How to Clean a Washing Machine Drum

Just because we use soap detergent to wash our clothes in the washing machine, it doesn’t mean that the washer remains clean itself. Like other appliances, it also needs some level of maintenance for proper functioning. No matter if you have a top-loading machine or a front-loading one, cleaning it is a must.

In our article, we have discussed how you can clean your washing machine drum using natural ingredients like vinegar and baking soda, without harming the device itself. So, without further ado, let’s get started.


Why Should You Clean Your Washing Machine Drum?

Yes, the machine designed to clean your clothes also needs regular cleaning for optimum performance. Often your detergent can leave some soap residue or chemicals while washing, which can get trapped inside the washing machine. This, in turn, results in a thin layer where bacteria gets collected.

This bacteria can clog your washing machine and hamper its functioning, thereby resulting in poor performance and reduced efficacy of your detergent. Apart from this, the hot and humid environment of the washer is a perfect breeding ground for the trapped bacteria to grow and spread. This can lead to stinky odour coming from your washing machine. And, in certain cases, even the washed clothes start smelling.

Therefore, it becomes essential that the washing machine drum is cleaned frequently.


What is a Top-loading Washing Machine?

A top-loading washing machine is the one where clothes are loaded from the top of the machine. Here, the tub is vertically aligned and these require a fixed supply of water. These washing machines come with agitators and impellers, with the help of which clothes are moved inside the tub during the wash cycles.

Top-loading washing machines are the most common types present in Indian households. The price of these machines largely depends on the impellor and agitator used and can range anywhere between 15,000 to 25,000 rupees.

How to Clean a Top-loading Washing Machine Drum?

If you have a top-loading washing machine, follow the steps mentioned below for its proper cleaning.

Top-loading Washing Machine Drum

Step 1 – The Washing Machine Must be Set to the Hottest and the Longest Wash Cycle

The first step is to fill the drum with water. For this, you must set the knob to the largest load size so that the washer gets filled with water completely. You can also use the “Heavy Duty” wash cycle so that your washer runs for the longest time.

Now, the temperature dial must be set to the hottest wash cycle. Start the machine and allow the drum to be filled with water. Make sure that the lid stays open at this stage. If your machine comes with a “Drum Clean” cycle, you can opt for that function instead.


Step 2 – Add Four Cups of White Vinegar to the Washing Machine’s Drum

Once the drum starts to fill with water, you must add the white vinegar inside the machine. Simple white vinegar that is found in your kitchen works well for this purpose too.


Step 3 – Add One Cup of Baking Soda to the Water

Now the baking soda must be added to the machine. This should be done when the water fills the drum as it allows the baking soda to get mixed throughout the washer and not get concentrated in just one area. The baking soda and vinegar will react with each other to remove any dirt or detergent residue and clean the interiors of the appliance effectively.


Step 4 – Agitate the Water and Allow it to Sit for an Hour

You must now close the lid of the washing machine for a minute and allow the wash cycle to start. This, in turn, will let the mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and water to mix more thoroughly and spread throughout the drum. So, after sixty seconds or one minute, lift the lid up so that the cycle can be paused. If your washing machine locks the lid when the cycle starts, make sure that you either pause or stop it to lift the lid back.


Step 5 –Scrub the Detergent, Bleach, and Fabric Softener Drawers with a Toothbrush or a Sponge

Soak the bristles of the toothbrush into the water inside your washer and scrub off the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener drawers effectively. Special attention must be given to the areas where you can see mold or mildew growing. After you are done with scrubbing the surfaces, you must wipe off the grime with a clean piece of cloth.

You can also use a sponge or a stiff-bristled brush, in case a simple toothbrush is not effective. If there are any detachable parts in your machine, you must remove them and let them soak inside the water for about twenty minutes before you start cleaning them. The plastic or rubber seal around the lid must also be cleaned as dirt and grime collects there.


Step 6 – Now, Close the Machine and Allow the Cycle to Get Completed

Now, it’s time to put the lid back on the machine so that the cycle can be started again. You must press the start button if the cycle doesn’t resume on its own. Allow the cycle to finish completely and the drum to be drained of any solution residue. At this stage, you can also clean the top and sides of your machine with a damp cloth.


