Bleach is known for its fast-acting and bacteria-killing properties, which is why it's considered the best cleaning solution for washing machines. However, if you're in a pinch or want to try another method, vinegar is almost as equally effective. Vinegar works as a powerful cleaning agent that is perfectly safe for cleaning household appliances such as microwaves, coffee machines, and, according to Howard's, washing machines.
Instructions for Cleaning a Washing Machine With Vinegar
- Combine 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water. Pour it into the machine's detergent dispenser.
- Pour four cups of white vinegar into a top-load washer or two cups into a front-load washer.
- Run a normal wash cycle with hot water. Optional: once the drum has filled, pause the cycle, and let the vinegar-water solution sit for 30 minutes. Resume the cycle.
- Leave the washer door open so the drum can air-dry.
- Wipe down the exterior of your washer with disinfectant wipes.
- If you notice a residual vinegar odor, run a rinse cycle.
According to a report from Martha Stewart, washing machines should be thoroughly cleaned about once a month, but as with anything, that also depends on your household and how regularly your washing machine is being used. Running a cycle of hot water from time to time may help prevent dirt and detergent build-up. Additionally, leaving your washer's door open after washes can help stop moisture build-up and, consequently, mold and odor.
Remember, while these cleaning instructions are fairly standard, both front-load washers and top-loading washing machines can vary by make and model. So before you deep-clean your washers, make sure to read the owner's manual just to be safe.