Most of us probably wish the washing machine cleaned itself every time we ran a load — it’s already cleaning our clothes, after all! And it would save us time and effort that we can use for more important things. But dirt, debris, and other deposits build up in your top loading washing machine over time, to the detriment of your appliance.
If you live in a rented home or apartment, it’s doubly important to make sure your top loading washing machine is clean, both for yourself and the tenants after you. You can go DIY, or hire a bond cleaner to get the job done.
Whichever you choose, your washing machine will need cleaning — so roll up those sleeves and get to work before your next laundry load!
About Your Top Loader
There are two common types of washing machines — top load and front load. Their defining characteristic is in their names; for a top load washing machine, it opens up top so you don’t have to bend or crouch to load it. On the other hand, a front loader opens at the front, but makes transferring clothes out easier. You can view a more in-depth comparison of the two types of washing machines to learn more about their differences.
Other advantages of a top load washer include the ability to add clothes even after starting the cycle; and better detergent and fabric softener distribution. They wash faster (generally) and have a larger capacity. They’re also more affordable — unless you’re getting a high-end one washer with an impeller — and easier to clean, unlike a front loader.
On the other hand, you can’t stack a top load washer on top of your dryer like you can a front loading washing machine. They also use more water and energy; are less efficient at cleaning; and can’t clean larger loads like doonas.
Why Clean Your Washing Machine?
Much like other appliances, water, soap, and dirt from clothes cause grime to build up inside your top loader. Hard water can cause limescale deposits; detergent and fabric softener leave scum and residue behind; and the dirt that gets knocked off fabric can linger in your machine.
Cleaning your washing machine also goes with general maintenance, and helps prolong the life and efficiency of your washer.
This doesn’t mean just wiping down the exterior either. To clean a washing machine thoroughly, you need to clean inside and out. It’ll be better for your clothes too — if your washing machine isn’t clean, neither are your outfits!
Cleaning Your Washing Machine Naturally
While you can use bleach, or a similar washing machine cleaner, these aren’t recommended since the chemicals can be harsh on the machine. Instead, there are two items right in your home that you can use to clean for a natural solution — white vinegar and bicarb soda.
Cleaning your washing machine interior
- A few cups of white vinegar
- Bicarb soda
- Microfibre cloths
- Old toothbrush (make sure it’s clean!)
Optional cleaning products include dish soap and lemon juice.
- Fill the drum with hot water on the largest load setting. (Don’t add fabric softener or detergent — you’re washing the machine, not clothes!)
- While it’s filling, add 3–4 cups of white vinegar and let the agitator mix the water and vinegar together. You can also add a few tablespoons of lemon juice to help cut the scent and give the solution a little boost. White vinegar and lemon juice have the added benefit of being natural mould killers, too!
NOTE: You can also opt for plain lemon juice with no vinegar for the wash cycle. The acidity of lemons works the same as vinegar — and you’ll get a zesty fresh scent, too!
- Start the cleaning cycle, but don’t let it run the whole way just yet! Pause the wash cycle in the middle, then let the hot water and white vinegar sit for an hour with the lid open.
- Wipe down the top and removable parts while the cleaning solution is working its magic. Dip a microfibre cloth in lemon juice and/or white vinegar for a cleaning solution. For stubborn stains, make a paste from bicarb soda and water, then use an old toothbrush to scrub.
NOTE: Pay special attention to the top of the machine, the knobs, and any detergent dispenser or fabric softener dispensers. Get into those nooks and crannies where dirt can build up for a thorough washer clean.
- Run the rest of the wash cycle and let the hot water and your DIY cleaning solution do their job.
- Refill the drum after the first cycle is done, then add one cup bicarb soda to the hot water instead of vinegar. It’ll both clean the interior and neutralise any odours inside.
- Run a rinse cycle to get rid of any residue from the previous cycle.
- Wipe down the interior with a clean, damp cloth — particularly the rim, agitator, and detergent or fabric softener dispensers.
Cleaning your washing machine exterior
While your washing machine is running its hot water cycle, it’s time to clean your washing machine on the outside. First, wipe with a dry cloth to get rid of any dust.
Dip a cloth in warm water and white vinegar or lemon juice, then wipe the surface of your washing machine. Make sure to run the damp cloth over all the knobs and crevices — but be gentle!
If you don’t want to use vinegar, an alternative can be half a lemon to add some shine, or soapy water and a clean cloth. You can also use a toothbrush dipped in a bicarb soda paste for any stubborn stains or scuff marks.
And you’re done! An easy, straightforward way to clean a washing machine inside and out. Now your machine is ready for another load of laundry — just remember to clean your top load washing machine again after a few months!