How to Clean Your Washing Machine Part One: Weekly Maintenance

Although it may seem like an oxymoron to “wash” your washing machine, all washing machines need to be cleaned from time to time. Front-loaders are infamous for mold and other odor-causing issues, so a regular cleaning regimen may not be a totally foreign concept to you if you own one. HE and conventional top-loaders aren’t immune from odors or build up either, so they will also need a regular cleaning, although you may find you don’t need to stay on top of it quite as often as those who own front-loading machines. 

Residue is the culprit of most odors, but it is an even bigger enemy for cloth diapers, because various types of residue can cause build-up in fabrics which result in decreased absorbency, repelling and (you guessed it) odors. I would like to think that most cloth diapering moms probably have some sort of regimen going to make sure your washer stays stink and residue free, but if you don’t, you need to start now! After all, if any washer needs a monthly cleaning regimen, washers that wash cloth diapers need an even better routine, because A) You’re doing an average of an additional 12 loads of laundry a month if you cloth diaper and B) It is some of your dirtiest loads you will wash so you want to make sure you’re not leaving any ickies behind.

So I am guilty of not keeping up with daily or even monthly maintenance, although I will admit I am trying to be better about it. There are many ways to clean your washing machine depending on your preferences and budget and I will outline daily maintenance in this article, then monthly maintenance and recommended products in the next article. Below are some ideas to toss into your daily washing routine to help maintain the cleanliness of your washer in between deep cleanings of the drum and less visible ducts of the machine. 

A clean washer means cleaner, fresher clothes and diapers so it is definitely something you should definitely start or (if you’re better than me) continue. I promise the daily routine items should only take you two minutes total each day you do laundry and it will help prevent a huge scrub down and odor issues later. 

Daily Routine

1. Remove the load right away. I know this can be a hard one with long to-do lists and kids to chase after, but make the effort and it will help. This will prevent the dampness from causing musty odors and residue in the washer. My daughter likes to help me switch loads, so get the kids involved, or if you have older children add this other other daily maintenance tasks to their chore list! 

2. Leave the lid open or ajar. This will help the remaining moisture in the washer to dry and evaporate. Adding this to your routine won’t add any time to your chores (heck, it’ll even save you the 2 seconds it would take to close the lid). Researching for this article had me looking at washing machine reviews and the new Whirlpool Duet even has a FanFresh button that airs out loads to fight mustiness. Cool! 

3. Wipe down your washer with a damp towel once a week to keep dried on detergents or other debris off the exterior of the washer. Use a little vinegar or non-abrasive cleaner to the routine to make sure you get all the germs off. 

4. Using the same towel, wipe the inside door and rubber lip out to prevent visible mildew or build up. I find that in my front loader the bottom portion on the inner plastic door is where mildew likes to creep up on me and I am trying to make an effort to wipe it down on a regular basis before I see that film that makes me think yuck, I’d better wipe that down. Consequently, this is my biggest challenge that I can avoid by following steps 1 and 2, and doing a weekly wipe down. 

In How to Clean Your Washing Machine Part Two I will discuss the monthly maintenance of cleaning the detergent dispenser, inside drum and other interior parts of the washer you may not be able to reach by hand. This is particularly important to get rid of residue that can affect your clothing and diapers the most. I will also discuss cleaning agents you can use including vinegar and washing machine cleaners like affresh tablets which I have had the opportunity to review. 

“I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of affresh and received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.”

photo by: That HP Chap
{If you enjoyed reading How to Clean Your Washing Machine Part One: Weekly Maintenance I would be tickled pink if you left a comment. To read more about my green(er) parenting aspirations, advice and adventures be sure to subscribe to my RSS feed or get updates via email.}


By Emi Stapler. I am a cloth diaper advocate, green parenting blogger, mother of three and a military wife who enjoys sharing my motherhood adventures and advice. Follow me at The Cloth Diaper Report on Facebook, Twitter @TheCDReport , Google +, Pinterest and Instagram.

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  1. Thanks for writing this! I feel like I’ve really dropped the ball…but I’m glad I will be heading the right direction now and wash my washer!!

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