The concept of cleaning a washing machine may appear new to a lot of people. This is mainly because, it does sound weird to wash an appliance that is built to wash clothes. However, if it is true that certain washing machines require periodic cleaning. After all, nobody would like the mold residues on the washed clothes. There are a few signs that may help you in determining if your machine needs any type of cleaning; such as the smell. If your machine smells weird (like stale flowers or stinky feet), you should consider cleaning it at earliest convenience.

How to Clean a Front-Loading Washing Machine

The first part of how to clean a washing machine will require a couple of rags and an all-purpose cleaner. In some cases bleach and vinegar would come in handy as well. The front loading machine door consist of rubber seal which is there to contain water inside the machine but in this process some water get stuck between the rubber seal and the machine. Needless to say that this arrangement serves as a safe haven for the mold growth.

Clean the Exterior

  • Rag and all-purpose cleaner will do the trick here. For best results, clean the area along the rubber seal thoroughly and flip the seal if necessary for better cleaning. 

  • It is better to first clean the area with a dry rag, if the area contains any traces of mold or mildew it will come out on the rag and then will be much easier to repeat the process until the rag comes out clean. 

  • Once this primary task is accomplished, now use the all-purpose cleaner (or other cleaning agents of your choice like vinegar or bleach) to clean the surrounding area. 

  • In the end it is recommended to use the dry rag again around the area.

The next step is to clean the remaining exterior. Special attention needs to be given to the dispensers, where the powder or the liquid detergent dispensers are poured. Make sure that it is clean and free of hair and other remains.

Tips:  Vinegar and soda can also be used if the cleaner doesn’t give the desired results.

Clean the Interior

  • The final step is to fill the machine with hot water. Most new machine have self-cleaning cycle so if the machine have that option, you can always get benefited with that function.

  • To enhance the quality of the wash, make sure to add hot water and a quart of bleach or other cleaning agents of your choice that are available on any grocery store. Otherwise use the long wash cycle which should be ideally followed with an extra rinse cycle. 

Tips: After the completion of cleaning process, if there is a strong bleach smell then run a wash cycle with hot water. This will eliminate the smell as well as any remaining residues of mold in the machine.

Make sure the machine is completely empty if the bleach is used for the cleaning purpose.

Clean the Drain Filters

The drain filters usually get blocked by hair, fabric or other sources of residues, which in turn lead to issues in the water drainage. Additionally, the risk of other problems also increases that may affect the efficiency of machines (such as frequent pauses while the machine is running, unnecessary vibrations, or unusually long cycle time).

It is imperative to know that the positioning of the drain filter may vary depending on the design of the machine, but in most cases you can see it at the bottom or front of the washing machine.

Video that shows more details and tips on how to clean a front-loading washing machine:

How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine

Learning how to clean a washing machine is not that hard, huh? Here's more on how to clean a top-loading washing machine:

Clean the Interior

Cleaning a top loading washing machine is easier than the front loading washing machine. As a first step, just fill the machine with the hot water. This can be done either by heating up the water in the kitchen or turning on the hot water wash cycle and interrupt it when the water is filled to the desired level.

Now add a quart of chlorine bleach and start the washing cycle in order to mix the water & bleach then stop the cycle. Leave the bleach water mixture in the tub for at least an hour in order to take out any grime, mildew and any other unwanted substance from the machine.

After an hour, start the machine cycle again in order to sanitize the whole machine.

Tips: If after the whole process machine smells like bleach then repeat the whole cycle of filling the hot water but this time in place of bleach, add a quart of vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit in for an hour as before and after an hour let the machine cycle to complete, this will definitely resolve your issue of bleach smell.

Cleaning the Dispensers

In the end clean the dispensers where the powder or fabric cleaner is poured as mentioned above in cleaning section of the front loading washing machine. The important thing is to make sure that it is cleaned from any grimes, hair and mold.

Another natural alternative would be white vinegar. Just add a quart of white vinegar instead of bleach or cleaner and it will do the trick.

Clean the Drain Filters

The reason for doing this and how to do this is explained as above. 

Video that shows more details and tips on how to clean top-loading washing machine:

More Tips on Washing Machine Maintenance

Knowing how to clean a washing machine is not enough. It is better to be safe than sorry; this idiom explains it all. In simple words, irrespective of the total age of your washing machine, undertaking simple precautionary measures can help in optimizing the life as well as overall efficiency of your machine.

Use the Right Detergents

Detergents that are compatible with high-efficiency machines should be used and the quantity should be kept to a minimum. This is mainly because regular use of most chemical detergents is associated with an aggravated risk of stud accumulation. In the long term, this process leads to mold growth and machine damage (either electronically or mechanically). As the machine use less water, the detergents or cleaning reagents should be used in lesser quantity.

Do Not Leave Damp Clothes in the Machine

As soon as the washing cycle is finished remove the clothes from the machine, as this is more likely to breed musty smells & mildew. Ensure that children and pets don’t climb in the machine.

Clean the Rubber Seal

As mentioned, cleaning of the rubber seal is important because it provides the ideal circumstances to yield mold & mildew. When the machine is not in used it is better to leave the front door open for better circulation of the air.

Clean the Machine Once a Month

Develop a habit of cleaning your machine thoroughly at least once a month (with water, machine cleaners or other agents of your choice).

Configure the Spinning Speed

Another important factor is to make sure that the spinning speed is congruent to the load of the machine because if the spin speed is higher then it means more wear & tear in the machine, thus reducing the life of it.


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