How to Clean a Washing Machine in No Time

Treat your hardworking washer with a cleaning of its own

Lydia Schapiro
Written by Lydia Schapiro
Updated July 8, 2022
Small washing machine in a laundry room
Photo: Choreograph / iStock / Getty Images Plus


Flex your DIY muscles.

Time to complete

3 hours



You might need a thing or two.

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What you'll need:


  • Scrub brush
  • Cloth
  • Old toothbrush
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Vacuum


  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Soap (optional)
  • All-purpose cleaner (optional)

If you’re a homeowner, you may use your washing machine regularly, only to notice one day that your clothes aren’t getting as clean as they used to. When this day comes, it’s time to deep-clean your appliance. Doing so will help improve its functionality, increase your appliance’s life span, and reduce the potential for developing mildew or mold. Don’t forget to deep clean your entire laundry room regularly using our laundry room cleaning checklist.

  1. Clean the Washer Drum

    Small washing machine in a laundry room
    Photo: Choreograph / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    Pour 4 cups of white vinegar into the drum (the part that fills with water and spins your clothes), and then use your brush to scrub the interior. Set the washing machine to the highest and hottest setting, and run your empty washing machine. Next, add 1 cup of baking soda to the drum and run another cycle. After both cycles, wipe down the drum with a cloth. 

    Note: If you notice a lingering smell, rerun the machine but this time with soap.

  2. Clean the Removable Parts

    Woman cleaning washing machine soap dispenser with a cloth
    Photo: TanyaRozhnovskaya / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    Make sure you clean the removable parts of your washing machine since it’s possible for detergent, lint, and debris to accumulate. By cleaning these parts, your washing machine will function more efficiently, and in turn, so will you. 

    Removable parts may include a soap tray, detergent cups, and bleach dispensers. Soak these pieces in hot water, and then use a cloth or old toothbrush to scrape off residual debris or dirt. Afterward, rinse and return all the components.

  3. Clean the Filter

    Man removing washing machine filter
    Photo: Elena Gurova / iStock / Getty Images Plus

    Locate the filter. Usually, you can find it in the front of the machine behind a hatch, at the end of the drainage hose, under the center agitator, or along the rim of the drum. The filter helps to reduce the buildup of lint and debris inside, and cleaning it is essential to maintaining a high-functioning machine. 

    You can either soak the filter in hot water with soap or mix a white vinegar and baking soda solution. Whichever option you choose, soak the filter, and then use a scrub brush to remove all the grime thoroughly. After you’ve adequately scrubbed the filter, rinse and dry it, then return it to its place.

  4. Clean the Gasket

    Woman using rag to clean washing machine gasket
    Photo: Sergey / Adobe Stock

    The gasket is commonplace for lint, hair, and debris to build up, so make sure this is part of your washing machine cleaning regimen as well. 

    To clean the gasket, either use a spray bottle or cloth to apply vinegar. Usually, you can locate the gasket at the back of the outer tub on the washing machine.

  5. Clean Door and Sides

    Woman wearing pink rubber gloves cleaning washing machine door
    Photo: TanyaRozhnovskaya / iStock / Getty Images

    If you think about how often you or someone else touches the door to your washing machine, it’s not surprising it may get dirty over time. That’s why it’s crucial to clean the outside of your washing machine

    Using a damp, clean cloth, scrub down all exterior sides of the washing machine. You can use a vinegar and water mixture or an all-purpose cleaner. In addition, make sure to clean inside the lid where soap scum and lint may accumulate.

    Don’t forget about the door handle. This is probably the exterior component that receives the most amount of touches, so make sure you scrub it clean.

  6. Clean the Wall Near the Machine

    You may need a little extra strength for this step if you’re dealing with a particularly heavy machine. 

    Move the machine away from the wall, and use a vacuum to eliminate all dust, dirt, hair, lint, and any accumulated debris. Clean all surfaces near your washing machine since these areas may also have some lint buildup.

Additional Questions

How often should you deep-clean your washing machine?

Aim to deep-clean your washing machine every one to three months, depending on how often you’re using it. Cleaning your washing machine is a preventive measure since your work will hopefully ward off potential issues involving lint buildup or mildew/mold growth. 

How do you prevent mold from growing in the washing machine?

There are a few ways you can reduce the risk of mold growing in the washing machine:

  • Use detergent recommended for your specific washer.

  • Leave the door open after every wash to ensure as much moisture escapes as possible.

  • Remove wet clothes as soon as possible to prevent moisture after each wash.

  • Use a mildew cleaner to wipe the gasket regularly and eliminate moisture. 

  • Consider using a dehumidifier in the area where you keep your washer. 

If you think the problem is too big for you to handle on your own, contact a local washing machine repair service

Why do you have to use hot water to deep clean?

When you deep-clean your washing machine, using hot water is the best practice since it’s more effective than cold water at killing various types of bacteria and viruses. Plus, hot water tends to break down soap residue more efficiently.

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