If you’ve ever wondered why your washing machine smelled funny or if you should be cleaning it, you need to clean it. If you haven’t ever wondered about cleaning this hard-working appliance, you still need to clean it. Add this simple step to your laundry process and you’ll have fresh smelling laundry AND an odorless washing machine.

Cleaning a front OR top load washing machine is simple, all you really need is white vinegar and some cleaning cloths.

Worried that your laundry room will smell like a pickle? Once the rinse cycle runs you won’t smell the vinegar.


  • Start by setting your washer to its hottest temperature, highest capacity and longest cycle.
  • Add four cups of white vinegar to the hot water, close the lid and allow it to agitate for several minutes.
  • Open the lid or pause/stop the machine and allow it to sit for an hour so that the vinegar can do its job to get rid of the bacteria, mold and mildew and the hoses of your machine.

If your load washing machine has a cycle to clean the washing machine, you can add the white vinegar and proceed.

After you have run a complete cycle with the vinegar solution, you can repeat the process if your washing machine is extra dirty. The vinegar does a great job of removing any buildup, not to mention softening any soap scum and other residue that may be in the washer and hoses. Let your machine agitate the solution for several minutes and open the lid.

While you allow this solution to sit for an hour, it’s time to tackle the exterior of the washer as well as the fabric softener and bleach reservoirs. Using soft cleaning cloth, dip it in the vinegar solution and wring it out. Wipe down the exterior, lid and control panel, taking care to not get
it too wet. Remove any compartments and wipe down around the area where scum and dirt tends to collect. Rinse your cloth and remove the softener reservoir from the machine and wipe the exterior and interior of it as well. Close the lid and allow the washer to complete its cycle.

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Front load washing machines are relatively new on the home appliance market and have quickly gained popularity for their efficiency and cleaning abilities. Despite all the benefits they have to offer, there is one common complaint that seems to plague owners: stinky laundry. Wiping down the interior of the washer with cleaner, using extra detergent or running everything on the longest, hottest cycle does nothing to help dissipate the scent. However, one simple cleaning task will not only eliminate the issue, it will keep your washer in tip-top condition.

  • Select the hot water OR Clean Washer setting. If your machine does not have a hot water setting, then select a “white” or a “stain” cycle setting.
  • Select the “extra rinse” option if your washer has that choice.
  • Add one cup of white vinegar to the drum and fill the washing machine.
  • Allow the cycle to run until it has completed.
  • After you have finished washing the interior of the washer, take a couple minutes to clean the dispensers. These can be easily cleaned by simply removing and washing in warm, soapy water to remove any residue or by wiping them down with white vinegar on a cleaning cloth. Rinse and dry them thoroughly before reinserting them.
  • Make sure you wipe down the rubber seal on the door as it is a perfect hiding spot for mold and mildew. Carefully pull back the rubber gasket and inspect to see if you have mold, mildew or socks lurking. Carefully wipe down the area with white vinegar and a soft cleaning cloth. Rinse with a cloth dampened with water and dry thoroughly with a clean cloth to prevent any moisture build-up.
  • After cleaning these three zones, you can wipe down the exterior and control panel with a damp cleaning cloth. Maintaining a clean washer and eliminating the stinky laundry issue is simple.

My number one maintenance tip? Be sure to leave the door open to prevent moisture build-up in between loads and clean it inside and out every month.

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You might also like the Guide to a Clean Home (The Homekeeping Planner is peeking out on top if you’re interested.)