Cleaning Tips Home Living

Keeping Your Washing Machine Clean

Did you ever think that something that cleans your clothes would need cleaning, too? Here are some great tips on keeping your washing machine clean, why you should clean it, and how often.

Keeping Your Washing Machine Clean

A few months ago we had to buy a new washing machine after our old one finally gave out. Luckily with everyone in my family being home right now I don’t have a lot of laundry to do every day.

Washing the laundry on that first day in the new machine was amazing. My clothes had never smelled and felt more clean!

However, after a few months of doing laundry, I started to notice that my clothes weren’t smelling or feeling so clean any more. They were starting to smell dingy, like maybe I was forgetting to put in the detergent.

Has that ever happened to you?

Light bulb moment: I realized after a while that it was actually my washing machine that was making my clothes smell and feel unclean!

Keeping your washing machine clean is super important. Read on to find out why you need to keep the machine clean, how to clean it, and how often you should clean it.

Keeping Your Washing Machine Clean

*Post may contain affiliate links.
Click here to learn more about what that means for you.

Why you should clean your washing machine

Just like everything else, washing machines get dirty, too. Over time, they develop build-up from grime, detergents, hard water deposits, mold, and mildew. This can cause your laundry to appear dingy and just plain unclean. Washing machines also collect fingerprints and stains, so it’s important to clean inside and out.

How to

What you need:

  • Empty spray bottle
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • An all-purpose cleaner (see my recipe here)
  • Cleaning rag
  • Old toothbrush

How to clean each part

Exterior: Wipe down the entire exterior of your washing machine, including the knobs. You can use your favorite all-purpose cleaner, vinegar, or lemon juice for this. Vinegar works great at removing fingerprints and detergent build-up, and lemon juice will work just as good. Just pour some vinegar or lemon juice into a clean spray bottle and spray the area; wipe clean with the rag. Or you can soak the rag with vinegar or lemon juice and wipe down the machine.

Lid or door: With the vinegar, scrub around the edge of the lid or door to remove any detergent build-up, dust, and/or mildew. Using an old toothbrush will get into all those tight spots and grooves. If you have a front-loading washing machine, pull the top of the rubber door seal back gently to check for mold. If there is any, use the vinegar on an old toothbrush to remove it. (Click here to see what else you can use an old toothbrush for!)

Fabric softener/bleach dispensers: Remove the dispensers from the washing machine and scrub them in the sink. While they are out, scrub around the opening with the toothbrush and vinegar. Dry the dispensers completely and place them back in the washing machine.

Tub: Pour two cups of vinegar or lemon juice into the tub of the washing machine and run it through a complete cycle. Use the hottest and longest setting possible to remove stains, detergent build-up, and odors. The acid in the vinegar and lemon juice will also remove any mineral deposits from hard water.

How often

If you have a top-loading washing machine, it should be cleaned every six months. However, if you have hard water, cleaning the machine every three months will prevent mineral deposit build-up.

Front-load and high-efficiency top-load washing machines need to be cleaned at least once a month because they use less water than standard machines.

Your washer should be cleaned more often if you live in a hot, humid area because mold can be more of a problem. Also, your washing machine should be cleaned more often if you have a lot of heavily soiled clothing.

What about you? Do you clean your washing machine often?

Are you looking for more cleaning tips? I recommend these:
Pretreating Stains with Baking Soda
Is Your Bedroom Making You Sick?
11 Things You’re Forgetting to Clean in Your Bedroom
How to Clean Up Fast For Company
Natural Ways to Make Your Bedroom Smell Clean and Amazing

pin it for later
keeping your washing machine clean
keeping your washing machine clean

Thank you for sharing!
  • 25


Michelle is a stay-at-home homeschool mom who loves DIYs and living a frugal lifestyle.

You may also like...


  1. So if I have the washer with the soap and detergent goes in that little pull out drawer, where do I put the vinegar and lemon juice? Inside the drum still?

