Cleaning a washing machine is a task that most of us ignore or delay.
Some people think that detergent used during the wash cycle will not only clean the dirty clothes but washing machine as well. However, this is not true.
Usually, some of the dirt, fibers, and other organic materials present on the dirty clothes will get stuck in the nooks and crannies of the appliance. Over time, they clog up the drum holes, pipes and other components of the washing machine, leading to a less efficient wash.
Regular cleaning helps the appliance to perform at its peak and deliver pristine cleaning performance. Apart from that, it also prolongs the lifetime of the appliance significantly.
How to Clean a Washing Machine?
You have to schedule the cleaning process based on
- Dirt levels in the washing machine
- How long it has been since previous cleaning session.
If it has been a long time (more than 1 or 2 months) since previous cleaning session, then we recommend to deep clean the whole machine. For regular cleaning, you can follow simple procedure mentioned HERE.
How to Deep Clean a Washing Machine?
You don’t have to consult a professional for deep cleaning it. Below, we have provided a step-by-step to clean deep clean the washing machine at home. This process involves cleaning both interior and exterior of the appliance.
Cleaning the Interior of the Washing Machine
Interiors of the washing machine handle a lot of dirty clothes on regular basis. And moreover, it is often kept closed without any air circulation. This creates a favorable environment for the microbial growth. Components you have to clean during this process include detergent box, fabric softener box, lint filter, gasket and the drum. A detail step-by-step process of cleaning these components is mentioned below for your reference.
Step 1 – Cleaning Detergent Dispenser Box
Some washing machine have manual dispensers while some of them come with automatic dispensers. Cleaning process of these dispensers is actually pretty simple and similar as well.
- First open the detergent dispenser box.
- A lever is provided inside it. You have to press the lever and pull the detergent box at the same time.
- If there compartments with it, carefully separate them.
- Rinse all the parts under running water.
- Using an old tooth brush, scrub the insides and outside of all the compartments.
- If there any touch stains, you can use liquid soap or baking soda vinegar paste to scrub them off.
- Now rinse them again under running water.
- Replace the detergent drawer in its place.
Note: If the detergent dispenser cannot be removed, then open it, scrub it using an old toothbrush and wipe it using a wet cloth.
Step 2 – Cleaning Fabric Softener Dispenser
Usually, most of the washing machines have detergent box and fabric softener in the same component. However, some of the washing machines have in-built fabric softeners. In such cases, you can follow the below procedure.
- Take an old toothbrush.
- Gently scrub the area using it.
- Using a wet cloth, clean the softener dispenser.
- Make sure to clean the nooks and crannies carefully.
Step 3 –Cleaning the Lint Filter
Lint filter gets clogged up with dirt, hair, fabric fiber and other debris. If it is not cleaned regularly, then it will clog up the pump that disposes water after washing. It will also affect the cleaning as the dirt and link will get reattached to the clothes. Below is the step-by-step process to clean the lint filter.
- Identify the lint filter in the washing machine. In the top-loading washing machines, it is in-built in the drum or dryer. When it comes to front-loading washing machines, it is not in-built in the drum. It is usually present near agitator. You can identify its position by reading the manual provided by the manufacturer.
- Usually, a lever or knob is provided to open the lint filter. Using it, take out the lint filter and open it.
- Soak the lint filter in warm water for 10 minutes. You can add mild dishwasher liquid if it is very dirty. The water will break and loosen the fibers stuck in the screen and slides.
- Now using a toothbrush gently scrub the filter thoroughly.
- Rinse it under running water.
- Let it dry under sun or by gently tapping with wash cloth or paper towel.
- Make sure to properly fit the filter back once the lint filter is dry.
Step 4 – Cleaning the Gasket
Gasket is usually present at the opening of front loading washing machines. It is exposed to water and detergent during a wash cycle so it will get pretty dirty over the time. If it is not cleaned properly, bacteria and microbes can grow and lead to mold and black scum. To get rid of mold in washing machine, you can follow the below process.
- Dip a sponge in bowl of standard white vinegar.
- Using this sponge, gently scrub underneath the rubber or plastic seal that is present at the opening of washing machine.
- If the mold is not getting cleaned with sponge, then you can remove the gasket carefully and soak it in vinegar solution for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove it and scrub again with sponge.
- Now wipe it with dry piece of paper towel or rag cloth.
- Replace the gasket carefully back to its position.
Step 5 –Cleaning the Drum
As the drum handles most of the cleaning process, it is the most obvious component to get dirty. And moreover, it contains small holes and curved designs (which are different based on the brand and model) where dirt or cloth fibers can get trapped. To clean the drum, you can follow the below process…
- Add some warm water and washing machine cleaning powder into it.
- Mix well to use this solution for cleaning purpose.
- Dip a clean cloth into it and rub the sides and bottom of the drum thoroughly.
- Using a clean wet cloth, wipe off properly.
Step 6 – The Final Cleanse
Now that every interior component of the washing machine is cleaned thoroughly, you can run the wash cycle once without any load. If any remaining dirt or mold is present, this final wash cycle removes it and ensures a pristine finish. For this, you have to follow the below process.
- Add washing machine cleaning powder into the drum or where you usually add detergent.
- Close the door and turn on the washing machine.
- Select the clean tub or clean cycle present on the control board and press start button.
The rest of cleaning will be done by the washing machine itself. Once the wash is completed, you can see a major difference between the before and after the cleaning process of washing machine.
Cleaning the Exterior of Washing Machine
The exteriors also withstand lot of factors like weather, dirt, sun and others. Cleaning them is also important to maintain the look of the appliance.
- Take a clean wet cloth and all-purpose cleaner.
- Wipe the exterior of the washing machine.
- You can also wipe the glass door as well. However, if it is more dirty then you can clean it using liquid detergent and toothbrush. After scrubbing, just wipe it using wet cloth.
- If you can or have someone to move the machine, then vacuum the behind the washing machine and under it as well.
- Check the water inlet and hoses for any cracks. If you observe any damage, then replace it as early as possible.
That’s how you have to deep clean a washing machine. The above cleaning method is similar to both front load and top load washing machines.
Simple Procedure to Clean a Washing Machine
This procedure is suitable for regular cleaning purposes. It should not be used for deep cleaning purposes.
Easy Way to Clean Front Loading Washing Machine
- Turn on the washing machine.
- Set the wash cycle to highest level and hottest water temperature. Some washing machines have in-built clean tub program. If so, then you can select that program.
- Now add washing machine cleaning powder or two cups of white vinegar into the detergent dispenser.
- Close the lid and start the cycle.
- Run another wash cycle at the highest level and hottest temperature. However, this time add one cup of baking soda to drum.
- Once the cycle is completed, wipe the drum using damp microfiber cloth.
Easy Way to Clean Top Loading Washing Machine
- Turn on the washing machine.
- Now select the clean tub program or set the washer to hottest temperature and highest level.
- Add 4 cups of standard white vinegar to the wash cycle.
- Once the cycle starts, pause it and let the machine sit for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- During this time duration, you can scrub the detergent dispenser, fabric softener dispenser, drum and top of the drum.
- After the time is completed, continue the wash cycle.
- Run a second cycle but add one cup of baking soda into it.
- Once the wash cycle is completed, wipe the drum using a clean microfiber cloth.
Different Homemade Washing Machine Cleaners
Instead of using commercial washing machine cleaners, you can use ingredients that are available at home. These solutions can be used instead of commercial washing machine cleaning powders.These solutions are also effective in removing mold, stains and black scum. We have mentioned some of those cleaning solutions below for your reference.
Method 1 – Cleaning with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Combine ½ cup baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar.As soon as you add vinegar to baking soda, it will foam.Once the foam settles, the mixture is ready to use.You can use this solution for scrubbing the interior components.Or else, you can just add it this solution into the drum during a hot water wash cycle. Instead of vinegar, you can also use lemon juice for cleaning washing machine.
Important Tip –To prevent any unpleasant smells, you can clean washing machine with some essential oils. For that, you can just add few drops of essential oil into the drum while adding the baking soda and vinegar solution and follow the same process.
Method 2 –Cleaning with Soda Crystals
Soda crystals have the ability to break down grease, wash away unpleasant odors, and shift stains. For cleaning washing machine, you can add 500 grams of soda crystals to the drum and run it using highest cycle and water temperature. If you live in an area where you get hard water, then add 250ml of white vinegar along with soda crystals. The combination of these two ingredients will break down and remove lime scale deposits as well.
