Love, Pomegranate House


How-To Clean Your Washing Machine

Did you know that you are supposed to clean your washing machine? I know, it sounds kind of counter-intuitive. When I first heard “washing” my washing machine I thought it was a little silly. Afterall, I put soap in it to clean my laundry! Then I went to take a look at my washing machine to see if it really needed to be clean…

DO YOU SEE THAT DISGUSTING RING!?! Ewww. I was so grossed out. I even tried to rub it off and realized that is is some waxy build up from my old fabric softener. And it wouldn’t rub off. Nasty. And seeing as how I currently live in an apartment what comes with a washing machine in it, that might not even be my gross waxy build-up. Double-nasty.

And my little bleach spout!? Ick. Ick. I just have no words. I never even realized how gross my washing machine was! After I got over my heeby-geebies I decided it was time for me to clean my washing machine. I found this awesome tutorial over at One Good Thing by Jillee. I tweaked it a little to make it fit my needs. ;) {*Note: this is for top loading washing machines.}

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cups bleach
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • microfiber cloth

Start by filling  your washing machine with hot water. Set the dials to the biggest load and hottest setting and let it fill up. Then pour 2 cups of bleach into the water. Close the lid for about 1 minute and let the water agitate/get all mixed up.

Then let the bleach water sit for about 1 hour. {My washer has a timer built in so it started draining after about 2o minutes. I just reset the dial to the beginning of the cycle so it had another 20 minutes.} After the hour is up, run the washer through a cycle.

After the cycle is complete, fill your washer with hot water again. This time, pour the 2 cups of white vinegar into the water. Again, mix up the water by closing the lid for 1 minute. Let it sit for another hour.

Please note how disgustingly cloudy my water was because my washer was so dirty! Yuck.

I then took a sponge, and dipping it in the vinegar mixture, wiped down the lid, dials, and dispensers. {Vinegar has amazing cleaning powers and helped make everything sparkly clean!}

After an hour of letting the vinegar water sit, run your washer through another cycle.

Then use a microfiber cloth to scrub, wipe, and buff away any grime inside your washer drum. {Trust me… a regular sponge won’t work. I tried. The waxy grime didn’t want to come off with a sponge… but it came off like a dream with a microfiber cloth!}

And now my washing machine sparkles! And I don’t have to worry about all that grimy nasty stuff getting on our clothes.

Most manufacturers say to do this is at least twice a year. Some say that you should do it as regularly as once a month. Hooray for no more stranger’s grimy-ness!

Have you ever cleaned your washing machine? Have you ever thought of cleaning it? Hmm… now I’m wondering if I need to wash my dish washer…

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109 thoughts on “How-To Clean Your Washing Machine

  1. I need to clean ours inside the drum. We have a front loader and I have seen commercials showing the drum on the outside gets dirty. I couldn’t decide if it was necessary or if it was hype to get you to buy the commercial front loader cleaner…. hmmm :)

    • If you don’t clean it, at least occasionally, the front loaders will start to smell. Your “clean” clothes start to smell. It’s gross. I nannied for a lady with a super fancy one that made the family constantly smell a little musty all the time. Then I cleaned the washed and wiped down all those seals, which can hold water until it gets nasty-especially if you close the door immediately after taking out your clothes and don’t let it dry.

  2. I have a front loading machine and it says to clean it every month or every other month. I forget and only have once! You wouldn’t think a washing machine would be dirty, but they can get grime left in there. Gross! Guess I had better get busy and clean mine. I don’t think I can use your method with a front loading machine, can I?

    • I’ve looked it up for you, Nancy! You can use the same ingredients I used and roughly the same process. But instead of letting the water sit for an hour at a time, you just let your washer run through the longest cycle with either the bleach or vinegar in it. You also need to finish with one cycle with JUST hot water to help rinse/clear all the gunk! I hope that helps!

