Cleaner Laundry + Better Performance: How to Clean Your Top Loader Washing Machine

A running washing machine with clothes in it

Contrary to popular belief, every time you run your washing machine it is NOT getting cleaner! Owing to the nasty bacteria, dirt, and sweaty salts from your dirty laundry, the washer is, in fact, getting dirtier and grimier! Why? Because not all dirt is rinsed and drained from the machine when you do a load of laundry. So, where does that leftover dirt go? Well, in this step-by-step guide on how to clean your top loader washing machine, you will find out all those hidden spaces that are harbouring dirt and bacteria, and how to get them cleaned up. Read on!

Things You’ll Need to Clean Your Washing Machine

Person pouring washing detergent into top load washer

  • White Vinegar
  • Baking Soda 
  • Microfibre Cloths
  • (Clean) Old Toothbrush
  • Liquid Dish Soap (optional)

After you’ve gathered the tools and products needed for the job, it’s time to do it!

Step One: Fill the Tub

The inside of an empty top load washing machine

When the water fills up 1/4th of the tub, start pouring in 4 cups of white vinegar. This will help the ingredient mix with the water properly (alternatively, you can manually swish the water around with your hand). The use of vinegar breaks down grime while acting as a natural disinfectant. It is also a mild cleaning solution in comparison to some harsh chemicals such as bleach. Set the machine to a full load and allow it to fill up to maximum capacity. 

Step Two: Start the Cycle 

Dial on a top load washing machine.

Hot water is another great way to kill bacteria and loosen up grime; therefore, it is advisable to select the hottest water temperature for the cycle. At this stage, a whole cycle should not be completed without giving the water and vinegar solution enough time to act. Instead, run the machine for 2-3 minutes and stop it; leave the water in there for about 1 hour with the lid open. During this time, bacteria will be tackled while those narrow crevices clogged with dirt will partially dissolve or loosen up at the very least. 

Step 3: Clean Removable Parts + Lid

Man fixing a top load washing machine

Most top load washing machines come with a removable detergent dispenser which tends to accumulate leftover soap that isn’t so clean anymore! Similarly, the underside of your washer’s lid is prone to soap splatters combined with splashes of dirty water, leaving it rather grimy. 

To clean the soap dispenser, soak it in warm water for a few minutes, then use a toothbrush to scrub it clean with vinegar and water. Rinse the dispenser, dry it, and replace at the end of the cleaning process.

Dirt and grime from the lid can be tackled with a microfibre cloth dipped in a cleaning solution of 1 part white vinegar to 2 part warm water. Wipe down the surface thoroughly while paying close attention to hardened detergent stains. If there are nooks and crannies to be cleaned, use the toothbrush to do this. While you’re cleaning these areas of your top loader washing machine, it is a good time to wipe down the bleach well and surrounding areas that have also accumulated dirt and debris. Again, you can use a microfibre cloth or toothbrush for this, along with your vinegar-water cleaning solution. 

Step 4: Run the Rest of the Cycle

A person putting a pink towel into a top loader washing machine

Now that enough time has passed, close the lid, turn on the machine, and allow the cleaning solution to do its job until the end of the cycle. Once finished, your washing machine should be drained and ready for the next cycle. 

While you wait for the cycle to complete, wipe down the exteriors of your washer such as the front and sides. If you’d rather not use vinegar for this, make a mild cleaning solution of dish soap and water to remove dirt and stains from your washer’s exterior. 

Step 5: Refill the Tub 

Top load washing machine with lid open

A second cycle is definitely advised for a thorough cleaning of your top load washing machine. This time, however, white vinegar is not required. Instead, add in 1 cup of baking soda as the tub fills up with hot water to its full capacity. 

While it possesses its only cleaning properties, baking soda will also help deodorise and freshen up your washer, getting rid of that lingering vinegar smell. A second cycle will take care of any residue leftover from the previous wash, leaving the drum squeaky clean and sanitised!

Step 6: Wipe Down the Interior

assorted clothes being put into a top loader washing machine

At the end of the second wash and rinse cycles, there will be specific areas inside your washer that require manual cleaning for a truly thorough clean of your top load washing machine. This includes the rim of the drum, nooks and crannies of the agitator, and other areas like the underside of the bleach well. Use a clean, damp cloth or toothbrush to clean these interior parts of your washing machine.

Step 7: Clean the Panel and Top of the Lid

White Top Loader Washing Machine

Now that the rest of your top loader washing machine has been cleaned and sanitised, the only parts left are the panel + knobs, and the top of the washer. Before you start tackling any stains present on the surface, wipe over it with a cloth to remove dust, and then dampen a clean microfibre cloth in plain warm water and gently clean the panel/console and knobs. If needed, use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean around the knobs. If stains are still present after wiping the panel and top of your washing machine with a damp cloth, use a small amount of vinegar to get rid of them.

There you have it! As simple as it sounds, these 7 steps will efficiently clean a top loader washing machine and sanitise the interiors for cleaner laundry, and a better performing machine! 

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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