How to clean a washing machine (the easy way)

A washing machine should wash itself, right? Tell that to the dog-hair-ball that's rolling around in there

How To Clean A Washing Machine

Washing machines make our clothes smell fresh; in return, they can become grimy over time. It’s a noble job they do! Every now and then, we need to get up close and personal with our machines to inspect the dirt! And it’s not your partner’s fault that their hair has twisted into a slimy knot in the drum! Knowing how to clean the washing machine, how to clean washing machine drawers and how to clean washing machine seals = clean, fresh clothes – and that’s an act of love in itself!

Here are our washing machine cleaning tips, and a fun illustrated downloadable guide that’ll have your washing machine smelling (and looking) clean and fresh in just five easy steps.  And if you discover a trail of muddy paw prints from your overzealous pup’s rainy-day romp, weaving a gritty, damp path across your laundry floor, don't fret. These unexpected splashes of life are what make our homes truly ours. 


Before you get started, don’t forget to check your washing machine manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines to avoid any damage.

1. How to clean washing machine interiors

The inside of your washing machine can easily smell gross without the right cleaning method. So, the first step is to make a solution that’ll help get rid of the grime and remove any funky odours. Here’s what to clean washing machine with: 

Begin by tossing your baking soda concoction into the detergent drawer (and we'll tackle how to clean the washing machine drawer - coffee-stained and detergent-caked – later ). Next, let the vinegar dive into an empty washing machine and send it whirling on a full cycle. As the machine hums to a stop, grab a piece of sturdy, damp kitchen paper. 

Swipe, scrub, and peel away at the gritty residues. It might seem daunting, but it’s really fine. That gunky, slimy mess? It’s just a lingering souvenir of a rushed but vibrant breakfast on a busy morning—chaotic, sure, but full of life nonetheless. 


Perfect for tough jobs, Plenty Flexisheets kitchen roll is strong when wet. And with Flexisheets’ extra perforations, you choose what you use, so whether it’s scrubbing spots off of the door glass or getting downright dirty with the seal, you’ll always have the perfect amount. It’s no wonder Flexisheets won 2024 Product of the Year.*

2. How to clean washing machine exteriors

Moving onto how to clean washing machine exteriors, the first step is to take the plug out of the wall. Then for this cleaning task you’ll need:

Slip your gloves on, plunge the sponge into your bucket, and squeeze out the extra drips. Take your time scrubbing every nook of the washing machine, tackling those shadowed corners where mould and mildew lurk like grubby ghouls. After a thorough cleanse, grab a sheet of kitchen roll and gently pat the exterior dry. If you find a streak of old detergent that’s dried into a crusty ribbon along the side, you know what to do: scrub! It’s just a trace of the many loads of laundry that tell the story of your lively home.  

3. How to clean the washing machine door seal

It’s really important to pay particularly close attention to your washing machine’s gasket and seal, as this is a common source of that musty smell. Scrub vigorously to dislodge the stubborn grime—a gritty mosaic of lint and soap scum that’s built up over countless washes (it’s only a testament to the non-stop adventure that is life, from muddy soccer uniforms to sandy beach towels). Finish by thoroughly wiping down with a paper towel to ensure that it’s dry. Voila: how to clean the washing machine door seal.  

Is the dirt on your washing machine door seal clinging on for dear life? Just check out our full deep dive into how to clean the washing machine door seal. 

4. How to clean washing machine drawer parts

If the draw is removable, start by removing it and giving it a soapy bubble bath in a solution of warm water and washing-up liquid. While the drawer is soaking, scrub out the area that the detergent drawer is held in and dry it with a paper towel. Then, scrub away at the drawer to remove any build-up of washing detergent and dirt, wipe all the parts dry, and pop it back in – done!

5. Ongoing maintenance and other washing-machine-cleaning tips

One of the easiest ways to clean washing machine interiors, exteriors and parts is to regularly maintain them. The following washing-machine-cleaning tips will help fight odours and keep your machine fresh: 

  • Wipe down regularly and deep clean once a month
  • Dry thoroughly (especially in tight corners)
  • Add two cups of white distilled vinegar to the detergent draw and run an empty washing cycle once a month
  • Don’t skimp on detergent – quality products will not only help your machine work more efficiently, but they’ll also leave less residue behind, too

How to keep your washing machine fresh – day-to-day tips 

You should clean your washing machine monthly, but in addition to that, make it a habit to leave the machine door ajar or lift the lid after each use. This allows the air to circulate and dry out any remaining moisture that can contribute to stale smells. For best results, follow these regular washing machine cleaning tips: 

  • Take your clothes out ASAP. Let’s be honest, laundry waits for no one. As soon as your washing machine sings out its jingle, rescue your clothes from the machine as soon as possible. Leaving your lavishing loungewear to linger? That’s a recipe for eau de damp sock—a scent that’s charming to no one. Better to scoop them out pronto and keep your machine smelling less like a forgotten gym bag. 
  • Dry the gasket. If your washing machine is front-loaded, you should be regularly checking the gasket for any small, loose items, like socks that are trapped in there, and dry it with a towel to battle mould. 
  • Remove any debris. Ah, the joys of living with shedding furry friends! If you’re pulling more cat hair out of your machine than clothes, it’s time for a little cleanup. After your laundry cycles, let your washer breathe a bit. Keep that door wide open until every last strand of fur and the entire drum are bone dry. This way, you won’t have any unexpected surprises sticking to your next load of clean clothes. 


Washing the dog’s bed? Don’t just throw it right in the machine! Check out our dedicated guide for some essential tips and tricks.

  • Clean the controls and dispenser. Using a moist cloth or a damp sheet of kitchen roll, thoroughly wipe down the controls, door handle, and any detergent or softener spills on the front, sides, and top of the machine and dispenser. It's best to tackle these spots while they’re still wet, as they’re easier to remove promptly. By doing so, you’ll prevent the accumulation of bacteria and mould, while ensuring your washer maintains its pristine appearance. 
  • Specifically target the wet areas. In the areas of your machine where water may pool you might find a build-up of mould and bacteria. Moisten a cloth with white vinegar and carefully wipe every inch of your washing machine's lid or door, including the top and bottom edges, as well as the sides and front. To tackle the grimy and hard-to-reach areas of the detergent and fabric softener dispensers, use an old toothbrush for thorough cleaning. 

Pulling out those never-ending webs of matted hair and bits of soggy sludge mean that everyone in the house can enjoy having fresher, cleaner clothes from now on – and that’s what makes following these washing machine cleaning tips worthwhile. 

After all, isn't a happy washing machine the one that conquers the dirt on our clothes, the dribbles of detergent that cling to its innards, and the lint that gathers like fluffy, detergent-fresh dust? Here’s to the hardworking home hero—your washing machine, without which your socks would still be sporting last week’s mud stains! 

*Winner General Household Category. Survey of 8,000 people in UK & ROI 

How To Clean A Washing Machine Guide


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How to Clean a Washing Machine in 5 Steps

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How to Clean a Washing Machine in 5 Steps

Discover how and what to clean a washing machine with in 5 easy steps. Find out some of the best ways to clean washing machine interiors, exteriors and parts.