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How to Clean Your Washing Machine


Even your washing machine needs a deep clean sometimes! The average washing machine is expected to last 14 years - though it may never make it to that milestone without routine cleaning and maintenance. So how do you clean a washing machine? The plumbing experts at Roto-Rooter offer their tips and tricks on how to clean, eliminate smells and prolong the life of your washing machine.


First, it’s important to differentiate between the two types of washing machines in homes. Most front-loading machines have a rubber gasket around the door connected to the drum. This area should remain dry when it not in use. Use a rag or cloth to wipe the gasket dry after every use or simply get in the habit of leaving the washer door open to air out after every use. For top loaders, it’s good practice to leave the door open for a few hours after running a load to give it time to dry.

washing machine


There are a variety of ways to clean a washing machine. Cleaning tablets and liquids, vinegar and baking soda and good old-fashioned elbow grease. Though you won’t likely need to clean your washer every month, it’s good practice to run an empty load with a cup of bleach and hot water every 2-3 months to keep things fresh and clean. If it’s been over a year since the last clean, you may want to complete a deeper clean of your washer to avoid disrepair or even extensive laundry room plumbing problems.

Option 1 – Cleaning Naturally

If you’ve read any of our other DIY guides, you’ll see that we love vinegar and baking soda solutions as a natural way to eliminate clogs and unpleasant smells. These cleansers can be safely used in any washing machine and do a great job of leaving things looking and smelling fresh.

cleaning supplies


  1. Set your washing machine to “heavy duty” or whatever cycle will run the longest and with the hottest water.
  2. Pour 3 cups of white vinegar directly into the drum.
  3. Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the detergent well to ensure the well, internal hoses and other areas are flushed as the mixture is added during the cycle.
  4. Wipe the rubber gasket dry once the cycle has completed, leave the door open so the entire machine can air out.


  1. Set your washing machine to “heavy duty” or whatever cycle will run the longest and with the hottest water.
  2. Pour 5 cups of white vinegar directly into the drum.
  3. Pour 2 cups of baking soda into the water.
  4. With gloves on, dip a sponge or other cleaning tool into the water mixture and scrub the detergent well.
  5. Close the top and let the cycle run fully.
  6. Wipe the drum clean after the cycle is complete and leave the door open to air out.

Option 2 – Cleaning Liquids and Tablets

Many high efficiency washing machines come with a built-in cleaning mode. Follow the directions specific to your machine for recommendations on what products work best. These liquids and tablets can at times even be used while you run a normal load of laundry.

Option 3 – Cleaning or Replacing Water Supply or Drainage Hoses

If the first two options do not work, you might be looking at an issue with your water supply or drainage hoses. It’s good practice to remove them every so often to check for any clogs or leftover matter that could be causing buildup and strange smells that lead to poor performance. You’ll also want to make sure that for each laundry load you run, you remove certain problem items that can ruin your washing machine.

washing machine hose

If you’re still having issues with strange smells or a dysfunctional washing machine, call or schedule service online with a plumbing expert at Roto-Rooter.



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