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How To Clean a Washing Machine



How to Clean a Washing Machine

Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Is your washing machine looking or smelling grungy? Spend a few minutes cleaning it up, so it continues to serve you well.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 15 minutes of hands-on time

What You Need:

  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • An all-purpose cleaner
  • A cleaning rag

Here's How:

  1. Exterior
    Wipe down the exterior of the washing machine with vinegar or your favorite all-purpose cleaner.

  2. Tub
    Pour two cups of vinegar or lemon juice into the tub, and run the washing machine through a complete cycle on the hottest setting to remove odors, stains and detergent build up.

  3. Lid/Door
    Scrub around the edge of the lid/door with vinegar to remove mildew and detergent build up.

  4. Rubber Door Seal
    If you have a front-loader, gently pull back on the top of the rubber door seal, and check for mold. Use vinegar to remove any that you find.

  5. Bleach and Fabric Softener Dispensers
    Remove the bleach and fabric softener dispensers, and scrub them in the sink. Then, dry them thoroughly and return them to the machine.


  1. To prevent mildewing, leave the lid open after you finish a load to allow the washing machine to dry out.
  2. Commerical fabric softeners leave build up in the machine. Make vinegar your fabric softener of choice, and the inside of your washing machine won't need to be cleaned as frequently – if at all.
  3. While you're cleaning your washing machine, inspect the washer hoses to make sure they're still firmly in place.
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