An older adult helping a young child clean their washing machine

How to Clean a Top Loading or Front Loading Washing Machine in 6 Easy Steps

Last Updated: June 30, 2022

It’s time to spare a thought for your poor ol’ washing machine. Check out our quick ‘n’ easy method to get your washing machine clean with baking soda and vinegar.

Does your top-loading washing machine smell? Could your front-loader do with a bit of a refresh? A washing machine is one of those household appliances you don’t immediately think to clean. After all, it’s designed to clean other things, so it must be clean already, right?

Alas, it doesn’t quite work that way! Even though you use your washing machine to clean your clothing, it still needs a little TLC of its own. Clothing fibers, food bits, dirt, germs, mineral deposits, and other yucky gunk can clog the mechanisms of your machine and downgrade its quality of cleaning. But don’t worry — cleaning a washing machine is pretty straightforward. We cover the best way to clean the inside of a washing machine and answer some commonly asked questions about proper washing machine care.

How to clean a top loading or front loading washing machine

Step 1

Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar and spray the rubber gasket on the door of your washing machine. For top-loading machines, spray the lid and any corners where grime is prevalent. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe these areas.

Step 2

Pour two cups of distilled white vinegar into the detergent dispenser. If your washing machine doesn’t have a detergent dispenser, pour the vinegar directly into the drum then set your washing machine to run on the longest cycle with the hottest water possible.

Step 3

Fill a small bowl with hot water and a few drops of dish soap to clean the detergent and fabric softener dispensers. An old toothbrush will help you get into the nooks and crannies.

Step 4

Once the vinegar cycle is over, sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda into the drum and run the machine again on the hottest, longest settings.

Step 5

While the machine runs, spray the outside of the washing machine with white vinegar and give it a good wipe down. Make sure to get the knobs and control panel.

Step 6

Once the baking soda cycle is done, leave the washing machine open to let it air out.

Are you on the market for a new laundry detergent? Check out Grove members’ favorite laundry detergents to get super clean, super fluffy clothes every time.

How to clean your washing machine FAQ

How often should you clean your washing machine?

Standard washers should be washed at least once every six months. Because high-efficiency washers use less water than standard machines, they should be cleaned every three months.

Do you need to disinfect your washing machine?

If someone in your home has been sick, or your washing machine has come into contact with blood or feces, it’s a good idea to disinfect it. Wipe down the drum with a natural disinfectant spray that contains thymol. Thymol is an active essential oil that’s been proven by the EPA to kill 99.9 percent of household germs.

Can vinegar damage your washing machine?

Overuse of vinegar in your washing machine could damage the rubber seals that are used to hold water in. That being said, cleaning your machine once every few months with diluted vinegar won’t harm the integrity of those seals.

clean team logo

Ready to tackle the dirtiest spots in your home? Grove Collaborative has you covered with Clean Team. Each week, we’ll do a deep dive into how to clean a different place or item in your home. No spot is too small — and we’ll tell you how to conquer them all, naturally.

Looking for more cleaning how-tos and other sustainable swaps you can make at home? Grove has you covered with our buying and cleaning guides. And let us know how if you have any cleaning questions (or share your own tips using #grovehome) by following Grove Collaborative on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

If you're ready to take on germs, shop Grove Collaborative's cleaning essentials for the cleaning tools to tackle the job.

Read more from Grove

6 Best Fabric Softeners

Check out our list of the best fabric softeners that you can be assured are made from gentle ingredients, so they’ll also be gentle on your clothes and you, too.

Read More