How to Clean a Washing Machine Drawer with Vinegar

How to Clean a Washing Machine Drawer with Vinegar

Without proper care, washing machine detergent drawers can end up being seriously nasty. They might usually only contain cleaning products, but these can still dry up, get stuck, and become a breeding ground for mould, mildew, and awful smells.

At first glance, your washing machine drawer might not look too bad – however once you’ve removed the drawer and had a good look, you’ll find more soap scum and build-ups of detergent than you’d have imagined.

Fortunately, you can make light work of this household chore with distilled white vinegar and a little elbow grease.

Why Use White Vinegar?

why use white vinegar

White vinegar is a cleaning miracle. Not only is it much more gentle than harsh chemicals like bleach, it’s also affordable and incredibly effective.

When it comes to cleaning the inside of a washing machine, white vinegar will give you better (and longer lasting) results than bleach will. 

Bleach will simply kill any bacteria or mould living on the surface at that time, whereas vinegar can penetrate the surfaces slightly and will keep killing bacteria or mould for longer.


What You Need to Clean a Washing Machine Drawer with Vinegar

The good news is that you can easily clean a washing machine detergent drawer with just a few household staples. You will need:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Spray bottle
  • Clean cloth
  • Large container (or just use the sink!)
  • An old toothbrush or nail brush
  • Gloves


Step 1: Remove the Drawer

Before getting started, you need to remove the washing machine’s detergent drawer. 

Regardless of the type and brand of machine that you have, it will be removable, you may just need to refer to the manufacturer’s guide to work out exactly how it comes out to avoid breaking it.

Once you’ve taken the drawer out, you’ll be able to see the build up of detergent and soap scum both in the drawer itself, and in the cavity that it sits in.


Step 2: Clean Behind the Drawer

Once you’ve taken the drawer out, you will probably find that there is a build up of soap scum and possibly even mould behind where the drawer once was.

Simply spray every surface with distilled white vinegar, and leave it to soak for at least 15 to 30 minutes depending on how bad the build up is. After this time, scrub the surfaces to remove the old detergent.

You might find that you need to repeat the process on any build up that is particularly troublesome.


Step 3: Soak the Drawer

soak the washing machine drawer

Whilst the vinegar on the inside of the machine is soaking in, soak the drawer itself too. 

Fill either a sink or a large container with a mixture of equal parts hot water and distilled white vinegar, before leaving it to soak for at least 30 minutes. Rotate the drawer if needed part way through to ensure the whole thing ends up clean.

 After the drawer has soaked for a while, scrub thoroughly to remove any traces of detergent that remains. 

Like with the inside of the machine, if there is a particularly stubborn build up, you may need to soak the drawer a second time to achieve the best results.


Step 4: Rinse and Dry

Once the drawer and the inside of the machine are shiny again, you need to rinse and dry the surfaces thoroughly before putting the drawer back to stop the water attracting mould all over again.

Simply rinse the drawer with clean water and leave it to air dry. Wipe over the inside of the machine with a clean, wet cloth, and leave this to air dry too.

Once the inside of the machine and drawer are both dry, you can put the drawer back in the machine.


Prevent Future Build-Up

Prevent Future Build-Up by air drying washing machine drawer and insides

After scrubbing the drawer and getting rid of the build-up, you’ll most likely find yourself praying to never need to tackle this chore ever again. 

Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to reduce the chances of detergent and mould building up inside the drawer.

Simply giving your washing machine access to clean air can do a world of good for the inside of your machine. 

When the machine isn’t in use, leave the door open and keep the detergent drawer pulled out. This will allow air to circulate throughout the entire machine, drying the surfaces before the water can go stagnant or attract mould.

Every now and again (ideally once a week!), take the drawer out and just rinse it under the tap to wash away any detergent that remains. Leave the drawer to dry thoroughly before putting it back in the machine.