DIY: How To Wash Your Washing Machine

3 Aug

I know…It seems silly, right?! By washing clothes you’d think you are in turn washing your washer, but in truth, even the machine that gets the job done needs a nice washing and a little TLC. Think of how many cycles of washing it has done and all of the fabrics it has rinsed clean. It makes sense that it would need a good soaking session by itself every once in a while to get any residue or build-up washed away.

DIY: How To Wash Your Washing Machine | WholeGreenLove

I had heard about cleaning your washing machine a while back and to be honest, I thought it was a good idea but didn’t see any urgency in trying it out. With how busy life can be you need to pick and choose your battles. We have an older non-HE washer and dryer set. I noticed with the past few loads of laundry that as I was pulling my freshly washed goods out to either hang up to dry or transfer over to the dryer and I could smell a musty smell. I have a really sensitive sniffer, so I thought I was just being over critical of my freshly washed clothes and that it was just a wet fabric smell. Nope. After a couple loads I realized my nose wasn’t lying. Gross. It was definitely time to wash my washer. Luckily, it’s super easy…I don’t know why I haven’t been doing this periodically to freshen it up. Oh well, now I know.

Detergents and softeners, especially ones with dyes or added perfumes, can leave extra grime in your washing machine, along with build up from dirty fabric. Another culprit for mold and mildew is damp laundry left overnight in the washer. All of that moister creates the perfect environment for stinky smells to thrive.

 DIY: How To Wash Your Washing Machine | WholeGreenLove

What can you do to keep your washer smelling fresh and clean?

  1. Once a month, run a cleaning cycle on your washing machine, or as needed.
  2. Don’t let wet clothes sit in your washer too long.
  3. Use only a small amount of natural detergent without dyes and synthetic perfumes. It’s better for you, the environment, and the washer.
  4. Leave the washer door open after cycles so it can dry out properly.
  5. Wipe out any visible residue as needed with a clean and reusable cloth to keep your washer in tip-top shape.

If you haven’t washed your washer before, no worries! I hadn’t either! This simple wash recipe and washer tips will have both your washer and clothing smelling fresh and clean. You can feel good about the ingredients you are using too, knowing that they are both effective cleaners and safe for you and the environment. I used eucalyptus for its nice clean scent, but also because of its anti-bacterial properties. Tea tree or lavender oil would be other essential oils that would work well for this too.

Do you routinely do a cleaning cycle with your washing machine?

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46 Responses to “DIY: How To Wash Your Washing Machine”

  1. Darla October 20, 2014 at 8:56 am #

    Hi everybody!!

    I have had my front load HE washer now for 8 years and have never had my clothes or washer smell…. because the only time my washer door is closed tight is when I am doing laundry.

    It’s not open wide…just about 1.5 to 2 inches, but that’s enough that the moisture doesn’t get trapped inside.

    I hope this helps everyone.

    ps-I quite often leave laundry in the washer overnight and have never had a smell because I am VERY diligent that it doesn’t get closed when not in use, so the mould spores never have a chance to get started…

  2. Patti August 24, 2014 at 10:38 am #

    I would like to have a recipe for laundry soap for a HE washer please.

  3. Angela Towers August 24, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    Would any of you who make your own detergent for HE washers like to share your recipes? I really want to make my own detergent, but I don’t want to ruin my washer. Thanks!

  4. Barbra August 15, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    For front loader where your getting the mold on the rubber seal use Hydrogen Peroxide and water. I use about 4 tablespoons of peroxide to 1 cup water. Place in a spray bottle and spray the outside and the inside of the seal. Saturate it well. It will turn the mold white which is good. After 4-5 minutes wipe the seal with a damp cloth. If mold is not completely gone then spray again leaving it on and do the soda and vinegar cycle. When cycle is complete, wipe the seal again with damp cloth. When washer is not in use leave the door open (I use an unsharpened pencil to prop it open just enough) to allow air flow. This will prevent future molding. Can’t remember where I found this idea but have been doing it for about two years now and it really works!

  5. Dish Washer cleaning? April 16, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Can the same ingredients & process be applied to a dishwasher?

  6. Tammy Walker April 16, 2014 at 7:49 am #

    I have a front loader washer. The rubber on the door has mold on it because the door does not always get left open to dry. What can I do to remove this mold? Thank you.

