How to Clean Your Top Load Washing Machine

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We have all the tricks on How to Clean Your Top Load Washing Machine and get rid of that funky smell and make it clean as new. With tips for maintaining your washer and dryer and extending the life of your machines, this is a must read!

collage for post on how to clean a top load washing machine


With hints to make your washer and dryer last a long time we are so excited to be partnering with Lowe’s on this project.

Cleaning a Top Load Washing Machine

We moved into our home about 10 years ago and bought it with all appliances included.  They were 6 years old at the time and kind of mismatched but they all worked.  So we decided we had better figure out how to take care of them to make them last.

After some research and trial and error Chad came up with a great routine for maintaining the washer and dryer.  But then life got hectic, and as it goes we stopped the routine until one day early this fall.  Let me step back a few months.  We had a jet setting crazy summer.  We would be home long enough to do our laundry and pack for our next trip.

By the end of summer when things settled down we were noticing our towels and clothes smelled odd.  Kind of funky, you know what I mean?  I couldn’t put my finger on it so Chad started using more detergent, washing in a hot cycle and hoping that would help.  It didn’t.

Then we remembered it had been a while (who knows how long) since we did our maintenance routine.  So Chad gave it a shot and I have to tell you, after battling with funky smelling laundry the relief you feel to grab a towel and bury your nose in it to enjoy the freshness is such a gift.

So, I am sure you are asking what how did he do it?  Yes he!  Chad does the laundry.  I know.  Lucky girl  {{{gush}}}. Cleaning a top load washing machine is EASY! Keep reading for tips on maintaining your dryer, too.  Maybe yours will last 16 years, like ours!

To clean your top load washer you will need:

•    scrub brush

•    cleaning cloth

•    cotton swabs

•    4 cups (1 quart) regular bleach

•    4½ cups (1 quart +  ½ cup) white vinegar

I am sure it goes without saying, but you want to remove all clothes from the washer before cleaning it.

Start by cleaning the exterior of your top load washing machine.  Mix 1 cup of hot water and ½ cup vinegar.  Using a clean cloth dampen in vinegar solution and wipe down all surfaces with cloth.  Put some weight into it.  Use a little elbow grease to really clean the knobs well.

collage -cleaning a top loading washing machine

Open the top and wipe down the inside of the lid.  Sometimes dirt and soap splash the lid leaving a build up of grime.  Use cotton swabs to get in the crevices.  Remove any bleach or fabric softener dispensers (when possible) and scrub the dispenser with your scrub brush dipped in the vinegar solution.  Use your scrub brush to clean the agitator and take a peek at the top of the wash bin.  Use a cloth to clean this area.

dirt covered agitator before and after cleaning
  1. Set your washer to the hottest setting, the largest load and the longest wash and spin cycle.  Let the washer fill with hot water and add 4 cups bleach.  Allow the washer to agitate for 2 minutes and then turn the washer off and let it sit for 1 hour.  Head out to the kitchen and try 2 of our 30 minute meals, I mean you have an hour to kill.  After an hour turn the washer back on and let it finish the cycle.
  1. After the first cycle has finished turn the washer back on and fill with hot water once again.  Add 4 cups vinegar.  Allow the washer to agitate for 2 minutes and then turn the washer off and let it sit for 1 hour.  Go watch a couple DVR’d episodes of your favorite show.  Duck Dynasty and Walking Dead are my personal fav’s.  No point in hanging around the laundry room.  After an hour turn the washer back on and let it finish the cycle.
collage shows how to clean a top load washing machine

You now have a clean as new washing machine, ready to be put to the test!  We cleaned out our laundry room while we were cleaning our machines.  Do you know how many things we had in there that we haven’t used in 5 years???  A whole box full!  Not to mention the farm of dust bunnies behind those unused product.  ACK!

Maintaining your washer and extending the useful life

•    The cleaning routine should be repeated monthly for best results.  Repeat routine at least every 3 months to prevent build up.

•    If you live in a hard water area you will want to perform this routine monthly.  Hard water and lime can build up in your machine and your lines causing things to run inefficiently.

•    It is recommended that you replace your washer hose every 3-5 years.  This is something you want to put on your calendar (or on a note in your laundry room) I have had to clean up the mess from a busted washer hose before, it’s not fun.

