How to Clean Your Washing Machine

When you wash your clothes, do they sometimes smell worse coming out of the washing machine than they did going in? If so, it’s time to clean your washing machine.

Perhaps you are saying, “I didn’t even know I had to clean that!” and my friend, you are not alone. I mean, the washing machine was built to wash things. It represented a huge advancement for humankind (OK, that may be a bit of an overstatement but it really does beat washing everything you own by hand).

Have you ever stopped to think about where all the dirt from your dirtiest clothes actually ends up? Chances are, at least some of it gets stuck in the machine. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to clean.

If you desire a really clean machine, you are in luck, because cleaning your washing machine is simple, inexpensive and relatively quick—it takes just a bit longer than an average wash cycle. When I set out to find the best methods of cleaning the washing machine, I was pretty surprised to find out that it’s a thing. Yes, there are even Pinterest posts on it. Who knew that hipsters washed their clothes?

If you’re in a hurry, the simplest method is to run the machine (with soap) on the hottest cycle, for the longest period of time possible, and—if there’s a button for this—choose the “extra rinse” cycle. This also works if you are at a Laundromat or even a friend’s house and don’t want to be too obvious.

If you have a machine in your home and it’s a front-loader, don’t blame yourself for that nasty smell. Front-loading machines, especially HE (high-efficiency), tend to harbor mildew. You’ll need a few supplies, which you probably have on hand: a scrubber (Dobie is my fave), baking soda and white vinegar. Here are the recipe and DIY instructions, from the very cool gals at Popsugar: this guide has already earned more than 30,000 shares, which tells me that the world is full of dirty front-loaders.

For an old-fashioned top-loading machine, you can find a clean and green recipe here. The ingredients are the same—white vinegar and baking soda. You might want to grab a toothbrush, as well, to get the extra grime that resides in the nooks and crannies.

One thing that I would add is to grab some all-purpose cleaner (dishwashing liquid if you are in a bind) and soak a few paper towels with it. You can use those to clean any “gunk” (nope, not a scientific term but fitting) around the opening of the washing machine, especially on front-loaders.

And there you have it: a clean, sparkling washing machine. Your clothes will come out fresher, and your nose will be spared that nasty laundry room smell.

Happy washing!


Conna Shannon

Conna Shannon

Conna is a writer, editor and aspiring filmmaker. She's into DIY, upcylcing and macrobiotic cooking. She lives in Monterey, California, with a yellow lab named Daisy.
Conna Shannon

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