File this one under housekeeping tasks you had zero clue you needed to do: Taking time during your cleaning schedule to wash your washing machine. Yep. Apparently, all those sudsy cycles can produce mold and mildew, which in turn cause your “clean” clothes to, ew, smell. That’s why we put together this handy guide for how to clean your washing machine—top-loading and front-loading machines both included.
How to Clean a Top-Loading Washing Machine
1. To start, you’ll need to adjust the settings to the hottest water temperature and longest possible cycle that your top-loading washing machine offers. (Keep in mind that no clothing should be included in this small or medium-sized load.)
2. As the washer starts to fill up slowly with water, add four cups of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda to the load. Let it mix together as the washer fills. But then, after about ten minutes or so, you should pause the cycle to let the combination sit for at least an hour.
3. While the mixture sits, dip your microfiber cloth in hot white vinegar (you can use the microwave or stove to heat up) and use it to wipe down and clean the top of the washing machine.
4. Next, bust out that old toothbrush and use it to scrub out the detergent, fabric softener and bleach dispensers.
5. Resume the washing machine cycle from here. Once it has finished, you can use that same microfiber cloth to wipe down the interior and remove and remaining scum or build up left behind.
6. Repeat cleaning process every six months. It’s also worth leaving the lid of your top-washing machine open to prevent any mildew and mold building up in between washes.
How to Clean a Front-Loading Washing Machine
1. Before you begin, use a microfiber cloth dipped in white vinegar to wipe out the rubber gasket on the front of your washer. (You’d be amazed how much water and scum can accumulate in the crevices there.)
2. Next, adjust the settings on your machine to the hottest, longest cycle. (A small or medium load is fine.)
3. Mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water in the detergent tray and run a load. (Ditto the above reminder: No clothes! The washing machine should be empty for this.)
4. When the cycle finishes, pop out the detergent tray and run it under hot water until it’s clean.
5. Then, pop the tray back in your machine, add one cup of white vinegar to it and run one final wash.
6. It’s the same as with top-loading washing machines: Repeat this process once every six months. It’s also smart to leave the door open, even just a crack, in between loads to minimize smells and prevent build-up of mildew and mold.