Cleaning Guides

How to Clean a Washing Machine

Rozhnovskaya Tanya /

No one expects that a cleaning appliance such as the washing machine would need extra disinfected. After all, it seems to be self-cleaning (and some appliances really have that feature). But does that mean that no cleaning action is required on your part?

Heavily soiled clothes in combination with frequent use can change the way the appliance performs over time, as grime becomes trapped in the door rubber seal, drum and other parts. To always enjoy a fresh and perfectly clean laundry, a deep cleaning of the washing machine is needed from time to time. And now we will tell you how to do it properly!

Table of contents:

Does a washing machine need to be cleaned and why?

There are several things that could happen if you don’t give your washing machine a good clean. For starters, it could develop a “bad breath”. This can be a result of the large number of dirty clothes that go through it, as well as of the long period of time that they remain trapped in the closed machine after washing. It usually appears in the drum and a fresh laundry comes out with an unpleasant stale and musty odour instead of a nice and clean one.

Additionally, there are also soap scum, softener residue, sludge, limescale and even mould that can build up in your machine over time, causing the appliance’s poor performance and even shortening its lifespan.

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What is the best way to clean a washing machine inside out?

What’s important here are the details. In addition to making sure that any high-touch points are fingerprint-free and that there aren’t detergent stains hiding anywhere, it’s also necessary to make the drum sparkling clean and odour-free. Do not spare any efforts when cleaning the rubber seal, filter or detergent drawer since these have proven to be the most problematic areas.

You need to have:

  • A bottle of white vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Detergent
  • Regular cleaning bleach (optional)
  • Tea tree/clove essential oils
  • Gloves
  • Clean cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Toothbrush or another small brush

How to clean a top loader washing machine

While a top-loading washing machine may seem a bit easier to clean, there is still some scrubbing and wiping you need to do in order to help the appliance run smoothly. Here is what you should do:


  • Let your washing machine fill with hot water.
  • Measure 1 cup of the baking soda and 2 to 3 cups of the white vinegar.
  • Pour the bicarb soda, followed by the vinegar into the tub.
  • If your washing machine allows it, then let the solution settle in for 30 – 50 minutes.
  • Run the cycle as usual.


  • Unplug the appliance.
  • Mix baking soda, vinegar, tea tree oil and warm water in a spray bottle.
  • Apply the cleaning solution on the cloth and wipe all the exterior of your top-loading washing machine, focusing on the corners, rubber elements, control panel and any hard-to-reach places.
  • Wipe the detergent drawer or soak it in a solution, made by the previously mentioned ingredients, then scrub it thoroughly.
  • Let everything dry completely for a few hours.

The vinegar and baking soda are notorious natural cleaners, with the first helping eliminate bacteria and the second fighting the bad smell in your washing machine. As for the tea tree oil, it has antibacterial properties and can eliminate mould and mildew before they breed.

Cleaning your washing machine naturally is effective, however, some appliances may need to be disinfected with a strong chemical like bleach. Especially, if they haven’t been deep cleaned for years and have serious mould build-ups. In this case, you can substitute the vinegar and baking soda with a cup of bleach.

Unlike vinegar and baking soda, bleach should not be left to settle in the tub for more than 10 minutes. You also need to run an additional empty cycle to get rid completely of the chemical residue.

How to clean front loader washing machine

The cleaning process is similar to the previous one, although the baking soda and vinegar have to go in different parts of the front loading washing machine.


Measure 2 tbs of the baking soda and 2 cups of the white vinegar.


Pour the vinegar into the drum.


Dilute the bicarb soda with 2 tbs of water and add it to the detergent drawer.


Select a normal wash cycle at the hottest water possible.


When it’s finished, unplug the appliance.


Clean the washing machine filter manually by removing hair, lint and other grime, then rinse and scrub with a brush until all the filth falls off.


Freshen up the detergent drawer by soaking it in soapy hot water and letting it dry in a sunny spot.


