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How to clean a washing machine and how often to do it

Try out these tips for cleaning front-loading and top-loading washing machines with ease.
How to clean a washing machine
Now that's a clean-looking washing machine.Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

If your washing machine is smelling worse than your sweaty workout shirt, it’s time to give it a good cleaning. Yes, even washing machines get dirty, so it's helpful to know how to clean washing machines.

Laundry soils, detergent and hard-water minerals build up in areas you can't see and mold and mildew can thrive in the washer lid and the door, according to green-cleaning coach Leslie Reichert.

So how do you de-funk a washer? Reichert suggests using these easy green-cleaning tips every six months to avoid any issues. Here's how to clean washing machines with vinegar and baking soda.

How to clean a front-loading washing machine:

What you'll need:

What you'll do:

  1. The first step is cleaning the washing machine with vinegar. But before cleaning the washer drum, spray the gasket with white vinegar and wipe with a damp microfiber cloth. The rubber gasket at the front of the washer, especially in a high-efficiency (HE) washer, accumulates water, hair, scum and mildew.
  2. Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest water temperature.
  3. Add two cups of white cleaning vinegar to detergent dispenser.
  4. Run it through a complete cycle.
  5. Run another cycle on the highest level and at the hottest water temperature, this time adding one-half cup of baking soda to the drum.
  6. When cycle is done, wipe inside drum of washer with a damp microfiber cloth.
  7. While you’re at it, wipe down the front of the machine, too.

How to clean a top-loading washing machine:

What you'll need:

What you'll do:

  1. Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest setting.
  2. Here's how to clean a top-loading washer with vinegar: Add four cups of white vinegar to the wash cycle.
  3. After the cycle starts, pause the machine and allow it to sit for an hour.
  4. During this time, wipe down the top of the washer with a microfiber cloth dipped in the hot vinegar water.
  5. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the fabric softener and bleach dispensers.
  6. After an hour, continue the wash cycle.
  7. Then run another wash cycle using one cup of baking soda.
  8. At the end of the cycle, wipe the top inside of the washer tub with a microfiber cloth to remove any scum.

One final tip: Prevent mildew and mold by leaving the lid or door open when not in use.

Now that you know how to clean your washing machine, the washer will be ready to clean your clothes again!

Using interviews with specialists, online reviews and personal experience, TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! TODAY does have affiliate relationships with various online retailers. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.

This article was originally published on May 8, 2015.