How to Clean a Washing Machine Using Just 2 Non-Toxic Products

In order to keep your washing machine running efficiently and your clothes coming out squeaky clean each time, your machine periodically requires a good cleaning. Whether you have a front loading or a top loading machine, read on to learn how to clean a washing machine the proper way - without using harsh chemicals!

How to Clean a Washing Machine (pixabay)

Why You Need to Clean Your Washing Machine

It seems almost unnecessary - your washing machine is constantly cleaning your clothing, towels and other linens and spins around with all that soap and water, so why would we need to clean the actual machine too? Well, think of your washing machine in the same way as when you take a shower. You are cleaning with soap and water but that soap and water is washing away bacteria and dirt and can leave soap scum and other icky residues along the shower walls and floors. We would never consider not cleaning our shower, right?


When your washing machine cleans your clothes, residues and chemicals from the detergent can build up within the machine's parts and hoses and create a film of bacteria that gets trapped. You may not see it but it’s definitely there. Furthermore, the build-up of bacteria and other soap residues within your machine can wreak havoc on your washing machines efficiency. Even worse, is this buildup of bacteria creates a stinky odor that will eventually linger on your clothes - even though you just cleaned them!


Have you ever had towels and/or clothing come out with an odor and you don’t know why? This odor is telling you that your washing machine needs to be thoroughly cleaned. You may even be able to see some of the build-up and dirt within the machine yourself. This is especially true if you own a front-loading machine. Not to mention, your washing machine is constantly in a hot and humid environment which makes a prime home for mold and mildew. The end result is not only a stinky problem but can be a dangerous and toxic issue for you and your family.


Luckily, cleaning your washing machine and keeping it clean are not difficult tasks. Once you know the proper way to clean it, you’ll be more likely to do it on the regular. Read on to find out how to clean your washing machine.


How Often You Should be Cleaning your Washing Machine

Cleaning Your Washing Machine (Nicole Burkholder)

See post: Nicole Burkholder | How to Clean Your Washing Machine


Let’s quickly talk about how often you should be cleaning your washing machine. The answer to this question will depend a bit on how often you use your washing machine. If you are running loads daily - seven days a week - you may want to clean it more often than if you only use it on the weekends.


Generally, you should be cleaning your machine once per month. This will keep your machine running efficiently, keep the mildew and bacteria at bay and will keep your laundry fresher than ever!


However, if you find that you use your machine quite heavily or you are washing heavily soiled items all the time (such as cloth diapers), you may want to increase the amount of cleaning to two times per month or even once per week. I promise you - once you learn how to clean a washing machine - you’ll find it’s not difficult at all! And even enjoyable if I dare say it? 


Washing Machines 101: The Different Types of Machines and What this Means for Cleaning

Cleaning Front Loading Washing Machine (Wendy Mallins)

See post: Wendy Mallins | How to Clean a Washing Machine without Harsh Chemicals


There are two types of washing machines out there. There is a front-loading washing machine and there is a top loading washing machine. Most people are aware of the type of washing machine they have. However, in case, you are not sure, here’s a quick lesson on the two different types of washing machines.


Well, the first and most obvious reason is the top loading machines have a lid that lifts up on top of the machine, whereas the front-loading machines have a round door that opens out with a gasket inside. You load the clothes in the top on a top loading machine and you load them through the front on a front-loading machine.


Although both types of machines are pretty efficient nowadays, front-loading machines use a bit less water overall and are said to be gentler on your clothing. Front loading machines are also notorious for getting more mildew and mold build up in the gasket. The gasket, also called the seal, is that rubbery section right on the inside of the door. So, what does this mean for cleaning your washing machine?


It should be noted that if you do have a front-loading washing machine that you use regularly, you are going to have to take extra steps to keep it clean and be extra mindful when cleaning it. Let’s now explore the cleaning methods for both front loading and top loading washing machines.


How to Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine

How to Clean Top Loading Washing Machine (Brittany Shaw)

See post: Brittany Shaw | How to Clean Your Top Loading Washing Machine


Let’s start with top loading washing machines. Here are the products we need to give it a good clean.


Cleaning Products Needed:

●      old toothbrush

●      A quart of vinegar

●      baking soda

●      paper towels or microfiber cloths.

●      You may also need bleach depending on how dirty your machine is and how long it’s been since your last cleaning, however you can try the vinegar cleaning method first.


