How to Clean Top Loading Washing Machine

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As the owner of a top-loading washer, you may be wondering if it is necessary to clean washing machine. The truth is that cleaning your washing machine can help prevent mold and mildew from growing inside of it.

If left unattended for long periods, mold and soap scum can build up in places where you cannot see, such as behind the control panel or on the rubber seal around your door. This will not only make your clothes smell bad but also leave them stained with black spots and residue after every wash cycle. 

Top Loading Washing Machine
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Cleaning a top loading washing machine is not hard at all. You need to follow the steps below so you don't forget any important details. Let's get started on how to clean a washing machine.

What You Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Dish cleaning soap or dishwasher detergent
  • Water and Vinegar mixture (or bleach if you have white residue)
  • Towel
  • Toothbrush, sponge, or scrubber brush.
  • Microfiber cloth

Step1: Empty the Washer

Make sure your top load washer is empty of clothes or any laundry detergents. Remove the detergent and fabric softener dispensers.  Use a towel or cloth to wipe down the inside of your washing machine. You may also want to use some soapy water and rub it all over the inside surfaces of your washer. This will help eliminate most cleaning tasks later on.

Empty the Washer
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Make sure there is no laundry detergent residue left inside the dispensers – remove them completely. Use an old toothbrush to remove any residue that may be left behind in the dispensers.

After you have finished cleaning the inside of your washing machine, empty all of the water from it by using a sponge or towel and some dish detergent. Make sure that there are no clothes or debris in the bottom of the washer as well.

Step 2: Vacuum and Wipe the Outside

Next, you need to vacuum the inside of your machine and wipe down the outside. Use a damp microfiber cloth to clean any built-up dirt or all the grime on appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators. You can use a cleaning agent if needed but only use one safe for these kinds of surfaces. You don't want to end up damaging the components of your machine in the process.

Step 3: Set-up the Water Temperature and Cycle Settings

Next, make sure you set the water temperature and hottest water setting on your washing machine brand. Select the highest wash cycle setting and the largest load setting. This will ensure you achieve a deeper clean. Do not use any type of fabric softener or dryer sheets, as this will get caught in the internal components and cause a lot of damage.

Step 4: Remove the Parts and Soak Them in the Bathtub

Now that you are done setting up your machine to get it ready for its cleaning cycle, remove all of the removable parts on top of and under your washer. Remove the front panel with an Allen wrench, fasteners, or screws. Then soak them in a wash tub filled with water and dishwasher soap or bleach if you have white residue on your washing machine.  Alternatively, you can use vinegar as a natural, non-toxic way to remove the mineral deposits and build-up of grime and mildew.

Step 5: Clean and Dry All of the Parts

This includes cleaning the rubber seal around your door and all other parts, such as the back panel where the motor is located. Make sure you dry every part of your washing machine as well, including the rubber seals, to prevent any mold from growing due to excess moisture. 

After cleaning all the parts and thoroughly drying them, it is time to put everything back together. Fasten the front panel and turn on your washer.

Step 6: Open the Lead and Add White Vinegar or Bleach

Many people prefer vinegar over-bleach because it cleans the washer effectively without any harsh chemicals. You can avoid bleach if you want to spare your washer from the harsh chemicals.  If you're okay with both cleaning agents, add an entire cup of vinegar or a half-cup of bleach to the lead.

Step 7: Fill the Washer with Water and Allow to Agitate

Fill the washer with warm water up to about 3/4th of the way full. If you are using a bleach product, add more at this point. Allow your washer to agitate for about 10 minutes until the soap is totally mixed in with the water.

Step 8: Run a Complete Wash Cycle

Run a complete hot water wash cycle without any clothes in the machine. This will get rid of excess soap and bleach or vinegar if you have some inside your washing machine. There should be no bubbles or foam at all on the surface after the cycle is done. If there is, add more water until it drains out completely during the cycle.

run a complete washing cycle of washing
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Step 9: Add Hot Water, Vinegar and Baking Soda

In a large basin or bucket, add a cup of baking soda and hot water. Then add about four cups of distilled white vinegar over it to create a bubbling mixture. Let everything bubble for at least 15 minutes until the mixture stops fizzing

After 15 minutes pass, open the washer lid and pour the mixture into your washer. Close it up again, run a complete wash cycle with hot water and check if all the stains have been removed from your inner drum.

If you still see any stains on the surface of your washing machine, repeat this step for more effectiveness. 

Step 10: Clean the Fabric Softener Dispenser and Detergent Dispenser

If you have fabric softener and detergent dispensers, now is the time to clean them thoroughly so that they can work at peak capacity. To do this, mix equal parts of vinegar and water together in an empty spray bottle. Then soak a cloth in this mixture and wipe all around the dispensers until it is totally clean. Rinse with cold water afterward and allow the dispenser to dry thoroughly before using them again.

Step 11:  Wipe with Vinegar to Remove Remaining Residue

Now that you've cleaned and rinsed out the interior of your washer, wipe any remaining residue or soap with a damp cloth and vinegar water. Don't be too aggressive in scrubbing, or else you'll damage your washer. Just use a gentle touch to break up the residue from its surface so it can wash away in the next cycle.

Step 12: Get Rid of the Mold Smell

After completing every step, you'll notice that there is still a solid residual mold smell coming from your machine. This can be fixed by leaving an open box of baking soda near where you usually hide the washer for at least ten days. The odor-absorbing power of baking soda will help neutralize the problem, and eventually, the smell will slowly fade away.

FAQ: Cleaning Top Loading Washing Machine

How often should you clean your top load washing machine?

It depends on how often you use your machine. When there's a heavy load of dirt or stains inside the drum, then you can clean it every three months with a solution of 1/4th cup vinegar and hot water. At least once every two weeks, clean out the lint filter so that these things don't accumulate in your washing machine.

Why should you avoid bleach when cleaning your washing machine?

Bleach is very strong, and it can damage surfaces. If you use bleach to clean a washing machine, it will wear off the paint and other materials, affecting your washing machine's functionality in the long run. You can use bleach once in a while but don't make it a routine every time you're cleaning your washer.

Why should you clean your washing machine regularly?

It's essential to keep the washer clean so that it will last longer. When there is too much dirt in the washer drum, water will not penetrate properly into the pores of your clothes, which may lead to wrinkles and discoloration over time. So make sure you are using a cleaning machine regularly to avoid this.

Do you clean the front loading washing machine differently?

The cleaning methods for the front load washers and top load washing machine are pretty much the same. You need to remove all clothes, clean out lint filters, and use a clean cloth soaked in vinegar on the surface of your machine. You have to remember that you will be doing this at least three times per year, so don't worry too much about it.

How do you get rid of mold smell from front loading washing machines?

The first thing to do is clean the drum thoroughly using a solution of 1/4th cup vinegar and hot water. Once this step is done, set the temperature in the washer's control panel to a higher setting for a cycle and let it run on its own. This will help remove the smell from your washing machine, and you should be able to go on with your laundry without any problems.

That's How You Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine

Cleaning the inside and outside of your washing machine is a quick yet effective way to remove mold and mildew. It will also help you take care of your clothes by ensuring they are not damaged while using a functional washing machine. All you need is some detergent, vinegar, baking soda, and water. Most people have these items, and you can use them to get your washing machine back to normal in no time.

If you like this article, do give a read to how to hide washer and dryer in kitchen on our blog!

Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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