•    Do not overload your machine it causes the machine to run inefficiently and puts strain on the motor.

•    Shake your clothes out before placing in the washer.

•    Make sure your machine is level; the vibration can cause “walking” of the machine which can damage the floor and objects around it.  Additionally it can cause additional strain on the machine.

•    Leave the lid open.  It will allow the drum to dry completely and prevent mold and mildew odors from developing.

•    Be sure to turn off the water when you leave on vacation.  Hoses are constantly under pressure and a busted water hose can cause severe water damage to your home while you are away.

Tips for maintaining your dryer and extending the life

•    Always shake your clothes out before placing them in the dryer.

•    Do not overfill, it causes additional strain on the machine

•    Empty the lint trap after every load.

•    Monthly (when you clean the washer), remove the lint trap and scrub with a soft brush and gentle dish detergent to remove any residue.  An unclean lint trap can block air flow.  Dry completely before returning to dryer.

•    Every six months pull the dryer out and unplug it.  Vacuum out the lint trap and the wall and the floor behind the dryer.  Disconnect the vent and piping and check the airflow to the outside for obstructions.  Proper airflow helps with the longevity and efficiency of your dryer.

Easy peasy!  So, then we had a beautiful, clean and perfectly functional 16 year old washer and dryer set.  But, sometimes you just want something new.  So, needless to say the new owners of our washer and dryer were very happy with them.

High Efficiency Washers

We are so excited to be able to tell you about our new LG 3.6 cu ft High-Efficiency Front-Load Washer and LG 7.3 cu ft Electric Dryer!  They arrived about 3 months ago and we are so thrilled with them.  OK, OK.  Chad is so thrilled with them, but I like I said they are so pretty and play a cute tune when the cycle is done.

collage of high end washing machine

I honestly did not realize exactly how little water they use.  Wow!  My daughter is amazed too, she sits in front of the washer and watches it spin.  Too cute.  Bonus for mom and dad; the front load is perfect for teaching her to help with the laundry too.   Triple score!

Seriously though, once we cleaned out the laundry room and got the new set we knew we had to redo the room.  So, we headed over to Lowe’s and picked up some paint and flooring.  We painted and re-floored the room and then put in the new washer and dryer.  It’s so nice I might even start doing laundry.  Nah!  Who am I kidding?  That’ll never happen.

front load washing machine and dryer

The great news; Lowe’s is giving away a $350 Lowe’s gift card to one lucky reader! 



Disclosure:  We are working in partnership with the LOWE’S brand and we are receiving compensation for our participation in this campaign. All thoughts/opinions are of course 100% our own.

How to clean a top load washing machine post was developed by Chad Elick – The Slow Roasted Italian

Copyright ©2013 The Slow Roasted Italian – All rights reserved.

Originally published November 2013

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  1. My poor kitchen really could use a "facelift". It's functional enough, but could really use new counter tops, cabinet refacing, and new appliances would be wonderful! This would be great surprise!

  2. Great post!! We just bought a house that was built in 1890, had some improvements done to it already but still needs a LOT more!

  3. I am planning on re-doing the kitchen and this would be a great start toward the total amount. Thank you Lowes and slow roasted Italian.

  4. One day new washer and dryer, I've had mine and keeping in good condition for 19 yrs, My mom taught me right.

  5. my next project is to put hardwood floors in our bedrooms– have in rest of house and love them–I dont have a google acct so have to go as anonymous but my name is karen D

  6. Thanks for the tips on cleaning the top loading washing machine. .I will be cleaning mine this afternoon. .Merry Christmas to all.

  7. My next home improvement project will be a kitchen makeover, likely, because my kitchen is not up to cooking for company. I could really use a larger refrigerator and a double oven!!

  8. I recently purchased a front loader HE set. Had no idea how to maintain them so this is perfect! I would use the money to finish up remodeling the laundry room.

  9. I went with the Lowe's LG about the same time as you. Great machines. Two comments:

    If you learn how to keep the hidden sides of the front-loader door seal clean of slimy muck, please write another article!

    If you are finding the front-loading opening a bit too low for your back, go back to Lowe's and look at a matching base for each unit … more out of sight storage and easier loading/unloading of the washer and dryer.

    Cheers, Wayne

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