If your washing machine is smelling worse than your post-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 often should you clean your washing machine and how do you do it? We spoke to Reichert and Nelly Martinez, Whirlpool's senior brand manager, for their expert tips and tricks.
How often should you clean your washing machine? | How to know if your washer needs cleaning | Best way to clean a washing machine | What to run through a washing machine to clean it | How to clean a front-loading washing machine | How to clean a top-loading washing machine | The best products for cleaning your washing machine
How often should you clean your washing machine?
"We recommend cleaning your washing machine about once a month or about every 30 cycles to prevent buildup and soils," advises Martinez.
"Without cleaning your washing machine, you may experience buildup of detergent or soils that cause clothing to smell," she adds. Nobody likes their clothes smelling funky!
How do I know if my washer needs cleaning?
Aside from visibly seeing mildew build up, if your machine start to smell, it might be time to consider cleaning it. In other words, you'll probably be able to tell pretty easily if it's time, but you should still be preventative and do regular cleanings.
What is the best way to clean a washing machine?
"To best clean a washing machine, first remove all items inside and use a cleaning tablet...on the cleaning cycle to thoroughly clean the inside of the appliance," Martinez suggests.
If your washing machine has a detergent dispenser drawer, she recommends using a damp cloth or machine cleaning wipes to wipe down the drawer surfaces. If the drawer is removable, you can also soak it in hot water for an even deeper clean.
"Of course, always check your appliance’s care guide for specific cleaning instructions!" she also emphasizes.
What can you run through a washing machine to clean it?
"It is generally safe to use baking soda or bleach in washing machines, but we always recommend running a rinse cycle before loading clothes back inside," explains Martinez.
Martinez says that bleach is a common (and effective) product used to clean washing machines, but suggests making sure to check your appliance’s care guide first before using it.
How to clean a front-loading washing machine
What you'll need:
What you'll do:
- First, clean the washing machine with vinegar. 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.
- Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest water temperature.
- Add two cups of white cleaning vinegar to detergent dispenser.
- Run the washer through a complete cycle.
- Run another cycle on the highest level and at the hottest water temperature, this time adding 1/2 a cup of baking soda to the drum.
- When the 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.
How to clean a top-loading washing machine
What you'll need:
What you'll do:
- Set the washer to the highest level and the hottest setting.
- To clean a top-loading washer with vinegar, add 4 cups of white vinegar 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.
- If you own a top-load washer with an agitator and your agitator has a removable cap, don’t forget to remove the cap and clean the inside as well.
- Use an old toothbrush to scrub the fabric softener and bleach dispensers.
- After an hour, continue the wash cycle.
- Run another wash cycle using 1 cup of baking soda.
- 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.
How to clean your washing machineMarch 17, 201901:29
The best products for cleaning your washing machine
Aside from bleach, vinegar and baking soda, here are a few products to help you effectively clean your washing machine.
Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner
"We always recommend using an Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner tablet as an easy and surefire way to eliminate dirt and residue inside a washing machine," says Martinez.
Reusable spray bottles are great for using all over the house. For your washing machine, fill your spray bottle with vinegar and spray away!
Almost every cleaning job could use some handy microfiber cloths. Use these for wiping down the inside of your washing machine drum as well as the outside.