How to Clean a Washing Machine

Updated: Sep. 29, 2023

Time to get this on your cleaning rotation!

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Clean the Inside of a Washing Machine

You would think that a machine meant to wash something would stay clean itself, right? Unfortunately, that logic is false. A washing machine can certainly clean your clothes well, but if you don’t regularly clean a washing machine, you could be facing some serious mildew issues.

When you think about it, needing to clean a washing machine makes perfect sense. The machine cleans off the dirt on your clothes, and that dirt obviously needs somewhere to go. Washing machines can easily collect dirt, bacteria and even fungus after some time. If you aren’t careful to clean a washing machine, there could be some major consequences.

Two Methods to Clean Your Washing Machine

Since most clothes/patterns require a cold wash, hot water isn’t moving through the machine often. The first thing you can do is wash the machine with hot water—bleach included. This will help to kill off whatever bacteria or bugs are currently residing within your machine.

If your washing machine has a funny odor, it probably means there’s some mold to deal with. This can sometimes occur if the washing machine’s lid isn’t open often to dry. The moisture within the machine can build up. Your washing machine inlet screen is another thing to check if your washer isn’t working correctly.

Running a Cleaning Cycle

Your machine likely has a cleaning cycle function. It’s recommended that you run a cleaning cycle with your washing machine once or twice a week, depending upon use.

Cleaning with Bleach

If your washing machine doesn’t have a clean cycle, you can achieve the same effect by running the machine with hot water on extra rinse with half a cup of bleach.

How to Remove Bad Odors From Washing Machine

Do you notice a moldy smell when you open the door of your front-loading clothes washer? If so, chances are that like most people, you leave the washer door closed between loads and only wash a couple of loads per week. This is only a problem because the ultra-tight seal on front loader doors doesn’t let the interior dry, and between washings, mold can grow inside the damp confines. And because front loaders use less water than top loaders (which fill up almost to the top), they don’t always wash away the mold when you run a load of laundry.

Eliminating the mold is easy. Just run the empty washer through a cycle once a month with a mold cleaner designed for front loaders. Our appliance expert recommends a product called Affresh. If you don’t want to use the tablets, you can substitute a cup of bleach.

In the future, you can prevent mold by treating the washer monthly and keeping the door open between washings so the interior can dry out. If you have a top load washer you can use the techniques mentioned above to remove bad odors.

How Often to Clean a Washing Machine

It’s recommended to have your washer go through a cleaning cycle once a week or bi-weekly, depending on how often you are using the machine. If you aren’t using it as often, it’s recommended to give it wash (both inside and out) once a month.