1. Home

Discuss in my forum

How to Clean a Clothes Washer

Clean Washer = Clean Laundry


How to Clean a Clothes Washer

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Did you know that you need a clean washer to have clean laundry? A clothes washer is a wonderful machine. Throw in dirty clothes, add some detergent, turn a dial and come back later to clean clothes. Ever wonder where all that dirt goes? Most of it rushes away with the drain water; but some lurks in your machine and can cause laundry to appear dull and gray.

How to Clean That Machine

Cleaning a washer is really simple. For a top load washer, fill with hot water. Add 1 quart of chlorine bleach - no detergent. Allow the washer to run through its longest wash and spin cycle. Immediately fill the washer with hot water again and add 1 quart distilled white vinegar . Run the longest wash and spin cycle again.

Using the bleach and vinegar will clean away bacteria, soap scum and mineral deposits from the wash basket and hoses. This is especially important if you live in a hard water area and should be done every three months. Every top load washer should be cleaned at least twice per year.

Front load washers need a little different cleaning technique because they not only harbor soil but develop bad odors that transfer to clothes. Follow these tips to both remove the dirt build-up and the mold and mildew that can form from too much moisture left in the machine.

Clean Those Dispensers

Newer washers have handy built-in dispensers for detergent, fabric softener and bleach. These, too, need to be cleaned regularly.

Each dispenser should be cleaned every month to six weeks to keep them working well. You certainly don't want them dumping too much product in your wash load or failing to empty at the correct time. Too much detergent causes overflowing suds, too much fabric softener can leave blue or greasy-looking spots on clothing and bleach can actually ruin colored clothing.

To clean, be sure the washer is empty. Heat 1 cup of white vinegar in the microwave or in a small saucepan. Pour it into the dispenser and allow it to sit for a few minutes to loosen any build up. Next, run the machine following a normal cycle. If you have removable dispensers, they can be submerged in warm vinegar and then rinsed with clear water and replaced in the machine.

Seeing Spots?

If you begin to notice little brown spots on your laundry, it may be rust. And, it is probably coming from your washer. Use a flashlight and look over your washer basket carefully to check for chips in the finish.

Many washers have spin or washer baskets that are replaceable but that is expensive. Kits are also available to repair and repaint the porcelain coating. You must follow directions very carefully; but you may be able to get a few more years from your washer!

Taking care of your washer will make your laundry day more productive and your clothes cleaner!

Specific questions? Just ask here.

Be a part of the Laundry Community

  • Sign Up for the FREE Weekly Newsletter
  • Visit the Laundry Forum
  • Read Mary’s Laundry Blog
  • Like Mary's Laundry Tips on Facebook
  • Follow @AboutLaundry on Twitter.
  • Related Video
    Clean Your House in 10 Minutes
    How to Clean an Oven
    1. About.com
    2. Home
    3. Laundry & Laundry Rooms
    4. Appliances
    5. Clothes Washers
    6. Washer Maintenance & Repair
    7. How to Clean a Clothes Washer

    ©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.