How To Clean The Gunk Out of Top-Loading Washing Machine

Fred's Appliance
August 25, 2014


Have you noticed a filmy layer of mildew or “gunk” coating the inside of your top-loading washing machine? This is typically caused by stagnant water (soft or hard), detergent, and/or mildew stuck inside the unit. Some of the newer top-models are designed in a manner that discourages the formation of residue such as this, but older models may have cracks and crevasses that promote gunk buildup.


Turning a blind eye to your dirty washing machine isn’t going to make it go away. On the contrary, it will allow the bacteria-ridden substance to transfer over to your clothes when you wash a load of laundry. So the next time you put on a supposedly clean t-shirt, you may notice a foul stench. This problem is easily prevented, however, by cleaning the gunk out of your washing machine.


Can I Use Bleach To Clean My Washing Machine?


There are several different ways to clean the inside of a top-loading washing machine, one of which involves chlorine bleach. Bleach is an all-around great cleaner that kills germs on contact, but it’s not the preferred choice for washing machines. Being that it’s highly toxic, common sense should tell you to keep it away from your clothes. A small cap full per load isn’t going to hurt, but adding a cup or more can leave harsh chemicals on the clothes you and your family wear each day.


In addition to being toxic, bleach can degrade or even damage septic tank systems by killing the good germs that help with the natural decomposition process. With these good germs eliminated, the septic tank won’t be able to break down its contents as efficiently.


Steps To Cleaning a Top-Loader With Vinegar:


  1. Turn your washing machine on the hot water setting (largest load possible) and let it fill up.
  2. Once it begins to agitate, open the lid to make it stop.
  3. Now, add about 3 cups of filtered white apple cider vinegar.
  4. Add ¾ cup of baking soda and stir it the mixture.
  5. Let the solution of hot water, vinegar and baking soda sit while you scrub the upper inside part of the unit with a scrub brush and toothbrush. Dip your tools down into the mixture before scrubbing.
  6. Pay close attention to the top of your washing machine, where the lid closes shut.
  7. When you are finished scrubbing, close the lid and wait for it to drain.
  8. Run one additional load using just hot water (no vinegar, baking soda or clothes).
  9. Your washing machine should now be clean!
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