Under 2 hours
Learning how to clean a washing machine can help keep your washer running optimally. Technique also matters when cleaning your washer. Some modern front load washers can require a different approach to cleaning than older machines. DIY deep cleaning a few times a year using the cleaning cycle can help prolong the life of your machine. In fact, many manufacturers recommend cleaning your washing machine at least every six months.
This guide will outline how to deep clean a washing machine. Learn different cleaning methods for your top-load or front-load washers. These methods include using vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, bleach or washer cleaner. With a little effort, you can make your washing machine sparkle inside and out.
How to Deep Clean a Washing Machine
Cleaning your washing machine means your clothes get dirt-free more effectively. Although your washer is using detergent every time you run a load, it’s not cleaning itself. You’ll need to give it a deep clean.
There are a few options for deep cleaning a washing machine. They depend on the type of washer you have and whether you’re using a DIY cleaner or a pre-made washing machine cleaner. Thankfully, none of the methods are labor-intensive. Read on to discover which method of washer cleaning is the best for you.
DIY Washing Machine Cleaner
If you’re going the DIY washing machine cleaner route, you have a few methods to consider. Not all of these items are compatible with one another, so stick with one method all the way through. Depending on what you have on hand, you could use peroxide, bleach, baking soda, vinegar or borax. We’ll outline the steps for each DIY cleaning method below.
Should you want a different solution, you can also use a pre-made washer cleaner instead. These are commercial cleaning tablets that are sold specifically for washing machines. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if you use a washer cleaner.
Safety Tip: Never mix vinegar and bleach.
How to Clean a Front Load Washer
Knowing how to clean a front load washer is important. Due to their setup, they tend to be more prone to bad smells than top load washers. It’s easy for water to pool in tight spaces and start to grow mildew or mold. Cleaning your washer helps flush out all that unwanted growth and odor. Here’s an overview of how to clean your front-load or side-load washer:
- Clean the washing machine tub.
- While the tub is soaking, clean and soak your detergent trays, drawers and removable parts.
- Wipe down the outside of the washer.
- Once the cleaner load finishes, scrub the door gasket with an old toothbrush. Wipe it down with your choice of vinegar or bleach (but never mix the two).
- Clean the filter.
- Finish cleaning off your soaking detergent trays and parts.
- Wipe the inside of the tub and the door with a microfiber cloth.
- Give the whole washer another once-over with the cloth.
- If possible, prop the door open to assure everything dries thoroughly.
How to Clean a Top Load Washer
Cleaning a top load washing machine tends to be easier than a side or front load one. It’s simpler to let a cleaning solution soak in this type of washer. Here are the basic steps for cleaning a top load washing machine:
- First, clean the washer tub.
- While the tub is soaking, clean and soak your detergent trays, drawers and removable parts. Depending on your washer's age, you might not have many removable parts.
- Wipe down the outside of the washing machine.
- Once the cleaner load finishes, clean the parts beneath the tub surround. Wipe it down with your choice of vinegar or bleach (but not both).
- Clean the filter and agitator.
- Finish cleaning off the detergent parts you've been soaking.
- Wipe the inside of the tub and the lid with a microfiber cloth.
- Swipe the whole washing machine again with the cloth.
- Prop the lid open to assure everything dries thoroughly.
Clean the Washing Machine Tub
For a spotless washer, start by cleaning the wash tub. This is the easiest part to clean, as it’s made to hold water. Many washers have a clean cycle that’s made to help you clean the machine itself. If not, use the water temperature and load size as directed below.
Learn how to clean a washing machine with supplies you may already have around the house:
Cleaning a Washing Machine with Bleach:
- Start with an empty, dry washer.
- Set your washer to a normal setting with warm wash and rinse.
- Fill the detergent compartment with 1/2 cup of bleach.
- Fill the bleach compartment all the way up.
- Run the washer.
Cleaning a Washing Machine with Peroxide:
- Start with a dry and empty washer.
- Set your washer to the cleaning setting or the largest and hottest setting you have.
