Okay. I am a certified neat freak. I dust, vacuum, scrub, scour and tidy up my house on a daily (if not hourly) basis. (If you’re wondering if I’m type A, the answer is a resounding “yes”.) But despite being called Mr. Clean by those closest to me, I recently learned a big secret: I should be cleaning my washing machine. (Mind blown people.) So, I ran down to my laundry room, and realized...hmm yeah...it’s kind of dirty and moldy in there. Upon more research, I learned that all the grime, dust and debris that comes off of the clothes can get stuck in the hoses and pipes, hindering the washing machine from running future loads with the same level of efficiency. Who knew??
Upon further research, I wasn’t surprised to learn that my Bible (aka Better Homes & Gardens) spoke with the CEO of Two Maids & A Mop (my idols) and they recommend deep cleaning your washing machine at least four times a year. An easy way to maintain that schedule is to make time at the beginning of each season to clean your machine.
So, when it's time for a deep clean, here's how to clean a washing machine like a laundry pro:
The basic steps
If you have a washing machine with a self-clean function, simply run a load on that setting and you're all set. For those who aren't as lucky, the following steps will do the trick:
1. Run a hot cycle with vinegar
Use two cups of white vinegar instead of detergent and run a regular, empty cycle with hot water. According to Better Homes & Gardens, this will remove bacteria and deodorize the machine.
2. Scrub in and out
Mix vinegar and water or use your go-to multi-purpose cleaner to scrub the washing machine drum, detergent dispensers and door seals. When you're done with the interior, wipe down the exterior to remove dust, detergent spills and other debris from the machine's surface. Pro tip: Toothbrushes are great for getting into the nooks and crannies of your washing machine.
3. Run another hot cycle
Complete the process by running one last cycle, but this time don't use any vinegar or detergent.
The ingredient options
Determining the best cleaning ingredients to freshen up your washing machine depends on who you ask. Some say vinegar while others swear by bleach. However, Dengarden.com provided suggestions based on the type of grime or odor you want to remove:
- Run a cycle with vinegar and baking soda for general cleaning and deodorizing.
- Try oxygen bleach or enzyme detergent to remove sticky residue.
- Use citric acid when you need a stronger agent to get rid of limescale, soap scum and other buildup.
- Let hydrogen peroxide soak in the machine for a few hours and then run a cycle with it to reveal a squeaky-clean drum.
- Try chlorine bleach in a warm- or cold-water cycle to remove odors.
Experiment with different cleaning ingredients until you find the ones that work best for your washing machine.
The natural way
There are also ways to clean your washing machine without the chemicals. Wellness Mama.com suggested using washing soda, borax, vinegar and essential oils: Put the washing soda and borax in the drum for one cycle, and then use the vinegar and essential oils in place of detergent in a follow-up cycle. Natural oxygen bleach is a borax alternative, and germ-fighting essential oils like tea tree are the best option for cleaning your washing machine.
To keep your washing machine as fresh as possible in between deep cleans, try these maintenance tips:
- Keep the door or lid open after running wash cycles to prevent mold and odors.
- Wipe down rubber door seals after every wash.
- Be careful not to overload dispensers with detergent and fabric softener.
- Clean dispenser dishes more regularly than the entire machine, roughly every four to six weeks,The Spruce.
- Use specialized detergents for high-efficiency washers.
- Try water softening products if you notice limescale and soap-scum buildup.
- Run at least one wash a month with hot water to help sanitize the machine, as suggested by Dengarden.com.
- While odors are obviously not covered by a manufacturer’s warranty or by an appliance home warranty plan, being prepared for repairs or replacements is a smart idea.
Along with regular house and appliance cleaning, you can be prepared for life’s little messes (and emergency breakdowns) by having a home repair plan in place. See how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.