    • Joanna April 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

      Hi Tammy,

      I would try making more of a paste with the baking soda, vinegar and a drop of the eucalyptus oil. Take a scrub brush or old toothbrush and scrub the foamy paste into the rubber on the door. Let it sit before you wipe it off and you may need to repeat this step a few times. After its cleaned keep a clean dry rag next to your washer so you can wipe down the rubber in between use!

      I hope that helps :)

  7. Victoria B. April 16, 2014 at 7:44 am #

    Ravensera is an essential oil that is Anit-bacterial, fungal, microbial and viral and this is the one I go to for my deep cleaning. For those that don’t like astringent smell of Tea Tree or Ravensara, then you can also add about 5 drops of Lemon essential oil to give it a fresh scent. Rosemary is also a good alternative.

  8. Kate April 13, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    My washing machine must be very old. It is a top losing non-HE. When I put the water level at the heaviest load setting the water overflows all over the floor. It does fine when I clean out on the smallest load setting.

    • Kate April 13, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

      Top loading*

  9. Sandy Stephens March 4, 2014 at 8:05 am #

    I too have an HE front load washer. I put the baking soda inside the washer, along with 2 cups of white vinegar and then put my machine on the hottest water setting on speed wash and let it go. Then I also have a magnet with a hook on it and a ponytail holder that I use to keep my door open. I wipe my machine out and around the door area and leave it propped open all the time. It isn’t open real wide, but enough to keep air flowing. My machine gets used quite all the time… haven’t added any essential oils but that sounds good too. I have been using homemade detergent and LOVE IT!! So economical!

  10. Shannon January 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Was wondering why you can’t use this in a HE top load washer? I use homemade detergent in mine and have for a while , due to my son’s allegeries. I use the ones you buy in stores to wash my machine once a month but was looking for an all natural alternative. Thanks!

    • Laura January 24, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      You may be able to use a mixture like this for a HE washer. We don’t have one and aren’t completely sure how they operate differently. We only like to give recommendations based on what we’ve tried :) I would check your washers instructions…maybe it would be fine!

    • P. Young March 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

      I used white vinegar in my HE front loading washing machine. Just pour vinegar into the cups designated for detergent, bleach and fabric softener. It cleaned all the cups as well as the inside. Smelled wonderful when it was finished. Also, remember to empty your lint filter at the bottom also.

    • Shawn June 14, 2014 at 11:41 am #

      I have an HE Top Loader and it has a cleaning cycle for the washing machine. I have never used it. But I will be trying this solution and will get back to how well it works. :-)

  11. Keri January 22, 2014 at 4:06 am #

    ~I have Tea Tree essential oil. Would this be a good one for cleaning (anti-microbial?) the washer out with?
    ~Also, I have a front load, HE washer (that, frankly, I’ve never felt has done a great job of cleaning our clothes) and the detergent slot holds much less than a cup…shall I just let it overflow into the other slots (bleach, fabric softener)?
    ~How often should we clean our washers?

    Thank you!! :)

    • Laura January 24, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      Hi Keri – Tea tree oil is a great anti microbial essential oil. We haven’t tried that, but I would think that it would work great too. Sorry, we don’t have a front load washer, so I’m not sure how it would work to use it in your machine. Once a month is good for washing your machine.

    • carol scott January 31, 2014 at 6:33 pm #

      once a month is what my washer asked for it is an H.E.
      I am going to try cleaning mine with baking soda & Peroxide to see if the ring on the door will come clean.

  12. Bonnie January 21, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    I use vinegar in the fabric softener compartment and put a little in the bleach compartment for each wash load in my top-loader HE machine. Great clean clothes and machine. I also use vinegar in my dishwasher which has a stainless steel interior, again, dishes are clean and spotless and so is the interior.

  13. Judi January 21, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

    What does HE stand for?

  14. Juli January 21, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    What about front loading washing machines?

    • Joanna | WholeGreenLove January 21, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      Hi Juli,

      There is an earlier comment where you can see how we’d recommend washing a front loading machine.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. lindsay January 21, 2014 at 7:32 am #

    Would it be ok to use this recipe for really hard water? We live in an area where we have really hard water and I was told not to wash my cloth diapers with any vinegar because of it. Just wondering since there would be no dipes in there if the vinegar would be ok.

    • Joanna | WholeGreenLove January 21, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

      Hi Lindsay!

      From my understanding the vinegar would work really well to help break down any mineral deposits left from your hard water. I’d go for it :)

    • Rhonda April 16, 2014 at 9:32 am #

      You should be using vinegar to dissolve the calcium buildup in your machine. We have really hard well water and have gone through 5 washing machine in 15 years. I was told by the last guy that installed my machine to use vinegar atleast once a week. I now use vinegar instead of fabric softener.

