Friday, March 22, 2013

How to Clean a Washing Machine Without Bleach

Here we go with post #2 in my Spring Cleaning Series!

Our washing machine sees a bunch of laundry. Having a toddler is like having a walking & talking mess. Plus William is cloth diapered, so that just adds to the laundry. Well just like your vacuum, your washing machine can get dirty while getting clean.

I have seen several tutorials about cleaning your washing machine, but they all include bleach and that is out of the question in our house for a couple of reasons:

1. Bleach is pretty toxic, and not something I want in the house.
2. I'm allergic to bleach, so William might be too.
3. I really don't want the chance of our clothes getting messed up from bleach residue in the washing machine.

So instead of bleach, we're going to be using baking soda and vinegar. Super simple and together it will cost less than $5 to do this.

So first off, make sure you don't have any laundry in the washing machine. I actually had a load of darks that I had thrown in earlier in the day and had forgotten about it :( oops.

Once all your laundry is out of the way, it's time to get this cleaning party started. For this we're going to need:
  • 3 cups white distilled vinegar (or 2 cups lemon juice)
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • soft cloth or towel
 Fill your washing machine with hot water at the largest load setting.
Right as it starts to agitate, you want to add in your 3 cups of vinegar (or 2 cups of lemon juice). Our machine won't agitate unless the lid is closed, so I added the vinegar right before it was full and then closed the lid while i measured out the baking soda.

 This is what the water looked like right before I added in the baking soda. You can already see how murky and dirty the water is, and it had only agitated for less than 1 minute.

 Pour in your 1/2 cup of baking soda, and then let the machine do its thing.

While the washing machine is running its cycle, I decided to clean out the lint trap in our dryer. You should always clean the lint off every time you are done using it, and every now and then you want to wash the screen. Why you ask? Well check it out.

The build up from dryer sheets sticks to the screen and makes it to were your dryer can't dry your clothes as well as it should. That's why the water just sits on the surface of the screen. ( I learned this from my friends dad who has been a Sears repairman for the past 20 years). So just give it a good scrub with some soap and water, and set is aside to dry.

Now the water passed right through the screen, you should see a difference in the amount of time it takes for your clothes to dry now.

After the hot cycle of your washing machine is done, take a soft cloth ( I used a clean pre-fold diaper) and give then inside of your machine a good wipe-down. I blotted a bit of vinegar on the cloth and wiped the top of the machine right inside the lid.

This is all the residue that I was left with after wiping everything down. Pretty crazy huh? After you wipe the machine down, run another large cycle. This time on cold and do not add anything to the water. This cycle is simply rinsing the machine.

When the cold cycle is done, give the machine another wipe-down (with a clean cloth) and then you are done. This is the first time I ever tried cleaning our washing machine, and I was really surprised with the results. Has anyone ever washed their washing machine? Have you found other combinations that work?

I hope this was helpful! Come back next week for posts about organizing and cleaning out your kitchen and bathrooms.


  1. great tip about the lint trap! i'll have to get on that.

  2. I did this tonight looks and smells so much better. Who knew u had to wash the washing machines once in a while. I sure didn't. Worth the time...will be doing this at least every three months.

  3. great tips! I did this for my front loading machine - when I wiped under the rubber gasket with a cloth I was amazed and grossed out at what was under there! Keep posting!
    another Texas mom!

  4. Thanks for the heads up! Our washer stinks I credibly bad when it first starts up- I was to we need to buy a special liquid to clean it out- I'm going to try this first. Great tip on the lint trapper- will be scrubbing it down today!

  5. I never knew! So glad I did this. I can actually smell the detergent and fabric softener in my clothes now.


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