Step 7 – Do Not Forget to Wipe the Bottom and Sides of the Washer’s Drum with a Dishcloth After the Wash Cycle is Completed

So, once the wash cycle is completed, you must wipe the inside of the machine with a clean dishcloth to get rid of any detergent or dirt residue left behind. If there are stubborn stains or troubled areas, you can also use a mixture of warm water and vinegar in the 3:1 ratio and scrub it off with the cloth. In case, a lot of residue is still left, it is a good idea to repeat the wash cycle again with four cups of vinegar.


What is a Front-loading Washing Machine?

As the name suggests, front-loading washing machines are designed to load and unload clothes from the front. These have a larger and a horizontally aligned tub that offers more space for clothes to rotate inside the tub. Also, these don’t use impellers or agitators to move the clothes.

Here, the drum rotates in such a way that the clothes are rubbed against each other, which offers gentle and better cleaning performance as compared to the top-loading washing machines. However, these are pretty expensive with prices ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 rupees


How to Clean a Front-loading Washing Machine Drum?

If you have a front-loading washing machine in your house, follow the steps mentioned below to clean your machine effectively.

Front-loading Washing Machine Drum

Step 1 – Use Vinegar and Sponge to Get Rid of the Mildew from the Seal

Use a sponge dipped in vinegar to scrub the area under the plastic or rubber seal around the door of your front-loading washing machine. This will allow the mildew to come up and get removed from the surface. However, if this doesn’t happen, you can let the vinegar to soak for about twenty minutes on the surface before you scrub the area. Once you are done with the scrubbing, you must then dry out the seal with a paper cloth. For stubborn mold or mildew, you can use a toothbrush as well.


Step 2 – Add Two Cups of White Vinegar into the Washing Machine Drum

After the seal of the door is cleaned, you can now put around two cups of white vinegar into the washer’s drum. You must then close the machine’s door. If there is a large amount of grime build-up inside the machine, you can add another half a cup of vinegar into the drum to let the grime to loosen up.


Step 3 – Mix Baking Soda with Warm Water and Add it to the Detergent Drawer

At this step, you must mix one-fourth cup of warm water and one-fourth cup of baking soda and add it to the detergent, bleach, and fabric softener drawers. This will clean these areas thoroughly when the machine starts running. If you use a powdered detergent, you can directly add one-fourth cup of it to the detergent drawer.


Step 4 – Run the Wash Cycle at the Hottest Setting

Now, it’s time to run a wash cycle in your washing machine. When you do this, do not forget to set the temperature at the hottest setting that your device allows for. You can use a heavy duty cycle for this step so that the solution has more time to stay in the drum. The combination of vinegar and baking soda results in heat generation inside the washer that destroys and loosen up any grime or mildew inside the drum.


Step 5 – When the Cycle Gets Completed, Use a Cloth to Wipe the Drum

Once the wash cycle is finished, you must always end the process by wiping away any grime residue left inside your washing machine with a clean damp cloth. If there is any mildew still left, you can then scrape it off with the help of a toothbrush.

Following these steps will always keep your washing machine in a clean state.


Causes For a Dirty Washing Machine and Their Solutions

  1. The front-loading washing machine has a gasket that can trap some amount of water, which leads to the growth of mold.
    • Solution – Wipe the gasket to dry it out after every wash cycle.
  2. Washing machines are damp areas, which become the best breeding grounds for mold to grow.
    • Solution – Keep the washing machine dry by keeping its door open. Also, do not leave your wet clothes inside the machine for long.
  3. Germs and bacteria grow inside the washing machine when temperatures are kept low.
    • Solution – Wash at higher temperatures like 60˚ Celsius, or preferably at 90˚ Celsius at least once a month. This will help in sanitising the machine.
  4. Detergent overuse can lead to mineral or chemical build-up inside the washing machine.
    • Solution –Always measure the amount of detergent used, depending on the load size and how dirty your clothes are.
  5. Sticky, more like a wax build-up inside the washing machine drum while using liquid detergents and fabric softeners.
    • Solution – Avoid using liquid detergents and fabric softeners. Use powered detergents instead of the liquid ones. And, in place of fabric softeners, use half a cup of distilled white vinegar.
  6. Pipes and hose damage with limescale and soap scum build-up inside the washing machine because of hard water.
    • Solution – Always use a water softening product while washing clothes. Also, you must take care of the detergent instructions for hard water.


