How to clean a washing machine with bleach?

by Abby

My washing machine needs a good cleaning. Is it safe to use bleach? I'm worried it'll bleach all of my clothing after.

  17 answers
  • Ang Ang on Sep 11, 2016
    i run a cup of bleach and h0ot water .. then let it sit an hour .. finish cycle then use the soda and vinegar amd do the same thing . ithelps get rid of smell and the bacteria that causes it ..the key is let it sit ..
  • Ild2798469 Ild2798469 on Sep 13, 2016
    First you have to clean the most of this yeaky thing by hand. Try hot white vinegar with a sponge and then run the program with hot water and bleach..When you clean it, try this routine: every time you finish your laundry, wipe the door and the ruber with a dry cloth.Every time! I use to do it, and I never had a dirty washing mashine..
  • Teresa Teresa on May 05, 2016
    I usually run a full load of hot water and a couple cups of regular bleach thru it, just like a regular wash cycle, but only the bleach and water
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on May 08, 2016
    If you have a front loading washer, the problem is that they have to be air tight,thus they sour like any other air tight appliance would...that is why you have to leave the door open. There is a clean cycle and you just add bleach and run the clean cycle. Top loaders? I don't know. Does it smell? I would suggest you add bleach and run a wash/rinse cycle...then leave the top open to let it dry out some!
  • Terri Terri on Oct 05, 2015
    I fought with this problem for months. I ran an empty load with hot water and bleach, and wiped the gasket down with scrubbing bubbles, clean the filter, andthen from that point on only use a small amount of powdered detergent and always put vinegar in the softener dispenser. Also, keep the door open, and no more problems.
  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 25, 2019

    It should have a cleaning cycle that you can run with bleach, then another with no cleaner.

    You can also lift the top of the machine and wipe down, or at least that is what I do with mine. I run a cloth along the top of the tub.

  • Sally Frazier Sally Frazier on May 01, 2018

    I agree, run a cycle with bleach added to the water/ make sure you run a cycle of white vinegar water afterwards to clear any residue of the bleach

  • Pat Pat on Mar 02, 2018

    My front load washer has a cleaning cycle.....manual said to clean with Afresh (in the detergent aisle) or 1/3 cup of bleach. When the cleaning cycle light comes on, I put bleach in the dispenser and run problems with mold or musty smell....always keep door and dispenser open between loads. While the clean cycle is running, I see a lot of suds in the washer.....getting all the detergent out, I guess. When cycle is done, I just wipe out the door and leave it open.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jan 02, 2020

    The appliance company told me to run chlorine bleach monthly on the cleaning cycle, then a regular cleaning cycle with nothing in it. Leave open as much as possible.

    Wipe all gaskets down with white cleaning vinegar.

  • Trish Trish on Nov 17, 2017

    the instructions for my machine reads to use one cup of bleach, NO detergent, and hottest water setting. Also set it so the tub of the machine is full of water. Close lid and run for the longest cycle on your machine. When done, lift lid and wipe down and water Remaining. Keep lid open to dry until next use.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Nov 01, 2021

    I use white vinegar. I fill up the detergent cup or add one cup of vinegar to hot water and run through a cycle it cleans it without being as harsh as bleach and also run some vinegar through the fabric softener cup too - the smell goes away and makes your washer clean and smelling good

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Nov 01, 2021

    When they delivered my new washing machine, I was instructed to use bleach and then run 1 empty cleaning cycle afterwards. I normally do 2, just to be safe.

  • I use bleach to clean my washer, not a problem. I run an empty load with the bleach then make sure to wash whites first the next time. I'm hearing now using vinegar in washers is bad for the rubber parts and damages them.

  • Mogie Mogie on Nov 01, 2021

    After cleaning if you are concerned about the residual bleach being present in the tub of your washer, then the best option would be to consider running the machine a second time on hot.

  • You xan simply add 60ml of neat bleach to your detergent drawer and just run your machine on a hot cycle, having an extra rinse cycle jsut ensure that all the bleach is flushed out. And if you can smell any trace of the bleach afterwards, then just run another empty cycle to be on the safe side.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Nov 01, 2021

    We have a front loader and have never had to run a cleaning cycle. All I do is after the wash is done, wipe all the gaskets down, especially where the drain is, keep the door open and dry the rack where detergent is poured in.

