How to Clean a Washing Machine

How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
Ever wonder how to clean a washing machine? Well I have to admit I’ve thought about doing this 100 times but I’ve never actually done it until writing this post.  Look at my washing machine, it desperately needed it!!!
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
Seriously gross!
Step 1:
Fill the washing machine up and pour in 2 cups of white vinegar.  Let set for 1 hour.  I think mine accidentally sat for 2 hours because I got busy doing stuff while Malea was napping. 🙂
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
Step 2:
Start the washing machine over again and let it run through a complete cycle.
When I drained my washing machine it still had some grime on it so I got a sponge out and scrubbed it down really well.  I added straight white vinegar to my sponge and the grime came off pretty easily. Look at how much better it is!
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
Step 3:
Fill the washing machine up again and pour in 1 to 2 cups of bleach. Let it soak for 1 hour.
Step 4:
While the washer is soaking use a couple of Q-Tips and detail all the nooks and crannies of the washer.
Look at how clean mine was after detailing it!  I seriously don’t think it has been this clean since my dad bought it 15+ years ago!
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
I even scrubbed the lid and all of the knobs!  Nice and shiny again.
Step 5:
Restart washing machine and let it run through a complete cycle.
I have to say I’m pretty happy with the results!  Now that I know how easy this is to do I’d recommend washing your washing machine at least once a year.  It’s the perfect thing to add to your spring cleaning list!
Here are my before and after pictures again, pretty amazing!
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
How to Clean a Washing Machine - Ask Anna
More washing machine posts!
How to clean a washing machine - Ask Anna
About the Author

"Hi I'm Anna! Welcome to Ask Anna where I love to answer your household questions! I have always loved to clean, organize and decorate and this blog is a fun way for me to help you love it too! I am a busy mom of a beautiful little girl and I'm married to the love of my life. Together we fill our days with projects , laughter and love. I serve an incredible God and overall I'd say I'm truly blessed!"

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  1. That's how I do mine minus the bleach. And you've reminded me that I need to do it again. This time I'll do the bleach step, too.

  2. The vinegar is my choice, too – I am not a bleach person! However, my new washing machine actually has a "machine wash" cycle! Crazy to think about it! It's not dirty enough to even try it, but someday I should!Becky B.www.organizingmadefun.blogspot.comOrganizing Made Fun

  3. You know, that's a great idea! I've by no means a clean freak, but I am OCD about things that are meant to clean being clean…does that make sense haha?! In other words, I *have* to have clean sinks, showers, etc. or I feel like what goes in isn't coming out clean. Maybe I'm just an odd duck.

  4. I have been wondering about cleaning my washer FOREVER!! ok maybe not forever since its only 3 years old but my husbands work clothes are soooo dirty and I always want to clean it. I thought I had to take it apart to clean it! Im putting this on my list for this weekend!

  5. thanks for sharing such a rewarding tip

  6. I was just thinking of cleaning mine. I just put a load in a few minutes ago and it really needs it.

  7. So smart. I have to clean mine on a regular basis because I use it to wash my cleaning towels from my job (I clean airplanes). It gets pretty grimey but I just spray it with spray and wash and wipe it out. It never occurred to me to let it soak in vinegar water. I will have to try this. Thanks so much for the post.

  8. Wow that's impressive! I should clean mine! I don't use bleach in our house so I might start with just vinegar and see how it goes …

  9. Good to know that this method works! Thanks for trying it out and sharing it.

  10. Oh – I love this. Thanks so much. My washing machine looks just like your before pics and I just never really knew what to do about it. I'm definitely trying this!!!

  11. Ooooh, thanks for sharing! It's such a good feeling to have clean appliances. And, I have never hear of four monks vinegar. I am going to check it out! The monks always have good stuff!xo,Sena

  12. You know, Annie, I've never thought of cleaning the interior of my wash machine despite constant cleaning of all other parts of it. What a great post to help others live a more fresh, clean and pure way. i appreciate your sharing this post. Hugs, Roz

  13. Calling by from Italy via Fresh Friday/Seasonal Saturday to visit another participant. Interesting I just give mine an occasional wipe inside, never felt it needed a deep clean!?

