How to Clean a Washing Machine

How to Clean a Washing Machine

Cleaning a washing machine may seem like a daunting task. After all, a washing machine is a fairly important appliance in many homes and you don’t want to break it.

So, if you don’t know where to start cleaning, and you don’t know what cleaning product goes where then you’ve come to the right place!

Follow my step-by-step guide on how to clean a washing machine below… you’ll soon be free from a mouldy, smelly washing machine!


Before Cleaning

Before you rush off to clean your washing machine, you should think about the following points:

  • You should always read your user manual before you try cleaning your washing machine – Your user manual may tell you what products you can and cannot use to clean your washing machine. And if you can’t find your manual just visit the manufacturer’s website and pick up a copy.
  • Check your warranty – If you use a particular product to clean your washing machine your warranty could be voided. Any issues in the future could become quite costly, so it’s worth following what the manufacturer says.
  • Empty the washing machine of clothes – This is absolutely essential!
  • Clean every inch of the machine – Drum, detergent drawer, outside, seal, filter, and behind the washing machine. 
  • Leave the washing machine door open so that air can get into the machine – This stops mould growth and poor odours from occurring.


Things to Avoid

There are also things that you shouldn’t do when cleaning a washing machine, these include:

  • Don’t use detergent and a hot wash to clean a washing machine – this causes bubbly water and doesn’t really clean the washing machine.
  • Don’t let kids and animals play with your cleaning products.
  • Don’t leave your cleaning equipment in the washing machine.

On to the cleaning!


How to Clean a Washing Machine

As you may know, there are several parts to a washing machine. These include the drum, the seal, the filter, the detergent drawer, and the exterior.

Each and every one of these sections need to be cleaned when you clean a washing machine. If you only focus on one area of your washing machine, for example, the drum, then you’ll never give your washing machine the thorough cleaning that it deserves.

The next few sections will detail how you go about cleaning specific parts of your washing machine. Feel free to clean your washing machine in whatever order you like, but I prefer to stick to the order below.

1. The drum

Your washing machine’s drum plays a pivotal role in cleaning your clothes. This larger section is where you pop your grubby clothes and it sees a lot of dirt, so try and give it some TLC.

What you need

How to clean it

Front-loading washing machine
  1. Make sure your washing machine is empty – the drum should be exposed.
  2. Pop 1 part of white vinegar into the spray bottle.
  3. Add 3 parts of warm water into the spray bottle.
  4. Give the bottle a quick shake.
  5. Spray the drum with the product.
  6. Use the cotton/microfiber cloth to wipe down every little nook inside the drum.
  7. Next pour 2 cups of white vinegar into the detergent slot in your detergent drawer.
  8. Start a long and hot cycle.
  9. Wait until the cycle has finished.
  10. Grab some bicarbonate of soda.
  11. Pop half a cup of bicarbonate of soda into the drum section of the washing machine.
  12. Run a second hot and long wash.
  13. Leave the door open when the cycle has ended, so that air can get into the machine.
Top-loading washing machine
  1. Put 4 cups of white vinegar into the washing machine.
  2. Start a long and hot wash.
  3. Pause this wash after a few minutes.
  4. Let the water and white vinegar mix rest like this for an hour.
  5. Re-start the cycle.
  6. When the cycle has completed, put a cup of bicarbonate of soda into the washing machine.
  7. Run a second long and hot cycle.
  8. Pop the lid and leave air flow in and out of the washing machine.

White vinegar and bicarbonate of soda are great at cleaning up any tough mould and greasy stains from washing machines! Plus, they’re usually things we have in our cupboards at home, which makes them a relatively cheap cleaning option.

Now you need to move onto cleaning the seal.


2. The seal

The seal in a washing machine will turn a cloudy dark colour if it’s not cleaned regularly. And if you’re really unlucky the seal starts to give off one heck of a stench too. So, not only will it be awful to look at but it’ll be stinking too!

Cleaning Washing Machine Rubber Seal

What you need

  • White vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Cloth/toothbrush.

How to clean it

  1. Pop 1 part of white vinegar into the spray bottle.
  2. Pop 3 parts of warm water into the spray bottle.
  3. Spray the seal generously with this mixture – seal is usually found around the door.
  4. Rub down the seal with the cloth/toothbrush to get a good handle on the dirt.
  5. Check and clean under the seal too.
  6. You may need to repeat this process a few times to get the seal super clean.

It’s better if you keep on top of your seal cleaning, particularly if you have a front-loading washing machine because it’ll get dirty pretty quickly! Wipe the seal down after every washing cycle as this will prevent stagnant water from building up.

Now you need to clean the filter.


3. The filter

washing machine filter

Your washing machine’s filter plays a very significant role, so don’t neglect this area when you’re cleaning. The filter is responsible for catching chunks of dirt that the washing machine cannot digest, so it can be fairly mucky.

What you need

  • User manual
  • Tray
  • Hot water
  • T-towel
  • Cotton cloth

How to clean it

You should check your user manual to see if there are any special rules about cleaning this section. If there are instructions on how to clean the filter, follow your guide book.

  1. Pop a tray on the floor near the filter’s entrance – water will be caught by the tray.
  2. Remove the filter – see handbook for details on how to do this.
  3. Wash the filter under a hot water tap.
  4. Wipe away any dirt you see with a cotton cloth – could be some mould.
  5. Dry and replace the filter and close the flap.

