Answer me honestly, how often do you clean your washing machine? And yes, it does need to be cleaned!
I normally deep clean my machine once every month or so and wipe down the visible surfaces of it about once a week/fortnight – pretty much whenever I am washing my cleaning cloths, I wipe the machine & my laundry benches over first.
For the sake of this blog post I let my machine get dirty – real dirty, I let it go about a month longer than normal between cleans.
A lot of washing machine cleaning tutorials online include bleach, I have used bleach to clean this machine before at our previous home, but the house we own now has a “grey water system” and apparently if you use bleach (or too much of it) the system loses its mind. So this method of cleaning is a natural way, a way that is safe for a grey water system.
This method is also for a top loader, I never have owned a front loader so I am not sure on how to clean those – sorry!
Before we start, a few reasons why it’s important to regularly clean your machine…
- Firstly a clean machine is a machine that smells good. This is a machine that holds water, obviously over time mould & mildew can build up inside it, therefore creating a smell and that smell can come off on your clean clothes.
- Hard water can cause a buildup of limescale & pretty much just gunk in the pipes & parts of the machine, causing it not to work as good.
- Sometimes dirt & soap can splash up onto higher parts of the machine, leaving gunk & grime on the agitator (if you have one) & wash barrel above the water line.
- If your machine like mine, is in a garage or outdoor area it is more prone to dust & dirt.
- Like anything in life, the better you take care of them the better they work & last. Washing machines are no different.
Now I am kind of mortified to show these photos, it’s been killing me not to clean this machine over the past few weeks, but I needed it to get dirty so I could demonstrate how to clean & show before & after photos. I was even going to let it go a little longer than this, but I had a huge load of whites to wash & there was no way in the world I was going to do a load of white clothes in my machine while it was in that state!
To clean your washing machine naturally you will need;
- White vinegar
- Baking soda (bi-carb soda)
- Eucalyptus Oil (optional)
- A stiff bristle brush
- A cloth
- Remove the lint collectors, clean them out and place them in the bottom of the machine. (All machines will have these in different places, mine are on the sides of the drum)
This is absolutely disgusting, I didn’t think it was that bad I nearly died when I pulled it out. Those few extra weeks of not being cleaned clearly was a few weeks too much!
- Set your washing machine to fill up to the highest level with hot water. (This cycle is to clean the machine, so do not add in any clothes or detergents!)
For my machine I set it on a heavy duty load, filled it at EXTRA HIGH & on the HOT temperature.
- Once full, add in 4-5 cups of white vinegar.
- Close the lid & let the machine run for about a minute to swirl the vinegar around.
- Add in 1/2 – 1 cup of baking soda.
- Close lid and let machine agitate again to swirl the baking soda & vinegar together.
- Add in a small capful or 20 drops of eucalyptus oil to the water mix.
- Close lid again for just a few seconds and let the machine swirl everything together so it is all evenly dispersed.
You can see the gunk & grime already coming away from the barrel. GROSS!!!
- Stop the washing machine now, if yours can be paused for a 1/2 hour – hour that is great, mine doesn’t like to be left paused so I just switch mine off.
- Let the water sit for 1/2 – 1 hour.
- During this time dip a cloth in the water and wipe down the entire machine, remembering all the corners & removable bits.
Make sure you remember to flush out bits like this part. A few cups of the water/vinegar mix flushed through these parts cleans them well.
- Clean the lip under the lid where powder can build up, I find a stiff bristled brush is helpful at this stage for dislodging and moving it. Then I pour a few cup fulls of the water mixture down into it to flush it out. (Make sure that it is safe to do so, I know mine is as this part just flows back into the machine, not into any electronic parts)
Much better!! Looking cleaner already!
- While waiting you can also clean the rest of your laundry, wipe down the benches, clean the sink (vinegar & baking soda are a great sink cleaning combo, especially for drains), remove any rubbish and just tidy up.
- Wipe over your dryer & remove lint from the lint collector.
- Once an hour is up, let the wash cycle continue so the water drains away. I just set mine to spin cycle.
On my machine I just selected the standard cycle, then only set the spin speed – LOW, so that the dirty water would drain out.
- Once the water is all drained out, restart the machine for another full cycle that includes hot water & let it run through completely. This will help push out all the gunk & grime that has been dislodged and just give it a good flush out. For my machine I reset it to the original heavy duty, extra high water level & hot/cold temperature setting I had to start with.
- After this cycle has finished wipe down the barrel of the machine to remove any dirt/scum that maybe left behind.
- You have finished & your washing machine is now naturally clean.
- I always leave the lid of my machine open so it can dry out and prevents mould & mildew.
- Clean the lint collectors in your machine regularly as well as your dryer.
- Wipe down the outer surfaces of your machine every time you wash your cleaning cloths, this only takes a minute and can make your laundry look cleaner.
Have a lovely weekend!