  14. I'm so glad I saw this…I was wondering if it was just mine that freakishly grimey, because our last washer machine never got the build up like this one has. On my list of chores for the weekend!

  15. I was actually wondering how you did that this weekend. Spring fever has hit and I need to clean my oven, washing machine, and coffee machine. Thanks for sharing!

  16. This is WONDERFUL! my husband and I need to clean our because he has a bad habit of leaving wet clothes in it and then we have some slight mold. Bleach time!

  17. Thanks so much – I thought I just had to live with the grime!

  18. Thanks for linking up to New Nostalgia's Anti-Procrastination Tuesday!Hope to see you again!!

  19. My dark clothing always comes out of the wash with white all over it – like residue or fluff of some kind. Any thoughts, suggestions?

  20. I just did this today to our new-to-us washing machine. The house was a foreclosure and we've found some scary dirt in place. The washing machine was no exception. Thanks for the how-to!

  21. Excellent Idea! I"m gonna try it with the water stains in my bathtub. Nothing else can get them off, can't hurt to try!

  22. Love this! Mine needs a good clean too! I will be featuring this tip for sure! thanks for linking to my party!

  23. Do you know how you could modify this for a front-loader? I want to wash my machine, but I realy don't know how (short of going and buying the super-expensive tablets made for that purpose).

  24. AWESOME post! I was just thinking about this the other day, so I ran a couple of cups of bleach through it and wiped down what I could…now I might have to do it again with vinegar. Great idea!

  25. What kind washing machine that is? From 1950s? What a part is in the middle? I am not never ever seen washing mashine like that.

  26. I have the same washing machine as you! I just did this the other week and am so glad that I did. I'm going to do this more regularly now. Thanks for sharing!

  27. I have a front loader too, do you have any suggestions ?

  28. All good.. however, did you hold the agitator, and push it off center… look at the gunk that accumulates around the edge that is not visible or would get removed without some serious scrubbing up the gunk

  29. Vinegar is the wonder cleaner, I swear!

  30. Vinegar and bleach are miracle workers, but I can't be around the smell of either of them… any ideas for alternatives other than making the hubby do it?

  31. Every time I do a load of towels I wipe the washer down with one of the older small hand towels. Keeps it pretty clean that way, sure I need to run some vinegar throught he 'inards' though!

  32. I like how no one has responded to the questions about the front loaders

  33. believe it or not, cleaning the washing machine has been on my cleaning routine FOREVER!! but, the inside of my machine never gets too gunky b/c my diaper laundry gets a good vinegar rinse every week anyway. Yours looks fantastic!!

  34. Front loader people, put the vinegar where the detergent goes or where the fabric softener goes, hot wash.

  35. What about the middle part of the washing machine where I put in the liquid fabric softener? That's pretty gunky in there. How would I clean that part?

  36. I will try this for cleaning the tub/bin. But I have to tell you I popped off the top softener dispenser, which gets very disgusting, and put it in the dishwasher with no heat dry. Worked great!

  37. This comment has been removed by the author.

  38. Thanks for linking to the front loader bit – mine smells a bit off and *nothing* I've tried has made it go away. Thanks for the tip!

  39. I so need to do this! Thanks very much for the great post :o)

  40. Hi, I am a new follower. I thought that I was looking straight in to my own washer..I ask myself everytime I was a load how in the world should I clean this…hahathanks great blog..If you would like please stop by and check out my blog if you would like @

  41. Very helpful! I've been thinking about doing this, but I didn't know how.:) now I know.:)

  42. I love this! This is so helpful. I have a front loading washer so I'll try your suggestion. I can't wait to see the results. Thanks Anna!

  43. One other tip for front loaders… they sell expensive "tablets" to clean them out but I simply used a dish washing tablet (one of those with the three different components including a rinse agent) and ran it on high. It got rid of the moldy smell the best since it broke down what I guess was trapped inside that barrel. It really works.

  44. I add 3/4 c. of vinegar to all my dark loads. The vinegar helps prevent darks from fading AND maintains cleanliness in the washing machine too! (I do use fabric softener to mask the smell) Works great!

