How To Clean a Washing Machine

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We all depend on our washing machine for clean clothing, towels, blankets, and bed-sheets, but how do we clean a washing machine itself? The answer partly depends on the kind of washer you have and the specific washing machine parts involved, so it’s always a good idea to refer to the directions found in the owner’s manual. Learn how to clean a washing machine and keep your washer fresh.

Does your washer have a tub clean cycle?

Over time, dirt, fabric softener, and detergent residue left behind following the wash cycle can allow mold and mildew to grow in the tub. Apart from being unhealthy, this can result in the washer becoming smelly with the likelihood that the bad smell will transfer to your clothes and bed linens. To help combat mold and mildew build-up, some newer washing machine models from manufacturers like LG, Samsung, Kenmore, and Whirlpool will have a “tub clean” or “clean washer” function; a cycle specifically designed to clean the interior of the tub itself. If your washer has this feature, you should use it at least once a month with a specially formulated washing machine deodorizer or cleaning product like Affresh:

  • Fully unload the washer.
  • Place one cleaner tablet directly into the tub, not in a dispenser.
  • Select “tub clean” or “clean washer” on the control panel and press “start”.
  • After the cycle is complete, wipe away any residue with a microfiber cloth.

How To Clean a Washing Machine Tub Without a Self-Clean Function?

If your washer doesn’t have a dedicated self-clean function, you’re not out of luck. After placing the cleaner tablet in the tub, run the washer through a normal wash cycle using the hottest water setting. Selecting a high-load size and a long wash cycle will help as well.

Do you have to use formulated tub cleaner tablets to clean a washing machine?

As an alternative to a formulated washer tub cleaning product like Affresh, you can use a DIY washing machine cleaner to clean and sanitize the inside of the tub with a combination of white vinegar and baking soda, or liquid chlorine bleach (be aware that vinegar and bleach should never be used together).

  • Load-size and temperature: With the tub empty, select the highest load-size and the hottest water temperature.
  • Homemade washing machine cleaner: Add two cups of white vinegar to the tub for a front-load washer; four cups for a top-load washer, along with a cup of baking soda (unlike tablets, the vinegar and baking soda can be placed directly into the detergent dispenser). Alternatively, you can use a ½ cup of liquid chlorine bleach instead of the vinegar and baking soda solution and clean the washer with bleach.
  • Run the washer.
  • After allowing the wash, rinse, and spin cycles to complete, run the washer through another complete wash cycle using only hot water (no vinegar, baking soda, or bleach) to completely rinse out any residue.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the tub.

How To Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine

When cleaning a top-load washer tub, consider lifting the lid after the tub fills to interrupt the wash cycle for thirty-to-sixty minutes to allow the vinegar and baking soda solution, or bleach, time to break down bacteria and soap build-up on the inside of the tub. After allowing this time for the solution to set, close the lid to continue the cycle.

Cleaning Agitators and Detergent Dispensers in Top-Load Washers

In addition, top-load washers have agitators, and often detergent dispensers as well, that can be removed. You should consider uninstalling these parts and soaking them separately in hot, soapy water then using a soft bristle brush to scrub off any debris. Use fresh water to rinse them off, then dry them with a microfiber cloth before reinstalling the components.

How To Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine

Front-load washers can be especially prone to odors due to the water and bacteria that collects in the folds of the rubber door boot seal. After each use, you should dry off the inside of the seal with a cloth. As part of a regular maintenance routine, add a ¾ cup of bleach to a gallon of water and use the solution to clean the seal and the inside of the washing machine door glass. You can use a scrubbing brush to thoroughly clean the inside of the boot seal folds.

Cleaning Detergent Drawers and Drain Pump Filters in Front Loading Washers

Detergent drawers and drain pump filters can also be uninstalled in order to be cleaned separately. As a precaution, be sure to place a towel down when removing the drain pump filter as a considerable amount of water is likely to spill out.

Additional tips about how to clean a washing machine:

  • Always take the clothing, towels, blankets, and bed linens out of the washer promptly after the spin cycle has completed to prevent odors from developing.
  • Clean any debris, mud, or pet hair from the interior of the tub. You can often vacuum this material out of the tub after it has thoroughly dried.
  • Leave the washer door ajar or the lid propped open after use to help dry out remaining moisture.

Find the right washing machine parts and cleaning products with Repair Clinic

With years of repeated use, washing machine parts can fail, become damaged, or simply display signs of wear-and-tear. A top-load washer’s agitator or dispenser can crack or become discolored. A front-load washer’s door boot seal can become torn or the boot seal retainer or retaining spring can break. Whether you need to repair your washer, clean it, or just want to keep it looking like new, you can find the right parts for your appliance by entering the full model number in the Repair Clinic search bar. The navigation filters on the left side of the part results page will allow you to refine your search down to just the part or parts you want. Repair Clinic stocks parts for all the major brands of washers including Whirlpool, Maytag, Kenmore, Samsung, LG, and GE, but you’ll want to make sure you’re purchasing the exact replacement part that fits your particular model.

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