It seems counterintuitive. The washing machine’s job is to wash—why would the machine itself need to be cleaned? Isn’t it always filled with water and soap?
The soap residue, minerals, and chemicals from your detergent can get locked inside your washing machine and create a thin film that traps bacteria. These bacteria can clog the inner mechanisms, so your water doesn’t get as hot and your detergent won’t be as strong. Also, washing machines are, by design, hot and humid environments. This can become a breeding ground for bacteria to grow and spread.
This film of lingering detergent also traps odor particles, so your washer may start to harbor stinky smells. If it gets bad enough, this smell may even start to come off on your clothing.
In this way, protecting your clothing and your family means keeping your washer clean and fresh.
As a general rule of thumb, you should be cleaning the inside and outside of your washer once per month. If you use a natural solution, this process will not harm your septic system (or your wallet)—so the more often you clean, the better!
If you have a white washer, you may be able to see the buildup easily. You’ll notice dark streaks along the rim. Those aren’t stains from your clothes (as I admittedly once thought)—those are germs! Gross! If you see those streaks, your washer is overdue for a cleaning.
So, we went on a quest to find the best way to clean your washer that is eco-friendly and cost effective. While bleach is often used a common way to clean a washing machine, it is toxic, smelly, and can clog septic systems. We wanted to find something natural for your machine and your family.
The answer is something we’ve discussed before on this blog, and it keeps popping up time and time again: white vinegar.
White vinegar disinfects and sanitizes, and the acidity helps to eat away built-up residue. Plus, as the vinegar drains away, it can clean the insides of your pipes as well! White vinegar also has deodorizing properties, so it will get rid of bad odors in the basin and in your septic system.
Baking soda will add an additional punch of freshness! It can “exfoliate” away soap residue and neutralize odors. Baking soda is white vinegar’s partner in crime.
We will go through how to clean a top loader, a front loader, and some tricks for cleaning the outside and detergent basins of the machines.
Step 1: Set your washer to run on the hottest setting for the largest load. You’ll be running the water without clothes or detergent.
Step 2: Add 3 cups of white vinegar to the basin. Start the machine and allow it to fill with water. As it fills, the water will mix with the vinegar.
Step 3: Once the machine is full, let it agitate for 1-2 minutes. Then stop the machine.
Step 4: Add in ½ cup of baking soda. Run the machine again for 1-2 minutes. Stop the machine.
Step 5: Let the water, white vinegar, and baking soda mixture sit in the washer basin for 1-2 hours—do not have the machine running.
Step 6: Start up the washing machine again after 1-2 hours. Let the cycle finish and drain the water.
Step 7: After the first cycle has completed, wipe the top of the basin with a sponge. The water doesn’t fill all the way to the top, so that scum ring underneath the rim needs some extra attention. Wipe it off with a mixture of water and white vinegar.
Step 8: Run another cycle of plain hot water. Do not add vinegar or baking soda. This will rinse everything out and kill any bacteria that were loosened up in the previous cycle.
Step 9: Wipe the inside of the basin with a clean cloth.
Step 1: Clean around the rubber padding at the front of the washer (aka the gasket). This area tends to get filled with hair and goop. Spray the area with a vinegar-water mixture. Sprinkle some baking soda on a rag or sponge and rub, rub, rub.
Step 2: Sprinkle ½ cup of baking soda into the basin of the machine.
Step 3: Add 3 cups of white vinegar to the basin.
Step 4: Run your machine on the hottest setting for the largest load (or the longest time).
Step 5: When the first cycle is done, run another cycle of just plain water to kill any bacteria and rinse the machine.
Step 6: Wipe down the inside of the drum with a clean cloth.
The inside of your washing machine should feel smooth and smell fresh!
Don’t neglect the top and the detergent dispensers! Often, people will put their clean clothes on top of their washing machine—you don’t want to put freshly cleaned clothes on top of a bacteria-filled surface! Moreover, the detergent dispensers can get clogged, sticky, and grimy—making your detergent itself filled with germs and bacteria!
Dip an old cloth in a mixture of 2 parts water to 1 part white vinegar (2 cups water, 1 cup white vinegar). Wipe down the top of the washer, the knobs, the doors, and the dispensers. If there are hard-to-reach places, use an old toothbrush to get in there and clean out crevices.
Take a few simple steps after each wash to prevent the growth of bacteria, keeping your washer and clothes clean and fresh.
When you’re done cleaning your washer, it’s time to move on to the dryer!
The best part about this washer cleaning? No harsh scrubbing or chemicals needed! You just pour in the white vinegar and let it run! For just a few bucks, you have a simple, easy way to clean your washer—and your clothes! We guarantee you’ll be shocked at how fresh your entire laundry room will feel and smell after your washer gets a thorough cleaning.