New Years Deep Clean – How to Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine

If your washing machine is anything like my washing machine, it may get a bit…grungy from time to time.

Okay, maybe it gets very grungy


We also live in the Florida Panhandle, home to some of the worst water in the United States! The hard water is killer on our appliances, and can leave our clothes smelling quite nasty after we get some hard water buildup in the washing machine. That hard water combine with dirty clothing requires us to clean our washing machine at least twice a year in order to keep the clothes clean and fresh smelling.

Thankfully, cleaning a washing machine is very easy!

Required Items:

  • Quart of bleach
  • Quart of white vinegar
  • Cleaning cloth or sponge

Start off by adjusting the dials on your washing machine to the largest load possible, the hottest water possible, and to a relatively short cycle (a regular cycle with one rinse is best). Start filling up the washing machine with hot water, leaving the lid open so the washing machine doesn’t start. Add a quart of bleach to the water. When the washing machine has filled up completely, close the lid for a minute and let the water agitate. Open the lid again, and let the water sit for an hour.


After your hour is up, close the lid and let the washing machine run it’s cycle. When that cycle is complete, refill the washing machine tub with hot water, this time adding a quart of white vinegar. Take your cleaning cloth or sponge and dip it in the hot vinegar water. Use this to clean any nooks and crannies of your washing machine that have gathered grime. This can include the rim around the tub, the lid, the agitator, and any cups used for bleach, detergent, or fabric softeners. I found that I could take that center cup out completely and clean in in my kitchen sink. I don’t use that cup, but the combination of laundry detergent and hard water made it super filthy.




Again, wait until the washing machine is full of hot water and close the lid for one minute to agitate the water and vinegar mix. Open the lid to stop the cycle and let it sit for one hour. After that hour of soaking is up close the lid and let the washing machine run through it’s cycle.

Now your washing machine should be sparkly clean and ready to use! If you’re worried about residual bleach you can always run a load of rags or towels through just in case. I’ve never had any problems with leftover bleach.

**If you’re on a septic system, you’ll need to make sure that you take care with the amount of bleach being used. Too much bleach will kill the bacteria in your septic system that works to break down solid waste. If you’d rather not use bleach at all, feel free to use only vinegar (which will still break down the hard water in your washer). If you want to use bleach, make sure to pick up some septic cleaner. This contains enzymes that will help break down your septic waste. Using this once a month will help keep your septic tank in working order!

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