How to Clean Your Washing Machine & Dryer: Make Your Laundry Cleaner & Prevent Fires!

Hey friends! Did you know that you’re supposed to clean your washing machine every month and your dryer twice a year?! Yeah, I didn’t realize it was that often either. I thought it was like twice a year for the washing machine and once a year for the dryer. I’m ashamed. lol! Don’t worry, I quickly rectified my dirty washer situation when I found out! Today I’m going to give you a few tips about how to clean a washing machine and dryer. Let’s get started.

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Why do you need to clean your washer and dryer?

To keep your machine cleaning your clothes effectively, you need to keep its cleaning up to date. Yes, you’re cleaning your clothes when you run it, but it’s not cleaning itself.

Items you’ll need when to clean your washing machine & dryer:

  • bleach
  • Affresh washing machine cleaner (optional)- 12 mo. supply.
  • towel
  • scrub brush
  • toothbrush for cleaning
  • vacuum cleaner

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Clean Dryer Lint Trap

First, start with the dyer. Why? So you don’t dump more dust on your clean washer and have to wipe it down again like I did, lol!

Remove the lint tray from the dryer’s lint trap. Wipe any excess lint, dirt, and paper (or is that just my dryer because my son left paper in his pocket?!). Use your vacuum cleaner’s extension to vacuum out the lint trap.

Remove lint from the tray and clean it well. I vacuumed the little fabric section at the top of the tray to remove anything that I couldn’t get off with my hand.

Vacuuming the fabric part at the top of the dryer's lent tray to clean it.

Next, clean the tray with water and Dawn if you use fabric softener sheets. The fire departments warn that if you use them, it creates an invisible film on your lint trays. The air can’t move freely through it once that happens and fires occur. They state that almost all dryer fires happen due to this and lint in the vent. My tray didn’t have any of the buildup this time, but it has in the past. You can tell if you have this buildup because water won’t freely flow through the holes in the tray. I used a scrub brush to remove any little pieces of lint stuck in the tray.

Vacuum Out Vent & Inside Vents

Before we get to cleaning off dust, let’s go ahead and knock some loose. Open the dryer and vacuum out the vents in the back of the drum. If you’re like me, you lose hair everywhere, so there’s bound to be some in there! I’m missing my vacuum attachment with the brush, but if you have yours, go ahead and use it.

Vacuuming out the vent inside the dryer drum.

Next, unplug the dryer for safety if you haven’t already. Move it out and detach the dryer vent. Then vacuum it out as well as where it attaches to the dryer. I forgot to get pictures of this! I’m so sorry. It’s very important to do this as it will help prevent fires. A third of house fires are due to clogged dryer vents!

Wipe Out the Dryer Drum

Next, I wiped the inside of the dryer door and the drum with the damp towel. You can add 1/2 cup of white vinegar to your soapy water if you have a buildup. I didn’t use the vinegar. The safety instructions say to keep the dryer unplugged while doing this. Shame on me, I didn’t, but I have to recommend it for you. You won’t believe my hair that was on top of the drum! There were also some black lines on the back of the drum. I thought it was scuff marks, but it wiped out with the towel. You can see them in the middle photo above the vent.

Wipe Down the Top of the Washing Machine & Dryer

I used Mr. Clean Clean Freak on the outside of my dryer: the top, outside of the door, etc.

Can you believe how much dust was built-up above the door handle? You can tell because it’s so clean now lol!

Here is my washing machine before cleaning. Can you believe all of that dirt that gets into a machine meant to clean things?! As you lift clothes with dirt and grime on them, it tends to drop on the lid. I washed a 9×12 washable rug, and I didn’t sweep it off before shoving it into the washer. Dirt went all over my machine, which you can clearly see here! That’s what prompted me to clean both the washing machine and the dryer!

Next, I used Dawn and hot water to wipe down the outside of my washing machine: the lid, the catches, and the little lip on the front. I used a butter knife to press the rag into the cracks to clean it good. Later, I found an old toothbrush and that really helped me get in the grooves.

Finally, wipe out the top of the washing machine tub inside. Don’t worry about washing inside the tub where water can reach. We’ll be addressing that later.

Wiping the top of the washing machine drum clean.

Clean Out Washing Machine Drawers and Dispensers

I have a top loading washing machine, so my bleach dispenser is inside the top. My fabric softener dispenses from the center of the agitator. Remove drawers or dispensers and clean them.

Wash the drawers or dispensers with hot water. I was able to clean mine with super-hot water, but if you need to, you can use a toothbrush to get in there and scrub.

Cleaning the fabric softener dispenser by running hot water in it.

Now under the dispenser was a whole, other story! Oh. my. goodness. Y’all, I was disgusted! I hadn’t used the liquid fabric softener dispenser in a few months as I was using dryer sheets. The inside of the agitator that the dispenser I just showed you empties into was disgusting! There was mildew buildup and dirt. Oh, heck no! I will be cleaning this bad boy every month! Look at this!

Washing machine fabric softener dispenser in the middle of the agitator before cleaning, filled with dirt and mildew.

I had to use a scrub brush to reach the bottom. It pushed dirt out into the washing machine as I was cleaning it. Don’t worry if this happens because you’ll be cleaning this later. Or rather your self-cleaning washing machine will.

Here is my washing machine lid and dispensers after cleaning. Much better!

Clean the Washing Machine Tub

Finally, it’s time to clean the washing machine itself. Almost all washing machines made in the last 10 to 15 years have a self-cleaning cycle.

You will need to use a washing machine cleaning product like Affresh or straight bleach to clean your washing machine. Some people recommend white vinegar, but that will only remove dirt. It does not kill bacteria, and that’s what you want to do. Fill your machine’s bleach dispenser to the max line with bleach or place the Affresh tablet in the tub.

Pouring bleach into bleach dispenser to clean the washing machine.

Turn the machine’s dial to the self-cleaning cycle and the water temperature to hot, then start the machine. It will only take about 30 minutes or so.

Turning the washing machine dial to "clean washer" to run the self-cleaning cycle.

I did read that if you still have a buildup, you can put 2 cups of white vinegar in the tub and run the cycle again. This wasn’t necessary for me as my washer and dryer are only a little over a year old.

That’s it! Your washing machine and dryer is now clean!

What do you think of my clean washing machine and dryer? This has given me the unction to do a little makeover to my laundry area, so stay tuned to see that! I hate seeing that little cut-out area where the water hook-ups are. I’ll be creating a solution to that you won’t want to miss!

Clean washing machine & dryer.

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    2 thoughts on “How to Clean Your Washing Machine & Dryer: Make Your Laundry Cleaner & Prevent Fires!

    1. Well, I am off to clean that darn washing machine and dryer now. I would usually run through a wash with bleach in it a few times a year and thought I was good. Glad you made me more aware. Thank you Niki.

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