How to Clean a Washing Machine – An Easy Step by Step Guide

You wake up on Sunday morning feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your laundry routine. The clothes have piled up almost as high as the ceiling, but you’re determined to get them all clean.

However, a foul smell immediately fills the air when opening your washing machine. Over time, the dirt and debris accumulated by your clothes causes mould and bacteria to form, making your trusted washer a breeding ground for germs. Gross!

In this guide, Calibre Cleaning’s experts have outlined the steps on how to clean a washing machine. Whether you have a top load machine or a front load washer, our cleaning solutions guarantee to get your device sparkling in no time.

Looking for an End of Lease Clean for your Canberra home? Contact Calibre Cleaning to book a free appointment!

How to Clean a Washing Machine – Front Loader – Step One

Turn on your empty washing machine and run a regular cycle on the hot water setting, using two cups of white vinegar. By making this solution, instead of detergent, you’re able to deep clean your washer drum and remove any built-up residue and dirt.

Using this method disinfects and degreases stains, so it’s perfect for cleaning machines and other home appliances. The hot water will also help loosen any dirt or grime built up over time, making it the ideal combo.

After the cycle is finished, leave the door open so that the machine can air out. This will help remove any lingering smells.

Step Two – Scrubbing Your Washing Machine

Once the machine has aired out, it’s time to get down and dirty. The grime that’s built upon the door, sides, top, and bottom has now softened and is ready for scrubbing.

First, you’ll want to make a solution of 1/4 cup vinegar and a quart of warm water. Dip your sponge and toothbrush in the solution and start scrubbing away any grime particles in your washing machine. Also, make sure to remove and wash your fabric softener dispenser.

Step Three – Run a Hot Cleaning Cycle Without Detergent

Now that cleaning is done, it’s just a case of rinsing everything off. Run a hot cycle on your machine to rinse away leftover residue along with the smell.

Finally, use a microfiber cloth to wipe out and dry up any excess moisture.


How to Clean a Washing Machine – Top Load Washing Machine

Aside from baking soda, cleaning a top loading washing machine requires the same ingredients as a front load machine. The main difference is that you will have to pause the wash cycle and let your cleaning solution soak before scrubbing.

How to Clean a Washing Machine – Step One


Run your empty washing machine and ensure you’re using hot water to fill its interior. As water is filling your basin, gradually add three cups of white vinegar to the water.

Pouring after the basin is full of water can prevent proper mixing, resulting in a weak cleaning solution. Vinegar and baking soda are prevalent natural ingredients in household cleaning for their acidic and absorbent properties.

Step Two – Pause Your Machine after 5-7 Minutes


Once the machine has filled with your solution, run your wash cycle for 5-7 minutes and press pause. You’ll then want to add some baking soda to the mixture and turn it on for another minute for a thorough mix.

After a minute, turn off the machine and let your solution simmer for a couple of hours. This process will help loosen any tough stains and bacteria lingering in your device. Afterwards, resume your regular cycle until it drains out.

Step Three – Scrubbing Your Washing Machine

Like cleaning a front loading washing machine, you’ll want to make a vinegar and hot water cleaning solution to soak your sponge. Make sure to wring out the sponge so that it’s not too wet before starting.

Begin by scrubbing the top of your machine where the rim is, removing any scum or dirt built up. Scrub down the basin, sides and detergent dispenser, making sure to pay close attention to the areas around the agitator. Finally, take a toothbrush and scrub inside the agitator to remove clogged dirt.

Step Four – Rinse and Wipe

After scrubbing, it’s time for a rinse cycle. Ensure the water is hot, as low temperatures may be inadequate to clean your machine. Run the hot water until it’s drained, and finish by wiping away any excess moisture with a microfiber cloth. Open your top door and allow your machine to air dry before closing it.

And there you have it! We’ve shown you how to clean a washing machine so it will be free of soap scum, bacteria, and any unwanted smells. Just remember that no clothes should be in the washing machine while you’re doing this.

Wondering how often you should wash your linens and sheets? Read this!

