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Cleaning

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How Should I Clean a Washing Machine?

By Bethany Keene
Updated: May 16, 2024

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.

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Discussion Comments
By anon293956 — On Sep 28, 2012

milagros is right! The best way to clean washing machine is take out all the removable parts and use a pressure washer and other cleaning products to clean all the grime.

I can't believe what I saw when I took out of these parts. All the grime stuck in the filter and all around the middle parts. I use the washer cleaner (popular brand) every two months but it apparently does not work as it claims.

Also, taking all the parts out, cleaning all the parts, and putting them back costs lots of time and energy. I hope I can hire someone to do this. Does anyone know where to hire the washer cleaning people? I live in the Los Angeles area.

By anon109037 — On Sep 05, 2010

I have a front loading washing machine and constantly have grime around the rubber rim. I had a repair guy tell me to put a Cascade tablet in the drum and run on the hottest water. Didn't do a thing to correct the problem. Of course, I had the store tell me I can buy a cleaning product through the manufacturer -- big bucks! Anyone have some suggestions?

By GlassAxe — On Jul 09, 2010

@ Milagros- I use CLR to clean my washing machine. This product or any similar lime, calcium, and rust remover will do a great job at cleaning all dirt, grime, rust, mold and hard water residue from washing machines (Dishwashers too).

CLR and generic versions are also fairly gentle on the skin, and best of all the products are biodegradable. This makes the product safe for use in septic systems and gray water systems.

I just dump a few cups in my washer and run it high and hot. I do this a few times a year and my clothes always smell fresh.

By milagros — On May 22, 2010

I have a top loading washing machine that started leaving my cloth smelling moldy. I came to realize that dirt was collecting in the middle part of the machine, between the dispenser for fabric softener and the agitator. At first I was not even aware that the dispenser is removable.

Once I realized what was happening, I cleaned it up and the cloth smells fresh again.

It is really important to know what are the removable parts, and clean them up periodically. Dirt has a way of collecting in most unusual places.

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