Cleaning your washing machine may seem like an ironic task…after all, its whole function is to clean! But after time, mold, mildew, commercial detergents and fabric softeners, or just a general funky smell can build up in your washer, and subsequently get transferred to your clothes in the process. But don’t reach for the toxic bleach or other chemical cleaners! Adding chemicals to the place you wash your clothing, which is in contact with your skin all day, doesn’t make a whole lot of sense if you are working to avoid toxins. Keep your laundry fresh and your home chemical free with this safe, natural, and environmentally friendly way to clean your washing machine.

1. Start With The Tub

Set the washer to the hottest setting, highest fill capacity, longest cycle and allow the tub to fill. Pour in 4 cups of white vinegar or lemon juice and let it agitate for a few minutes. Add 1 cup of baking soda, allow to mix and then stop the cycle and let the mixture sit for a while — 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Clean Knobs and Dispensers

While the tub is soaking, pop off any knobs and bleach/fabric softener dispensers that are removable. Soak these in vinegar or lemon juice, or even in soapy water in the sink. Use a soft scrubber or old toothbrush to remove any hard-to-reach grime.

3. Wipe Down the Exterior

By now, your tub has soaked long enough. Run the rest of the cycle while you clean the exterior of your machine. Using a cloth soaked with vinegar or a natural multipurpose cleaner, wipe down the top and sides of the washer, paying special attention to the gunk that can build up around the knobs and buttons.  That old recycled toothbrush can scrub those hard-to-reach places really well!

4. Clean the Interior

While the tub finishes its final spin, wipe down the top interior of the machine with vinegar or natural multi-purpose spray. If you have a front-loader, be sure to clean under and inside the rubber door seal. Check all the nooks and crannies! Once the washer cycle has completed, wipe down the insides to remove any last bits of residue.

Replace any knobs or dispenser housing you may have removed. Buff the whole machine with a dry cloth and admire your shiny, clean and non-toxic washer!

While you’re at it, you may also want to consider our great recipes for DIY laundry detergent, too. Even the store-bought “natural” stuff oftentimes is full of toxins you definitely don’t need on your clothing. And, if you’re interested in cutting down on the amount of clothing you have to wash in the first place, consider our tips for down-sizing that clothing heap via a clothing swap, which is great for the environment and may help you to cut down on the laundry you have to do in the first place (or you may just get some fun “new to you” stuff that you’ll enjoy washing more than that stuff sitting at the back of your closet right now).

Image source: Grashoofd/Wikimedia Commons