You use your washing machine all the time to clean dirty clothes, towels, rugs and who knows what else. But do you ever stop and think about cleaning your washing machine?

The dust and dirt from laundry, coupled with soap residue, leave a bad odor in your machine. The water in the detergent compartment forms a breeding ground for bacteria and other harmful germs. So don’t neglect the machine that does so much for you! Be sure to give it some TLC.

For green cleaning advocates, harsh chemicals should simply be avoided. If you’re looking for natural ways to clean your washing machine, here are a few tips.

For a top-loading machine:

  • Set it at the highest temperature and let the water flow.
  • Add white vinegar to the hot water and let the machine run for a few minutes. White vinegar is a powerful disinfectant and can act against the bacteria inside the machine and on the hoses. It can also soften the soap scum in the machine, cleaning it thoroughly. At this stage, you can also add baking soda to neutralize the odor.
  • Pause the machine for five minutes and let the vinegar do its work.
  • Use a toothbrush to scrub and clean the detergent tray.

For a front-loading machine:

  • Select the highest temperature and switch on the machine.
  • Add white vinegar to the bleach dispenser tray.
  • Let the vinegar run a complete cycle. This will clean the machine and remove any accumulated soap scum.
  • You can opt for an extra rinse to make sure that the machine is completely clean.
  • The rubber seal on the door of the machine is another breeding ground for mildew and mold. Carefully pull the rubber seal off and wipe it clean with a cloth dipped in white vinegar.
  • The detergent tray of the machine can be scrubbed and cleaned using an old toothbrush.
  • You can also use a cloth soaked in white vinegar to clean the exterior of the machine.

If you’re running short on time, mix white vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl. Then, dampen a cloth with this mixture and wipe the inside of the machine. Then set it to a rinse cycle for about 15 minutes. This will clean the not-so-harsh dirt inside the machine.

As a final tip, always remember to leave the machine door open after every wash to prevent buildup of mildew and to keep bad odors from setting in.