    1. Yes. And I would only use either vinegar or lemon juice for cleaning without the detergent. Both together might be too acidic. You can add a little bit of vinegar to the drum each time you wash your clothes, too. Hope that helps! πŸ™‚

        1. You’re welcome! πŸ™‚

  2. Thank you! I’ve noticed that sometimes the laundry doesn’t have that fresh and clean perfume πŸ˜• I thought is the detergent πŸ˜• Thank you for the tips…I usually clean it but seems is not enough…especially because I live in a hot and humid place πŸ€ͺ

    1. I do notice that I have to clean mine more when it’s really hot and humid, so that could be it, too. I’m glad you found this helpful! πŸ˜€

  3. This is a very timely reminder for me, Michelle – thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you found it helpful! πŸ™‚

  4. That is an excellent point – I had not thought about that before! Thanks for the tips πŸ™‚

    1. You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it helpful! πŸ™‚

  5. This is awesome! A few weeks ago I noticed our clothes were starting to get a musty smell and I kept thinking it was because I was leaving them in the washer too long so rather than waiting a few hours to switch them to the dryer I would literally wash the clothes and take them out right away but they were still finally dawned on me the machine needed cleaned so I used the self clean button on my washer and it really has made a difference… Next time I’ll add vinegar etc. like you suggested..I also want to check out your all purpose cleaner that you mentioned! Thanks for sharing Michelle!

  6. Thanks. A good reminder

    1. Thank you! πŸ™‚

  7. Thank you so much for this. I will go do this tomorrow because my machine is in dire need of a cleaning.

    1. You’re welcome! I’m glad I reminded you to clean your machine. πŸ™‚

  8. Great tips, Michelle. We had a front load and I agree, they need alot more cleaning. Thanks for another list of ways to keep the home more liveable.

    1. Thank you so much! Happy to help. πŸ™‚

  9. Thanks for the tip! I sometimes think about cleaning the outside because it’s easy to see when it gets dusty or dirty. But I am negligent when it comes to cleaning inside the drum. Thanks for the reminder!

    1. I’m the same way. And it just seems like it’s something that should be cleaning itself on the inside. πŸ˜€ Thank you for your comment!

  10. My mother instilled in me to use vinegar for cleaning.

    1. That’s great! It’s amazing how good it works. Plus it’s cheap and no harsh chemicals to worry about.

      1. All great reasons.

  11. Great tips on using vinegar, I use vinegar by the gallon for cleaning at my home.

    1. Thank you! I know what you mean. I’m glad it’s cheap because I love to stock up.

  12. Oh how interesting, I’ve noticed lately that my t-shirts don’t smell like they should, but I never thought my machine may need a wipe down. Thanks Michelle xoxo

    1. I thought the same thing when I first noticed it. I thought it was because my clothes were getting old. πŸ˜€

  13. Funnily enough I cleaned our washing machine for the first time very recently and wow, what a difference that made, our clothes actually smelt clean! I’ve also made sure that we leave the door slightly ajar between washes, to stop mould build up as well πŸ™‚ Lisa

    1. That’s a good idea to leave the door slightly ajar to prevent mold. I have a top-loading machine so I can’t really do that without cats jumping in. πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  14. Lovely post Michelle I have learn something from this post pertaining to the heat and mold

    1. Thank you so much! I’m glad you learned something new. πŸ™‚

      1. You are welcome

  15. Dee | Grammy's Grid says:

    Thanks so much for linking up with me at #AThemedLinkup 19 for Cleaning and Organizing, open June 15 to 25. All party entries shared if social media buttons installed.

    1. You’re welcome! Thank you for hosting!

  16. I love all your tips. Some I already do and some I never thought about. Thanks for pulling at my cleaning apron Michelle!

    1. Thank you! I’m glad I could inspire you to clean! πŸ˜€

  17. Yup, I definitely didn’t know you had to wash your washing machine. Excuse me while I skip down to the laundry room!!

    1. Isn’t that funny? I always just assumed it was cleaning itself! haha! πŸ™‚

  18. Thanks for sharing this ma’am. πŸ™‚

    1. You’re very welcome! πŸ™‚ Thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful day!

      1. πŸ™‚ You are welcome. πŸ€—
        Thanks. I am. 😊
        I hope you do too. ❀

  19. I’m glad you talked about this, Michelle! A lot of people really don’t know that washing machines need cleaning too. I was guilty of this until some years back when my clothes smelled ‘odd,’ and I decided to go on the hunt for why! I was amazed when I found out that I needed to wash my washing machine. Huh? πŸ˜€

    Vinegar is amazing at so many things, isn’t it? It does work really well on hard water and scale build-up. The lemon juice sounds especially interesting to me, though. Does it leave some lemon freshness behind? πŸ™‚

    How are your clothes smelling now? All clean & fresh again? I’m glad you love your new washer! As a bit of a laundry nerd myself, fresh, clean clothes are hard to beat!