Tips on Deodorizing a Smelly Washing Machine

Even with a good cleansing routine, it helps to take preventative measures to ensure your machine doesn’t start smelling again. Here are a few tips to help keep your device smelling fresh:

Take Your Clothes Out After a Cycle

Letting your clothes sit in the machine can cause them to smell when they’re hot. Taking them out after your wash ensures your interior dries faster and stays clean.

Remove Pet Hair and Debris

For people with pets, you’ll know that after a while, pet hair and dead skin cells can quickly accumulate in your washing machine. These can be strong enough to cause it to smell if they aren’t removed.

After your washing machine has dried after a cycle, use a vacuum brush attachment to suck up any hair stuck in the machine. Alternatively, you can add a lint removing ball to dislodge and collect any pet hair with your wash. This is an efficient and effective way to manage pet hair strands from accumulating over time.

Regularly Check Your Gasket

It’s not uncommon for a gasket to start smelling after a while, especially if it remains wet. The easiest way to check your gasket is after a water cycle. If you notice an unpleasant smell, clean your gasket using hot water and baking soda before leaving it to dry for a day.

Keep Your Washing Machine Door Open

After washing your clothes and promptly removing them, keep your door open until your interior has completely dried. Moisture lingering in the machine can cause bacteria to form and smell.

Refrain From Using Too Much Detergent

Adding more detergent may seem like a no brainer when you have many clothes with tough stains. However, overuse of detergent can leave residue behind, causing your washing machine to become dirty over time.

An FAQ on How to Clean A Washing Machine


How Often to Clean Your Washing Machine?

After reading this guide, you may be under the impression that washing machine cleaning has to be done daily. Thankfully, this is not usually the case.

Ideally, you should be cleaning your machine every week or biweekly. However, if you have pets or a lot of kids, then you’ll want to clean it more often, as pet hair and skin cells can quickly build up. Oppositely, if you don’t use it regularly, thorough cleaning of your machine’s exterior and interior once every month will do just fine.

Can Vinegar Damage My Washing Machine?

No, vinegar will not damage your washing machine. In fact, it’s a great way to clean and disinfect it, along with other appliances like your fridge and dishwasher. However, it can damage your rubber seals, so take note of any potential damage to your washing machine gasket over time.

Additionally, vinegar is also highly effective in getting rid of limescale existing inside your washing machine. For more information on how to remove limescale from your appliances, read our limescale removal guide.

How Long Does a Washing Machine Last?

Front loading washing machines typically last for eight years and nine years for top loaders among Australian owners before they’re replaced. However, your washing machine can last the entire decade with a regular cleaning schedule and proper maintenance.

Can you Use Bleach to Clean Your Washing Machine’s Interior?

Yes, you can use bleach to clean your washing machine to give it an intensive clean. Bleach is an excellent disinfectant that can kill any bacteria or mould inside. Always check your device’s manual to see what cleaning methods and products are recommended.

However, if you’ve lost your manual, you should only use a small amount of bleach and test it on an inconspicuous area before using it on the whole machine. If everything goes according to plan, you can use a bleach solution to clean your device, then rinse with hot water.


Enjoying a Clean Home with Calibre Cleaning

It’s not only washing machines that get dirty, as all aspects of your home can collect dust and grime. If your appliances have started to have an unpleasant smell, then now is the time to give Calibre Cleaning a call! Our professional cleaners are available to come over to your home at a time that works well for you.

With years of experience in cleaning services, there’s no job too big or small for our team of experts. In addition to appliances, we can clean surfaces, furniture, and even those hard to reach places that you never thought could be so dirty!

To book an appointment, give us a call, or you can use our online booking form, and we will get back to you asap. We provide professional Gold Coast cleaning services, as well as services for house cleaning in AdelaideBrisbaneCanberraHobartMelbournePerth, and Sydney. We also offer End of lease or bond cleaning in AdelaideBrisbane, Canberra, Gold Coast, HobartMelbournePerth, and Sydney.

Did you love this washing machine cleaning guide? If so, check out this guide on How To Make Cleaning Fun For Infants and Toddlers.