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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 odor-less washing machine.
You can clean a top loading or front loading machine with white vinegar or bleach. My preference is to use either white vinegar OR non-chlorinated bleach because they are safe, all-natural solutions, but some washing machine manufacturers recommend only using chlorinated bleach. Most importantly, follow the instructions for your specific machine or try one of these natural methods.
Cleaning your top loading 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.
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 a cleaning rag or microfiber 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 the bleach reservoir 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.
(HE) Front Load or (HE) Top Load
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.
HE washing machines use less water and less energy which in turn can result in more mildew, mold, detergent residue and buildup in your washer. Some washers have a separate cleaning cycle as an option – I have that on my washing machine and run that cycle after I wash cleaning rags every week. I’m pretty sure that that is the secret to a non-smelly HE washing machine.
The best way to clean your front loading washer is simple:
- Select the hot water 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 ¾ cup of white vinegar OR ¾ cup non-chlorinated bleach (not both!) to the bleach dispenser or fill to its max level.
- Allow the cycle to run until it has completed.
- To ensure that no vinegar remains in your washer, manually select an additional rinse cycle if your washer does not have a 2nd rinse cycle selection.
After you have finished washing the interior of the washer, take a couple minutes to clean the bleach and fabric softener 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 (as is the case with mine). Carefully wipe down the area with white vinegar and a soft, white 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 gentle all-purpose cleaning spray to remove any dust and dirt buildup. 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.