How to Clean a Washing Machine

Michael Rubino

May 21

Not keeping up with cleaning a washing machine can lead to microbial growth, unwanted exposures, and contaminated clothing.

Like many of us, I’ve washed a lot of laundry over the years. I’ve done my own at home, and I’ve worked in costumes and wardrobe for film, television and theater for over 30 years where it’s not uncommon to do multiple loads daily. What many don’t realize is that, to keep your machine running well and your clothes smelling fresh (and free from residue) you need to occasionally clean the machine itself.

I learned this long ago in the basement of the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas from someone older and wiser after an actor repeatedly complained that his t-shirt smelled moldy despite the fact that I had, indeed, washed it. I’ve been routinely cleaning my washing machine—and the washers in costume shops nationwide—ever since.

I consulted some industry experts to put together the most detailed and informative approach to cleaning your washing machine, whether it be a front-loading or top-loading one. I also considered whether you’re doing laundry for yourself and your family—or the entire cast of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America.”

How often should I clean my washing machine?

Laundry Basket LLC owner and CEO Hyacinth Tucker suggests creating a regular cleaning schedule to prevent the buildup of dirt, soap scum, and mold. “Aim to clean it at least once a month,” she says, “or more often, if you notice any residue or odors.”

Michael Rubino, a mold and air quality expert, environmental wellness advocate, and founder of HomeCleanse, also recommends monthly cleanings. This advice is especially applicable to front-loading machines.

“Cleaning frequency can depend on type and usage,” explains Marla Mock, President of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company. “Typically, top-loading machines require a thorough scrubbing twice a year, while front-loading machines should be cleaned monthly to prevent mold growth.”

Why you should clean your washing machine

“Regular cleaning helps remove soap scum, dirt, or other residues that accumulate in the machine,” says Rubino, in addition to microscopic particles like mold spores and bacteria—two things you don’t want growing in your home. As most of us know, damp, dark environments, such as the interior of your washing machine, create an optimal breeding ground for mold, mildew, and bacteria. “Cleaning also helps with the longevity of your machine and ensures it works properly,” adds Rubino.

Read the full article here: