How to Clean and Disinfect Your Washing Machine & Dryer

Many homeowners don't think about washing a washing machine—after all, you put soap in it every time you do your laundry! Unfortunately, that isn't enough—in fact, the soap bubbles often carry dirt on them from the clothes and leave them in a ring around the inside of your washing machine.

Thankfully, cleaning a washing machine and dryer is extremely easy. Add it into your normal housekeeping every few months and you can be confident your clothes are coming out really clean.

The Washing Machine

Turn the washing machine on while it's empty. Set it to warm or hot water, and as it fills up, add 2-3 cups of vinegar. Leave the lid up while it fills, then come back and close the lid, letting it run a full cycle with just the water and the vinegar. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and will also loosen buildup on the washer itself.

When the cycle is finished grab a lint-free or microfiber cloth and start wiping out the inside and outside of the machine. Especially focus on the basin where the water usually stops and the agitator.

Leave open and let air out to dry, and anytime you finish with clothes, leave the lid of the machine open for an hour or two to allow it to air out for a cleaner washing machine all the time.

Optionally, if you don't mind bleach, you can repeat the vinegar treatment with bleach for extra clean and disinfecting.

The Dryer

First things first, you're probably pretty good about getting the lint off of your lint trap, but how often do you take it away from the washing machine and really clean it? In addition to the lint, lint traps also often catch a filmy buildup from detergent or fabric softener on the clothes.

When you're ready to clean the dryer, start by taking the lint trap to the sink, scrubbing it down with vinegar and water on both sides, and leaving it to dry.

In the meantime, use a vacuum cleaner wand to get down inside the area where the trap goes to get any loose pieces. Then take a sponge or cloth soaked in vinegar and water and wrung out extremely well and wipe out the drum and the door, especially around the seal.

Close up the dryer, let it run on an empty, hot cycle for 10 minutes, then allow to air out as well.

Banish bacteria from your clothes by cleaning your washer and dryer!