How to Clean Your Washing Machine (A Step-by-Step Guide)

We’re reader-supported; we may earn a commission from links in this article.

Ah, the trusty washing machine, a faithful companion in our quest for clean clothes.

But have you ever noticed a funky smell emanating from your front-loading washing machine?

Fear not!

In this article, I will teach you how to clean your washing machine – it’s a simple process!

How to Clean a Washing Machine?

Here’s a quick rundown of how to clean your washing machine.

First, gather your cleaning supplies – liquid chlorine bleach and baking soda.

For front-loading washing machines, pay special attention to the rubber seal as soap scum and detergent residue tend to build up there.

Now, for top-loading washing machines, focus on the detergent dispenser and the inner drum.

Start by running a normal cycle with hot water and add one cup of liquid chlorine bleach to eliminate any lingering odors.

Then, run another cycle with hot water, but this time add half a cup of baking soda to keep things fresh and clean.

To learn more details about each step, read on!

Step 1: Gather Your Cleaning Supplies

First things first, let’s get all the necessary supplies ready.

You don’t want to start the cleaning process only to realize you’re missing something important. Here’s what you’ll need:

a. White Vinegar

Vinegar is a magical natural cleaner that will tackle soap scum and mineral buildup with ease.

b. Baking Soda

Baking soda is your best buddy when it comes to eliminating odors and stains.

c. Microfiber Cloth

A soft microfiber cloth is gentle on your washing machine’s surface and helps with effective cleaning.

d. Toothbrush or Small Scrubbing Brush

These tiny brushes will come in handy to reach tight spots and corners.

e. Hot Water

Hot water works wonders in dissolving grime and residue.

Step 2: Empty the Washing Machine

Before we start cleaning, let’s make sure the washing machine is empty. Take out all the clothes, and give the interior a quick wipe to remove any loose debris.

Step 3: Clean the Detergent Drawer

Now that the washing machine is empty, it’s time to tackle that detergent drawer. Gently pull it out and wash it with warm, soapy water. Make sure to remove any soap buildup or mold.

Step 4: Run a Hot Water Cycle

Pour two cups of white vinegar into the washing machine drum.

Vinegar will work its magic by breaking down any soap scum and mineral deposits. Run the machine on the hottest cycle to get rid of germs and bacteria effectively.

Step 5: Add Baking Soda

Once the hot water cycle is complete, sprinkle a cup of baking soda inside the drum. Run another hot water cycle. Baking soda will neutralize odors and leave your washing machine smelling fresh.

Step 6: Clean the Exterior

While the washing machine is busy cleaning itself, don’t forget the outside. Wipe down the exterior with a damp cloth and a mild cleaner to remove fingerprints and stains.

Step 7: Clean the Filter

Many washing machines have a filter that traps lint and debris. Locate the filter, clean it, and put it back in place.

Step 8: Leave the Door Open

To prevent mildew and odors from returning, leave the washing machine door open for a few hours after each use.

Step 9: Regular Maintenance

Cleaning your washing machine is not a one-time affair.

Make it a habit to clean the detergent drawer and run a maintenance cycle with vinegar and baking soda once a month.

Repeat these steps every few months to keep your washing machine clean and running smoothly.

These simple cleaning tips will ensure your front-load washer or top-load washer stays in top-notch condition, giving you fresh and fragrant laundry every time!

How to Prevent Mold and Mildew in your Washing Machine

Mold and mildew can be pesky invaders in even the best washing machines, leading to unpleasant odors and potential damage to your laundry.

Fear not, as there are some simple yet effective ways to keep these unwelcome guests at bay and ensure your washing machine stays fresh and clean.

1. Leave the Door Ajar

After completing a laundry cycle, resist the temptation to shut the washing machine door tight. Instead, leave it slightly ajar to allow air circulation.

This small step can work wonders in preventing mold and mildew from taking hold.

Personally, this is the best decision that I’ve made for my home, given that mold can be commonplace in the humid country that I live in.

2. Wipe Down the Drum

Regularly wipe down the interior of the washing machine drum with a clean, dry cloth. Removing any moisture or residue will leave no room for mold to thrive.

3. Clean the Gasket

The rubber gasket around the door is a common hiding spot for mold and mildew. Keep it spick and span by wiping it down with a mixture of water and vinegar. This natural solution works wonders in banishing those unwanted fungi.

