Is Your Washing Machine Dirty?

how to clean your washing machine

When was the last time you gave your washing machine a good clean?

I’m betting never! Few of us think about cleaning our washing machines. We assume because the machine is washing our clothes, the machine must be clean.

Did you know that bacteria, soap scum and mildew can build up in your washing machine over time? It’s important to give your washing machine a good clean, even if it’s just once a year.

In this blog post, I’m going to share with you how to naturally clean your washing machine to prevent germs and bacteria from building up and spreading to your clothes.

how to clean your washing machine

Does My Washing Machine Really Need A Clean?

Yes you’re probably too busy trying to keep up with your housework schedule that you couldn’t possibly fit in another chore such as cleaning your washing machine.

After looking inside your washing machine, you might think it looks clean. But think about what goes on when you’re using a washing machine.

You put dirty clothes inside a washing machine. If you have young kids, you might put soiled clothes, dirty underwear or even cloth diapers if you use them. Faeces, urine and dirt inside your washing machine!

Washing machines are mostly kept closed and we know what loves to grow in dark, damp conditions- bacteria, mold and minerals.


How To Clean Your Washing Machine

To prevent mold and bacteria growth inside your washing machine, make sure you keep the lid open after every wash cycle. This airs out the machine and helps it dry quickly so that mildew and bacteria doesn’t grow. It also prevents that damp, wet smell you might sometimes notice.

Once every 3 months or so, run the machine through a rinse cycle to help clear out any soap scum build up. Soap scum can occur if you’re using too much washing powder or liquid. Make sure you’re using the appropriate amount.

If you own a front loader machine, make sure you wipe clean the seal on the machine using a natural cleaner such as vinegar mixed with eucalyptus essential oil. Do this on a weekly basis- it should only take a few minutes. After you’ve wiped the seal, dry it and leave the door open.


Natural Washing Machine Cleaner Recipe

I recommend staying away from harsh ingredients such as bleach. Bleach is a toxin and doesn’t kill bacteria- it just bleaches it!

Washing soda is perfect for cleaning a washing machine! It’s basically a more concentrated type of baking soda that’s great for breaking down grease, deodorizing and removing hard water deposits. You’ll often find washing soda as an ingredient in natural laundry detergent and soap recipes.

Vinegar is another great natural ingredient to use. You might already know that vinegar acts as a natural fabric softener. It’s also perfect for cleaning out your washing machine. Add it to the machine before you run an extra rinse cycle to clean it out.

Certain essential oils have anti-microbial properties and make them suitable for cleaning out your washing machine. I prefer tea tree oil as it’s anti-fungal, and thieves blend is great for tackling viruses an bacteria.


Front Loader Washing Machine Cleaner Recipe

2 tablespoons washing soda

2 cups white vinegar

15 drops of tea tree essential oil (optional)

Place the washing soda inside the washing machine drum and run a rinse or wash cycle, and have it set on the hottest setting. Some washing machines have a clean cycle- check to see if yours does.

Once this is finished, add the vinegar and essential oil to the drum and run another wash cycle.

Make sure you also clean the tray dispenser to remove grime. Leave it to soak in hot soapy water for an hour, then scrub it clean. Rinse the tray before putting it back inside the machine.


Top Loader Washing Machine Cleaner Recipe

¾ cup washing soda

1 cup white vinegar

20 drops of tea tree essential oil

Add the washing soda to the washing machine and run a wash cycle on the hottest temperature. Once the machine has finished, add the vinegar and essential oils and run another cleaning cycle using hot water.

Clean any dispensers and also the filter at the bottom of the drum if your machine has one. Use hot soapy water for this.


Cleaning out your washing machine doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming. A periodical clean using simple, natural ingredients will make sure your machine is working properly and not spreading dirt, germs or bacteria to your clothes.

By Christine Carlisle

Christine is a freelance senior writer for Home Health Living and has been writing for us for 4 years. She's a health copywriter with over 10 years experience as a writer. Christine lives alone in a cabin in Maine and was once a hand model while living in New York City. She's a dog person.