To clean a washing machine, the easiest thing to do is to pour two cups (470 ml) of vinegar or lemon juice into the washer while it is empty. You will then run the washing machine, empty, on its highest and hottest setting. This will get rid of grime build-up and any odors that have invaded your clean machine.
Another important tip to remember when trying to clean a washing machine is to take a cloth or a small brush and scrub around the edge of the door, if you have a front-loading machine, or around the rim at the top of the door if you have a top-loading machine. It is often easy for moisture to collect there, causing mildew to grow. Using bleach to kill mildew is the fastest and easiest way to clean a washing machine.
If you have dye stains inside the washer, placing one cup (240 ml) of bleach in the washer and running it empty, again on its highest and hottest setting, will take care of those stains. The bleach will also kill any lingering mold or mildew. Remember, never mix bleach with any other solvents or cleaners as this can create a toxic combination. To fully clean a washing machine, clean out any dispensers that are built in to the appliance, such as a fabric softener dispenser.
Rust stains inside the washing machine can be persistent, even with a clean washing machine. Purchasing a specialty product for rust removal in washing machines is the best idea. These can be found at most home improvement stores. If the rust is extensive, the washing machine may need to be repaired or even replaced. It is a good idea, after using vinegar, bleach, rust remover, or any cleaning agent in your washing machine, to run the machine once more while empty to remove any residue.
To prevent having to clean a washing machine too frequently, there are some basic tips you can follow. When you're finished washing a load of clothing, leave the door to the machine open, if possible. This will allow the machine to dry out in between loads and prevent mildew. Always check for pets before you run a load of laundry, though. Another tip is to avoid using fabric softener, since it can be difficult to clean out of the machine.