How Often Should You Clean Your Washing Machine?

Cleaning Washing Machine

Ideally, you should clean your washing machine at least once or twice a week, depending on the frequency of your usage. If you don’t use it as often. In that case, you can clean the machine even once a month. However, you must keep in mind that whenever you decide to run your machine through a cleaning cycle, you must always clean it inside and out.

General Washing Tips

  1. Clean the washing machine at least once a month for its proper functioning. This will keep away any bacteria build-up or unpleasant odours. Give special attention to the door seals and detergent drawer as these are the areas where dirt build-up is the most.
  2. You can use essential oils like mint, cinnamon, tea tree, etc., while cleaning the washing machine’s drum so that it smells fresh. Also, these essential oils will stop the source of any odour itself with their antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
  3. In case, white vinegar and baking soda are not available, you can also use hydrogen peroxide to clean the drum of the washing machine. All you need is about two cups of hydrogen peroxide. Add it to the washer’s drum and allow the machine to run on a hot water wash cycle at least once a month for getting rid of any grime and mildew.
  4. The washed clothes must be moved to the dryer instantly to avoid unpleasant smell coming from the machine and the clothes.
  5. Once you move the washed clothes to the dryer, you must ensure that the washer’s lid or the door is left open for the drum to dry out. This simple practice will prevent the growth of mold, bacteria, or mildew.
  6. To clean the exteriors of your washing machine, a damp cloth must be used.
  7. Do not forget to clean the inlet hose filters. These are prone to clogging, which can disturb the flow of water, thereby affecting cleaning during a wash cycle.
  8. A service wash is recommended once a month for your washing machine. For this, you must run a hot water wash cycle, preferably at temperatures 60˚ Celsius and above. Make sure that there aren’t any detergent or clothes inside the washer. This will get rid of any mold or bacteria breeding inside the machine.
  9. The drum’s seals must be cleaned with a diluted bleach solution or wiped with an anti-bac wipe to prevent bacteria or mold from growing.


Things to Avoid

  1. Avoid mixing of other cleaning solutions like bleach, hydrogen peroxide, etc., with vinegar. Some interactions of these solutions can cause harmful fumes.
  2. Do not clean the washing machine with your bare hands while using vinegar, especially if you have a sensitive skin. Always wear gloves.
  3. Avoid overfilling your washing machine. This can lead to clogging of the pipes and drains.
  4. Do not leave your wet clothes in the washer for long periods. It can lead to mold and bacteria build-up inside the machine.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can we use cold water while cleaning the washing machine with vinegar and baking soda?

Yes, cold water can also be used. But, the results will not be as effective as hot water because cold water will not be able to sanitise the machine as efficiently.


Q2. Will white vinegar cause any damage to the washing machine?

When white vinegar is used to clean the inside of the washing machine, it has no harmful effects. But, when it comes to the rubber seals on the machine, one has to be careful with the vinegar. Full strength vinegar can actually damage the seals made from polyacrylate, Buna-N, and fluorosilicone with long term usage.


Q3. Can we use bleach before adding baking soda and vinegar to the washing machine for sanitising it?

Yes, bleach can also be used. However, you must make sure that you never use bleach and vinegar together as their mixture can lead to harmful fumes or gases. Ideally, you should run a wash cycle before adding vinegar and baking soda to the washing machine so that any trace of bleach is removed.


Q4. Why should hot water be used to sanitise the washing machine?

Hot water is pretty crucial when it comes to sanitizing your washing machine as it can kill bacteria and viruses breeding inside the washer. Also, the soap residue that often clogs the machine is reduced with hot water.



Now that you know why cleaning your washing machine is essential and the different steps that you must follow for a top-loading and a front-loading washer, it becomes crucial that you actually clean it every month, depending on the usage. This will keep your machine fresh and free from any bacterial or microbial build-up. Also, its efficiency will improve and clothes will smell better. Regular cleaning will enhance the lifespan of your device in the long run.

So, what are you waiting for? Schedule your washing machine cleaning session today and let us know about your experience in the comments section below. We would love to read your comments.

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