How to Clean a Washing Machine - Top Load & Front Load

How to Clean a Washing Machine Inside and Out at Home

Most of us don’t remember to clean our washing machines, do you?  You might think how can a machine that cleans something get dirty? However, soap scum, bacteria, and other germs grow over time inside the machine if it is not washed properly. These could damage the machine and also cut down the life span of your machine. Moreover, it could also pose a safety hazard as the machine is used to clean our daily use items like clothing, bags, and even shoes.

Cleaning your washing machine may seem like a tiresome, but it should not be ignored. While some tips could be used from time to time to clean the washing machine, there are elaborate processes that should be used at regular intervals to clean every part of your washing machine thoroughly. This article gives you an understanding of the importance of cleaning the washing machine and the tips to carry out the process.

Why Is It Important to Clean a Washing Machine?

This would be the first question that would come to your mind if someone told you to clean your washing machine. The answer is simple. Many undesirable things like moss, lime scale, and germs can build up inside your machine with regular use. Front loading machines and High Efficiency (HE) washers are most prone to mould and mildew growth around the door seal due to moisture. Not only does it create an unpleasant odour, but it also proves to be a health hazard.

Many parents use cloth diapers for their babies. While most of the icky stuff on cloth diapers can be washed off, the residue finds its way into the machine. In addition to this, the accumulation of dirt particles from other clothing, like dusting cloths and wipes also cause the inside of the washing machine to become filthy. This is the reason why your washing machine needs care, too.

Even if you do not wash cloth diapers or dusting cloths in your machine, it still stands the risk of mould and bacterial growth because its interior is dark, moist, and closed.

How to Clean a Washing Machine Naturally at Home

When was the last time you cleaned your washing machine? Ideally, if the machine is being used on a regular basis, it needs to be cleaned once in a week or bi-weekly. Cleaning your washing machine might sound like a tedious task, but fret not. Here are a few useful tips to show that extra care your machine needs:

1. A Top Loading Washing Machine

Follow these simple directions to clean the top load of your washing machine.

What You Require

  • White Vinegar or bleach
  • Baking soda
  • Toothbrush
  • Microfibre cloth


  • Set the washer on the hottest water setting and the longest wash setting, and fill the water to the highest level the machine allows.
  • As the washer tub fills, pour a quart of vinegar or bleach into it as these act as disinfectants.
  • Now, close the lid of the machine and allow it to process it for a minute. After a minute, open the lid and let it stay for an hour.
  • While the water and vinegar are set to soak in the washer tub, remove any parts that you can and rinse them and clean the nook and corners under the lid. Use a toothbrush to access difficult areas like under the lid and the periphery of the tub and also the upper portion of the agitator. Don’t forget to clean the front and the side body of the machine.
  • After an hour, close the washing machine lid and let the cycle finish. Simultaneously, you could use this time to clean the dials and the top of the machine with the vinegar solution.
  • Once this cycle finishes, run another cycle with baking soda instead of vinegar or bleach. This will neutralise the vinegar or bleach and also help remove any residues from the previous cycle.
  • Once the second cycle is finished and the washer is drained, clean the washing machine with a vinegar solution and wipe down the sides and the bottom of the tub. Let the lid remain open after the cleaning process to dry out thoroughly and to prevent the development of mildew.

A top load washing machine

2. A Front Load Washing Machine

Following these easy steps will help you keep your front load washing machine super-clean.

What You Require

  • Vinegar
  • Bleach
  • Bucket
  • Sponger or cleaning rag
  • A clean cloth


  • Firstly, make sure the washing machine drum is empty. Then select the clean cycle or tub cleaner setting. If not available, set the washer on the hottest water setting and the longest wash setting, and fill the water to the level the machine is capable of holding. Following this, add two cups of vinegar into the detergent tray. The vinegar will help in eliminating any odour causing substances and residues. Let the entire wash and rinse cycle complete.
  • Once the first cycle is done and the washer is drained, repeat the cycle but add two cups of bleach to the detergent tray instead of vinegar. Cleaning with bleach helps remove stains and germs that have been accumulated in the tub, and cleans any leftover residues from the previous wash cycle.
  • Next, if all the stains have disappeared, run an additional cycle without adding anything to remove any residues completely.
  • Get a bucket full of warm water and liquid soap. Remove the parts of the detergent tray and soak it in the warm water for a few minutes. Once they are soaked, pick each piece and wipe them with a sponge. Let them dry thoroughly before you place them back again on the tray.
  • Next, pull back the rubber seal around the door to inspect for any icky stuff or residues. To clean it, pour a gallon of warm water containing one cup of chlorine bleach. Soak the cloth in the solution and wipe down the seal. Following this, use a clean, dry cloth to wipe off the seal of any residues and remaining moisture.
  • Lastly, use a damp cloth to clean the outsides of the machine just as nicely as the inside.
  • It is also important to clean the washing machine filter at regular intervals as clogged filters can damage the machine. Follow the instructions mentioned in the manufacturer’s manual to complete the process.
  • Another tip is to leave the door or the lid of the washing machine open between uses. Also, wipe down the seal at least once a month to avoid residue and the formation of odour-causing substances.

A woman cleaning a front load washing machine

Best Practices for Maintaining Clean-smelling Washing Machine

You could also use the following everyday hacks to keep your clothes and the machine smelling clean always:

  • Take out the clothes from the washing machine after the wash cycle as soon as you can.
  • Leave the door or the lid of the washing machine open for some time to let the washer dry thoroughly and to prevent moist areas within the machine.
  • Wipe down the rubber seal with a cloth.
  • Pull the detergent tray out, scrub it clean, and leave it to dry after use.
  • Make sure you clean out the lint filter after each use. Remove all the lint and wash out the filter.
  • Run an empty hot wash cycle with 3 to 4 cups of white vinegar at least once a week. The hot water and vinegar will remove bacteria and mould.


Below are the answers to a couple of frequently asked questions about cleaning the inside of a washing machine:

1. How Much Vinegar Should I Put in My Washing Machine to Clean It?

Around 900 ml to 1 litre of vinegar should be used to clean the washing machine.

2. Can I Clean the Washer with Baking Soda and Vinegar Using Cold Water Instead of Hot?

Yes, you can use, but it will not be as effective as hot water since hot water not only cleans but also sanitises.

These simple steps would help run the machine for longer and prevent the accumulation of lint and dirt. This will deter the development of bacteria and odour causing substances within the machine. Based on your usage, you should clean your washing machine once or twice a week. Top load washing machines run a higher risk of mould or mildew formations due to the remaining moisture inside the washer drum after every use. Front load washing machines also run the risk of damage due to clogged filters, residues, or stains and lack of attention to the rubber seal around the door of the machine while cleaning.

Hence, it is important to thoroughly clean every part of the washing machine such as a detergent tray, washer tub, the dials on the surface, agitator, washing machine filter, rubber seal, and the outside of the machine body as well! So, this weekend, clean your washing machine.

Also Read:

Things You Can Clean in Washing Machine
How to Clean a Smelly Washing Machine
Ways to Clean Kitchen Appliances

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