  3. I’ll try this. I have cleaned my machine and it has been even yuckier than yours. Fabric softener build-up is the worst. Good recipe. I’m going to try it. Also good idea about the microfiber cloth. I’ve always used sponges and a TON of elbow grease.

  4. Hi:
    Just came across your website, pretty nice.
    I’m 74 y/o & have been washing clothes all my life beginning with a washboard as a child. Never heard of washing my machine (Grateful to have one & a dryer). It makes perfect sense! Where have I been all my life!!!

    Thank you Dear One for sharing with us………Di

  5. Great tutorial! I pinned it to do later. My washer is about 2 years old and I’ve never cleaned it (yuck I know). I’ve wanted to clean it, but never could figure out how so I just let it go. Now I have no excuse to get cleaning :)

  6. This is a great post. Thanks for sharing. And no, I don’t typically clean my washing machine but now that you mention it, yes, it needs it and ugh! that I haven’t done it before now. Saw your link The 36th Avenue. :) Pinned to my Clean It Up board.

  7. BRILLIANT!!! Now I’m all grossed out by the grime from the previous owners too! EEEWWWW!! I’m gonna do this tomorrow! Plus all that grime is probably compromising the absorbency of my cloth diapers! Thanks Hon!

  8. I totally need to do this. Thanks for sharing your tutorial!
    PS I use to live in Colorado…Loveland to be exact. Oh how I miss the mountains! Hope to find myself back west again someday :)

    • Thank you so much, Debi!! You can use the same ingredients I used and roughly the same process. But instead of letting the water sit for an hour at a time, you just let your washer run through the longest cycle with either the bleach or vinegar in it. You also need to finish with one cycle with JUST hot water to help rinse/clear all the gunk! I hope that helps!

  9. Thank you for this! I still live in the “stone age” too with my non-HE washer. (Hey, it still works…why buy something that I don’t currently NEED, right?). Mine is nasty too… and everything I find is for HE this for HE that. Boo Lame. So, a GIANT thank you!!

  10. THe first time I heard about washing the washing machine, I thought I was losing my mind. Thankfully, I do not have that build up at all (I checked!). I dont’ use fabric softener and I use very llittle soap and it’s 7th generation, so it’s supposed to be clean. No smells, no dyes. I hope that’s why I don’t have this issue. I also have a front loader. Don’t know if that makes a different too. And it’s stainless steel. Maybe there’s a coating on the white that makes things stick to it. THankfully this machine was bought by me, so I know everything that has gone through. No mysteries about previous tenants and their clothes!

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    • Please don’t! Never mix bleach (a base) with an acid (vinegar). You will create chlorine gas which can be lethal. Particularly when you are dealing with that much of the chemicals in a confined space such as a laundry room.

  12. I just cleaned my machine today following your instructions. My water wasn’t as dirty as yours but it did need a cleaning. Thanks for the info!

  13. I just found this post thanks to pinterest. :) I will start using this method…but one thing that worked for me is using a USED dryer sheet to wipe the inside of the drum after soaking works well. I still had to use a bit of elbow grease, but the best part was just tossing the sheet in the trash after cleaning…instead of putting the microfiber towel right back in the washer to get clean.

  14. I am concerned about the bleach and the vinegar getting mixed together. I certainly think this could be very dangerous as fumes are released. My machine a GE never completely drains. There is always quite a bit of water below the tub. I think I will use the vinegar part and see if that makes a difference.

    • You can skip the bleach step and go straight for the vinegar! I would probably do 2 soaks with the vinegar though. Vinegar has GREAT cleaning power all by itself so I would definitely give that a try!

      • Tried two rounds of vinegar and it didn’t work. But, I realized that my washer always rinses in cold water, so if the first round of washing in hot loosened everything up for scrubbing, the second round cooled and hardened it all back up. So that could’ve been the problem. Will have to try again…

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  20. You can actually pop out the bleach spout and clean it. Also in the middle of my washer you can put the fabric softner it also pops out so you and soak and clean it!

