How To Sanitize a Washing Machine

Photo of clothes dryer

To keep a washing machine sanitized, it is important to regularly keep it clean and maintain its cleanliness. Here are the steps to sanitize a washing machine, starting from the cleaning process:

1.    Clean the basin of the washer using a spray cleaner with paper towels and rags.

2.    Run several water cycles to completely clean and sanitize the washing machine basin.

a.    Fill the washing machine with hot water set at the largest load setting.
b.    If the machine has rust, add 2 cups of lime or lemon juice in the hot water.
c.    If the machine has odor problems add 2 cups of vinegar to the hot water.
d.    If the washing machine has rust and odor concerns, run one cycle with each solution.
e.    Let the washing machine run through a cycle of wash and rinse.
f.    Fill the washer with hot water for a second time, set at the largest load setting.
g.    To remove the stains, add 2 cups of bleach to the hot water.
h.    Run a complete wash and rinse cycle in the washer.
i.    Once all the stains are removed, run one more cycle with just plain water to rinse out remaining residue in the washer.

3.    Thoroughly clean the fabric softener and bleach dispensers.

  • Remove the fabric softener and bleach dispensers.
  • Soak the dispensers in warm water long enough to loosen residue build-up.
  • Spray the dispensers with spray cleaner and use paper towels to wipe out dirt remaining.
  • Use cotton buds to remove dirt from small areas and corners.
  • Air-dry the dispensers.
  • Put back the dispensers.

4.    Vacuum out the dirt around and under the washing machine. Large amount of dust usually accumulates in and around the washer and dryer. Take care in vacuuming near electrical outlets and cords.
5.    Check the hose and drain connections. Use a thin long stick with a rag to scrub the hose sides and loosen residue.

6.    Wipe the front, top, and sides of the washing machine unit using a spray cleaner and paper towels.

7.    Clean the underside of the lid and the lip of the washer, with a spray cleaner and paper towel or rag.

Here are other suggestions for solutions you can use as alternatives:

  • To make an effective bleach solution that can kill bacteria, use a 1:10 ratio in a Clorox bleach solution.
  • Run a solution of 1 cup bleach mixed with a small amount of detergent, at the hottest water temperature to kill germs in the basin and drainage tubes.
  • Mix a cup of white vinegar with a pail of hot water. Wash down the whole washing machine by hand, using the solution. Make sure to clean the crevices.
  • Mix a bucket of two quarts warm water with several drops of dish soap. Use the solution to scrub the inside and outside of your washing machine to remove all residue and grime.
  • Sanitize your washer using rubbing alcohol, a hand sanitizer, and a cleaner like Mr. Clean or any kind of wash that effectively kills germs by 99.99%.
  • To remove stubborn stains inside your washing machine, try using cleaning products specifically made for washing machines and are available in home improvement and hardware stores.


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