- Add 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide to the tub and run the washer.
Cleaning a Washing Machine with Vinegar and Baking Soda:
- Start with an empty and dry washing machine.
- Set your washer to the cleaning setting or the hottest and largest and setting you have.
- As the washer fills with water, add 3 or 4 cups of white vinegar.
- Let the washer start to agitate, then stop the cycle.
- Allow the vinegar to soak a minute.
- Add 1/2 cup of baking soda, then turn on the agitator again.
- Stop the cycle and let it all soak for up to an hour. If you’re rushed, at least half an hour of soaking is best.
- Run the washer until it finishes.
- If your washing machine isn’t as clean as you like, repeat the process.
Cleaning a Washer with Washing Machine Cleaner Tablets:
- Start with a dry, empty washing machine.
- Drop one tablet of washing machine cleaner into the washer tub.
- Run a normal cycle on the hottest water setting.
Cleaning a Washing Machine with Oxygen Bleach or Borax and Washing Soda:
- Start with an empty tub.
- For a front-load washer, put 2 tablespoons of oxygen bleach or borax and 2 tablespoons of washing soda in the tub of the washing machine.
- For a top-loading machine, put 1/2 cup of each of the powders into the wash tub.
- Run the biggest cycle at the hottest temperature or use the “clean tub” setting on the washer.
- At the end of the cycle, add vinegar to the liquid dispenser tray or washer tub. Use 2 cups for a front-loading machine or 1 quart for a top-loading machine.
- Run another hot water wash cycle. For a top-loading machine, stop the cycle after a few agitations. Allow the solution to sit for 30 minutes, then resume.
- For a front-loading machine, 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 the Washing Machine Door or Lid
If you have a front load washing machine, you’re well aware that the door gets dirty. The rubber gasket around the door is a magnet for lint, hair and debris.
Similarly, your top load washer also gets hair and lint stuck in it. It’s just harder to see. The indentations around the top of the wash tub may catch debris. The lid can also get grimy.
Luckily, the door or lid is easy to clean:
- Dampen a clean cloth and clean the front and sides of the washer.
- Also clean the top and underside of the lid.
- Clean under the inside lip of the lid, since a lot of old soap and lint can get trapped there.
- If you’re concerned about mold or mildew, use a mix of bleach and water. You can use vinegar and water instead, if you’d prefer.
- Scrub well with a microfiber cloth or paper towel, then rinse with water.
- Wipe it dry.
Clean Detergent Trays, Washer Parts and Surfaces
If your washing machine has removable parts, it’s important to clean those too. Powder detergent can build up or liquid detergent can gum up the works. Lint and debris can get in there as well. A thorough cleaning can keep them functional.
- Remove any soap, fabric softener or bleach dispensers from the machine.
- Soak them in hot water. Use a microfiber cloth, old toothbrush or tiny cleaning brushes to rub away any grime.
- Rinse well, dry thoroughly and replace the parts.
Wipe down the outside of the washer, too. Lint, dust and dirt can cling to any part of the washer. Giving the top and sides a good swipe with a microfiber cloth will make your washer shine.
Clean the Filter and Agitator
To fully deep clean a washing machine, you’ll need to clean the filter and the agitator. This procedure varies from one machine to the next. Front load washers generally lack agitators. Unplug the machine before removing these parts:
- Consult your owner's manual to see how to remove the washing machine filter.
- For agitator models, you can use a socket wrench to remove the bolt holding the agitator. Once the bolt is out, reach beneath to lift the agitator from the machine.
- Place the agitator and filter into a bucket of 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 scrub brush to scrub down the removed parts.
- Rinse thoroughly, then dry them with a microfiber cloth.
- Replace the filter and agitator in the washing machine.
Now that you know how to clean a washing machine, it’s that much easier to keep it sparkling. Ready to tackle that washer grime for good? Get washing machine cleaner, bleach and cleaning supplies delivered to your door. We deliver online orders when and where you need them.