How often should you?

How often you should clean your washing machine — and how to do it

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.

Iriana Shiyan / Shutterstock / Iriana Shiyan

Laundry soils, detergents and hard water minerals build up in the washer in areas you can't see and, over time, they develop an odor. Mold and mildew in the washer lid and the door are another cause of stink, says green cleaning coach Leslie Reichert.

RELATED: Start scrubbing and dusting! Spring clean with these room-by-room tips

So how do you de-funk a washer? Reichert suggests using these easy green-cleaning tips every six months to avoid any issues.

Top loading washers

Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest setting. Add four cups of white cleaning vinegar (six-percent acid) to the wash cycle. After the cycle starts, pause the machine and allow it to sit for an hour. During this time, wipe down the top of the washer with a microfiber cloth dipped in the hot vinegar water. Use an old toothbrush to clean the fabric softener and bleach dispensers, too. After an hour, continue the wash cycle.

Next, run another wash cycle using one cup of baking soda. At the end of the cycle, wipe the top inside of the washer tub to remove any scum.

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

Front loading washers

The rubber gasket at the front of the washer, especially in a high-efficiency (HE) washer, accumulates water, hair, scum and mildew. Before cleaning the washer drum, clean the gasket by spraying it with white vinegar and wiping with a damp microfiber cloth.

With the gasket clean, it’s time to take care of the washer. Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest water temperature. Add two cups of white cleaning vinegar (six-percent acid) to detergent dispenser. Run it through a complete cycle.

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. When cycle is done, wipe inside drum of washer with a damp microfiber cloth. While you’re at it, wipe down the front of the machine, too. Now your washer’s looking and smelling good again.

TOP