When you fill your washing machine with detergent and pull out clean clothes a short time later, it’s easy to forget that your machine itself needs occasional cleaning. Soap, minerals and mold can all build up in your washer over time, leading to unwanted odors and reduced cleaning power. If your machine is no longer looking, smelling or cleaning its best, here’s a simple process for washing your washer. 

Tools and supplies

2 quarts of white vinegar (1 quart for front-loading machines)
1 cup baking soda (1/2 cup for front-loading machines)
Toothbrush or soft scrubbing brush
Soft cleaning cloth or rag

Top-loading machine directions

With the machine empty, set it to run for the largest load size, longest wash cycle and hottest water. Add one quart of vinegar as the machine fills with water. Once the machine is full, add the baking soda, and let the wash cycle run for a minute to mix the powder into the water. Then, open the machine and let it sit for an hour.

Meanwhile, remove any parts of the machine that you can that need cleaning, such as the bleach and softener wells. Soak, scrub and clean these parts before thoroughly drying and then replacing them. Use a soft brush to clean the top portion of the agitator and difficult-to-reach areas under the lid and around the rim of the tub.

After an hour, shut the lid and let the machine complete its cycle to drain and rinse. You can use this time to wipe down the outside of the machine with a soft cloth and a 50/50 water and vinegar solution.

Once done, repeat the full cycle with just vinegar to clean away any residue that remains from the first cycle. When finished, wipe the inside of the tub with a clean, damp cloth to remove any final residue.

Front-loading machine directions

The same steps with some small changes can be used to clean front-loading washing machines. Just use two cups of vinegar poured into the tub and 1/4 cup of baking soda mixed with 1/4 cup of water added to the detergent dispenser before starting the first cycle. Then, just use 2 cups of vinegar for the second cycle.


This cleaning process should be performed about once a month or whenever you notice that the inside of the machine feels rough to the touch or has an unpleasant odor. You can keep your washer clean longer by leaving the lid open between uses to help keep the interior dry and prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

  • By: Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp.
  • In: How To, Tips
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