Deep clean your washing machine in 7 steps

It washes all of our clothes but have you ever considered cleaning your washing machine? I’ve just taken a closer

It washes all of our clothes but have you ever considered cleaning your washing machine? I’ve just taken a closer look at my 3-year-old washing machine and was shocked to find it is so filthy. I only wash clothes for two people, and nothing heavy duty, but still, the amount of gunk within the machine and around the lid makes you think twice about those “clean clothes” on the line.

So I set out to find the cheapest, easiest way to clean my washing machine, including the lint filter, the drum and the pipes.

After trying this, I was surprised how much fresher my clothes smelt! With no exaggeration, it was as if I had used a new washing machine. It sounds silly but I don’t remember the last time my clothes really smelt like the detergent or fabric softener, and this is likely due to how overworked and unclean the machine was.


What you need:

  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Toothbrush (I used a grout brush)
  • Microfiber cloth

1. First thing’s first, I wiped away any dirt that I could myself:


2. Next, I put the cycle on the hottest setting. I followed this with a litre of vinegar, followed by a cup of baking soda. I let it fill up but didn’t let it start washing (via a pause button):


3. I then took out any removable parts such as the softener container and the lint catcher* – we’ll go more into that later.


4. Using a toothbrush, I cleaned around the lid, the sides of the drum, and other hard-to-reach areas:


5. After an hour, I closed the lid and let the machine clean itself. While it did that, I wipe and scrubbed the lid and the keypad:


6. Give it one more hot wash with a litre of vinegar to clean away any residue loosened and left behind by the first cycle. Also, note this gunk under the lid. You can get that out with a toothbrush:


7. How to clean lint collector


The lint collector is usually quite noticeable, and on my machine, it was like a sort of pocket within the drum of the machine. If you can’t see it in there, it could be around the top of the tub and just needs to be pulled up, it could be inside the agitator, attached to the drain hose, or on the front panel.

Once you’ve found it, pluck off or throw out as much as of the lint as you can. This should be fairly easy. The hard part is getting all the little bits off. I had to give mine a soak in hot water for 15 mins then used the toothbrush to scrub off the remaining fluff.

All clean!


If in doubt on how to clean your machine properly, see the manual. If you don’t have the manual, most are online so you can simply Google search the model number.

Tell us, have you washed your washing machine lately? What other tips do you have?

  1. elaine king  

    I use white vinegar as a rinse aid not softener.. vinegar is top priority in cleaning house … when im in the mood..

    • Julia  

      Me too, Elaine. I also use only half the recommended amount of washing powder plus the same amount of Bicarb. My clothes are clean and so is the washing machine. (This was a Shannon Lush hint in case people think I’m insane.)

    • Christine Evans  

      I use white Vinegar in my towel rinse once a week and seems to keep machine clean. I also wash the tiwels in carb soda so guessing this is why there is no build up of gunk in the machine.

  2. Gloria  

    What do we do for front loaders, if we did when would we put in the vinegar.
    Or do I put it all in then set it on soak?

    • Robyn  

      My front loader used to have a funny smell when I washed in cold water. Now I wash with warm water (40 degrees) and the smell is gone. I also use vinegar in the fabric softener compartment as it won’t leave a film like normal fabric softener would. Don’t know about using bi carb with it for a cleansing wash though, might foam up too much. Good for down the sink, but maybe not the washing machine.

      • Patricia Burling  

        I just filled all of the compartments with vinegar once a month and put it through a fast wash cycle. Though I will use bicarb now as well.. A little wont hurt I’m sure.

  3. Sue Cook  

    I always use White vinegar for all my cleaning as it is the cheapest and best for bathrooms toilets windows and I do my dishwasher with vinegar and bi-carb every now and then

  4. Nola Ward  

    I have a Fisher & Paykel Aquasmart machine – uses less water and reminds you after every 100 loads that it is time to clean.

    • Cheryl  

      I have a F & P Aquasmart as well…..had to get repairer from F & P out and replace the recycle pipe recently and clean out blocked filter at bottom of machine that broken off pieces of the hose was blocking….he took the bowl out and it still hand gunk on it…so he cleaned the area around the ss bowl……so even doing the clean every 100 is no guarantee it’s spotless……mine is now…..:)

  5. Kristina Wainwright  

    I always keep my washing machine clean, never let it get that dirty. A.s.a I see any dirt or soap scum I clean it straight away and I use a special powder from the supermarket to clean the machine every 4-5 months. I never use cold water washing. Not good for the washing machine or the clothes. Always use warm or warm/cold for my delicates.

  6. Lexie Bell  

    Fill machine, empty in a box of Epsom Salts, agitate to dissolve then let sit for a few hours (swirl a few times while sitting) then complete the cycle.

    • Epsom Salt I understand, I’d have thought Baking Soda would leave a white powder in it. I use vinegar and Baking Soda as a cleaning agent but it have to wipe surfaces over and over to get it off.

  7. Marilyn Jan Seib  

    Have a 21 yr old Commercial Kleenmaid top
    loader…It is cleaned after every wash day..I use washing soda to make the soap powder go further and to soften the always cold water wash..stopped using conditioner many years ago..bad for towels..I have a very bright white wash which is never hung in the sun…the machine looks just as it did when I first bought it…it had a gearbox overhaul at 12yrs after washing for a family of five….I was told it would go for another 25 years just washing for two people…the secret is to keep the machine clean and maintained…my fridge is over 30 years also is kept clean and maintained…buying a good product in the first instance is also a good idea…

    • Kathy Hargrave  

      We got rid of our 16 year old fridge. Was in perfect condition. But put a power Metre on it for 24hours. Could not believe the power it used. Compared it to the new ones.

  8. I have a Fisher and Paykel washing machine and I purchased it 13 years ago. I clean as I wash and I always put white vinegar in the rinse cap and always have done. I have had the agitator out and no sign of any lint or washing sludge at all. I couldn’t be happier with the machine. I always wipe the lid and the surroundings, mind you I only wash mainly for one person.

  9. Lady Ashley  

    I was told by a repairman many years ago to avoid fabric softener at all cost! It builds up that horrible gunky mess after just a few loads, and is very bad for your machine. Vinegar will make a great rinse aid, and brilliant for cleaning your machine and getting rid of any build up. Keep it clean and fresh, and it will definitely last many years.

  10. Lynnette Roberts  

    I only use Lectric Soda to wash my clothes, and white vinegar in the rinse instead of fabric conditioner. My machine stays clean. I also make a point of drying everything out thoroughly, including the lint filter, after each use, to avoid the risk of mould build up.

    • Lynne Hemphill  

      Lynette, do you find your clothes are perfectly clean with the lectric soda? Kids sox etc too?

  11. Meg Gauci  

    Fabric softener should be banned. It’s bad for you, the environment and your washing machine. I have a top loader and always fill the final rinse container with white vinegar. It softens the clothes and removes excess soap suds – which is what makes your towels hard. As an ENJO Consultant, I only use microfibres and water to clean my entire home. Bathroom, Kitchen, Floors, Windows, Car, Body – the lot. Best stuff you can get.

  12. Jan Bedford  

    The other thing to do is, if you have a washer with an agitator in the middle, remove the agitator periodically and grease (vaseline or such) the stem. This means that if you have to get the repair man in he doesn’t have to smash the agitator to get it off.

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