inside of washing machine with capsule

How to Clean a Washing Machine

Your washing machine gets your clothes clean - but don't forget to clean it, too! Find out everything about cleaning a washing machine here.

Key Steps:


  • Regular maintenance will keep your washing machine functioning efficiently, and save you from having to pay for costly repairs in the long run.

Given how much work it saves, you should really know how to clean your washing machine. It’s a simple process, and can significantly prolong the life of your machine. So if you often find yourself troubled by bad washing machine smells or clogged drawers and think: “I don’t know how to clean my washing machine safely!” – this step-by-step guide is for you. These useful tips will help you keep your washing machine in tiptop condition. Always consult the manufacturers’ guidelines before attempting to clean your machine, and be sure to wear protective clothing when using cleaning products.

How to Clean a Washing Machine: Front Loading Appliances

  1. Start the process by running a hot cycle with the machine empty. This clears out any detergent that has built up in the machine.
  2. Then, run a 40 degree empty wash with two cups of white vinegar in the detergent drawer to remove any odours.
  3. Next, if you have a detergent drawer, remove it and soak it in a sink. If it is very dirty, then soak it in a solution of hot water and the appropriate amount of bleach. Follow the directions on the label of any cleaning product, and take any appropriate safety precautions.
  4. While the drawer is soaking, dampen a cloth with hot water and wipe the door seal thoroughly – make sure you pull the rubber seal back to clean all the soap scum and dirt from behind.
  5. Also wipe inside the hole where the detergent dispenser fits – save this until last, as it can be a bit more of a messy job.
  6. Finally, use a toothbrush to clean off any remaining residue from the detergent drawer. Rinse it thoroughly, dry it, and replace it into the machine.

How to Clean the Washing Machine: Top Loading Applicances

The process for cleaning top-loading machines is slightly different:

  1. Start by running an empty hot wash.
  2. Next, run a second empty hot wash, but when the machine is full of water and starts to agitate, add in 3.5 cups of white vinegar, followed by a half cup of baking soda.
  3. Let the mixture swish around for 30 seconds, then turn off the machine. Let it sit for between half an hour and an hour.
  4. Once the machine has soaked, restart it and finish the cycle. Some machines might allow you to change the settings so that a spin cycle runs while it is draining – this can be helpful to loosen any remaining residue.
  5. Turn off your machine and wipe the inside with a cloth dipped in a 50-50 hot water and vinegar mix. Make sure you’re thorough: clean inside the rim and the roof of the tub.

Tips for Cleaning Washer-Driers and Two-Tub Semi-Automatic Machines

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to clean the washing machine parts on multi-function models, but here are some tips you might find useful:

  • Any dye or other coloured substances left on drums can usually be removed by spraying it with a good quality spray cleaner and wiping it with a damp cloth. For more durable stains, try applying the spray, then running the machine on a high setting for fifteen minutes with a few old dishcloths or towels. Remember to check the instructions and use as directed on the labelling.
  • With washer-driers, ensure any outside vents are clear and that the flaps on it can move freely.
  • Make sure you regularly clean lint traps on washer-driers; once a month you should also rinse it thoroughly with running water, leave it to dry, and put it back in the machine.
  • A vacuum cleaner can save you some work cleaning lint from the lint trap and other areas of the washer-drier.

How to Take Care of the Washing Machine

It’s easier to keep your machine clean if you follow these simple tips for regular maintenance:

  • Use the appropriate amount of detergent. Follow the dosing instructions on the detergent label – you might not need as much detergent as you think! Your machine will wash just as well and you will reduce the residue build-up inside. If you live in a soft water area, you don’t need to use as much as those living with hard water – follow the instructions on the label for the best results.
  • Use anti-limescale tablets if necessary. These will keep your intake and outflow pipes clear of mineral deposits. If you have particularly hard water, regularly check the condition of your machine’s pipes, and consider using more vinegar when cleaning your machine.
  • Clean out excess suds. If your wash has produced a large quantity of suds, think about running a second rinse cycle to clear out all the detergent.

Top Tip

Investing in a quality laundry detergent can help your washing machine last longer and work better, as a good detergent dissolves swiftly and won’t clog your machine. We particularly like Surf excel’s range, as their liquid and super fine powder detergents can help you avoid the build ups that cause spotting on clothes.