Clean the rubber seal on the washing machine door with detergent mixed with water and vinegar. If you notice mould, then switch to vinegar and clove essential oil. The natural cleaner needs to remain on the seal for at least an hour before rinsing with water.


Wipe the exterior and let the drum and other parts dry completely before plugging in the appliance.

A front-loader washing machine filter is usually located in one of the bottom corners of the appliance. However, the location may vary between models. If you are having a hard time finding it, check the manufacturer’s book or site for instructions.

It is important to clean the washing machine filter at least once per month to make sure the appliance runs smoothly.

If by any chance, your front loading washing machine is still not as clean as you expected, you can always try bleach disinfection. Add no more than 1-2 tbs of bleach into the detergent drawer, as this is a strong chemical. Run another cycle just with water.

Get a licensed professional to help you with the cleaning and maintenance of your washing machine! Learn what other cleaning tasks you can leave to the expert by clicking here.

Washing machine cleaning FAQ:

Need a little more information about how to clean and maintain your washing machine? Here we’ve got some answers ready for you, so you don’t have to worry about anything.

How often should you clean the washing machine?

The average time would be once per month, but it really depends on the way you use the appliance, as well as the condition of the clothes that go through it. You can do it even more often if you notice an unpleasant odour or other alarming signs. There is also a recommended frequency by the manufacturer if you wish to check that out as well.

How to prevent mould build-up in the washing machine?

Mould is one of the biggest problems with washing machines and that’s not surprising considering moisture is a favourable breeding environment for the fungus. Vinegar, tea tree, clove and various other essential oils can help you clean the mould off your washing machine naturally. To prevent it from coming back, and to keep your appliance in top condition, there are a few things to remember:

  • Always leave the door and detergent drawer of your appliance open after washing, so the water can evaporate. If you can take out the drawer, then let it dry outside because the sun is a powerful mould killer.
  • Never leave any remaining moisture trapped. Absorb it with a clean sponge or microfiber cloth.
  • Regularly disinfect the rubber gasket with vinegar and lukewarm water solution to kill mould and bacteria.
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Why is there scrud on the clothes even after cleaning the appliance?

Noticing those small dark deposits on your freshly clean clothes can make you want to rewash everything. There are various factors that can contribute to the accumulation of scrud like living in an area with hard water, laundry stuffing, excessive detergent use, particularly the liquid kind.

The most common reason, though, is the use of cold water cycles. They do not allow the detergent to dissolve properly, which reacts with the fabric softener to create these nasty brown build-ups.

Hot water cleaning with vinegar and baking soda should be enough to solve the problem. However, if there is too much scrud already accumulated in the appliance, you can try running several hot cycles, reduce usage or directly switch the current laundry detergent and fabric softener you have. Sticking to cold washing alone can also cause the problem to reappear, so every now and then run a hot water cycle.

Which is easier to clean – top loading or front loading washing machine?

Top loading washing machines seem to be the winner here. They don’t develop bad odours that easily and the lid is hardly affected by soap scum, meaning you have less to look after. However, front-loading washing appliances are more efficient when it comes to clothes’ stain and grime removal.

They can also help you save on electricity and water, which can’t be said for their top-loading counterparts. Truth is both types have their pros and cons, and it is better to take into consideration the specific needs of your household to know, which will suit you best.

Do you think your washing machine needs more than cleaning? Get an expert for a professional washing machine repair!


  • It is preferable to deep clean your washing machine at least once a month, covering everything from the detergent drawer to the filter.
  • Vinegar and baking soda are powerful natural cleaners that can solve many problems at once – destroy grime and bacteria, remove mould, eradicate the bad smell. Heavily soiled washing machines may require a bleach cleaning for better disinfection.
  • Looking after your appliance properly can save you the complications. Simple things like taking the wet clothes out straight away, leaving the door and detergent drawer to dry after a wash or disinfecting with vinegar can make a big difference.
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Denise Deering
Denise Deering
1 year ago

Very informative. Great advice. Thank you.

1 year ago

The vinegar and baking soda mix is hiliarious. All you get is nuetral water! It will not do anything, a cleaning placebo effect!

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