Step 1:

Ensure you start with an empty washer. The first thing you want to do is fill your washer to the highest setting with the hottest water possible and with the longest wash time possible. Long wash time is typically the normal, regular wash setting. But make sure you set it to hot water!


Step 2:

While your machine is filling with water, open the lid and pour in a full quart of vinegar.


Step 3:

Close the lid and allow the machine to agitate for a minute, mixing the vinegar and water together.


Step 4:

Open the machine and allow the water and vinegar mixture to sit in the drum for an hour.

Top Loading Washing Machine (Brittany Shaw)

See post: Brittany Shaw | How to Clean Your Top Loading Washing Machine


Step 5:

During this time, you can take out the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener containers. If you don’t know how to do this, refer to your owner’s manual for specific instructions. Typically, these containers will pull right out. Wash these containers thoroughly in hot soapy water and dry them.


Step 6:

Use your old toothbrush to get into those hard to reach areas of your machine, under the lid, in the agitator cup etc.


Step 7:

Use a paper towel or microfiber cloth and dip it in the vinegar/water mixture in the drum. Use this to clean the outside of the machine and wipe down the dials and buttons.


Step 8:

After the hour has passed, close the lid and run the full cycle with the vinegar/water.


Step 9:

After the cycle ends, open the lid and pour in a cup or two of baking soda. Run another hot water cycle with the baking soda. This will further help clean the machine and get rid of any vinegar residue. And don’t worry - it won’t smell like vinegar!


Step 10:

After the baking soda cycle has run, open the lid and wipe down the inside of the drum.


A note about bleach: If you find that you are still having an odor issue or your machine doesn’t feel totally clean, you can run these same cycles as above and just replace vinegar with bleach. DO NOT MIX VINEGAR AND BLEACH TOGETHER in the same cycle. These are meant to be separate steps.


That’s it! Your top loading machine should look and smell fresh and clean. Keep the lid open between washes in order to keep mold and mildew at bay.


Be sure to run a clean cycle following these steps once a month or more depending on your usage.


Benefits of Cleaning a Washing Machine with Vinegar

White vinegar. Is there anything this miracle product can’t do?


You may be wondering about the benefits of cleaning your washer with vinegar. For starters - white vinegar is a cheap, non-toxic alternative to bleach. White vinegar is natural and septic safe. It’s also biodegradable and a good product to use when cleaning your whole home. It’s a safe alternative for you and your family, including your pets.

How to Clean a Washing Machine Without Harsh Chemicals (Wendy Mallins)

See post: Wendy Mallins | How to Clean a Washing Machine without Harsh Chemicals


White vinegar is an acidic product and tough on mold and mildew. The acidity helps to dissolve that soap and bacteria residue lurking in your washing machine, while also cleaning your machine’s pipes and neutralizing odors.


You may not know this but white vinegar also makes a fantastic fabric softener. In fact, it softens fabrics and removes static better than some commercially made products. Simply add some white vinegar to your rinse cycle or in the softener tray of your washing machine. Done!


Now you know how to clean a washing machine with just two non-toxic products that you probably have on hand already. By regularly cleaning your machine, you can keep it in tip-top shape and keep your clothes extra clean, fresh and bright. And it will help keep costs down because these products are cheap and your washing machine will thank you for it! Your machine will last that much longer and clean that much better.


Make sure to forward this handy article on to someone who can also benefit from a clean washer or who may be experiencing a smelly laundry problem. And be sure to make time in the future to clean your washing machine!


Written for the Hometalk community by: Karen | Decor Hint

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  3 questions
  • Boo29655729 Boo29655729 on Jan 27, 2019

    I could not find where you told how to clean a front loading machine!

  • Sandra Davis Sandra Davis on Mar 09, 2019

    How can you do this with the new water saving washers that only put in enough water in accordance with the weight of the laundry load?

  • Jalene Clemons Schroeder Jalene Clemons Schroeder on Mar 09, 2019

    How much vinegar must I put in final rinse to SOFTEN clothes?

Comments

Join the conversation

 2 comments
  • William William on Jan 27, 2019

    Super tips and great instructions. Basically what I do to my top loader. Haven't tried the baking soda. Will give it a try next time. Don't like bleach so I don't use it.

  • HomyHolds HomyHolds on Feb 16, 2020

    Excellent writing! Homemade product works great for cleaning a washing machine.

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