true clean.

Be careful when doing this but you never know what you will find. Many people find missing socks, money, and small trinkets here making washers run slower and often make odd noises.

If you are unsure about something you discover while cleaning your washer and dryer don’t be too shy to call in a professional to make repairs.

Cleaning your washer may not be the most exciting task, but it is an important one. By taking a few simple steps, you can keep your appliance in good working order, eliminate any unpleasant odors, and prevent the growth of mold and bacteria.

Learning how to clean a washing machine is key to keeping your machine in tip-top shape for years to come.

So, why not make cleaning your washer and dryer part of your household routine today?

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Anika Gandhi is on a mission to declutter and organize all the things around her and is here to inspire and encourage you to do the same!

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