How to Clean a Washing Machine

Every device you use in your daily life needs some regular cleaning and maintenance. It is also true for the device that does all the washing jobs for you. Regular cleaning helps the appliance to perform at its peak and deliver the performance expected from it. Besides, it prolongs the lifetime of the appliance significantly. While there are some devices that need professional help for cleaning, a washing machine can be cleaned at home all by yourself if you know how to clean it in simple steps.

Is It Necessary To Clean A Washing Machine?

It sounds a little odd when you hear that you need to clean the machine that does the cleaning work for you. But it is necessary to clean a washing machine for the following reasons –

  • Foul Smell

No matter how premium the design of your washing machine is, there is going to be some residue of dirty water in the washer compartment. This residue starts to give off a foul smell, and you will be able to smell the same from your clean clothing if you do not clean the washing machine regularly.

  • Mold and Mildew

Since there will always be some residual water, lack of regular cleaning will give rise to mold and mildew formation, especially when you use your washing machine once or twice a week. Regular cleaning will prevent it from turning into a breeding ground and giving off an unpleasant smell and leading to health issues.

  • Buildup

If your house has hard water running through the pipes, there is definitely going to be some buildup in the different components of the machine as well as in the pipes. This will certainly lead to slow performance of the machine due to the obstructions caused by these buildups.

  • Soap-water Splashes

Apart from the above reasons, there could be scenarios when soap and dirt water can splash up and stay on the parts of the agitator and wash bin. That needs to be cleaned so that it is not transmitted to the next washing. In short, cleaning is necessary to get the best performance from the washing machine every single time, to make the clothes smell as good as new and to prevent permanent buildup that will narrow down the lifetime of the machine.

How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine?

To clean a washing machine, you do not have to run errands. The two common household ingredients, namely white vinegar, and baking soda, are enough for a thorough cleaning. The white vinegar has disinfectant property, which will kill any mold or mildew formation. Besides, due to its acidic nature, it can dissolve the regular deposits in the pipes due to hard water and soap residue from the tub easily. The baking soda is known for removing soap scum, and it deodorizes the tub to remove to stinky smell.

What You Need –

  • 4 cups of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1 toothbrush for scrubbing.
  • 1 microfiber cloth or sponge for wiping.

Step 1 – Hot Water and Vinegar Solution

First, run a wash cycle on hot water. Keep the setting to the highest load. Do not add any cloth or detergent. Just add the 4 cups of white vinegar directly to the water. Close the lid and let the machine agitate for a minute.

Step 2 – Allow It to Soak

Open the lid after a minute and let the washer tub soak in hot water and vinegar solution for an hour. It will kill mold and mildew, soften and remove any sediment buildup, and deodorize the tub to some extent.

Step 3 – Wiping the Parts

While the tub is soaking in the solution, take the microfiber cloth or sponge and dip it into the vinegar water solution. Wipe the bits and pieces of the washing machine with the wet cloth or sponge such as the lid, knobs, exposed components, and even the exterior body. If there are hard to reach areas with dirty deposits such as the rim of the tub, use the toothbrush for scrubbing.

Step 4 – Cleaning the Removable Parts

Now that you have cleaned the non-removable parts, it is time to detach the removable parts and clean them thoroughly. Unless you detach, you cannot clean them properly from all directions. Wipe them with the wet microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar water solution and use the toothbrush wherever required. In the end, clean with fresh water and wipe the moisture out and let it dry completely.

Step 5 – Waiting for an Hour

Reattach the removed parts back to their place and close the lid. When the lid is closed, clean the top of the lid and the upper parts like the dials and the console with the wet microfiber cloth. Let the wash cycle complete.

Step 6 – Neutralization

You have to run one more hot wash cycle but this time with a cup of baking soda. The baking soda will neutralize the acidic remains of the vinegar as well as remove any residue left behind in the first wash. Besides, it deodorizes the entire tub once again, and hence, no foul smell will come out thereafter.

Step 7 – Finally Draining

At the end of the cycle, when the water has drained off, it is time to wipe the sides of the tub as well as the bottom. You should up the microfiber cloth dipped in water- vinegar solution. This will remove any last residue completely.

