Best Way to Clean Your Washing Machine

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This post is all about cleaning your washing machine. There are several areas to your washing machine that require extra care to keep it running at its best.

Washing machines do get dirty over time, because, obviously, we’re washing dirty clothes in them and using detergent and softeners.

This causes a build-up in the pipes, drawer, drum and all the other moving parts essential for optimal performance.


How to Clean Your Washing Machine Frontloader?

Things you will need:

  1. White distilled vinegar
  2. Baking soda. Baking soda cleaning hacks post.
  3. 2 microfiber cloths this is my recommended brand. Find out why in this post.
  4. Toothbrush or crevice cleaning tool
  5. Spray bottle

Step 1

Combine 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle and give it a good shake.

Step 2

Spray inside the washing machine door, seals and inside the drum. Let that sit for a minute.

Step 3

Wipe over every part you just sprayed. Pay special attention to the rubber gasket seals and all around the inside of the door. Hair, dust, debris, tissues and all sorts of other fun stuff gather in the cracks and are often the cause of musty smells from a washing machine.

Step 4

Remove the detergent drawer and spray inside the hole where the drawer was.

Step 5

Spray the drawer itself and place it in the sink.

Step 6

After a few minutes, take the toothbrush or crevice tool and start cleaning the hard to get places of the drawer and the hole. The drawer will have some parts that are removable so you can clean them underneath.

Step 7

Once the drawer and its hole are clean, replace the drawer and fill all compartments with vinegar.

Step 8

Put the washing machine on the hottest cycle including a pre-wash and let it run through.

Step 9

Spray the outside of the washing machine with the vinegar solution and clean the outside too. Use the dry cloth to polish up the outside to a streak-free shine, pay close attention to the glass on the door.

Step 10

Once the outside of the washing machine is clean and the cycle has finished. Remove the filter, usually located at the bottom right-hand side and clean that out too. Place a towel on the floor because water spills out.

If you’ve never done this step before you’re in for a treat! You’re about to open up the door to another dimension, a dimension of sludge and grime.

Step 11

Add a cup of bleach to the detergent drawer and run on a cold cycle. The cold cycle is because the active ingredient in bleach degrades in heat, therefore, rendering it ineffective. 

Step 12

This is the most important step in cleaning your washing machine, well, more of a prevention method really, however, you must always leave the washing machine door open after each cycle to let the air circulate and prevent those musty smells building up inside the drum.

How To Clean Your Top Loader Washing Machine?

Things you will need:

  1. White distilled vinegar
  2. Baking soda
  3. 2 microfiber cloths this is my recommended brand.
  4. Toothbrush or crevice cleaning tool
  5. Spray bottle

Many of the steps will be the same as a frontloader washing machine, however, there are a few differences and all steps must be completed to keep your washing machine clean and fresh.

Step 1

Combine 1 part vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle and give it a good shake.

Step 2

Set the washing machine on the hottest cycle.

Step 3

Just as the washing machine has filled up, press pause and pour in about 4-5 cups of the distilled white vinegar and leave for at least an hour, 2 is better.

Step 4

Clean the detergent compartment with the toothbrush or crevice tool, detail cleaning every nook and cranny.

Step 5

Return the washing machine to finish the cycle.

Step 6 

Add a cup of bleach to the dispenser and run on a cold cycle. Why cold? Because the active ingredient in bleach degrades in heat, therefore, rendering it ineffective. 

Step 7

Using the vinegar spray solution. Spray down the outside of the washing machine and clean with the microfiber cloth. Use the dry cloth to polish up any streaks.

Step 8

This step is to complete now and after every cycle. Leave the lid open to let air circulate and carry odours away. 

How Do I Deep Clean My Machine?

To deep clean the washing machine you can use a purpose-made deep cleaning powder that you place inside the drum. 

These types of washing machine cleaners, clean the drum, the gaskets and all of the waste pipes. 

They’re helpful if you’re short on time and do claim to clean deep within the washing machine and remove grime where you otherwise couldn’t reach.

You’ll still need to follow the other steps mentioned above to clean all the other parts of the washing machine that the powder won’t clean.

Can Vinegar Damage Your Machine?

In short. Yes. This is most common on frontloading washing machines. The vinegar can break down the rubber gaskets and seals around the door. Therefore it’s better not to use vinegar as a fabric softener on a front loading washing machine.

Using vinegar as a fabric softener on a top loader washing machine is less damaging but can still corrode the rubber pipes inside the washing machine. 

It’s best to only use vinegar to clean your washing machine and the appropriate detergents for cleaning your laundry.

Is Bleach or Vinegar Better to Clean a Machine?

Bleach and vinegar do separate jobs. Let’s take a look at bleach first.

Bleach kills bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew. However, just as with vinegar, it can corrode your machine. Don’t use bleach too often in your washing machine for cleaning your laundry and cleaning the washing machine itself.

Vinegar breaks down soap scum and residue. But obviously, causes the rubbers to decay and basically crumble.

There’s no right or wrong answer here and both are necessary to keep your machine clean. 

Just don’t use bleach or vinegar too often.

If you hate bleach, hydrogen peroxide is a good substitute.

Does Baking Soda Clean Your Washer?

Yes and no. Baking soda acts as a deodorizer. Adding a scoop to your load can remove lingering smells from your clothes. However, it can also clog up the detergent dispenser, therefore, creating more work for you.

To use baking soda as a cleanser for your washing machine, mix 2 parts baking soda and 1 part vinegar in a bowl until it forms a paste. 

Add the paste to the detergent dispenser and set the washing machine away on the hottest cycle.

A prewash wouldn’t hurt either. 

Are Dishwasher Tablets Safe for Washing Machines?

The new TikTok cleaning trend taking the world by storm is cleaning your washing machine with dishwasher tablets. Yes, you read that right. 

Well……. Probably not. I spoke to my brother-in-law, who just happens to work for know-how, the aftercare team of engineers at And he said, “well I can’t imagine them being safe, they’re made for dishwashers 😂.”

He said that “it’s always best to follow the manufacturer instructions because every washing machine is different.”

“However, as a general rule of thumb, you should always use the boil wash for maintenance cleaning of your washing machine. And use vinegar for a deeper clean but not too often”.

So you heard it from the horse’s mouth. Don’t use anything you aren’t supposed to use in your washing machine, follow the manufacturer instructions and you’ll be golden.

The Number One Mistake Making Your Machine Stink!

There is one other point I want to make when it comes to keeping your machine smelling of roses. And that is to air it out after every load. 

Leaving the door open on the washing machine helps to clear out any odours left behind and prevent new damp odours from accumulating. 

Just like our bathrooms, damp appliances need to be ventilated too.


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Sarah Goldsmith

Sarah Jane Goldsmith is the owner of multiple award-winning cleaning company. Purple Cleaning. With 7 years of industry experience and working with some of the most exclusive clients the Northeast of England has, she's gained a wealth of knowledge in cleaning and home organization. Her company, Purple Cleaning Services have won multiple awards for service in the commercial and domestic sectors. They are corporate members of the British Institute of Cleaning Science, leading the way in safe, effective, and aesthetic cleaning. Sarah runs many social media channels including her successful YouTube channel where she teaches people how to clean and how to get the most from their homes. Her private community of raving fans love being part of her exclusive membership programme, Keep It Clean Club, which can be found at In her spare time, Sarah enjoys nothing more than spending time with her family, she has 2 young daughters and a teenage son. By day she is engrossed in helping many people stamp out the mess in their homes and live happier cleaner lives.

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