  21. I try to run vinegar thru my front load washer every couple of months. I also do not use liquid fabric softener because that same crud that builds up clogs your drains and your septic system(IF you have one). It is also very smart to do the vinegar rinse in your dishwasher to strip it of all the soap and food residue. I am pretty liberal with my vinegar so I end up using almost 1/2 a gallon to do each machine… I get awesome results with plain vinegar and do not use bleach since all it does is sanitize, not remove grime or actually clean anything. IF you want a nice bright white, mix up some bleach water in a spray bottle and spray down your machine. The bleach will vent off and your machine will be clear of any viruses or bacteria. ;)

  22. You should see what the outside of the ring looks like. I would recoment having it cleaned and serviced once a year! Also, if you use too much soap it creates that build up. The he machines only need one to two tablespoons of detergent!

  23. I am going to clean my tomorrow hopefully! Mine is disgusting. Tabitha, yours doesn’t even begin to come close of how terrible mine looks! I am embarrassed and disgusted by mine :o/

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  25. Great post! We are buying a house and the washer comes with it. Might have to use these tips on it :) Just so you know you will want to clean out your dishwasher. I never knew we needed to do that until one day it was making horrible noises. My husband and I took out the bottom drain/catch and it was one of the grossest things ever! We cleaned it out and put it back together. The dishwasher runs almost like new again!

  26. I am so happy to see these instructions for cleaning washing machines. I haven’t read anyone’s reviews and someone else may have addressed the machine’s timer. I have a ten year old machine which allows me to pull out the dial, which stops the cycle and you can allow the bleach water to soak as long as you like. Happy cleaning!

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  30. Don’t forget to clean the lint filter on your washer. I didn’t even know that existed. My washer wasn’t draining very well and cleaning my filter was suggested. I googled my model and sure enough video instructions on how to do it. I’m ashammed and appaulled at the grossness I found. No wonder it wouldn’t drain! I had enough lint to build a dead rat :(

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  33. Hello everyone,
    you could just stop using Fabric softener, you wouldn´t have to clean your washing maching so often,Fabric softener is one of the worst thing that has ever been invented. Very harmful to our enviroment! And that grime that´s in your machines, is in your clothing aswell, and it stays in. That´s wh I never use Fabric Cleaner.

  34. Thank you, I clean mine quite often with tide cleaner,but I’m allergic to tide so I have to wash it twice after. Great idea.

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  36. My washer is 13 years old and has never been cleaned except for I do wipe it down around the top rim. I think if I were to clean it now it might go into shock and just quit working. (-: I never use fabric softener in my machine so maybe that is why I don’t see all that waxy build up or grime. But it could all be hidden. Don’t think I want to know at this point. But my next washer? Yep just may clean it regularly.

  37. Have to caution people with septic tanks…too much Clorox or bleach can harm them and if used in great strength can contribute to costly service needs on the septic tank.

  38. I have cleaned my clothes washer and am wondering if you can just use the vinegar. I try not to use very little bleach in my laundry/cleaning because of it’s environmental impact. I’ve used vinegar as a fabric softener before I made some yarn dryer balls so I might do it again to see if the washer stays cleaner. Thanks for your tutorial.

  39. You should see the other side! We took ours apart (top loader) it was left in the house we bought and I wanted it clean prior to using. It looked like mildew barnacles all over the entire drum. We had to take it outside with bleach, a wire brush and a hose! This solution will definitely work in keeping it clean after you know what’s hanging out on the other side. :)

  40. It’s good information, but why doesn’t it come with the manual. I have a top loader bought recently, and it just instructs to have it air dried once in a while.
    Anyway my question is :
    Is this formula good for a stainless steel tub also ?
    Thank you

  41. Hi would absolutely want to clean my washing machine but i have a front loader. Can’t we use the same procedure? Pls help.