Now leave the lid open and let the interior dry off naturally. In general, you should always even the lid open for an hour after you have completed washing your clothes. This is because the wet interior surfaces will become dry and prevent mildew and bacterial growth.

How to Clean a Front-Loading Washing Machine?

Cleaning a front-loading washing machine is quite similar to a top-loading washing machine, but there are few additional or optional requirements.

Here is what you will need-

  • 2 cups of white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of baking soda
  • ½ cup of 3% peroxide (optional)
  • Clean rags
  • Old toothbrush (optional)
Note: As front-loaders grow more smell and mildew they require extra cleaning and adding peroxide is advisable. The rubber gasket at the front door traps moisture in it and the soap and fabric conditioner serves as food to the mold spores making a good breeding ground for them Peroxide is considered to be a stronger disinfectant than vinegar. Using peroxide is similar to bleach but it is gentler and also effectively stops any kind of mold and mildew formation.

Therefore, we are listing down the steps briefly for your understanding.

The requirement of supplies is the same, and the first six steps are the same as in the top-loading washing machine.

Step 1 – Making the Solution

Set the washer to the highest load. Add hot water and the cups of vinegar. Add ½ cup of peroxide if you wish. Let the machine agitate for a minute.

Step 2 – Soaking

Open the lid after a minute and let the tub soak in the solution.

Step 3 – Wiping

Wiping the different exposed parts with the microfiber cloth dipped in water -vinegar solution.

Additional Cleaning Steps for Front-loaders

Step 4 – Cleaning the Dispenser

Removable parts such as the bleach dispenser, softener dispenser, and the detergent tray should be scrubbed properly. Don’t forget to clean the inside part where the dispenser sit, if it is hard to reach use a toothbrush.  It is better if you dip them directly in a bucket of lukewarm soapy water.

Step 5- Cleaning the Rubber Gasket

The rubber gasket is the main reason behind that pungent smell. Take a clean rag or towel and dip it into hot water or hydrogen peroxide is possible and cleaning. Make sure you clean the underneath areas as well. You may experience a lot of slimy gunk coming out if you are doing it for the first time, so be prepared.

Step 6 – Cleaning the Exterior

Dry the removed parts and put them back after the wash cycle is completed. Close the lid and then clean the exterior parts with the wet microfiber cloth.

Step 7 – Neutralizing the Interior

Run another wash cycle with baking soda this time to remove all stains and germs and neutralize the acidic environment inside the washer drum.

Step 8 – Rinse

The above steps are common in any type of washing machine. If you have a front-loading washing machine, you have to run a rinse cycle, have the second wash cycle. This rinse cycle will flush out any remaining residue completely.

Lastly, take a dry cloth and use it to soak the moisture from the various parts of the washing machine so that it does not leave any stain or promote the growth of mildew and bacteria. Leave the front door open for an hour for natural drying.

Difference between cleaning top-loading and front-loading washing machine?

The construction of both of the types of washing machines is different and hence, there are additional steps needed to be taken. They come with different parts like a top-loading washer has an agitator to clean while a front-loading washer has dispensers to clean. Besides, in a front-loading washer, you have to run on an additional rinse cycle after the two wash cycles.

Moreover, in a top-loading washer, you can pause the cycle at any time and put ingredients in the middle and resume the cycle. For a front-loading washer, you have to wait for the cycle to get over completely, and hence, during cleaning, you need to take your approach accordingly.

How to Clean the Various Components of a Washing Machine?

How to Clean the Drier?

Along with cleaning the washing machine, the dryer needs to be cleaned on a regular basis. Dirty dryers can lead to fire as it may have lint which is highly inflammable. Here is a systematic process of cleaning a dryer.

Step 1: Clear the Lint Trap-The primary task will be to unplug the dryer and take the back panel out. You will also have to remove the discharge hose and give it a shake for removing the debris. After popping it off, one could see plenty of lint on the bottom as well as in the discharge line canal and in the innards. You will have to clear it by using a brush attachment. You can also use any other tool or vacuum it to get in tough spaces.

Step 2: Lint Trap Vacuuming-The ideal way to have effective cleaning is by cleaning the lint trap. For this, you can unscrew the lint trap and clean the dust. You need to be careful as you don’t lose the screws. To have ease, you can even use a specialty vacuum brush for the task.

