House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

How to Clean Mold From a Washing Machine in 7 Simple Steps

washing machine with molds

If you notice mold in your washing machine or it has a mildew smell when you open the lid, it’s time to perform a deep cleaning to get your clothes smelling fresh again. Keep reading as we provide a step-by-step guide to cleaning your machine with items that you likely already have in your home.

user guide divider

Before You Begin

Since mold can grow quickly, you want to tackle it aggressively when it appears. We recommended using bleach. Although bleach is a common laundry ingredient, check with your owner’s manual first to ensure that there are no warnings about adding bleach to the machine. It’s also a good idea to get all your tools and supplies together so you don’t need to stop until the project is complete.

Tools and Materials
  • Bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Scrub brush
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bucket
  • Protective gloves

The 7 Steps to Clean Mold From a Washing Machine

1. Empty Your Washer

washing machine
Image By: Antonio_Cansino, Pixabay

Remove any clothing from your washer, and make sure there is no soap in the dispenser. Many people like to run a spin-only cycle to help get any remaining water out of the machine.

2. Add Bleach

Set your washing machine to the largest load size and the hottest temperature. If you use a front loader, add bleach to the detergent compartment instead of the bleach compartment, and fill it to the max line. If you use a top loader, start the cycle so the water starts pouring in. Add 2 cups of bleach and allow it to continue filling. If you are sensitive to bleach or the machine manufacturer recommends avoiding it, you can use white vinegar instead, which will work almost as well.

Person pouring liquid in the washing machine
Image By: RODNAE Productions, Pexels

3. Run a Complete Cycle

Allow the washing machine to run a complete cycle. The bleach in the water will destroy any mold and mildew that it encounters, including any in the drainpipe, which should help eliminate odor almost immediately.

person operating dryer
Image Credit: jarmoluk, Pixabay

4. Dry Out the Tub

When the cycle is complete, dry the tub with a towel or leave the door open so it can dry naturally.

dryer tub
Image Credit: Dawn Sinclair, Pixabay

5. Clean the Pump Filter

If you use a front-loading washing machine, it likely has a washer pump filter that you will find hidden behind a small door near the bottom front of the device. Look in your owner’s manual to get the instructions for cleaning your model, and do it at least once per month. If you just ran a hot cycle, wait at least 1 hour for the water inside the filter to cool.

washing machine repair
Image Credit: VGstockstudio, Shutterstock

6. Clean the Soap Dispenser

Use an old toothbrush to help clean your soap dispenser to remove any soap build-up and mold growing. If you can lift it out, do so to clean underneath, where more mold and grime might be hiding.

top load washing machine
Image Credit: Shyamalamuralinath, Shutterstock

7. Clean Behind the Gaskets

Front-loaders often have a gasket around the door, and even top-loading machines can have gaskets that mold can hide behind. Put white vinegar on a clean cloth, and use it to remove any build-up that might be collecting. Apply light pressure, but be gentle so you don’t damage the seals. Take this opportunity to inspect them carefully for dry rot or cracks.

dryer repair
Image Credit: Potashev Aleksandr, Shutterstock

house divider Tips for Preventing Mold Growth in Your Washer

  • Use white vinegar instead of fabric softener.
  • Improve the air circulation in your laundry room with fans or open windows.
  • Leave the washer door open or dry the tub after each load.
  • Add a dehumidifier to the laundry room.
  • Clean your washer at least once per month.

tool divider


Cleaning your washing machine to remove mold and mildew is not difficult and only requires you to use either bleach or white vinegar to kill and break up the mold. It will even destroy the mold in the drain below your washing machine. If you are experiencing a bad odor, you might need to repeat the steps a few times, especially if you use the slightly less powerful but less toxic white vinegar. Don’t forget to get behind the door gasket on a front loader and any other areas that are present on your model, as these are often places where mold hides.

Featured Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock


Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools