Project Guide

How to Clean a Washing Machine

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Gather Tools and Materials
Removing center agitator of washing machine for cleaning
Run the Washer Cleaning Cycle
Starting cleaning cycle of washing machine

You can easily clean the inside of your washer with commercial cleaning tablets that are sold specifically for washing machines, but a DIY cleaning solution is another option that works well. For a DIY cleaner, a combination of white vinegar, washing soda, and borax or natural oxygen bleach will clean well and effectively eliminate any washing machine smells.

  • To use cleaning tablets, drop one tablet of washing machine cleaner into the washer tub and run a a normal cycle on the hottest water setting.
  • For a front-load washer, mix 2 tablespoons of oxygen bleach or borax with 2 tablespoons of washing soda and place in the tub of the washing machine. For a top-loading machine, mix 1/2 cup of each of the powders and place in the tub.
  • Set the machine for the hottest wash temperature and the fullest water level and run a wash cycle. 
  • At the end of the cycle, add vinegar - 2 cups for a front-loading machine or 1 quart to a top-loading machine - to the liquid dispenser tray or washer tub. 
  • Run another hot water wash cycle. For a top-loading machine, stop the cycle after a few agitations and allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes, then resume. For a front-loading machine, simply allow the cycle to complete normally.
  • After the last wash cycle has completed, wipe the inside of the machine with a microfiber cloth to clean up any residue.
Clean Washer Parts and Surface
Wiping the door and gasket of washing machine
  • Remove any soap, fabric softener or bleach dispensers from the machine.
  • Wash them with warm water and use a microfiber cloth to rub away any grime. 
  • Rinse well, dry thoroughly and replace the parts.
  • Dampen a clean cloth and clean the front and sides of the washer as well as the top and underside of the lid. Be sure to clean under the inside lip of the lid, since a lot of old soap and lint can get trapped there.
Clean Filter and Agitator
Using socket wrench to reassemble washing machine
  • Consult your owner's manual to see how to remove the washing machine filter. For agitator models, you can use a a socket wrench to remove the bolt holding the agitator then reach beneath to lift it from the machine. 
  • Place the removed parts into a bucket or basin filled with hot, soapy water. You can also create a DIY cleaning solution from 2 cups of vinegar, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1/4 cup of water.
  • Use a soft bristle brush to scrub down the removed parts.
  • Rinse thoroughly, then dry with a microfiber cloth.
  • Replace the filter and agitator in the washing machine.
Prevent Buildup
Front-load washing machine with door slightly open
  • Many new washing machines, both top-loading and front-loading, have automatic dispenser wells. Wipe these out on a regular basis to prevent mildew development.
  • At the end of each wash cycle, wipe down the door and its rubber gasket with a dry microfiber cloth. 
  • Between uses, be sure to leave the washer door ajar to help air circulate and dry the machine out. Mold and bad odors can develop if the machine is not allowed to dry between uses.