Step 3: Removal of Extra Dust– You need to vacuum everything in the drum, which can vary in quantity. Following this, you can wipe down with the help of a microfiber cloth and a suitable cleaner. Once the cleaning is done, you can reassemble the items including the hose and panels and re-plug it.

Cleaning of a dryer will let you have effective cycles, and it will make your machine safe for operation. However, all dryers can be different, and it is always advisable to have a look at the instructions before you jump to clean it.

How to Clean the Filter?

Cleaning the washing machine filters is one of the quintessential jobs to upkeep a washer in a proper way. A maintained filter of any washing machine enhances the cleaning efficiency of the particular machine. You should clean the filters more than once in a year. Here are detailed steps to perform while cleaning a washing machine filter:

Step 1: You can effortlessly find the filter door either at the front or bottom of any washing machine. In the case of front-loading models, the filters are generally found on the back of the front door access. On the other hand, the top-loading washers have filters behind the fabric softener dispensers.

Step 2: After locating your filter of the front-loading machine, you need to unscrew the front door access by using a screwdriver or coin. However, if you have a top-loading washer, then you need to disassemble the fabric softener dispenser to reach the filter placed in the middle of the washer.

Step 3: Generally, the front-loading models deliver some water after opening removing the filter from the machine. In this case, you have to place a towel under the door of the machine. It is also better to put a bowl on the towel, so the bowl can hold up to a quarter of fluid. You need to be very careful while unscrewing the cap of the filter, so you do not spill the fluid on the floor.

Step 4: After unscrewing the cap, you will able to see some debris including lint, hair, keys as well as coins. You need to gently remove these objects from the filter.

Step 5: When the process of removing lint is completed, you need to thoroughly wash the filter with some cold water. As the filter comes with mesh construction, you have to wash it by using mild soap, so that the invisible lint does not cause any blockage to the filter. Somehow, if you find the filter is limitlessly dirty, then you can put in on the bowl with warm water. Then you can scrub it well with a soft brush with soap to get rid of that stubborn lint.

How often should you clean a washing machine?

If you live in an area where hard water is supplied and you have a top-loading machine, you should clean the machine once in every three months. If you have a front-loading machine, you have to clean it every month to prevent mineral deposits in components and pipes. The washer tub needs more cleaning than the dryer or the filter. If you are too busy in your life, you should at least clean the machine thoroughly once in every six months. You can also take service from professionals under contract.

If you are not cleaning the machine regularly and it starts to smell, you have to take immediate action. In such a case you have to clean two to three times in consecutive days to remove all the mold, mildew, bacteria, and deposits that have accumulated. In fact, use more of vinegar and baking soda, and you can also add bleaching agent like hydrogen peroxide for better result.

Additional Tips to Keep the Washing Machine Clean and Smell Fresh –

Keep the door of the machine open for half an hour when the washing is done. This will make the interior dry naturally and prevent mildew growth and foul smell. You should also keep the detergent drawer open in the meantime to prevent mold formation.

  • If you have washed heavily-soiled clothes, you should run a wash cycle with chlorine bleach. Otherwise, you can wipe the drum with a cleanser and rinse with water.
  • If you find brown spots on your washed clothes, it is due to the interior rust. Take a flashlight and spot the rust part in the washer or dryer and you can chip it off and paint the part. Otherwise, you have to remove the component if it is quite old.
  • Never keep the washed laundry on top of the lid. The spilling of the water will damage the electronic controls.
  • Open the lid of the washing machine as soon as the wash cycle is done. This will prevent the musty smell on your clothes. Similarly, you should take out the clothes from the tub as soon as the wash cycle is done.
  • While the wash cycle is going on, you can wash the exterior of the machine with a damp cloth.
  • Clean the inlet hose filters regularly as clogging up prevent the flow of water.
  • Never put excess detergent in the tray as excess detergent will clog up the inlet.
  • Run an empty hot wash once every month for better performance of the washing machine.

Remember that the only way to prolong the life of your washing machine is by cleaning it regularly to prevent the buildup of mineral deposits, growth of bacteria, mold, and mildew and slowing down of performance.