  45. A rag and GooGone spray and this chore is done in 10 minutes without wasting any water.

  46. you amaze me 🙂

  47. Just cleaned my washing machine! Love it, Love it Love it!Now if I could only find a way to get my clothes back to being really white!Kym

  48. I never felt I needed to clean my washer before, until recently when I got so busy that clothes were staying in there for days (sigh) … and things began to … smell … and I finally had to buy this stuff at the grocery store. While using it I realized why it's so effective: it has such a strong (but pleasant) odor it nearly ran me out of the house (allergies). Next time I'll be using your vinegar and bleach idea 🙂

  49. I don't know if I missed it, but since so many people are interested in this idea (and I've noticed it being pinned several times on Pinterest) – do you think you might want to include a warning about MIXING BLEACH AND VINEGAR??You need to be very careful that the vinegar is completely rinsed from your machine before adding bleach to it or you'll produce a toxic chlorine gas, much in the same way as mixing bleach and ammonia. Your instructions state that you wiped the interior down with a sponge moistened in vinegar directly before adding a cup of bleach to your machine…. This does cause the deadly gases to be produced…. I wanted to add the comment so others would know, but would like to request that you add it to your post in advance and warn you not to pour bleach in until you've rinsed the machine well!! Be careful!

  50. The Kenmore service man told me to use 1/2 cup of CLR in a normal cycle and that would take care of any hard water build up inside the tub. He said if I did that once a month that my 10-year-old washer would probably work another 10 years.

  51. I just went thru this w/a washer I had for only 6 yrs. It started putting dirt into the wash water. I knew it was going to have to be replaced but I took the washer apart and OH BOY!! The dirt between the washer liner & tub looked like a sand box!! When I bought my new washer, mine too had a clean washer cycle. I was told I could use bleach, vinegar, CLR or there are products on the grocery shelf such as Affresh, which is a tablet that is put right into the washer all by itself. I believe Tide has something too. I do it once a week as my husband's work clothes get very dirty. Hope this helps!!

  52. To clean the outside I scrub it with the Mr. Clean Eraser. It looks like a new machine when you are done.

  53. I would love to see what you wrote on how to clean the fabric softener dispenser but the above link doesn't go anywhere.

  54. yeah definitely think you should post how vinegar and bleach do NOT mix. These two produce a chlorine gas that is hazardous to your health. You would want to rinse between the vinegar and the bleach cycles…

  55. I have to say two things. First of all, our washers never needed cleaning before they took the Phosphates out of them. Phosphates break down the soap and gook and residue and carry them away. Second, there is a great alternative. Fill your machine and stop it. Pour in one bottle of vinegar, about 8 ounces of peroxide, and the juice of one lemon. And if you have a septic tank, by all means, never put bleach down the drain. It will destroy the bacteria that breaks down your septic deposits. Let the machine agitate for one minute, then stop and let it sit for an hour. Restart it and let it finish the cycle. Your machine will be clean and so will all the pump/drain lines in it. No more smell, no more bacteria.

  56. Maybe put an old towel in after the initial soak and hopefully then no need to scrub. I have a front loader now and need to clean mine … should do it on a regular basis, but i have not.Thanks for the tip!With Kindness,Mary

  57. I have the same washing machine !!!

  58. I did this today ~ AWESOME!! When I did it I used hot water & closed the lid while it sat the hour with the vinegar in it. Then before starting the load I took advantage of the warm vinegar water & did part 2 (taking of the top of the middle piece & cleaning the filter) – even at full water this section on my washer wasn't covered so I was able to do this. I put the two pieces of the top of the filter into the water in the washer to let them sit, then I went about scrubbing the inside area. Once that was done I scrubbed inside of the tub & got most of the grime you said was left after step 2 off & used an old toothbrush to reach the crevices around the lid and on the knobs of the machine. Then I scrubbed the filter top, put it back together & put it back in place & turned the washer on to finish. I think doing it this way saved me a little time, effort scrubbing & from making an extra bowl of vinegar & water to soak the filter top in. Once the washer was done I did one more wipe of the wash basin with a sponge on the scrubber side. It looked awesome! I did go ahead & do the bleach cycle part as well, but I'm not sure it even needed it. I will definitely do this every 6 months or so ~ thank you!!!

