How to Clean a Washing Machine

With all the detergent, fabric softener, body soil and dirt that goes into your washer with each load, anything that’s not removed builds up over time and makes the perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew and odors.

Here’s what to do once per month for a clean, pristine machine:

1. Run a cycle: Many newer models have a dedicated washer cleaning cycle that presets the time, agitation and water temperature, and all you need to do is simply add bleach. If yours doesn’t have this cycle, add 1/2 cup of liquid chlorine bleach to the dispenser or fill the dispenser to the max line and run a normal cycle with hot water (or follow what the manual says). Or you can use a specialty cleaner, like Affresh or GH Seal star Tide Washing Machine Cleaner according to package directions. While bleach alone will kill bacteria and mold, it may not dissolve other residues. These washing machine cleaners have ingredients to rid your machine of greasy build-ups and hard water minerals, too.

2. Set an extra rinse and spin: Once the cleaning cycle is done, run another rinse and spin just to make sure any traces of bleach or particle remnants are completely washed away.

3. Clean the dispenser drawer: If you have removable dispensers, pop them out, take them apart and rinse them well under hot water. Use a soft toothbrush to dislodge any stuck-on gunk. Wipe dry, reassemble and reinsert them into the machine. If they are still wet, leave them open to thoroughly air dry.

4. Wipe and dry the rubber seal and drum: If you have a front-loader, wipe the rubber gasket clean and dry thoroughly to prevent mold. Wipe the drum and door or lid, too, or leave it open to air dry.