    • Bert April 16, 2014 at 10:28 am #

      Years ago I was told to use vinegar and a water combo to rinse my hair as I lived were the water was very hard by my hairdresser. She knew I had the worst hard water she’d ever seen as I got a spiral perm for my wedding and the hard water will run off and looks purple when you get a perm and she’d never seen it as bad as mine was. I have used this rinse ever since for my hair and it leaves my hair so soft and silky as it removes mineral build up. I would think it would work for clothing the same way. I would look up more information on using vinegar on clothing and hard water. Because I’m a little skeptical about the info you’ve been give here.

  16. Lois Ann Smith January 20, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

    Does it matter what kind of essential oil is used? I don’t have either of the ones you mentioned but do have peppermint oil. Thanks.

    • Joanna| WholeGreenLove January 21, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      Hi Lois,

      Peppermint oil should work well, I like using scents that I like, but that also have antimicrobial properties when cleaning. Hope that helps!

  17. Claudia January 20, 2014 at 7:54 pm #

    My washing machine runs only on cold water (I live in Brazil). Does it work the same way?

    • Joanna | WholeGreenLove January 21, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

      Hi Claudia,

      I don’t think cold water should be a problem. I’d just make sure you still run an extra rinse cycle after it’s cleaned :)

  18. Paula January 20, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Hi! This makes sense to me! – but I don’t have Eucalyptus oil. Do you think Purification oil would work well? (from Young Living)…

    • Joanna | WholeGreenLove January 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm #

      Hi Paula!

      I think Purification oil would work great as well. Give it a try and let us know what you think :) Thanks for stopping by!

  19. John Slawek January 20, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

    This sounds like a great washing machine cleaning formula! Where can you purchase eucalyptus and lavender oil? Thank you! John

    • Joanna | WholeGreenLove January 20, 2014 at 5:19 pm #

      Hi John!

      I am attaching links below to ones we like to use :)

    • Rhonda January 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Most pharmacies have eucalyptus oil in their cold and flu departments, usually by the Vick Vapo Rub.

  20. Michelle January 20, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    Any suggestions for cleaning a front loading HE washer. I run a cycle of vinegar through occasionally, but if there is more I can do, I’d like to know.

    • Joanna | WholeGreenLove January 20, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

      Hi Michelle,
      For your front loading HE washer I would suggest cleaning your machine like this:

      1) Always leave the door open to air dry after washing. The detergent drawers can be aired out too.
      2) That rubber lip that seals the door can have water pool on the bottom, so it can be nice to get in the habit of keeping a clean rag near by to swipe any water away after a wash.
      3) I would use anywhere from a 1/2-1cup of baking soda tossed into the drum of the machine (you could add your essential oil here too) and then pour 1 cup white vinegar in the detergent slot. Run the washer empty with hot water and an extra rinse cycle if possible. Otherwise, just do a second wash with hot water after the cleaning cycle.
      4) Sometimes the detergent drawers can get gross, so if your machine is able, you can pull the draw out and soak it in hot water with a little vinegar and baking soda.
      5) If that rubber lip for the door has mildew spots (usually look black or dark brown) I would use a scrub brush or old toothbrush with a baking soda-vinegar paste to remove it.

      I hope that helps!

      • Brenda January 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

        I have had an HE front loader for almost 5 years and at the end of my wash day I dry the door, rubber gasket inside and out, and take out the detergent drawer taking everything apart and drying all the parts and the inside of the drawer slot. Then i use my damp rag to wipe down the outside of the washer and dryer. I always leave the door open when not in use. I have only ever ran the tub clean cycle (back when I was still using bleach) once about 3 years ago. My machine still looks brand new and I have never had any issues with mildew or odor. I switched to homemade laundry soap and vinegar for fabric softener a little over a year ago..while this might seem like a lot of work, it really takes less than 5 minutes. I see it as protecting a valuable investment. Hope this helps….

        • Joanna | WholeGreenLove January 21, 2014 at 9:49 pm #

          Hi Brenda,

          Thats a great way to prevent buildup…and like you said an easy addition to your washing routine! Thanks for sharing!

        • Patti August 24, 2014 at 10:36 am #

          I would love to have a good recipe for HE machine natural laundry soap please.

        • mis September 27, 2014 at 5:29 pm #

          May I ask which recipe do you use for the homemade laundry soap?

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