5 Ways to Clean and Sanitize Your Washing Machine

Failure to clean and maintain your washing machine can lead to bad odors, germs, bacteria and mold. I experienced this first hand when I began to see black bits all over my washing. At first I thought it was just the remains of a forgotten tissue hidden in a pocket. But it didn’t go away. I finally realized that it was coming from my washing machine, so I peeled back the rubber seal to look between the drums. I was horrified. It was covered in black mold and built up soap scum. I spent weeks trying different strategies to get rid of it. In this article I will share these with you and explain how they work.

How to Clean the Washing Machine ComponentsHow to Clean a Front Loader Washing Machine Gasket

Pack the rubber folds and cavities of the gasket with paper towels soaked in hydrogen peroxide. Leave it to soak for a few hours before wiping down clean and dry. You may need to use a soft brush to gently scrub it.

To prevent it from getting moldy by using an old towel or paper towel to dry around the rubber gasket/door seal after each wash. You could also add some vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to the towel as you wipe it down to really scare away the mold.

How to Clean a Washing Machine Top Loader

Use a paper towel soaked in hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar to wipe around the opening of the machine. Try to get between the tub rim and top edges, and all the areas that the water can’t get to.

How to Clean a Washing Machine Dispenser

Remove the dispensers from the machine. Fill your tub up with hot water and half a cup of vinegar and scrub away. Don’t forget to also clean inside the area where the dispenser sits as this can become moldy too. If the dispenser can’t be removed (check your machines manual), then use a pipe cleaner or an old toothbrush to get into the crevices.

5 Ways to Clean the Washing Machine Drum1. How to Clean a Washing Machine with Oxygen Bleach and Enzyme Detergent

Choose powdered enzyme detergents over liquid ones. Look for a detergent that contains a range of grease eating enzymes such as Amylase, Protease as well as Lipase or Mannanase (you may need to check the manufacturer’s website for the list of ingredients). Regularly add powdered oxygen bleach to your usual detergent. Seventh Generation detergents use these types of enzymes and they also sell oxygen bleach. Be aware that enzyme detergents are not safe to use on wool or silk.

The machine is designed to rise to this temperature as the wash progresses, so this should give the enzymes enough time to do their work without being affected by the heat. If your machine has manual load levels, then set it to its biggest load capacity.

Learn more about enzyme detergents here.

2. How to Clean a Washing Machine with Baking Soda and Vinegar

You can clean a washing machine naturally using distilled white vinegar and baking soda. Vinegar is acetic acid, but it’s only a mild form of acid and will not kill all of the mould. Therefore it’s best to use it alongside baking soda to kill a wider range of mould species. Both are safe to use and help to remove limescale. Baking soda also deodorizes.

3. How to Clean a Washing Machine with Citric Acid

Citric acid is derived from citrus fruits and is a natural and powerful way to remove limescale, soap scum and buildup. It is a much stronger acid than vinegar so works a treat for machines with lots of buildup. Citric acid can also be used alongside baking soda to help remove odors.

4. How to Clean a Washing Machine with Hydrogen Peroxide

Instead of chlorine bleach, try using hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is sold as a 3% diluted liquid solution and is an excellent all around cleaner. You may see it being sold in higher concentrations but these are used by commercial cleaners and diluted it to make large quantities of cleaning solution. I would not recommend that you do this because of the safety risks involved when handling solutions above 3% and because hydrogen peroxide must be must be used within a year of opening and stored in a dark place as it loses its effectiveness.

Hydrogen Peroxide removes limescale, kills mould and is antiviral and antibacterial. It can also be used with hot water. It is safer to use than chlorine bleach because it doesn’t leave behind toxic fumes and residue and is safe for the environment as it breaks down into oxygen and water. The down side to hydrogen peroxide is that it takes longer to work, so you’ll need to leave it soaking in your machine for at least three hours. As this is not possible for front loaders, you may need to run it through twice.

5. How to Clean a Washing Machine with Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach must only be used with warm or cold water, as it loses it effectiveness at high temperatures. Many people like to use chlorine bleach, but I prefer not to because of its toxicity and the fact that it can’t be mixed with other products. Also, it does not remove limescale and although it’s great at removing mould from smooth services like tiles and glass, it can’t penetrate porous surfaces such as the plastic inner drum or porcelain inner drum of your washing machine. You may think that you have killed the mould because you can no longer see it, but the roots of the mould are still alive and well and will happily re-grow in a short amount of time.

Persistent Problems

Unfortunately, if the situation is bad, don’t expect the problem to be resolved the first time. You may need to continue to clean it up to 6 times before you see an improvement. If you prefer, you can purchase a commercial product such as Lemi Shine Machine Cleaner that is specially designed to remove tough limescale and detergent build up.

Remember: The only way to avoid your machine from getting built up with limescale, soap scum, mold and bacteria, is to do regular maintenance cleans!



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