How to Clean a Washing Machine in 5 Easy Steps

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Knowing how to clean a washing machine is key to a long-lasting machine that gives you consistently clean clothes. Not only does cleaning your washing machine regularly keep it running smoothly, but it also helps to prevent the buildup of bacteria and mold. 

A clean machine will lead to better-smelling clothes and regular maintenance will prolong the life of your appliance. Issues with major appliances like washing machines can be time consuming, costly, and above all, annoying to deal with.

In this guide we’ll show you how to clean your washing machine step-by-step, as well as provide helpful tips on how to keep your machine clean in between washes.

Why You Should Learn How to Clean Your Washing Machine

Most people may not realize that a washing machine can be a breeding ground for bacteria and mold. This is because of the warm, damp environment that the wash cycle creates inside your machine. 

Over time, bacteria and mold spores can build up on the inside of your machine, causing problems like:

  • Bad smells
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Health problems

Regular cleaning will extend the life of your machine and keep it running smoothly. And a smoothly running machine will help you avoid potentially expensive repairs down the road—or clothes that come out of the machine smelling less than clean.

A clean machine also runs more efficiently, reducing water and power consumption, which makes every load more environmentally friendly.

How Often Should You Clean Your Washing Machine?

How often you clean your washing machine depends on what kind you have. If you have a top-loading washing machine, cleaning it every three months or so is plenty. 

However, if you have a front-loading washing machine, it’s recommended that you clean it every month. This is because the door seal on front-loading machines is a prime location for mold build-up if you don’t clean it regularly.

Additionally, if you notice any problems such as bad smells or decreased efficiency, be sure to clean it right away. Sometimes, it can take several cleanings to fully address issues (especially for the seals on front-loading washers).

How to Clean Your Washing Machine in 5 Steps

Step 1: Preparation

Before you start cleaning, it’s important to do some preparation. First, check your owner’s manual for any cleaning instructions specific to your machine. This can provide you with important information about parts that you can remove and clean separately. 

Then, gather all of the tools and materials you’ll need, including rags and white vinegar or any other cleaning solution you plan to use.

Step 2: Clean the Exterior

Start by cleaning the exterior of your machine. Wipe down the outside of the machine with a damp cloth. If there are any stubborn stains, you can use a cleaning solution or white vinegar.

Be sure to avoid getting any water on the control panel. If you need to clean the controls, you can use a dry microfiber cloth or wipes specifically designed for electronics.

Step 3: Clean the Detergent Dispenser

The detergent dispenser is another important part of your machine that you need to clean on a regular basis. 

Start by removing any built-up detergent from the dispenser. You can do this by running a cycle with just water, or even just wiping out the dispenser with a cloth. 

Next, use a cleaning solution or white vinegar to clean the dispenser. Be sure to rinse the dispenser thoroughly before adding any detergent.

Step 4: Clean the Interior

Next, it’s time to clean the interior of your machine. Add a cup of white vinegar to that now-clean detergent dispenser and run a cycle without any clothes.

Vinegar is a great natural cleaning agent that can remove any built-up dirt or grime inside the machine.

Step 5: Clean the Door Seal

If you have a front-loading machine, you will also need to clean the door seal.

Start by removing any lint or debris from the seal. Then, use a cleaning solution or white vinegar to clean the seal. Just make sure whatever you use is okay to use on the rubber of the seal (your manual should tell you what’s safe). You can also use a toothbrush to scrub inside and around the seal. Be sure to rinse the seal thoroughly before running your next load of laundry.

If the door seal continues to be dirty between cleanings, you can wipe it dry after each load. Another tip is to leave the door open to help prevent mold.

Step 6: One Final Rinse

Once you’ve finished cleaning all of the parts of your machine, it’s time to get ready for your next laundry load by making sure that you’ve removed any of the vinegar or other cleaning products that you used during the process. To do this, run an empty cycle with just water to rinse away any cleaning residue.

Now You Know How to Clean Your Washing Machine

And that’s it—you’ve successfully cleaned your washing machine. If you want to keep your machine clean when you don’t have time for all of the steps above, you can invest in washing machine cleaner tablets. But for the cleanest washing machine, rely regularly on the steps above to keep your machine running smoothly.