A Guide to Cleaning Washing Machines

clean washing machine

Occasionally cleaning washing machines will help them do their job more effectively. If you have ever washed a load of greasy clothes only to discover that subsequent loads were coated in grease, you know how important it is to keep the interior and hoses on your washing machine clean. Here are a few tips to help you with disinfecting and cleaning your washing machine.

Clean the Tub and Dispensers

To maintain the interior of the washing machine and to clean it after a particularly dirty or greasy load, fill the tub with hot water. Add one or two cups of white vinegar and run the complete cycle. To really scrub the sides, throw in an old towel. To help clean any residue from dispensers, pour the vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser and/or bleach cup.

For cleaning washing machines with really stubborn stains, use a nylon scrubber and a paste made of borax and water. Scrub until stains recede and repeat the vinegar and hot water cycle.

If you dye clothes in your washing machine, be sure to use this vinegar and hot water treatment before doing the next load of laundry. Clean the tub thoroughly even if you think you have removed all of the dye. Dye can hide in the holes of the tub or may even have splashed into the fabric softener and bleach dispensers.

Remove Odors

Sometimes washing machines can smell like mold or mildew. This can happen if the machine has not been used regularly, like after you have been on an extended vacation. With a nylon scrubber, gently swab the interior of the tub with a paste of baking soda and water. Let sit for an hour or two, and then run a cycle with hot water. Throw in an old towel for some additional scrubbing action. If the odor persists, use the white vinegar and hot water treatment.

If you know you are going to be gone for more than a week or two, leave the lid of the washing machine open and sprinkle a little baking soda into the interior to keep it smelling fresh.

Hard Water/Mineral Buildup

Appliances in homes with hard water often become encrusted with mineral deposits. The hot water and vinegar treatment above may help. If lime and mineral deposits persist after a cycle has been run, try soaking the stains in pure white vinegar. Allow the vinegar to soak into the mineral deposit for at least two hours and then fill the tub with hot water and repeat the cycle.


During flu season, disinfecting your washing machine’s interior is an easy way to ensure you are not spreading any illnesses. To disinfect washing machines, the hot water and vinegar treatment can be used. For more serious diseases, try using either a household disinfectant or a bleach solution comprised of 1-1/2 cups household bleach to 1 gallon of water.

By properly cleaning washing machines and maintaining their tubs and dispensers, you keep them in peak condition to clean your laundry. Remember to lift the lid and leave it open when not in use to keep residual water from turning rancid.

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