Your washing machine eliminates dirt, banishes germs and terminates stains from your clothing and fabrics. But does your washing machine itself stay clean with all that use? Shockingly, no. In fact, laundry detergent can make your washer…dirty. Detergent residue and minerals don’t always rinse away and can build up inside your machine. Plus, fibers and other bits get caught in the machine’s nooks and crannies. And the always-wet environment can breed mold and mildew. Here’s how to clean your washer so you don’t feel like throwing in the towel on laundry day. 

Start With the Easy Stuff

Start with the easiest and most visible things—surfaces. Dip a cleaning cloth in vinegar and wipe down the door. The rubber seal around the door can get especially unpleasant, so use hydrogen peroxide to help kill bacteria. (If the hydrogen peroxide bubbles, it means it’s doing its job and attacking bacteria.)

Then grab a toothbrush to scrub small cavities and crevices. The rubber seal often has overlapping layers. Peal those layers back and use a toothbrush dipped in hydrogen peroxide to thoroughly remove dirt. 

Next, open the detergent and softener drawer. Pour in a small dose of vinegar. Use a plastic scraper and toothbrush to scrub build-up away.

Scour Away Drum Scum

Now that the surfaces are sparkling, it’s time to tackle the machine’s inner workings. Don’t fret—how to clean the inside of your washing machine is way easier than you think:

  • For a front-loading washer, pour two cups of white vinegar in the detergent dispenser.  For a top-loading washer, pour four cups of white vinegar straight into the drum. The acid in vinegar helps cut through soap and other build-up. 
  • Choose the hottest, longest cycle. For a top-loading washer, once the drum fills up and the cycle first starts, pause the cycle and let the water and vinegar sit for an hour before restarting. (You won’t pause it for a front-loading washer.)
  • Once the first cycle is over, shake half a cup of baking soda straight into the drum. Re-run the hottest, longest cycle. (FYI—if you mix the vinegar and baking soda in the same cycle, they’ll react and cancel each other out.)
  • After the second cycle’s over, leave the door open until the inside dries out. This helps prevent bacteria from fostering in a wet environment.

Keep Your Machine Clean in Between

Focus on maintaining that level of shine with little touch-ups in-between deep-clean days. 

  • Always air-dry your washer after running a load. Leaving the door closed keeps the washer wet and can breed mold, mildew and bacteria. 
  • Keep a spray bottle of vinegar by your machine. Every couple weeks, spritz down the door, drum, detergent drawer and outside of the washer and wipe down. 

Enjoy the Freshness

With these tips on how to clean your washer—including the inside—you can keep your washing machine as fresh and clean as your just-washed clothes. Enjoy the scrub!