Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Is cleaning your washing machine important? It certainly is! The inside of your washing machine is constantly being subjected to dirty water, mineral deposits, detergent deposits, and if you launder cloth diapers it is especially important to keep your machine clean and in tip-top condition. Much like dishwashers, sinks and bathtubs get dirty even though they are meant to clean things, your washing machine can become a mess in no time. Though, most dirt and soil is washed out with the water, dirt, soap residue and other unidentifiable grungy objects can be left behind and you actually have to get rid of this dirt yourself. Every time you wash your clothes, hard water and detergents cause build up to accumulate also, inside the tub, pump and hoses. This build-up reduces the ability of your washing machine to perform and mineral build-up can be abrasive to your cloths and diapers you are washing, causing them to wear faster. Cleaning your washing machine eliminates these problems.

First, run a cycle of hot water along with two cups of vinegar or lemon juice to loosen up soap and grime. Remove the fabric softener receptacle and soak it in hot water and detergent. Clean the bleach dispenser with a spray cleaner and paper towels and Q-tips. Don’t forget to clean the top rim of the wash bucket as it is up and under where it can’t usually be seen easily and becomes dirty. Run the washer empty on a hot cycle one more time.

While this is going on you check all your hoses for leaks. Over time, the water hoses that came with your washing machine may leak or burst. It’s a good preventive maintenance practice to check these hoses from time to time for any sign of wear or weakness. Most manufacturers recommend replacing the hoses every 5 years. Make sure your hoses are not a disaster waiting to occur!

Once you’ve soaked the fabric softener receptacle, replace it and polish up the outside of your washing machine with vinegar and a cloth towel. Your washing machine now looks better and will run better as well!

Happy washing!

Tiffany Washko is president of Jelly Bean Diapers – a cloth diaper manufacturing company, The Diaper Jungle, and Nature Moms,

After working several years in corporate healthcare marketing and public relations, she took time away to be a mother. This new pursuit lead her to a new passion, helping new moms make the decision to return to the basics and use cloth diapers.



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  1. You forgot to mention to clean inside the fabric softener tube. Once you take off the part you put the liquid in take a look down the middle of your washer. I never used liquid fabric softener and yet I see mold growing down there. It is difficult to find a brush to clean it out. I was able to get one through work, but keep looking. I pour bleach down it and then scrub.

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  2. everytime I wash in my machine I get lint on everything. I have sorted the clothes properly and it makes no difference. How do I solve this problem it has ruined so many of my pants and polo shirts fuzz everywhere.



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  3. Most often, lint problems are related to your dryer. If there is lint on your clothing after the wash, it should come off in the dryer. Dryer Balls are a natural alternative to dryer sheets, and are very effective at removing lint from clothing. You may also want to try a dryer brush set. These will allow you to clean your dryer of residual lint that is deposited out of sight. Once removed, you will find less on your clothing once the load has finished.

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  4. I pour bleach into a spray bottle and spray it around the washing machine then use a sponge to wipe all around. After that I the extra rinse cycle to ensure all the bleach is gone before washing my clothes again. Don’t want to ruin any clothes because you didn’t rinse out all the bleach.

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  5. I can’t get the liquid fabric softener dispenser to stay on now that I have taken it off! Anyone else have this problem?

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    • Oh no! Most times these pop on the same way that they come off, but specific models will have slightly different designs. The best place to check might be your user manual. Anyone else have this experience? What is the model of your washer?

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  6. The bin itself is usually quite easy to remove through twisting and lifting it out. While the suggestions of running an empty load through the wash of hot and bleach (or some other disinfectant) are good, sometimes the mold and muck that is causing the smell has accumulated beyond the reach of the water running through the wash. Removing the bin will allow you to access those areas and wipe them clean. Then use the hot water/disinfectant empty load method once a month to prevent it from getting that bad again.

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    • Good points. If mold and mildew begin to grow on parts that are hidden, it can be a real problem. It is certainly not impossible for moisture to get beyond the bin, so taking it out periodically, would ensure ultimate cleanliness. It is probably more hardcore than most people can handle, but bacteria and mold can be harmful, so thoroughly cleaning the unit once every year or so might be a good idea for everyone that can.

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  7. I just finished cleaning out the fabric softener receptacle and about vomited, gross is a real nice way to put it.

    The agitation tower (screw looking bit in the center of the tub) was also very nasty. What I did was remove that (mine was held on with a 1/2″ bolt), some dawn dishwashing detergent and a bit of work wit a toothbrush got it pretty near perfect. A quick rinse under hot water finished the job of cleaning.

    Being a stay at home dad with a mess of tools made this pretty easy for me, next time I might consider doing it differently though.

    One thing is certain, I’m not letting it get that nasty ever again.


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    • Yep. Age does not have the same effect on fabric softener residue as it does on wine – that’s for sure. It can get totally yucky in the spot where it goes because it never gets rinsed clean so a sticky coating will build overtime which will only attract other dirt and nastiness. Sounds like you did some pretty thorough cleaning there, which should pay of for you. The result of regular cleaning of this or any other appliance is easier/better use, and a longer life. But as you have learned, a more frequent schedule of maintenance can be beneficial and help the whole chore go a bit quicker.

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