How to Clean a Stinky Washing Machine

Clean clothes start with using a clean washing machine. Washing machines, if not cleaned regularly, can house mildew, mold, fragrance oils, and hard water deposits. Like any other type of cleaning, you want to make sure that all of your tools and vessels are clean when you start a load of laundry.

So just how do you clean your washing machine?

We’ll chat about one method below, but be sure to check your manufacturer’s instructions as each machine may have differing recommendations.

Don’t have your user’s manual on hand? Quite a few washing machine manuals are available on manufacturer websites, so we’d encourage you to run a quick search for specifics to your particular machine.

How often do I need to clean my machine?

Every 6 months or as needed.

What do I use to clean my washing machine?

  • Vinegar
    • Function: deodorizer, degreaser, descaler
    • Caution: some machines have rubber seals that can erode with consistent vinegar use (check your manual)
  • Washing soda or baking soda
    • Function: clear away deposits that have been loosened with the vinegar
  • Cleaning cloths
    • Function: wiping down surfaces
  • Toothbrush or pipe cleaner
    • Function: for hard to reach spots
  • Oxygen Brightener
    • Function: to give the washing soda or baking soda an extra boost

How to Clean Your Machine

You’ll Need:

  • 3-4 cups of vinegar
  • 1  cup baking soda + ¼ cup oxygen brightener
  • An old toothbrush
  • Cleaning rags

Have an agitator? You’ll also need:

  • A socket wrench
  • An 8-10 inch socket extension
  • A scrub brush 


Step 1: Empty washing machine

Step 2: Pour 2 cups of vinegar into your detergent dispenser. Start your machine on the hottest setting (or the Tub Clean cycle). It is best to include a 20-30 minute soak before the vinegar is rinsed out, if your machine allows for that.

Step 3: Wipe down the outside of your machine while the wash cycle is running.

Step 4: Using vinegar, wipe down the inside of the washing machine. Pay close attention to the rubber gasket (front loaders), the door, and the ledge around the top edge of the drum (top loaders).

Step 5: Scrub the fabric softener and detergent dispensers. We find that an old toothbrush works well for this.

Step 6: Clean your agitator (if you have one). This takes a bit more work and a few tools.

  • Unplug the machine from the wall.
  • Remove the cap of the agitator (if it has one).
    Loosen the bolt inside the agitator.
  • Lift the agitator from the machine.
  • Use the remaining vinegar to scrub the agitator, fabric softener, and drum with a brush dipped in the solution.
  • Put all of the parts back together.
  • Plug in the machine.

Step 7: Pour 1 cup baking soda + ¼ cup Oxygen Brightener into the washer drum. Run another full cycle of hot water.

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.