You may think your clothes washer is self-cleaning, but there can be a buildup of grime, mold, leftover detergent, and mineral deposits from hard water. This can cause laundry to appear dull and gray, or leave white streaks on dark clothes. Using bleach and vinegar in separate hot water cycle washes will clean away bacteria, mold, oil, dirt, soap scum, and mineral deposits from the washer drum and hoses. Newer washers have handy built-in dispensers for detergent, fabric softener, and bleach. These need to be cleaned regularly as well.
How Often to Clean a Washing Machine
A top-load washer should be cleaned at least twice per year. If you live in a hard water area, you should clean it every three months to prevent mineral deposits. High-efficiency top-load washers and front-load washers use much less water than standard machines and need to be cleaned more often—usually every month. Your washer should be cleaned more often if you have exceptionally heavily-soiled clothes or live in a hot, humid area (where mold will be more of a problem). In addition to cleaning the washer drum, each dispenser should be cleaned every month to six weeks to keep it working well.