    1. Isn’t it funny that we need to wash our washing machine? You would think it’s washing its self. It’s kind of like vacuuming the vacuum. πŸ˜€
      Honestly, I haven’t noticed any lemon scents left behind yet. Which is what I wanted because lemon smells clean to me. πŸ™‚
      My clothes smell so much better now! Like my washing machine is new all over again! I want my clothes to smell fresh and clean because otherwise I’ll want to just run out and buy more. lol!

  20. Guess what? I just cleaned out the filter (yuck) and ran the machine on the hot cycle with some apple cider vinegar earlier today.
    Must’ve heard you sub-consciously!

    1. Haha! Not that’s pretty amazing. πŸ˜€

  21. Hmmm…this may be my problem. Our whites are not coming clean. I’ve actually never (insert shame) ever cleaned the washing machine. I think I should after reading this.

    1. I never even thought about it before because I was always assuming it was cleaning itself. But cleaning it really helped! For whites, try adding a 1/2 cup of baking soda to your wash along with your regular laundry detergent. πŸ™‚

      1. Thanks Michelle! Baking soda AND bleach? Or just baking soda?

        1. I would just do one or the other alone. I can’t use bleach, so I use baking soda and that really helps. πŸ™‚

  22. Michelle, such a great post. I never thought of using lemon and vinegar for cleaning machine. Always used to buy such costly stuff. Thank you so much.

    1. I used to do that, too, but since becoming a stay-at-home mom I look for every way to save money. Thank you for reading! πŸ™‚

  23. Oh yes this is a must! I run a bleach cleaner through my top loader faithfully once a month. Excellent post Michelle!

    1. Thank you! I can’t handle bleach, but that’s great that you do that! Nothing beats good smelling and clean clothes. πŸ˜€

  24. Thanks for this great post Michelle, I never thought that a washing machine needed to be cleaned like that. Now I know why my clothes are not smelling clean anymore. Time to wash the washer! Also didn’t know I could add baking soda in with the regular detergent, might try that one too. I’m going to switch to vinegar for my regular cleaning from now on too, those chemical cleaners are starting to bother me. Great tips Michelle,thanks again!

    1. I would have never thought that I would need to wash my washing machine, either. I always assumed it was cleaning itself! πŸ˜€ I also shared a recipe in another post for homemade laundry detergent that might be better for you if the chemical cleaners are bothering you. That might help as well. πŸ™‚ Thank you for your comment and for reading! Have a wonderful weekend!

      1. Yes, I saw the homemade laundry detergent but I have never seen the Borax laundry booster, or the Arm and Hammer washing soda around here. Possible they have it in a larger city, but not here anyway. Small town joys! I have been enjoying all these posts on cleaning, etc, thanks for sharing so many great tips!πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜Ί

        1. Oh bummer. πŸ™ Hopefully you can find something that helps! πŸ™‚ I’m glad you’re enjoying the tips!

  25. We frequently clean our top-loading machine, which seems a wh3ole lot easier than our former front-loading model.

    1. I’ve heard they were harder to clean which is why I stay away from them. πŸ˜€

  26. You can buy washing machine cleaner, but it’s so much better and healthier the way you posted. I’ve always cleaned my washing machine. Great information in this post. Thank you!

    1. Thank you! That’s great that you clean your machine. It’s never really something I thought was necessary before. πŸ™‚

  27. Thanks for these great tips. We usually give it a round of 90c washing with vinegar and soda to get rid of limescale πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈπŸ

    1. That’s a great idea! Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

  28. Dee | Grammy's Grid says:

    CONGRATS! Your post is FEATURED at #AThemedLinkup 20 for All Things American (red, white, and blue), from my previous linkup for Cleaning and Organizing, open June 27 to July 25. All entries shared if social media buttons are installed.

    1. Thank you so much!!!

  29. Oh, I definitely slack on this one! Do you use vinegar full strength for wiping, or do you dilute it with water?

    1. Either way works, but I dilute mine so the smell won’t be too overpowering. πŸ™‚

I love to hear from you!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.