  59. A great post! I’ll have to try this one out!

  60. Sarah Nuttall says:

    Hey I found your post on Pinterest and I loved the tip! Thanks so much for sharing. I posted a link from my blog to yours about this tip! Can’t wait to try out some more!

  61. Taylor Joni says:

    I have always found it necessary to do this at least once a year. Actually Tide makes a product for this and it works great, but I like the vinegar approach better. I use vinegar for everything. The floors never are dull after washing with vinegar and a FEW drops of Dawn. One thing that was not addressed is cleaning up and over the rim. Lots of stuff gathers up there and sort of plasters itself to the upper outside walls. One time I was cleaning the washer my husband brought into our marriage and as I cleaned that outside part, I began pulling out tons of dog hair. It was all mixed with that scummy stuff that gets on top of the load. He and his former wife raised dogs and washed the blankets in that washer. But even without dogs, it needs to be cleaned. I used sponges and brushes and now always do that because as it spins, it throws that stuff up and out.

  62. Tiffany says:

    also for the ones with front loading machinces if they haven’t already thought about it, i would recomend taking clorox wipes or a bleach solution with a well wrung out old rag and clean around the seal on the door and also between the grooves on the rubber seal.

  63. Here is a tip that can be helpful turn on your washing machine put about half a cup of white vinegar put the machine on very small and run it for about 30 minutes then pour a bocket of water and there you go.

  64. I have hard water and find that cleaning with straight white vinegar works very well in removing mineral build up although I’ve never gotten any in my washing machine.

    Thought you might be interested to know that a vinegar, chlorine and water mixture is actually a disinfectant which will even kill Anthrax. The exact info can be found by Googling.

  65. I love this post. I just bought a new (to us) used washing machine that is in need of a little TLC. This is sooo helpful! Thanks!
    Kayla {All You Need is Love and a Dog}

  66. I must be a freak of nature. I’ve never in 30 years had to clean the inside of my washing machines–both of them. Could be the desert climate. Also my mom taught me that unless the machine is in use, the lid should be open so mold, mildew don’t get a chance to get a foot-hold. Worked so far.
    But I do use this method for cleaning my dishwasher (minus the bleach). Great for hard-water deposits. Vinegar is also great for cleaning windows/glass, leaving them spotless and streak-free.
    SO many uses!!!

  67. I just bought a new machine so I keep this in mind for the end of the yr……..

  68. you did a great job cleaning the visible surfaces but if you were to have someone take the outer shell off of this washer and see inside the tub part that holds the water you probably would faint knowing what dirt and grime remains in the washer.
    As i work on appliances your machine is simple to and there are youtube videos on how to do so.

  69. Donna McEntee says:

    I don’t know where you live, but, if you saw how unorganized I was you would be horrified. I would love if someone could come and help me, pretty desperate here.

  70. Hi Anna!
    Indeed, amazing!
    I’m French and not sure I understand everything though ( ._,)
    1. start the machine without clothes until it’s full of water, Pour 2 cups of white vinegar, turn off and let sit for 1 hour.
    2. do a cycle without clothes (are short cycle/cold water/small load ok?).
    3. sponge with white vinegar to get grime off.
    4. fill with only water again, add 1-2 cups of bleach, let sit for 1h.
    during that hour, clean nooks with qtips (you mean outside and not diving into the bleachy water right?)
    5. run another no-clothes cycle (again is short/small/cold ok?)

    I’m always concerned about leaving vinegar and here especially bleach in. I guess what you’re saying is that one cycle to rinse it out is always enough?
    Thank you so so so so much,


  71. Carmen Hunter says:

    Thank you Anna for your tip on how to clean the washine machine. Mine was gross, especially the fabric softener container. Your post helped me a lot.

  72. LCGPetrey says:

    Just wash white towels w/ some bleach & you are DONE!