    If you are unsure about yours, the best way would be to consult the manufacturer, have make and model numbers in hand.

  • William William on Nov 01, 2021

    How to clean your front load washer.

    When we think of washing machines, we think of clean, fresh-smelling clothes. Laundry is supposed to have a comforting aroma—one that’s so well-loved that there are even colognes designed to mimic its scent.

    But what do you do when your front-load washer, well... stinks?

    Before you resign yourself to a musty, mildewy, sour-scented existence, consider this: Your washer probably isn’t defective—it just needs some TLC. A few simple steps could help eliminate that stench forever.

    That’s right, my friends: It’s all smooth, fresh-smelling sailing from here on out. Grab your hampers, keep your heads high, and scrub stinky clothes from your life for good.

    Why your front-loader stinks

    I took an in-depth look at the relative performance of front- and top-load washers, and found that front-loaders are superior in virtually every way. That came as no surprise, since front-loaders are designed not only to be more efficient, but also to be gentler on clothes while cleaning them better.

    But it's that efficiency part that can cause some headaches when it comes to smell. See, high-efficiency front-loaders use a lot less water than their top-load counterparts, since they fill just the bottom of the wash tub with water. Since the drum rotates on a horizontal axis, your clothes tumble through the water, eliminating the need to fill the tub up all the way.

    That's all fine and dandy if you use high-efficiency detergents, but when you douse your laundry with the wrong kinds of soap and softeners, the smaller amount of water can’t fully rinse them away. The drum ends up getting coated with a layer of soap scum, which is itself peppered with debris and dirt from your clothing. In the heat and damp of your washer, this scum makes a happy home for mildew, bacteria, and mold.

    The stinky situation is compounded by the fact that front-load washers use a rubber door gasket to keep water from leaking out. Dirt, soap, and bits of fabric can get trapped under the gasket, creating yet another breeding ground for nasty smells.

    How to get rid of that smell

    1. Bring out the baking soda.

    Your first inclination may be to reach for the bleach, but I prefer to use something a little gentler. I suggest mixing 1/4 cup of baking soda with an equivalent amount of water. Add this solution to your machine’s detergent container.

    2. Bring out the vinegar.

    Pour two cups of white vinegar into the drum, then run a normal cycle at high heat—without any clothes, of course.

    The baking soda and vinegar should break up any residue stuck to your drum and kill any mold that might be present. They’ll also help remove any foul odors.

    3. Scrub away any remaining grime.

    If stubborn spots remain, attack them with the rough side of a kitchen sponge and a mixture of one part white vinegar, one part water. Ta-dah, good as new!

    You can repeat this cleaning method once a month for maintenance if you’d like, or try some other odor prevention techniques.

    How to keep your front-loader fresh

    Your washer is finally free of nasty odors, and you want to keep it that way. But how?

    1. Break up with your old detergent.

    If you own a front-loader, you should always use detergents made for high-efficiency machines. Normal detergents simply produce more suds than your front-loader can handle; less suds means less scum for stinky lifeforms to cling to. Liquid fabric softener is also off-limits for front-loading washing machines, so do yourself a favor and ditch it.

    2. Keep the drum dry

    Once you’ve got the soap situation under control, it’s time to make sure the drum doesn’t stay damp for long periods of time. Always remove your laundry promptly after the cycle ends, and be sure to leave the door open when it’s not in use, so the moisture can escape.

    You can also run a fan in the room where your washer lives to improve airflow, and consider investing in a dehumidifier. Remember: You don't want bacteria or mold to feel at home here, and nothing invites bad smells quite like wet, stagnant heat.

    3. Clean the gasket.

    Even with the correct detergent and anti-humidity efforts, there's no guarantee your washer drum won't develop some mold-friendly buildup. The rubber seal around the doors is especially problematic, so you should regularly remove any debris you see trapped in the gasket and wipe it down with a cleaning solution made of one part white vinegar and one part water.

    Finally, be sure to dispose of any lint that may have accumulated in your machine’s drain trap filter. Once a week should do the trick.