How to Clean Your Washing Machine Yourself

Washing machines are appliances you associate with cleaning, fresh linen and clean clothes by the abundance, but even these appliances need cleaning from time to time.

If your washing machine smells and is giving off a bit of a pong, perhaps it is causing your clothing to come out smelling worse than a pair of dirty socks, then it is definitely time to clean out your washing machine.

Laundry detergent, soils and hard water minerals can build up in areas you can’t see. This can cause mood and mildew can really thrive in warm, damp areas such as the washing machine lid and door area. So it’s really important to clean your machine on a regular basis to avoid nasty smells and keep on top of hygiene.

So if you want to banish those smelly odours, remove mould and residues then continue reading this article. We will explain how to clean a washing machine, look at types of washing machine cleaner, and also how to make your own DIY washing cleaner.

Is your machine getting a bit smelly? If so, it sounds like it's in real need of a freshen up. Yes that’s right, even washing machines need a bit of TLC from time to time.

Follow this step-by-step guide on how to clean a washer efficiently and correctly.

Step 1

Firstly, you will need to open up your detergent draw. This is where left over fabric softener and laundry detergent can get clogged up and leave a built up residue.

Step 01

This is the perfect place for bacteria to multiply. This sludge of combined left over materials causes the bad odours to occur.

Step 2

You will need to remove the draw in order to clean it fully. There are two types of washing machine draws; ones that slide out, and ones that swing open.

Step 02

Whichever one you have, you can remove them both the same way. Simply open the draw fully, take one hand underneath, and carefully lift it over the plastic catch.

Step 3

Take your draw to the sink and begin to clean the draw. You will need some warm water and soap. Use an old toothbrush to help remove stubborn detergent in those hard to reach areas.

Step 03

Step 4

Once clean, leave the draw to dry before placing it back into the washing machine. We advise that after every wash, you leave the draw slightly ajar.

Step 04

This will allow air in to dry the draw, and avoid any moisture building up which will really help with cleaning a washing machine.

Step 5

It’s now time to look at your door seal and washing machine gasket. This is an area often overlooked, and it’s an area where bacteria loves to home itself.

To clean the gasket, take a water spray bottle and fill it with one part warm water to one part white vinegar. Spray the liquid into the gasket and around the door seal.

Step 05

Then wipe with a damp cloth. Don’t forget to stick your hand into the gasket to clean away any stray objects that have come out during your washes over time. You could be surprised what you find there.

Make a habit of cleaning a washing machine door with a dry cloth after each use. Wiping the area dry will help avoid mould and mildew building.

Step 6

Just like your detergent draw, leave the machine door slightly ajar after use to air the area out.

Step 06

Step 7

You will need to use a professional cleaner at least once a month on your machine. Run a service of hot wash with a limescale and grease remover.

Step 07

Step 8

Pour the cleaning powder into your detergent tray. Please check the manufacturer's instructions as some may vary. You will then need to place your machine on a service setting (if your machine has one). It might be worth checking your manual to see if this is possible.

Step 08

If not, use the hottest setting available to you on your machine. Once done, you should be left with a clean washing machine and free from any foul odours.

Step 9

Alternatively, you could consider a DIY washing machine cleaner, you may have all the cleaning materials lying in your cupboards. Using two cups of white cleaning vinegar, pour this into the detergent tray.

Step 09

Then open the washing machine up door and add one-half cup of baking soda into the drum of the machine.

Step 10

Close the door and set the machine to the highest cycle possible. When the cycle is finished, use a damp microfibre cloth to wipe the drum, gasket and door area.

Step 10

Then with a dry cloth, wipe the area dry and leave the door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape.

Now that you have cleaned out your washing machine, don’t forget to clear the exterior too!

Tools to Clean Your Washing Machine

You want to ensure you rid your machine of any powerful odours and lingering bacteria. To make sure you do this properly, you will need to have the correct tools to hand to help you with the task at hand.

tools to clean
  • Spray Bottle
  • Microfibre Cloth X2
  • Old Toothbrush

Safety Equipment to Clean Your Washing Machine

Cleaning your washing machine is a fairly straightforward and simple task. However it is still important to know that you can keep yourself safe whilst undertaking this job.

