Ultimate Guide to a Cleaner Washing Machine (& Fresher Laundry)

If you want your laundry as clean & fresh as it can be, you need to deep clean your washing machine. We've got all the materials & steps to get it clean.

Updated January 8, 2024
clean front loader watching machine

Your washing machine does a lot for you, but are you giving it what it needs? While it may seem counterintuitive that you need to wash something that washes your clothes, you do. Washing machines that get musty and moldy won't get your clothes as clean as they should be, which is why it's essential to clean your washing machine. We've got all the steps for how to clean your washing machine inside and out so your laundry stays fresh. 

How to Clean a Front-Load Washing Machine

Front-loading washing machines are super convenient, but they have some unique challenges for keeping them clean. To keep your front-loader spotless so it cleans your clothes properly, you'll need:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Spray bottle

Clean the Detergent and Softener Drawer

The first step to getting your washer sparkling is to clean out the detergent and softener drawers. If the drawer is removable, pull it out and soak it in a sink with water and vinegar for 15 minutes. You can then clean out the residue. Otherwise:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar.
  2. Spray down the drawer.
  3. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Use the toothbrush and cloth to remove all the detergent residue.
put clothes in the washing machine

Clean the Gasket

After the drawers are clean, focus on cleaning the gasket, which can get gunk and mold trapped in it.

  1. Spray down the gasket with vinegar.
  2. Wipe it down with a cloth.

Clean the Drum

Next stop, the drum. 

  1. Set the machine to the highest and hottest setting.
  2. Put two cups of vinegar into the detergent dispenser.
  3. Run the cycle.
  4. Add 1 cup of baking soda to the drum after the cycle ends.
  5. Run it through another cycle.
  6. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe out the drum.
  7. Sprinkle a little baking soda on a toothbrush and scrub to get any crusty areas.

How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine

Even though you use almost exactly the same materials, there are different steps to clean a top loader. Since it loads from the top, you can allow the vinegar to soak for a bit. But first, you need to grab these supplies.

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Toilet Brush
  • Rubber band
  • Toothbrush

Clean the Drum

For a top-loading washing machine, you dive right into the drum.

  1. Use the highest, hottest setting, and fill the drum.
  2. Add 4 cups of white vinegar.
  3. Allow it to soak for an hour then start the cycle.
  4. Once the cycle completes, add a cup of baking soda.
  5. Start a new cycle.
  6. Wipe out the drum with a microfiber cloth.

If you're too short to reach into the drum to wipe it out (guilty!), there's no need to bust out a step ladder. On a clean toilet brush, wrap a microfiber cloth around the end. Secure with a rubber band. Use the wand to wipe out the inside of the drum.

Top view of white washing machine

Clean the Washing Machine Dispensers

With the drum grime-free, focus your efforts on the fabric softener and bleach dispensers.

  1. Spray the dispenser with vinegar and allow them to sit.
  2. Use a toothbrush to scrub out the dispensers.

How to Clean the Outside of the Washing Machine

The outside of your washing machine can attract a lot of dirt and dust. Therefore, you want to give it just the right amount of TLC.

  1. Spray down the outside and top of the washer with the vinegar.
  2. Wipe everything down.
  3. Create a paste with baking soda and water.
  4. Use a toothbrush to remove any crust.
Helpful Hack

You can also clean out your washing machine with dishwasher tablets. Put one in the detergent drawer or dispenser, run the machine through a full wash, and wipe out the drum. 

How to Clean Mold Out of Washer

Warning... your washing machine can hide mold. Get it out so your clothes are truly clean following our helpful tips to get rid of mold in your washing machine.

Related: How to Clean Mold From Your Washing Machine (& How to Prevent It)

How Often Should You Clean Out Your Washing Machine?

Clean your washer every three or so months. Do it more frequently if it has a funky smell or if you notice mold or residue in the machine.

Cleaning Your Washing Machine

It's not a ton of work to clean your washing machine, and it's an important step in your deep cleaning process. Next time you're deep cleaning your laundry room, don't forget to clean out your washer so it gets your clothes fresh. 

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Ultimate Guide to a Cleaner Washing Machine (& Fresher Laundry)