4. Use the Right Detergent

Opt for high-efficiency (HE) detergents, as they produce fewer suds, which can lead to a buildup of mold. Also, be mindful of the detergent quantity – using too much can leave behind a soapy residue that mold adores.

5. Choose Low-Temperature Washes

Washing your clothes in hot water might be tempting, but opting for lower temperatures can help prevent mold growth. Warm water is usually sufficient for most laundry loads.

6. Clean the Dispenser Drawers

The detergent and softener dispenser drawers can become mold magnets if not cleaned regularly. Remove the drawers and rinse them thoroughly to keep them mold-free.

7. Avoid Leaving Wet Clothes Inside

We all forget sometimes but try not to leave damp clothes in the machine for extended periods. Transfer them to the dryer promptly to avoid creating a cozy environment for mold to flourish.

8. Keep the Washing Machine Area Dry

Ensure the area around the washing machine stays dry. If there are any leaks, address them promptly to prevent moisture buildup.

How to Remove Limescale from your Washing Machine

Limescale can accumulate in your washing machine over time, especially if you live in an area with hard water.

If left untreated, limescale can affect the efficiency of your machine and leave your clothes looking less than their best.

But fret not, as there are simple and effective methods to tackle this stubborn issue and restore your washing machine’s performance.

1. Vinegar Soak the Washing Machine

Fill the washing machine drum with hot water and add two cups of white vinegar.

Allow the machine to agitate for a couple of minutes, then pause the cycle and let the solution soak for an hour. Afterward, resume the cycle to completion. The mild acidity of vinegar will dissolve the limescale.

2. Citric Acid Power

Citric acid works wonders in tackling limescale. Dissolve about four tablespoons of citric acid in a cup of hot water, then add it to the detergent compartment. Run a hot water cycle without any laundry, and the citric acid will help break down the limescale.

3. Baking Soda Boost

Baking soda is another excellent natural cleaner. Mix half a cup of baking soda with half a cup of water to form a paste. Apply the paste directly to the limescale deposits inside the drum, around the agitator, and any affected areas. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, then scrub it off with a soft brush or cloth.

4. Pay Attention to Dispensers

Limescale can also accumulate in the detergent and fabric softener dispensers. Remove these components and soak them in a solution of hot water and vinegar or citric acid. Scrub away any remaining limescale deposits before reattaching them to the machine.

5. Regular Maintenance

To prevent future limescale buildup, consider using a water softener if you live in a hard water area. Additionally, incorporate a monthly maintenance wash with either vinegar or citric acid to keep limescale at bay.

Why Clean Your Washing Machine?

Before we plunge into the nitty-gritty of cleaning, let’s take a moment to understand why this chore is so important.

You see, our hardworking washing machines are no strangers to dirt and residue. They deal with all the grime and odors from our clothes daily.

Over time, soap scum, lint, and bacteria can build up, leading to an unpleasant washing experience.

Not only does a clean washing machine ensure your clothes come out fresh and smell heavenly, but it also prolongs the life of your appliance. It’s a win-win situation!


There you have it, folks!

Here’s your step-by-step guide to cleaning your washing machine and keeping it in tip-top shape.

Remember, a clean washing machine means cleaner clothes and more efficient performance.

So, show your laundry buddy some love and follow these simple steps. Happy cleaning!


Q: Can I use bleach instead of vinegar?

While bleach can be effective, it’s harsh on the environment and may damage certain parts of your washing machine. Stick to vinegar for a natural and safe clean.

Q: How often should I clean my washing machine? 

Once a month is ideal for regular maintenance, but if you notice funky odors or stains, don’t wait—clean it ASAP!

Q: My washing machine has a self-cleaning cycle

Do I still need to clean it manually? Even with a self-cleaning cycle, it’s a good idea to perform manual cleaning to ensure a thorough job.

Q: Can I use any cleaner for the exterior? 

Stick to mild cleaners to avoid damaging the washing machine’s surface.

Q: My washing machine smells even after cleaning. What should I do? 

Try leaving the door open and letting it dry completely. If the problem persists, consult a professional for a thorough inspection.

Justin Chia

Justin is the author of Justjooz and is a data analyst and AI expert. He is also a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) alumni, majoring in Biological Sciences.

He regularly posts AI and analytics content on LinkedIn, and writes a weekly newsletter, The Juicer, on AI, analytics, tech, and personal development.

To unwind, Justin enjoys gaming and reading.

Similar Posts