How to Clean Your Washing Machine | Project Joy | Better Homes & Gardens

Your washing machine’s main job is to clean your clothes, but did you know you should clean your washing machine at least once a month? With just a few supplies you can easily clean your washing machine to keep it looking and smelling like new.

Video Transcript

JESSICA BENNETT: Your washing machine gets your clothes and linens clean. But the machine itself could also use a good cleaning every so often. That's because dirt from your laundry, leftover detergent, hard water deposits, and even mold or mildew can build up inside the machine over time. So to get your laundry as fresh and clean as possible, you should follow these cleaning steps about once a month.


To clean your washing machine, you'll need distilled white vinegar, baking soda, a sponge, a microfiber cloth, and a toothbrush. Start by adding two cups of distilled white vinegar to the detergent dispenser or directly into the drum. Then run an empty cycle with the hottest water temperature available. The water vinegar solution can help kill bacteria and get rid of musty odors.

If you have a top loading machine, you can get a deeper clean by pausing the cycle after the machine has filled and agitated for about one minute. Let the vinegar and water soak for about an hour before you resume the cycle. Once the cycle is finished, mix about a quarter cup of white vinegar with one quart of warm water. Dip a clean sponge into the mixture and use it to wipe down the inside of the machine.

Use a toothbrush to scrub around the door opening, detergent dispensers, and other hard to reach areas. Next, add half a cup of baking soda to the drum and run another empty cycle on hot. The baking soda will help clear away any lingering buildup. When the cycle is finished, wipe down the inside of the drum with a microfiber cloth to clear away any remaining residue.

For front loading machines, the rubber seal around the door called the gasket can harbor mold and mildew, resulting in musty smelling laundry. To clean this area, spray it with white vinegar and let it sit for at least one minute before wiping down with a microfiber cloth. Be sure to pull back the seal and scrub underneath using a toothbrush as needed. For a deeper clean, you can also swap the vinegar for a diluted bleach solution. To keep your washing machine clean, remember to leave the door slightly ajar for a few hours after each wash to let moisture dry out and prevent mold or mildew growth.