How To Effectively Clean Washing Machine?

Almost every day, we use a washing machine to clean our clothes and other fabrics. But how many of us remember to clean the washing machine itself?

Let’s take a good look at how you can use regular household cleaning supplies to clean, disinfect, and deodorize your washing machine!

To clean your washing machine thoroughly, you’ll need to pay attention to the drum, the rubber door seal, and all the external panels as well. You don’t need to buy expensive cleaning supplies! You can use supplies you already have around the house like bleach, vinegar with baking soda, and even Clorox.

Washing machine cleaner DIY

Before you start the cleaning process, it would be helpful to understand a few basic things about your machine. After all, washing machines come in several different types, each requiring a slightly different approach to cleaning.

Top-loading vs Front-loading

Firstly, it’s important to understand whether your washing machine is a top-loading type or a front-loading type. 

That’s easy enough to do; if the door is facing upwards, that means it’s a top-loading washing machine. If the door faces forwards, then it’s a front-loading machine instead.

The most crucial difference between the two types is in terms of maintenance and cleaning. Typically, front-loading machines require a lot more care than top-loaders.

Even though they look sleeker and more modern, front-loading washing machines rely on a rubber door seal to keep the water in during washing.

After washing, that seal has a strong tendency to trap moisture in the machine, leading to the growth of mold and mildew.

That’s why it’s essential to clean front-loading washing machines more often and to leave the front door open so excess moisture can dry out on its own.

Dispensing tray

Regardless of the type of washing machine you’re using, a thorough clean should also include the dispensing tray or drawer.

That’s the part of the machine where you put in your detergent and any other cleaning supplies to wash your clothes.

Typically, these dispensers are very easy to remove for you to wash and wipe dry.

Drain Pump Filter

Don’t forget the filters, either! Not all models have them on the front panel, but for those that dont, manufacturers typically put them somewhere discreet.

Samsung washer drain filter clogged

Check the side and back panels, typically on the lower half, to see if your machine has a filter that needs to be cleaned.

Rubber door seal

As mentioned before, some machines have rubber door seals. Their purpose is to keep water from leaking out while you’re using the machine. Unfortunately, they also trap excess moisture and dirt inside them as well.

So, add them to your to-do list when cleaning your washing machine!

Agitator vs Impeller

Inside the washing machine drum, washing machines use either an agitator or an impeller.

An agitator is a tall spindle with vanes or fins that sticks out at the centre of the drum. When the drum spins, clothes will rub against the agitator to loosen stains and dirt.

That adds up to a more intense or aggressive form of cleaning that is effective, though it speeds up the wear and tear of clothes over time.

Top Load machine agitator

An impeller, on the other hand, is a low-profile disc that sits at the back of the drum with cones, wheels or maybe fins. Impellers work by spinning the water in the drum and making clothes rub gently against each other to remove stains.

Why does this matter? Well, when deep cleaning your washing machine, you’ll want to be sure to wipe down the agitator or impeller located inside.

How to clean top loading washing machine

So, let’s get down to business. How do you clean a top-loading washing machine?

What you’ll need:

  • A clean cloth, preferably made of microfibre
  • A toothbrush
  • A cleaning solution of your choice (e.g. bleach, vinegar and baking soda, Clorox)

Generally, cleaning a top-loading washing machine involves a lot more reaching than with a front-loading machine. That’s because the bottom part of the drum might be hard for you to reach, depending on your height and the size of the machine. So, it’s important to keep safe to avoid hurting yourself.

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Let’s break down the cleaning process into three parts, so our cleaning process stays organized.

Part 1: The exterior

First, it’ll be a good idea to give the exterior of the machine a good wipedown. Over time, the outside panels of the washing machine will get stained with things like dirt and detergent spills. Also, be sure to wipe the window so that you can see into the washing machine easily any

time you need to. 

All you need is a damp cloth to give it a good wipedown and make it look brand new!

Part 2: The tray and filter

Next, it’s time to clean the dispenser tray and the filter. 

Trays are easy to detach, so you can wash it right at your kitchen sink or using a nearby hose. Filters, too, are removable and washable. You can use an old toothbrush to clean out all the little nooks and crannies of these parts.

If you’re not sure about where these parts are located or how to remove them, be sure to refer to the User Manual. There, you’ll find instructions that are specific to your washing machine’s make and model.

Part 3: The inside of the drum

Last but not least, start to clean the inside of the drum. That will involve wiping down the inside and then using a cleaning solution with bleach, vinegar and baking soda, or Clorox. We’ll go into greater detail about using these cleaning solutions a little later in this article.

How to clean front load washing machine

Cleaning a front-loading washing machine isn’t all that different. However, it’ll be much easier for you to reach to the back of the drum and clean every corner in there.

