Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Today we're talking preventative maintenance & washing machine cleaning. Learn why you should be doing it monthly & how to get on track if you aren't. If you're visiting from Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or Amazon welcome! I'm so glad you're here. If you missed last week's Garlic Butter Shrimp with Asparagus recipe click, here. Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. This helps me continue to provide you with how-to DIY projects as well as tutorial videos. To learn more about what affiliate links are click, here.
Dirt, mold, and other grimy residues can build up inside your washer over time. Learn how to clean a washing machine, including front-loading and top-loading machines, to get your laundry as clean as possible.
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Think about it the dirt that disappears from your clothes, towels, and sheets has to go somewhere, which means that grime can build up inside your washing machine over time. I've heard firsthand from repairmen that, "Owners are using too much detergent & softener & not cleaning their washing machines monthly!" Without regular cleaning, the appliance might also harbor leftover detergent, hard-water deposits, and mold or mildew around the lid. This can leave a residue on laundry or cause items to emerge from the wash with a funky smell. To ensure freshly washed clothes and linens are as clean as possible, follow these steps on how to clean a washing machine once a month. These instructions work for cleaning front-loading and top-loading washing machines, but there are a few special considerations for both types.
HOW TO CLEAN A WASHING MACHINE
TIP: Have you snagged the Complete Book of Clean, yet? It's a lifesaver! If your washing machine has a self-clean function, choose that cycle and follow the manufacturer's cleaning instructions to clean the inside of the machine, plus Affresh. Otherwise, you can use this simple, three-step process to eliminate buildup in washing machine hoses and pipes and ensure your clothes always stay fresh and clean.
Step 1: Run a Hot Cycle with Vinegar
Run an empty, regular cycle on hot, using two cups of white vinegar instead of detergent. Add the vinegar to the detergent dispenser. (Don't worry about harming your machine, as white vinegar will not damage it.) The hot water-vinegar combo removes and prevents bacteria growth. Vinegar also acts as a deodorizer and cuts through those mildew odors.
Step 2: Scrub the Inside and Outside of the Washing Machine
In a bucket or nearby sink, mix about 1/4 cup vinegar with a quart of warm water. Use this mixture, plus a microfiber cloth and a dedicated toothbrush, to clean the inside of the machine. Pay special attention to dispensers for fabric softener or soap, the inside of the door, and around the door opening. If your soap dispenser is removable, soak it in the vinegar water before scrubbing. Give the machine's exterior a good wipedown, too.
Step 3: Run a Second Hot Cycle
Run one last empty, regular cycle on hot, without using detergent or vinegar. If desired, add 1/2 cup baking soda to the drum to help clear away the buildup loosened from the first cycle. After the cycle is complete, wipe out the inside of the drum with a microfiber cloth to remove any remaining residue.
Tips for Cleaning a Top-Loading Washing Machine
To clean a top-loading washer, consider pausing the machine during the first hot-water cycle outlined above. Allow the tub to fill and agitate for one minute, then pause the cycle for an hour to let the vinegar soak. Top-loading washing machines also tend to collect more dust than front-loaders. To remove dust or detergent splatters, wipe the top of the machine and the dials using a microfiber cloth dipped in white vinegar. Use a toothbrush to scrub hard-to-reach spots around the lid and under the rim of the tub.
Tips for Cleaning a Front-Loading Washing Machine
When it comes to cleaning front-loading washing machines, the gasket, or rubber seal around the door, is usually the culprit behind the musty-smelling laundry. Moisture and leftover detergent can create a breeding ground for mold and mildew, so it's important to clean this area regularly. To remove grime, spray the area around the door with distilled white vinegar and let it sit with the door open for at least one minute before wiping clean with a microfiber cloth. For a deeper clean, you can also wipe the area with a diluted bleach solution. To prevent mold or mildew growth, leave the door open after each wash to let the moisture dry out.
New to the market, washing machine cleaning tablets like Affresh ($11.99 for a 6-pack, The Home Depot) and liquid cleaners like Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner offer an alternative solution for monthly cleaning. However, steps should still be taken to clean the gasket and exterior of your machine, and often vinegar is a more affordable option.
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