How to Clean a Washing Machine

If you’re lucky enough to have an in-unit washer and dryer, of course you want to take proper care of them! What you might not realize is that your washing machine needs to be cleaned just like any other appliance in your home. You rely on your washing machine to keep your clothes clean and smelling fresh—but over time, your washer can start to develop its own musty odor.

The good news is that cleaning your washing machine can easily be done in an afternoon. From there, not only will your washer look like new, but it’ll also be free of musty odors that could otherwise be left on your clothes!

Why Clean Your Washing Machine?

Your washing machine is constantly running cycles of warm, soapy water. Why on Earth would it need to be cleaned?

After your washing machine finishes its final rinse cycle, you remove your clothes from the drum and toss them into the dryer. However, some moisture is still left in your washer’s drum. Even if you leave the door of your washing machine open to “air out,” mildew can still become a problem over time. You’ll likely start to notice a musty smell coming from your washer; that smell is caused by mildew and bacteria build-up (and possibly even mold!). As you can imagine, those spores can then be transferred to your clothes with every well-intentioned wash.

Taking the time to clean your washing machine will get rid of this bacteria and neutralize odors that could otherwise be transferred to your own clothing. A deep-cleaning of your washer can also help to remove hard water stains and other build-ups that could cause premature wear and tear on the machine’s components.

How Often to Clean a Washing Machine

Okay, so it’s clear now why cleaning your washing machine is so important. But how often do you need to do it? This will really depend not only on the type of washing machine that you have, but how often you use it (among other factors). Generally, top-loading washers tend to need more frequent cleaning because leftover water can pool at the bottom and is less likely to air out after a cycle. If you tend to leave your washing machine door closed in between washes, this can also contribute to bacteria growth.

Your washing machine’s placement within the home can also be a contributing factor. A washer in a dark and damp area, such as a basement, may be more prone to mildew and mold growth than a washing machine kept in a bright laundry room on an upper floor. And of course, the more often you use your washing machine, the more frequently it will need to be cleaned.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine: Step-By-Step

You don’t need to carve out hours of your time to clean your washing machine; in fact, with a few natural ingredients, you can create your own special cleaning detergent that can more-or-less be run through your washer on its warmest cycle. From there, all that’ll be left to do is to wipe down your washing machine’s exterior, clean its gaskets, and de-gunk the filter for peak performance.

Create a Cleaning Solution

Start by mixing up your cleaning solution. Equal parts water and baking soda will do the trick. Mix up enough to fill the detergent slot of your washing machine. If you normally add detergent directly to the drum, use vinegar here instead. Specifically, distilled white vinegar (about two cups of it) can be added to your washing machine drum directly to neutralize odors and kill bacteria. Always make sure there is nothing else inside your washing machine while you’re running a cleaning cycle.

Run a Full Wash Cycle

Once your cleaning mixture is loaded up, all that’s left to do is run a full cycle on the hottest temperature setting available. Be sure to use a full cycle here to ensure that the drum is cleaned out thoroughly. This is especially important if you’re using vinegar, as the drum may be left smelling like vinegar if a full rinse cycle isn’t completed.

Wipe It Down

The nice part about cleaning your washing machine this way is that, well…your washing machine is doing most of the work for you! Still, even after the cycle is complete, it’s a good idea to use a sponge and some warm water to wipe down the drum and the rest of the washer’s interior. This will help to remove any remaining residue from your cleaning mixture.

Clean the Exterior

Following the above steps should neutralize any odors that may have been coming from your washing machine while also leaving your washer’s drum shiny and clean. Still, you may want to set aside some additional time to wipe down the exterior of your washing machine and clean some other components. Over time, laundry detergent spills, dryer lint, and other debris can accumulate on the surface of your washer and leave it looking a little rough.

For safety, unplug the washing machine before you get to work on cleaning the exterior. From there, wipe down the surface using a mix of gentle dish soap and warm water. This, plus a sponge or washcloth, should make for easy removal of any “gunk” caked onto the exterior of the machine. When excess debris is removed, wipe away the residue with warm water and try with a clean towel.

You may also want to clean the seal and gasket of your washing machine if you have a front-loading model. Check your owner’s manual instructions to find out how to remove the gasket and clean it with a solution of bleach and warm water. Just be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands when working with bleach.

Also, be sure to check your owner’s manual to find out how to clean your washer’s filter. This can usually be removed and rinsed off to get rid of any lingering smells.

Get Help With Your Day-to-Day Cleaning

Deep-cleaning your washing machine doesn’t have to be a time-consuming project and can help to eliminate unpleasant odors that may end up on your clothes. Of course, when combined with all the other day-to-day household cleaning tasks on your list, it may seem overwhelming.

Have you thought about hiring a professional cleaning service to help with your everyday cleaning and free up more of your valuable time? Maid Sailors offers cleaning solutions to suit your needs and budget, so contact us today to find out more or to schedule your first cleaning service with our professional team.

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