We recommend using gloves, whether that's latex or marigolds when cleaning your machine. This is due to the build up of detergent which is usually filled with bacteria.

When handling the detergent door you might consider protecting your hands with gloves.

Ingredients to Clean Your Washing Machine

There are various products you can use to clean your washing machine, including:

  • Soap and warm water
  • Limescale and grease remover
  • White vinegar

How to Prepare to Clean Your Washing Machine

To prepare your washing machine for cleaning you will need to gather the appropriate tools and materials needed. These are listed above.

cleaning washing machine

To help the ease of cleaning, you will need to do the following:

Clean out the washing machine gasket (this is the rubber located around the machine drum). You will be surprised what kind of leftovers can be found hidden in the gasket, anything from bobbles, to coins! Wear some gloves, and put your hand in to remove any loose objects.

You will need the glove as you will find it can be a little messy. Don’t worry too much about the gunk like residue, as you can clean that out using our step-by-step guide.

How to Prevent Your Washing Machine from Smelling

The reason your washing machine smells isn’t due to the sweaty gym clothes you have previously washed. As stated previously, the smell actually comes from built up soap scum, dirt and mildew that has built up in your machine.

cleaning washing machine

This is usually built up in your detergent draw and also your rubber gasket. This mixture of build up then breads bacteria, mould and this results in some pretty nasty smells.

The only way to prevent your washing machine from smelling is to keep on top of your cleaning regime.

Remembering to follow these points:

  • Clean away any grime leftover in your gasket.
  • Remove any leftover residue left in your detergent draw.
  • Keep the detergent draw dry, wiping it down after each use.
  • Leave the detergent draw slightly ajar after each use to air the draw out and stop moisture building.
  • Using a dry cloth, wipe the machine opening down, including the gasket, after each use.
  • Leave the washing machine door slightly ajar after each wash to keep the interior of the machine dry.
  • Always remove your wet laundry promptly after the washing cycle has ended. Not only will this keep your laundry smelling nicer, but it will stop moisture from building in the machine.
  • You could invest in a dehumidifier for the room. This can prevent bacteria and mildew from feeling at home in the room.
  • Use the correct detergent. Choosing to use detergents made for high-efficiency machines is far more efficient, and creates less soap suds. More suds=more soap scum residue.
  • Using white vinegar to clean your rubber gasket frequently.


Q: How often do you need to clean your washing machine?

A: We recommend doing a thorough clean at least once a month for your washing machine. However the more often you clean, the better, as you can keep smelly odours at bay.

Q: What is the best washing machine cleaner to use?

A: We recommend using ‘Hotpoint Wpro Limescale and grease remover’. This product is suitable for all Washing Machines and Dishwashers. Using these will reduce the maintenance cost for your machine if used frequently.

Q: Why does my washing machine smell?

A: This could be due to a built up detergent and soap scum that accumulates in your detergent tray and also in the rim of your washing machine gasket.

If you neglect to frequently clean your machine, leftover detergent, combined with moisture in small enclosed spaces can bread mould and bacteria can develop, which causes your machine to smell.

Q: What is a front loader washing machine?

A: A front loader washing machine describes the way you load your clothing into the machine.

You typically have a top loader machine and a front loader. Front loader machines are more water and energy efficient compared to top loader machines.

Q: Can you use dishwasher tablets to clean your washing machine?

A: This is a hot new trend that seems to have caught the attention of many.

Q: How do you clean a washing machine filter?

A: Typically, most washing machines will have a filter. You can locate this at the front of your machine, behind a hatch.

It is important that you check this on a regular basis, as your filter can collect debris. To clean the filter, remove the debris that is trapped.

It is important that when you remove the filter, you apply some old towels down on the floor as the filter can hold water. Consider using a bowl to drain and collect the water. Once the debris is removed, place the filter back into the machine and close the hatch door.


Author: Sian V

After graduating with a 1st class degree in Marketing, I worked as a marketing assistant for four years and now focus on freelance writing. I specialise in creating informative how-to guides to help homeowners do some DIY themselves.