Last updated on July 27th, 2018
My new washing machine came with a free cleaner that has been sitting unopened in the darkest corner of the cabinet. Thanks, but no thanks. No room for harsh chemicals in our green and natural home. Keeping it simple, natural, and safe for my two eczema warriors, I will show you how we use vinegar to clean washing machine.
Vinegar has been proven to be an effective bactericide. It can kill many pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli and tuberculosis bacteria. It is able to penetrate their cell membrane, and do its work of killing the nasties. It can combat viruses, mildew and mould too!
Vinegar is also inexpensive, non-toxic and biodegradable. I can’t think of a better candidate for natural cleaning and disinfecting around the house.
Store-bought food grade white vinegar is 5% in acidity, which is sufficient for general cleaning. But if you want an even stronger disinfectant, you can buy cleaning vinegar, which is 6% in acidity, but note that these are not meant to be ingested. Check out our favourite brands of white vinegar that we use in the washing machine, and everywhere else at home.
Using vinegar to clean washing machine – 3 easy steps
Whether it’s top load or front load, you can use vinegar to clean washing machine in 3 simple steps:
Top load washing machine
1. Set the washer to the highest temperature, and add in 4 cups of white cleaning vinegar.
2. Allow the wash cycle to run for a few minutes, then open the cover to pause the cycle and let the hot vinegar water sit for one hour. This gives time for the vinegar to do its job.
3. After an hour, continue the wash cycle to completion.
Front load washing machine
1. Fill the detergent compartment to the maximum level with white cleaning vinegar.
2. Run a washing cycle at highest temperature.
3. When the washing cycle is complete, the drum should be sparkling clean. Now work on the rubber gasket by dipping your microfiber cloth in vinegar water (of 50:50 ratio), and scrubbing at any visible mould or mildew. Then wipe off with a clean damp cloth.
High temperature disinfects better, and gets rid of soap scum too
Running the wash cycles at high temperature settings increases the anti bactericidal activity of vinegar. Not only that, soap scum that has accumulated in the washing machine can be dissolved or dislodged more easily too.
Frequency of cleaning
If your laundry does not smell as good as before, or if you’re squinting your eyes trying to figure out what those black spots in the far corner of the drum are, then cleaning of your washing machine is long overdue.
It is recommended to give the washing machine a good clean once a month, but lazy me would realise it’s been two months from the last clean, by the time I finally get around to it. I use the excuse that I’m already using vinegar as a fabric softener, so my washing machine gets a taste of vinegar each time I do my laundry!
Other washer and laundry tips
Here are some tips, to maximise the lifespan of your washing machine, and at the same time ensure it stays mould free and mildew free throughout its lifespan, so that your clothes get cleaned thoroughly instead of getting stained by mould.
- leave the door/cover of the washing machine open after each use, so that the insides get to air dry, and prevent growth of mould
- remove the detergent compartment (front load washer) after each use, to allow it to air dry
- check the rubber gasket (front load washer) after each use, as you never know when you will find treasures like coins, hair, disintegrated tissue paper, pen cap (I had a rare find of an entire pen once, dismantled into cap, body, spring, and ink holder!). Remove these treasures immediately, or miss them and let them run another cycle and continue to ruin the machine. Also, use a paper towel to dry the crevices of the rubber gasket, as that is where water tends to pool up in, leading to bacteria or mould growth.
- actually, make it a point to check the pockets before washing, so that you find the treasures before they get spinned around
- do not overload the washing machine, otherwise the clothes won’t get cleaned properly. They need the space to get thrown around, in order to get the dirt and dust all cleaned out.
- this last tip is not related to the washer, but more of a reminder for us to conserve the Earth’s energy, and be environmentally friendly: hang out your clothes to dry in the sun and wind, whenever and wherever possible, instead of using the dryer. This will help sustain the Earth’s resources for our future generations.
Simple, green and natural solutions are the best, especially when we have sensitive little ones whose skin protest when subjected to the daily onslaught of toxins and harsh chemicals. Using vinegar to clean washing machine ensures that the clothes that come into daily contact with their skin are free from undesirable substances, thus giving them a chance to heal.