Now you need to clean the detergent drawer.


4. The detergent drawer

The detergent drawer will become a grotty little place if it’s not cleaned properly.

Dirty Detergent Drawer

Think about it, any excess detergent that hasn’t been used by the washing machine gets left behind in this drawer. And if the drawer isn’t washed out, all of this detergent turns to a thick, gloopy, smelly mess in time.

This can cause all manner of problems, like fabric softener getting stuck in the drawer, so it’s best to keep it spotless.

What you need

  • Hot water
  • Toothbrush (soft)
  • User manual

How to clean it

Front-loading washing machine
  1. Slide the drawer out.
  2. Go to your sink.
  3. Run hot water all over the drawer to clean it.
  4. Pay attention to each individual compartment – clean them one at a time.
  5. Use a soft toothbrush to rub away hard dirt.
  6. Run more hot water over the drawer.
  7. Use a soft toothbrush to clean the gap where the drawer slots into.
  8. Dry the drawer.
  9. Replace the drawer.
Top-loading washing machine
  1. Check your user manual to see how to remove the wing distributor and rinse cap.
  2. Open the detergent drawer.
  3. Pull out the wing distributor.
  4. Pull out the rinse cap.
  5. Clean both the wing distributor and rinse cap with hot water.
  6. Use a soft toothbrush to clean out any debris.
  7. Wash the drawer.
  8. Wipe and dry all the pieces.
  9. Replace the wing distributor, rinse cap and drawer.

Now it’s time to clean the outside of the washing machine.


5. The exterior

A quick scrub of a washing machine’s exterior can turn it from looking old and grotty, to new and glowing. And it’s really not that hard to get this effect either. Here’s how you clean the exterior of a washing machine.

Cleaning Washing Machine Exterior

What you need

  • White vinegar
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth
  • Hoover
  • Someone to help you

How to clean it

  1. Pop 1 part of white vinegar into the spray bottle.
  2. Pop 3 parts of warm water into the spray bottle.
  3. Give the bottle a shake.
  4. Spray the contents over the washing machine.
  5. Use the cloth to wipe the machine down.
  6. Make sure you cover the whole of the washing machine – including buttons and any little nooks.
  7. Turn the power off.
  8. Grab someone to help you move the washing machine out of its slot.
  9. Use a hoover to clean behind the machine – a lot of dust gathers here.
  10. Wipe down the floor with a damp warm cloth, if you like.
  11. Pop the washing machine back.

You could always use an actual cleaning product to clean the exterior of your washing. Or use hot water to give the front of the washing machine a wipe down every few days.


Specialised Products for Cleaning a Washing Machine

The methods above, while they are very thorough, can be time consuming. So, if you’re short on time perhaps these specialised washing machine cleaning products would be more suitable for you.

  1. Soda crystals These handy little crystals have been cleaning washing machines for years. They’re super easy to use and fairly cheap to buy. Plus, they can be bought almost anywhere. To use Soda Crystals to clean your washing machine, read and follow the instructions on the pack.
  1. Calgon These tablets are very easy to use and they can also be put into your washing machine when you’re doing a load of laundry too. They’re so easy and quick to use. Plus, they’ll also help to protect you from bad odours! To use Calgon to clean your washing machine, read and follow the instructions on the pack. You can also consider Calgon alternatives, which should give you similar results.
  1. Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner This particular product can be used on a 2 monthly basis and it can remove hidden dirt from your washing machine. Plus, it’s got a lush lemony smell. To use this Dettol product to clean your washing machine, read and follow the instructions on the pack.

There are countless other products available today, so be sure to pick one that suits your family.


Keeping Your Washing Machine Clean

Washing machines need to be cleaned regularly, and there is no way of getting around this. Here are some tips for you to consider for the future.

  • A basic and regular clean will do the world of good for your washing machine.
  • Run a hot empty wash on a weekly basis if you don’t fancy doing deep cleans – can get rid of excess detergent in the washing machine.
  • Leave the detergent drawer and door open after every wash, so that air can filter through the washing machine – helps to remove smells.
  • Clear away any mess that’s on the front of the washing machine. A quick wipe down will do the trick.
  • Don’t go over the top with your detergent. Follow the bottle’s advice on how much to use.
  • Don’t leave clothes in the washing machine – remove them as soon as you can so you can limit the amount of stale odour that comes off them.
  • Clean the seal down weekly, if you can’t do it after every wash – prevents mould from forming.
  • Keep the filter clean – it catches a lot of rubbish, so, clear it out.
  • Clean off clumps of mud before you pop your clothes in the wash – this will limit the amount of debris that falls into the washing machine and stops it from getting clogged up.

If you only consider a few of the tips above you’ll have a much healthier washing machine in your home.


How Often Should You Clean a Washing Machine?

how often to clean washing machine

If you want to keep your washing machine in tip top condition and free from stinky smells, you need to clean your washing machine on a monthly basis, at least.

You should aim to wipe down the seal in your washing machine after every wash, as this is where water often collects and becomes fragrant.

Ultimately, basic and regular maintenance is key. Otherwise, your washing machine will start to smell and it will start to break down, eventually.



It’s really important to clean a washing machine on a regular basis. After all, if you don’t clean your washing machine properly you won’t get perfectly clean clothes out of it!