Method 3 –Cleaning with Bleach
If you want a thorough and deep cleaning of washing machine, then bleach is the right ingredient. As bleach has anti-bacterial properties, it will kill any bacterial growth and prevent its growth as well. For cleaning, just add 60ml of bleach to detergent drawer and run the cycle at hottest temperature. Run the machine for second cycle as well for extra rinse. This will remove any traces of bleach.
Important Tip – Never combine bleach any other ingredients as it is highly reactive and lead to adverse effects on the machine. The combination of hot water and bleach can also produce foam so don’t add more bleach than recommended above.
Method 4 –Cleaning with Dishwasher Tablet
This method has become more popular in the internet now-a-days. But we don’t recommend trying this method. In fact, Bosch company has mentioned in their website that using detergent tablets can decrease the efficiency of the machine. Because when you add dishwasher tablet into the machine, it can cause dreaded foam overflow. And it doesn’t clean as thorough as other options.
Method 5 – Cleaning with Citric Acid
Citric acid is actually derived from citric fruits. This ingredient is powerful enough to remove black scum, limescale and other dirt buildup. For cleaning washing machine, you can just add1 cup of citric crystals into the washing machine. Run it at longest and hottest wash cycle. After that, run a second rinse cycle to flush away any remaining traces of citric acid.
Method 6 –Cleaning with Epsom Salt
This is one the safest ways to clean and disinfect a washing machine. For that, you have to combine 1 quart Epsom salt and 1 quart vinegar. Add this solution into the drum and run the machine for few minutes. This ensures the solution has reached as the nooks and crannies. Now let the solution soak in the machine for 30 minutes to an hour. Now let the machine rinse and drain the liquid. If you want to ensure no traces are Epsom salt are left in the process, you can run a second wash.
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.
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.
Some Frequently Asked Questions:
A. Yes, it is very important. If the washing machine is not cleaned regularly, then it will affect the efficiency of the wash. minerals, soap residue, left over detergent, lint and other factors can create a thin film over the drum and other components. This can lead to clogs or blocks in the mechanisms and other inlets. This will also create a favorable environment for the bacterial and microbial growth. All these lead to stinky smells, discoloration and inefficient wash.
A. Yes, it is ok. However, if you are worried about its effects on the next wash. Then don’t worry. Second run of wash cycle at highest temperature and level will ensure no traces of bleach are present in the washing machine.
A. As diapers cannot hold more water than their limit, it is obvious that the gelatinous thing inside it will come out cover up the drum. These gelatinous clumps don’t easily come off the clothes. Apart from the clothes, it can clog up the pipes and lint filter as well. This can decrease the efficiency of the washing machine. To prevent this, add baking soda and vinegar solution to the drum and run the washing machine at highest temperature and longest duration. And run the machine again second time. This should do the trick in removing the gelatinous pellets or clumps in the washing machine components.
A. In order to remove the stains on the drum or wash away the dye present in the washing machine, you can use chlorine bleach. Add 1 cup of chlorine bleach to washer tub and run the machine on highest temperature and hottest wash cycle. Run the machine again on a second rinse cycle to remove any remaining traces of bleach.
A. Just run a wash cycle at hottest water temperature. You can add 2 cups of white vinegar instead of detergent powder. Once the wash cycle is complete. Scrub the interiors of the drum and other components. Now, run another wash cycle. This should be enough.
A. It really hard to understand the neatness of the washing machine by its outer appearance. So, when you purchase a second hand washing machine, the first thing is to clean it completely. We recommend deep cleaning it thoroughly. The process is mentioned above in the article for your reference. However, if you don’t have time, then we recommend getting a professional help.
A. 1 to 2 cups of vinegar is enough to add while cleaning the washing machine. It is better to dilute it with some water and add it, if you are not combining it with any other ingredients.
Though it may sound strange, cleaning washing machine is very important. A clean washing machine ensures efficient wash cycles. Apart from that, cleaning this appliance regularly improves its lifespan as well.
Washing machine has to be cleaned at least once in 30 wash cycles. Apart from regular clean tub cycles, you have to perform deep cleaning once in a while. Instead of hurrying up the cleaning process, we recommend to schedule it when you have more free time. We hope the information provided in this article has helped you. If you still have any queries, write to us in the comment section below. We will reply as soon as possible.