Step-By-Step Guide: How To Clean A Washing Machine

Taking the time to clean your washer and dryer can help make your machines more efficient and even prevent scary fires. See what you can do to keep this essential appliance mildew and danger free.

Someone Cleaning Font-Loading Washing Machine

The inside of your washing machine has to be one of the cleanest spots in your home, right? All that soapy hot water swishing around and rinsed again and again. Probably a good place to keep leftovers (we kid, we kid). But wait? What’s the perfect environment for the growth of mold and mildew? One that’s dark, warm and moist. Uh-oh — that’s the washing machine.

Have you noticed that your washing machine smells? Do your clothes smell after being washed? It looks like it’s a good time to learn how to clean a washing machine.

Yep, It’s a Dirty Washing Machine

First things first: How did your washing machine get dirty? Well, today’s washing machines are made to conserve water. If you are used to dumping in a lot of detergent out of habit (or from thinking that your clothes will get cleaner with more soap), you’re likely using too much. With the reduced amount of water, the detergent may not be breaking down fully, leaving a coat of soap on the tub and possibly damaging your machine. Likewise, if you have a tendency to leave wet clothes in the washer, it’s a real possibility that you’ve welcomed some mold and mildew growth.

You should always follow the washer manufacturer’s instructions on the type and amount of detergent to use. Newer, high-efficiency washers use special detergent made for those machines. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to use washing machine cleaner tablets every month to help dissolve the soap residue, too. And since mold and mildew are always ready to take advantage of dark, warm, moist environments, you should be ready to move wet clothes from the washer and into the dryer as soon as the wash cycle is complete. Similarly, damp wash cloths, towels and dishtowels should always be hung up to dry before being placed in a clothes hamper. The same goes for wet clothes.

What You’ll Need to Get it Clean

Fortunately, getting that washing machine sparkling only requires these materials:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking Soda (front-loader only)
  • Bleach (top-loader only)
  • Sponge
  • Clean Cloth

How to Clean a Front-Loader

If you have a front-loader washing machine, cleaning is not very difficult.

1.     Set the washer to the hottest, longest setting.

2.     Add two cups of vinegar.

3.     Add one-quarter cup of baking soda.

4.     Start the wash cycle and let it run until it’s complete.

5.     When complete, wipe down the inside and outside surfaces with a damp sponge.

6.     Dry all the surfaces with a clean, dry cloth.

7.     Repeat these steps monthly.

How to Clean a Top-Loader

Cleaning a top-loader washing machine is a little more involved than cleaning a front-loader.

1.     Set the washer to the hottest, longest setting.

2.     Add four cups of bleach.

3.     Let the washer fill completely, then stop it and let it soak for a full hour.

4.     Turn it back on after an hour, and let it complete the full wash cycle.

5.     Now start it again, on the hottest, longest setting.

6.     Add four cups of vinegar.

7.     Let the washer fill completely, then stop it and let it soak for an hour.

8.     At the end of an hour, take a sponge and dip it in the vinegar water from the tub.

9.     Use the sponge to clean all the exposed surfaces, including the detergent or softener basket and the lip of the tub.

10.  Now start it again, and let it run through the complete wash cycle.

11.  When complete, dry the interior with a clean, dry cloth.

12.  Repeat these steps monthly.

You depend on your laundry appliances to keep your life moving smoothly. An American Home Shield® Washing Machine Warranty can help to ensure your laundry appliances are running smoothly, too. Sign up for coverage today!

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