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The Home Depot

Guide to Cleaning a Washing Machine

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Cleaning > Guide to Cleaning a Washing Machine
Guide to Cleaning a Washing Machine

As with all home appliances, regular cleaning and maintenance will ensure that your washing machine performs efficiently at all times. It is essential that the interior of the washing machine and its hoses be kept clean so that clothes are washed well.


Some university newsletters even carry tips and tricks on the right way of cleaning a washing machine to ensure optimum performance. You should always use the right amount of detergent required every time you wash a load of clothes. If your area has hard water, then you may need more detergent than you would with soft water. An extra rinse should be run if you feel that the detergent is not being completely washed out during the cycle. Residue detergent can affect both the clothes as well as the machine adversely.


Cleaning the tub and dispensers, removing any unpleasant odors, getting rid of hard water or mineral build-up, and disinfecting are required to keep the washing machine in good shape. Rust is also a problem in washing machines and even if you succeed in removing those pesky brown spots, be sure to keep an eye out for their return.

  1. 1.Some Daily Tips

    It is essential that the interior of the washing machine and its hoses be kept clean so that clothes are washed well.

    You should remove the clothes from the machine as soon as the cycle’s done or else a musty smell might cling on to your clothes as well as the tub. After every use, keeping the door of the machine open will help it dry out and eliminate any moisture that might have been left behind. At the same time clean out the lint that might have been left behind.

  2. 2.Removing Rust

    There are many reasons why your washing machine may show signs of rust. Usually it is an indication that the machine is starting to wear and in such cases, there will only be mild spots of rust. Visible rust spots can be removed easily by adding two cups of lemon juice and running the machine for one wash cycle on hot water. If the rust is in the basket of the machine, replacing it may be the only option left to you. In some instances, the rust stains may have come from rusted water pipes. Here, there is nothing wrong with the machine and it is the pipes that will have to be dealt with. Rust damage may be covered under some warranties, so check yours to see if this is the case before attempting any repairs.

  3. 3.Cleaning the Tub and Dispensers

    The tub and dispensers may have to be cleaned when a really greasy or dirty load has just been put through the machine. One or two cups of white vinegar should be added and a full cycle should be allowed to run. Putting in an old towel during the process might help in scrubbing the sides. The dispensers can be cleaned by putting in vinegar into the holder for fabric softener. If the dirt stains refuse to go even after this, a nylon scrubber and a paste of borax and water might help in cleaning them out.

  4. 4.Removing Odors

    The most common smells of mold and mildew that emanate from washing machines are caused by irregular use or when the machine is not used for a long period like when you go on vacation. The solution to this problem is swabbing the interior of the machine with some baking soda and water. Leave it for an hour or two and then let the machine run one cycle with just hot water. This same process can be used to remove mineral deposits that have formed due to hard water usage.

  5. 5.Disinfecting

    Disinfecting the washing machine assumes importance during certain times of the year like flu season or when there is an infant or someone with suppressed immunity at home. This will help to minimize the spread on any illnesses and infectious bacteria or germs. Depending on the type of illnesses you want to safeguard against, the disinfecting process will also vary. For a stronger remedy try using household disinfectant or a bleach solution.


    Keeping these suggestions and remedies in mind when using your washing machine and implementing the cleaning techniques whenever necessary will ensure a long life for your machine as well as the clothes & items washed in it.

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