I truly hate to break it to you, but your washing machine is filthy. Yep: It gets pretty disgusting in there, even when you use the right amount of detergent and occasionally run it while it’s empty. Unfortunately, detergent alone isn’t enough to keep it clean and free of mold—especially when you’re usually throwing it in there with some dirty towels or sweat-soaked workout clothes. An accumulation of grime from your clothes, as well as hard water and mineral residue in commercial detergents, can build up over time and make your machine less effective. And even though cleaning your washing machine sounds a little excessive, it’s an important part of maintaining your appliances—and your wardrobe. Here’s how to clean your washing machine to keep it running (and washing) like it’s brand new. This process should work to clean both front-loading and top-loading washing machines, but with a few caveats.
First, run your machine on its hottest cycle with just two cups of white vinegar, which acts as a natural disinfectant and deodorizer. (If you have a detergent dispenser, you can put the vinegar directly in there.) While that’s running, wipe down the outside with All-Purpose Cleaner and a microfiber cloth to get rid of any dust or grime that might be able to fall into the machine. If you have a top-loading machine, stop it halfway through for about half an hour so the drum fills with enough vinegar solution to soak. You should notice any funky mold or mildew smells have subsided after this, but that doesn’t mean you’re done.
Then, it’s time to get to work: In a separate bucket, mix about 1/4 cup vinegar with a quart of warm water and go to town scrubbing the inside, paying special attention to any dispensers for detergent or fabric softener. We like to use an old scrub brush or a toothbrush to get into the machine’s nooks and crannies.
If you have a front-loading washer, the gasket, which fills with moisture every time you run a wash, is the likely source of any mold or mildew lurking inside. To get it all out, spray the entire door and any nooks with distilled white vinegar and let it sit for about 10 minutes before wiping it with a microfiber cloth. Leave the door open to let any moisture dry out. (You should get in the habit of doing this after every cycle to keep mold and mildew at bay.)
Then, run a cycle on hot with just a bit of detergent, et voila—your machine is good as new.