Washing Machine Cleaning Guide: Front Load or Top Load?

close up woman sitting near washing machine

Be it top-loading or front-loading, doing laundry in a washing machine has become a major part of regular household chores, saving precious time that would otherwise be spent on washing clothes by hand. So, how odd it is that we need to ‘wash’ the washing machine? It’s practically in soap and water most of the time, and even has a good rinse at the end of a cycle; yet, manually cleaning the washer is a necessity. 

How often you should clean your washing machine, and why you should clean it?

cleaning the inside of a top loader washing machine

Over time, residual chemicals and laundry detergents create a film in which bacteria gets trapped; this nasty bacteria goes into the inner mechanisms of the machine and blocks it, thus preventing water from functioning properly. Another downside to this is that it renders your detergent ineffective which ultimately results in the barely clean and peculiar smelling laundry! Moreover, the bacteria that is present in the clothes can trigger allergies. 

Cleaning experts advise manually deep cleaning your washing machine every other month, if not monthly. To do this, you can use cleaning products specific for washers, or make your own natural cleaning solutions that are safe for your children and pets, light on chemicals, and your wallet, too.

What to use to clean your washing machine

samsung top loader washing machine being cleaned

Look into more natural cleaning agents as harsh chemicals can have adverse effects on the mechanisms and basin of the machine. A great, natural ingredient is white vinegar since it also sanitizes and rids the machine of bad odours. The acidity of vinegar cuts through residual build-up and while being drained cleans out your washing machine pipes too. When you add baking powder to the mix, you get twice the cleansing power with a burst of freshness to boot. 

Whether you have a top-load or front load washing machine, the steps to clean the appliance is more or less the same. Below are two cleaning guides on how to clean both models.

Steps to Clean a Top Load Washing Machine

top loader panasonic washing machine

  1. Turn on your washing machine and set it to the hottest level. Remember, this is the cleaning process and no clothes or detergent should be put in.
  2. Press the start button and fill the basin with water, adding in three cups of white vinegar. Do this while the water is filling so that the ingredient mixes in properly.
  3. When the water reaches its ideal level, start the machine and allow the mixture to work its magic for approximately 5-7 minutes before bringing the cycle to a halt.
  4. Next, add a half cup of your white vinegar’s partner in crime, i.e. baking soda. Once again, let it swirl around for a couple of minutes then, press ‘Stop.’
  5. Allow the white vinegar and baking soda water to sit in the machine for about two hours while the machine is off.
  6. Turn the machine on again and, as you would with a regular cycle of laundry, allow it to continue until drained.
  7. Now that the basin of the washer is cleaned, turn your attention to the scum ring around the rim. With a slightly abrasive sponge dipped in the same cleaning solution, wipe around under the rim until all the grime is removed. 
  8. Once completed, rinse away any remaining cleaner residue with plain hot water. Bear in mind that when the temperature of the water is high enough, it will annihilate and rinse away any bacteria that was loosened during the wash cycles.
  9. To conclude your cleaning process, give the basin a good wipe down with a clean, dry cloth. Allow the interior to air out for some time before you close the door. 

Steps to Clean a Front Load Washing Machine

cleaning a front loader washing machine

  1. Unlike top loaders, front load washing machines have a gasket, i.e. the rubber ring around the door which tends to collect a lot of dirt and soap residue. Tackle this grimy bit first by mixing together equal parts of water and white vinegar in a spray bottle, and douse the ring with it. 
  2. After a minute, take a clean cloth and wipe away the dirt. 
  3. Since this is a front-loading machine, you will first need to scatter a half cup of baking soda inside the washer drum, followed with three cups of white vinegar.
  4. The ensuing method is the same as for top loaders -- turn the machine settings to the hottest level which is reserved for large laundry loads. 
  5. Fill the drum with water, and allow the machine to run its cycle. Once done, run the machine with hot water to rinse out all residue and kill bacteria. 
  6. Lastly, wipe the interior with a clean cloth and leave the door open to air out the inside for half hour, or so.

Cleaning the Outside of a Washing Machine

outside of a hoover washing machine

While the main focus is cleaning the interiors of the machine for hygienic purposes, we should not neglect the exterior. Failure to clean results in rusting or corrosion of the body if detergent, chemicals, or water remain on the surface long enough. A largely overlooked part is the detergent dispenser that accumulates hardened detergent leftover if not cleaned regularly. All it really needs is a scrub down with a clean toothbrush before rinsing off with plain water.

Some of us throw our dirty laundry on the machine top so, it’s important to sanitize this surface as well. Do this by wiping the exterior with a cloth dampened in a mixture of white vinegar, baking soda and water. This will also take care of stains and dirt buildup. Models that have knobs can be cleaned with a toothbrush to get into those hard to reach crevices.

How to Keep Your Washing Machine Clean

View Looking Out From Inside Washing Machine Filled With Laundry

While the steps above are necessary for deep cleaning your washing machine as and when needed, you can maintain cleanliness and hygiene for longer periods using these simple tips: 

  1. Once your laundry is done, empty the washer out immediately. If left in this humid environment for hours or days, you’ll be faced with a build-up of bacteria, mould, and a foul odour as well. 
  2. After emptying the machine, leave the doors of the washer and dryer open to allow the insides to dry completely. You won’t have to worry about bacteria and other growing hazardous elements.
  3. Never load the washer above its maximum capacity as this will cause the machine to overwork, and also lead to dirt clogging the insides of the basin, pipes and drainage system.
  4. Clean up immediately detergent spills on the exterior, and wipe away dust on a daily basis.

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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