What you’ll need:

  • A clean cloth, preferably made of microfibre
  • A toothbrush
  • A cleaning solution of your choice (e.g. bleach, vinegar and baking soda, Clorox)

Just like with a top-loading washing machine, you can divide the cleaning process into three parts. First, start with the exterior of the machine. Then, clean the tray and filter, before focusing on the drum inside the machine.

How to clean washing machine rubber door seal

Typically, only front-loading washing machines have a rubber door seal. Still, top-loading machines may also have a little rubber seal around the machine’s door. If your machine has a door seal, it’s essential to clean it as well.

Remember: You do not have to remove the rubber door seal from the machine. 

Instead, all you have to do is lift any flaps and clean the hidden parts of the seal. There, you’ll find excess moisture, dirt, coins, and maybe even a long-lost sock that has gotten trapped inside the seal.

Remove any items trapped there, and then wipe over and inside the rubber door seal to give it a thorough clean. Use an old toothbrush to scrub any stubborn stains, if you have to.

Now comes to the more exciting part. Which is best to clean a washing machine; bleach, vinegar and baking soda, or Clorox? 

Well, this is a debate that’s gone on for a long time. The best thing that you can do is try those solutions out for yourself and see which works best for you and your washing machine.

How to clean washing machine with bleach

Bleach is a popular option when it comes to cleaning washing machines. Not only is it effective at removing any stubborn dirt, but it’s also an excellent way to kill bacteria and eliminate odors. It is strong enough to disinfect your washing machine thoroughly.

Bleach gives off a powerful smell, so be sure that the area around the machine is well-ventilated. Open a window, or turn on a fan before you start.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Pour about 60 ml of bleach into the dispenser without diluting or mixing it with anything else
  2. Turn on your washing machine. Choose the longest and hottest washing cycle available.
    Note: Your washing machine might already have an automatic ‘self-cleaning’ cycle. If it does, feel free to use that one instead. The manufacturer would’ve pre-programmed it for the ideal time and temperature to clean the washing machine.
  3. When the cycle finishes, open the washing machine and try to see if there’s any excess bleach smell. If you can still smell it, that means the machine hasn’t flushed all of it out yet. Run an extra rinse cycle until the smell is gone.
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Here’s an important reminder about bleach. Bleach is a highly-reactive chemical, so you should never mix it with anything else, especially other ammonia-based cleaning chemicals. Doing that could cause it to release toxic gasses putting you in harm’s way. If you’re going to use bleach for anything, use it on its own!

How to clean washing machine with vinegar and baking soda

If you don’t like the idea of using bleach, you can go for another popular ‘homemade’ solution: vinegar and baking soda. 

Take note, though: this approach means using the vinegar and baking soda separately, not mixed in together at the same time.

Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Take two cups of distilled white vinegar and pour it in the tray
  2. If your machine has an automatic self-cleaning cycle, use that option. If not, run it for the longest possible cycle and at the highest temperatures possible.
  3. Once that’s completed, then you can sprinkle baking soda directly into the drum (not at the dispenser tray). Repeat the cycle that you used in step 2.

Just like the previous method, sniff around for any excess vinegar smell and run extra cycles until it’s gone.

How to clean washing machine with Clorox

If you’re a big fan of Clorox, they’re also a reliable brand to use when cleaning your washing machine. 

If you’re not familiar with Clorox, it’s a widely-available brand of bleach and other cleaning products. While regular Clorox bleach is effective at cleaning your washing machine, the company also produces a specialized Washing Machine Cleaner.

What’s the difference? The Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner cleans and deodorizes at the same time!

Using Clorox products is just as straightforward as using regular bleach. Here are the steps:

  1. Use a ½ cup of regular Clorox bleach in the dispenser tray. If you’re using a specialized product like the Clorox Washing Machine Cleaner, be sure to double-check the instructions on the bottle to make sure you’re using the correct amount.
  2. Run a cleaning cycle on your washing machine, or use the most extended cycle at the highest temperature setting
  3. Check to see that there is no leftover smell of Clorox in the washing machine, and run an additional cycle if necessary

Washing machine disinfectant tablets. Will it really help?

When you shop around for washing machine cleaning supplies, you may come across tablets that claim to disinfect, clean and deodorize your washing machine quickly. 

Will they really help? 

Well, yes. Manufacturers design and test these products specifically for use with washing machines. So, you can trust that they’ll get the job done and leave you with a washing machine that’s clean and sanitized. If you feel like spending a little bit extra to get these tablets, go right ahead!

Still, that doesn’t mean that tried and tested methods like the one above are any less effective. Most households will have bleach, vinegar, and baking soda already in supply. You’ll still get good results using these supplies, and you’ll save a little bit of money, too!

How often should I clean my washing machine?

Now that we’ve talked about all the different ways to clean your washing machine, let’s explore another vital question. How often should you do it?

There are no fixed rules when it comes to frequency. However, you should give your washing machine a thorough cleaning at least once a month. If you’re using the machine often, you could increase that frequency to once every one or two weeks.

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