Because we use the washing machine to — well — wash things, we tend to assume that it stays perfectly clean on the inside. While this is mostly true, grease, grime, hair, fur, and bacteria can build up in your washer over time if it’s not cared for regularly.
Have you ever stood in front of your washer and sniffed the air, wondering where that strange, mildewy smell was coming from? Nope, it’s not your gym shorts (although those likely don’t smell so great either).
That smell is probably your washer.
Any time that you’re wondering if you need to clean your washer is the right time to clean it. If you’ve never wondered that until now, it is definitely the right time to clean it!
To prevent your washing machine from getting gross (and getting your laundry gross too!), here’s what you need to do.
5 Steps to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine Using Natural Cleaners
If you have a top-loading washing machine, your job is going to be pretty simple.
Step 1. Add four cups of white vinegar to the drum of your washer. We suggest also adding 20 drops of your favorite antifungal essential oil, such as lavender, citronella, tea tea, orange, or peppermint. Mix these oils into the vinegar before adding to the washer.
Step 2. Set your washer to its hottest temperate setting on the longest cycle.
Step 3. Close the lid and allow it to fill and agitate for several minutes, before pausing it. The hot vinegar water will soak through your machine and help to get rid of bacteria, mold, and mildew in the drum. The vinegar will also help soften and clear away any residual soap scum (a primary contributor to the build-up of bacteria in your washer).
Step 4. Repeat if your washer is particularly dirty. (If you’ve never cleaned your washer before, this means you!)
Step 5. Wet a cloth with vinegar and wipe along the lip of the washer. Clean the bleach reservoir and fabric softener reservoir as well. Remove any remaining visible grime.
Steps to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine
Front loading washing machines are wonderful, but we all know that they require just a bit more work and attention than their more simple, top-loading counterparts. Follow these steps to clean your front-loader.
Step 1. Add 4 cups of white vinegar mixed with 20 drops of your favorite antifungal essential oils to the detergent tray or pour it directly into the wash drum. Run a wash cycle using the hottest water setting. This will help get rid of odor-causing bacteria and mold, while also helping to dissolve mineral deposits and soap scum.
Step 2. Once the cycle has finished, wet a clean rag in vinegar. Use this rag to wipe along both sides (inside and out) of the rubber seal of the door to remove any built-up debris or grime. Clean any visible grime from the fins of the washer.
Step 3. Add 2 cups of hydrogen peroxide to your machine’s detergent tray or wash drum and, again, run your washer on the hottest setting. Make sure this last wash cycle is followed by a rinse.
Step 4. Remove the detergent tray and all other removable parts of your washer’s detergent drawer (if applicable to your model). Place the parts in a bucket of warm soapy water and allow them to soak before scrubbing each piece with a sponge or rag. Rinse in cool water and replace the pieces.
Step 5. Many HE machines have a filter cartridge in the front. This should be cleaned monthly — though many people don’t know about it. Grab a bucket and place it underneath the filter. Remove the filter (holding your nose — it STINKS!) and the water will pour into the bucket. Spray vinegar into the empty hole where the filter sits. Scrub the filter using your Laundry Stain Brush, a dash of Sink SCRUB™, and a little Dish Soap. Rinse in warm water, and replace.
Finish The Job!
Since you’re just waiting around for the wash cycles and soaks to finish, it’s the perfect time to tackle the outside of your washing machine, too! Spray the exterior of your machine down with All Purpose Natural Cleaner and wipe the surface with a clean cloth. Pay extra attention to the control panel and door handles.
Just like that, you’re all done! And if you’re worried about your laundry room or clothes starting to smell like a pickle factory, don’t. After the rinse cycle is through, all residual smell of vinegar will be gone.