  42. i have been looking for some way to clean this used machine. It works great but I still wanted to give it a good cleaning.
    Now I have the best of both worlds easy and know need for chemicals . Thank you

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  46. If you mix 2cups of vinegar with 2tablespoons of blue dawn dish detergent. Put it into a spray bottle and spray it onto the area that needs cleaning. Let it sit for 5 minutes….then wipe down with a cloth or sponge…you get the same result. Plus you are not wasting all that water.

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  50. One thing that you might want to add to this is to take a Dobie cleaning pad with a little white vinegar added to it and run it around under the rim and even on top of the inside edge. My washing machine was stinking like crazy even after cleaning like the article said, and I discovered this.

    Another place that had mold that was disgusting was inside the middle post. The top actually comes off (at least on mine) and when I shone a flashlight down into it, there was disgusting mold and smell that needed totally scrubbed out.

    After getting those details…voila! My machine didn’t stink the room up any more! What a concept – a clean washing machine! : )
    Luanne recently posted..What It Takes To Control Your Blood Pressure Almost EffortlesslyMy Profile

  51. My allergist (almost 40 yrs ago) recommended that I add 1 cup of apple cider vinegar to the first laundry load each month. It kills any mold or mildew spores in your washer AND your dryer (if you dry that same laundry load in the dryer) and retards their regrowth for a month. I’m violently allergic to both mold and mildew and he told me I was wearing spores I had picked up just walking around! This stops the problem. I also take a pint of apple cider vinegar with me on trips and before I open my luggage, I wipe down all hard surfaces in the hotel. After a blowing rain, I scrub my steps from the bottom step all the way to the exterior door to kill the spores that have been blown loose and landed there.

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  58. I read that mixing bleach and vinegar produces toxic gases. I’m nervous about mixing the two. Has anyone used just vinegar or just bleach with a good result?

  59. I have a top loader where the amount of water that enters the machine is directly related to the amount of clothes I have in the machine. The sensor will not fill up without sensing clothes – any suggestions?

  60. Keeping the lid open after each use helps with smells and i think would help prevent mold growth. my lid is always up and i’ve never had a smell but my mom closes hers and there is a smell.

    • You are absolutely correct, it is mold that forms, also not good for you to breath, many kids have gotten quite ill with mold forming on damp window sills for example.

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  62. Mt washing machine doesn’t have hot water & I know cold water doesn’t work. Do you have any other ideas besides using a bucket?
    Many thanks

    • If you mean that your machine is an energy-saving model which moderates the water temperature, so that you only get warm water in your machine, you can turn off the cold water supply valve at the water source where your machine is hooked up so that there is only hot water going into your machine. I do this whenever I wash my linens. You can turn the cold water back on later when you are done.

  63. One thing that has been discovered with home cleaning products and breast cancer, bleach has been discovered as one of the culprits, I would never have that product in my home. It’s a carcinogin! You should get rid of bleach out of your home. Melaleuca has 4 cleaning products and that’s all you need under your kitchen sink. Tea Tree Oil is the base of Melaleua products. Consequently, it also disenfects, naturally and safe when wiping down counters and appliances and cleaning floors. If you had some of these products you could have just sprayed the dark dirty spots in your washer and left it on for about 15 min and it would have come off. The dark spots are mold that forms as not all the washer is dry when the cover is put down so it builds up with old soap scumb.
    Please warn gals in your blog NOT to use bleach and to get it out of their homes.

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  65. Am always wondering way my black clothes comes out with all these white stuff on them. Now I know why. Am going to clean mine this weekend. Thanks you very much


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  68. I love cleaning my washer. I go a step further even! I snap out the bleach cup and the cup that the liquid softener goes in. That will really gross you out if you haven’t looked in it! It comes completely out. Getting that gunk out take boiling water and a scrub brush if you have never done it. Then I carefully run a thick bleachy rag on the top inside lip of the washer tub. Thanks for your post, reminded me to check mine today.

  69. I did this today and it works…. Had no idea all those germs and stuff where in those tiny holes. Now I know that water clean going in and out.

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