A Step-by-Step Guide to Cleaning the Outside of a Washer and Dryer

Make your laundry room as good as new

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated April 25, 2022
A mother and child in a laundry room
Photo: PeopleImages / iStock / Getty Images
Difficulty

Easy

You've got this!

Time to complete

1 hour

30–60 minutes

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What you'll need:

TOOLS

  • Vacuum or handheld vacuum
  • Spray bottle or small bucket
  • Cleaning cloth or sponge
  • Towel or cloth for drying
  • Soft bristle brush or toothbrush for scrubbing
  • Dryer lint brush (optional)

SUPPLIES

  • White vinegar or gentle all-purpose cleaner
  • Baking soda

7 Steps to Clean the Outside of a Washer and Dryer

  1. Wipe Down Washer and Dryer Surfaces

    Mix a homemade cleaning solution made of 50% white vinegar and 50% warm water in a small bucket or spray bottle. If you don't have vinegar, you can use an all-purpose cleaner, but just be sure it’s compatible with the appliances’ material. With a cleaning cloth or sponge, thoroughly wipe the washer and dryer's exterior surfaces with your solution.

    Be sure to wipe the inside of the lids and doors and around the base of the machines. Clean the seal around the washing machine door to remove any mildew or grime buildup. Scrub any areas that need extra attention with an old toothbrush or soft-bristled brush. You can mix baking soda with water (3:1 ratio) for extra scrubbing power. 

    Once you've cleaned the exterior of your machines, dry them with a towel or cloth.

  2. Wash the Soap and Bleach Dispenser Cups

    Clean out the bleach, soap, and fabric softener dispensers inside your washing machine. Remove them if possible and rinse them thoroughly under gentle running water. If they're not removable, use your cloth and a toothbrush to remove residue. 

    Dry the dispenser cups and area before returning them to the washer.

  3. Check Your Supply Hoses

    Move your washing machine away from the wall and inspect the water supply hoses for any cracks, damage, or loose connections. Catching a hose issue early can prevent a leak and possible water damage that can wreak havoc on your home.

  4. Clear Out the Lint Trap

    Give your dryer’s lint trap an extra clean by emptying the lint, then using a damp cloth to wipe down the screen and around the frame. If your lint trap has lots of residue, hold it under gentle running water while you scrub it clean with a toothbrush.

    Before re-inserting the lint trap, let it dry fully. Vacuum out the space where the trap goes. You may need to use a long slender vacuum attachment to reach deep into the crevice.

  5. Clean the Duct Hose

    Vacuuming duct hose
    Photo: Benjamin Clapp / Adobe Stock

    Move your dryer away from the wall and unplug it. You may need the help of another adult to move the machine, but some dryers have wheels on the back for easy tilting and moving. 

    Detach the dryer duct hose from the back of the dryer. Clear out any lint or debris that’s stuck inside. You may want to use a slender vacuum attachment or dryer lint brush to reach further into the hose. A backup in your hose can cause your machine to work less efficiently, break down more often, and cause potential fires, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

    You might also be able to detach the other end of the hose that connects to your wall and clean it out, or you may need to access that end from the outdoors. Vacuum behind your machine and wipe off any areas before plugging it back in and putting it in place.

  6. Empty the Outside Lint Trap

    If you can access the lint trap, you’ll want to open and clean it out. Cleaning the outdoor trap—which is often dirtier than you expect—allows your machine to work at its best.

  7. Vacuum Around the Base

    As a final step, run your vacuum around the base of the washer and dryer with an eye for congregating dust bunnies.

DIY Cleaning a Washing Machine and Dryer vs. Hiring a Pro

If you’d rather not clean your washer and dryer, you can hire a cleaning company near you to do this deep cleaning job for you. Some local washing machine repair professionals may also take on this job, and they can check if your machine needs any repairs or other maintenance while they’re at it. 

While cleaning it yourself will only cost you the price of materials you don’t already have, as well as your free time, hiring a pro to inspect your machine will cost a bit more. However, it may be well worth the cost, especially if your machine has been acting funky.

Cleaning a Washer and Dryer Additional Questions

How should you clean a top-loading washing machine?

You should clean a top-loading washing machine by cleaning the washer drum, removable parts, filter, gasket, and door’s interior. Some machines also have a clean cycle you can run to help remove built-up mildew and soap residue. 

How often should I clean the washer to prevent buildup?

You should clean the inside of your washer once a month to prevent mildew and soap buildup. Without regular cleanings, your washer is more likely to see mold growth.

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