How to Clean a Washing Machine

Learn how to properly clean your washing machine to remove build-up dirt, soap residue, and other particles that can damage its motor and drainage system.

Oven Cleaning

How to Clean a Washing Machine

January 30, 2023

Wash day was once the most dreaded day of the week. Women would have spent hours toiling over boiling hot water, stirring their family's clothes in harsh chemical soap, and lugging them to a hanger to air dry. It wasn't until 1868, when a man named Thomas Bradford introduced the first commercial washing machine, that everything changed. While arguably the most important invention in modern history (air conditioning and medicines come in at a close second), the washing machine opened the door for men and women to quickly and effectively clean their clothes.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, and washing machines are one of the most used appliances in the home. Today, over 80% of all homes have a washing machine, making cleaning clothes easier than ever. While there are over one billion residential washing machines worldwide, it's interesting how many people don't realize the importance of cleaning their washing machines. It isn't that surprising, though, since many believe that since the appliance is washing its clothes, it cleanses itself in the process. Although that feature would be awesome, it's simply not true.

Washing machines need to be cleaned to remove build-up dirt, soap residue, and other particles that can wreak havoc on their motor and drainage system. Those who use laundry boosters like fabric softener or scent beads must be particularly diligent in cleansing their washing machines since these products leave a ton of residue behind that can lessen the lifespan of the appliance. In this article, we will discuss how to clean your washing machine so you can continue having clean, fresh-smelling clothing for years to come!

The Different Types of Washing Machines

Before we talk about how to clean your washing machine, it's important to quickly discuss the different types that are available, so you can be aware of the proper way to cleanse your specific appliance. There are three main types of washing machines: top-load, front-load, and all-in-one combinations, but for the purpose of this article, we will be talking about front and top-load models.

Another important aspect to be aware of with your washing machine is whether it's energy-efficient, which can directly affect the type of detergent you use. A top-load washing machine has a door on the top (shocking) where you load and unload the clothes. Some models may include a center agitator, while some are a singular open space. Many people choose top-load washing machines since they often come in large sizes, allowing for more clothing per wash. They are also a great option for those with young children since the child cannot climb into the drum.

Front-load washing machines have gained in popularity over the last ten years thanks to their ease of use. They have a door that opens in the front, which allows those with accessibility challenges and shorter individuals to access the entire contents of the drum. Front-load washing machines do not include a center agitator; instead, they rely on the tumbling motion to clean the clothing. Virtually all front-load washing machines are energy star certified, which is something to be aware of when choosing a detergent. While there are many benefits to choosing this model, they do hold some cleaning challenges, which we will discuss further in this article.

How Do I Know If I Need To Clean My Washing Machine?

If you haven't cleaned your washing machine in the last few months, you need to clean it! While your machine may look clean, the interior working mechanisms accumulate soap scum build-up, dirt, and other debris that can cause it to work less efficiently or even break down. Other signs that its time to clean your washing machine include:

  • Your clothes aren't coming out fully clean
  • There is an odor of mildew or mold
  • Your clothes and fabrics are getting damaged
  • The drum isn't filling with water completely
  • The machine is making strange noises throughout the wash cycles

Preventative cleaning is the best way to prolong the life of your washing machine and ensure your clothes are properly cleaned. Fortunately, you can clean your machine quickly and easily by following the instructions below.

How To Clean Your Washing Machine

Now that you know the different types of washing machines, let's talk about the best way to clean them. We'll begin with top-loading models.

How to Wash A Top-Loading Washing Machine

There are two main ways to clean a top-loading washing machine, either with a commercial cleaning product or with a deep cleaning method we will talk about below. If choosing a washing machine cleaning product from the store, you can follow the directions on the box, and you're good to go. Most options include running your machine on the hottest setting and simply inserting the cleaner during the wash cycle. Some popular commercial washing machine cleaning products include:

  • Renuv Heavy Duty Washing Machine Cleaner
  • Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner
  • Tide Washing Machine Cleaner
  • Glisten Washer Magic Machine Cleaner
  • OxiClean Washing Machine Cleaner With Odor Blaster

While these products work well for regular cleaning, if your machine is heavily dirty or if you haven't cleaned it within the last few months, you may want to start with the next cleaning option and use these as monthly maintenance, doing a deep clean once every six months.

Deep Cleaning a top-load washing machine is incredibly easy; in fact, once you try it, you'll wonder why you haven't done it sooner! For a sparkling clean washing machine, follow these ten steps.

  1. Check to make sure the washer is completely empty of all clothes and the dispenser has no detergent.
  2. Choose the hottest available setting and select the longest cycle and largest load.
  3. Allow the washer to fill up completely, stopping before agitation begins.
  4. Add four cups of liquid chlorine bleach.
  5. Allow the cycle to run completely.
  6. Remove the dispenser and clean it with vinegar to disenfect.
  7. Fill the washer with hot water for a second time, once again stopping before agitation begins.
  8. Complete a full wash and spin cycle.
  9. Wipe down the machine's exterior.

That's it! Now you have a squeaky-clean washing machine!

How to Wash A Front-Loading Washing Machine

Cleaning a front-loading washing machine is slightly different than a top-loading model due to the construction of the door. Since it sits in front of the appliance, there is a gasket that surrounds the opening for a waterproof seal. This gasket is notorious for accumulating soap scum and bacteria, making your machine smell horrible. You should clean the gasket at least once a week, following these four easy steps.

  1. With the washer door open, gently pull back the gasket so you can see its interior.
  2. Remove any debris, including hair, coins, paper, etc.
  3. Using a spray bottle, coat it with hot soapy water and wipe it with a clean cloth removing any visible mildew (repeat as necessary.)
  4. For mold spots, scrub with a toothbrush that has been dipped in a solution of water and 10% bleach.

Once your washer door gasket is clean, you can turn your attention to the drum. You can use the commercial cleaning products listed above for monthly maintenance, but it's best to start with a deep clean if you haven't cleaned your machine for a few months or more. To clean your front-loading washing machine, follow these three steps.

  1. Pour two cups of white vinegar into the machine's detergent dispenser.
  2. Take 1/3 cup baking soda and sprinkle it evenly throughout the drum.
  3. Run a cycle on the hottest temperature, selecting the longest setting and the largest load.

Now your front-loading washing machine is clean and ready for use!

Tips For Preventing Odors In Your Washing Machine

Avoid unpleasant odors in your washing machine using these helpful tips.

  • Perform monthly cleaning upkeep using one of the washing machine cleaners listed above.
  • Always use an HE detergent with an HE washer.
  • For front-loading machines, wipe the gasket clean after each use.
  • Don't allow wet clothes to sit in the washer for extended periods of time.
  • When not in use, keep the washer door open.
  • Perform a deep cleaning every three to six months.
  • Wipe down the interior drum after every use.
  • Avoid using products like scent beads and fabric softeners, which leave residue on the interior of the machine.

Keeping your washing machine clean is the best way to prolong its life and ensure your clothes stay clean and fresh. When you want to clean your washer, follow the directions above, but when it comes to cleaning your home, turn to Luxoclean. Luxoclean is the premier residential cleaning service for those in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge, and the surrounding areas. Our expert cleaners provide a wide range of services, including:

Choose between weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly schedules for a customized cleaning experience that fits into your busy lifestyle. No matter what your cleaning needs, you can trust Luxoclean to get the job done right. When quality and dependability matter, Luxoclean delivers!

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