How to clean a top load washer

Top load washer open with clothes in the drum.
(Image credit: Getty)

Finding more efficient ways to master how to clean a top load washer always comes in handy, especially if your clothes start smelling less fresh than they should after wash day. While many of the best top load washers will have cleaning cycles, learning how best to operate these functions and the products needed to complete the task is essential. 

Just as with learning how to use a top load washer, learning how to clean one can be a steep learning curve if you’re used to a different style of washer. Top load washers can often be more convenient than front load alternatives when it comes to usage, and if you can pick up the skills to make cleaning easier too, then you’ll definitely be reaping the benefits on laundry day. 

That’s why, in this article, we’ve broken down the process step by step and consulted with cleaning experts on the absolute best way to get your top load washer smelling cleaner and washing more efficiently. A cleaner top load washer is just a few steps away!

How often should you clean a top load washer?

Getting around to cleaning your top load washer is one of those chores that can often slip off your radar. Getting into a fixed routine is a sure-fire way to ensure that the health of this appliance stays as high as it can be. Andrii Gurskyi, expert and co-founder of HomeClean, a cleaning service, recommends ‘cleaning your top load washer regularly to prevent build of dirt, soap scum and other residues’, all of which can spell danger for your washer if left unattended for too long. 

As for timescales, Gurskyi recommends a general rule of thumb of cleaning your washer ‘every 30-60 days, depending on how frequently you use it’. And if you’re starting to experience unpleasant odours, then it’s definitely time to stop loading up your washer and start cleaning it instead. 

How to clean a top load washer

It’s time to get down to the important part, which is how you can effectively clean your washer. Cleaning expert Andrii Gurskyi recommends that you ‘start by filling the machine with hot water.’ Then, add two cups of white vinegar and set the machine to agitate for a few minutes in order for the mixture to distribute evenly. Following this, he advises that you ‘ pause the cycle and let the solution sit in the washer for about an hour to dissolve any build-up.’ 

Once that timescale has passed, the second part of the process involves restarting the cycle and letting it complete. Gurskyi adds that ‘Once the cycle is complete, wipe down the interior of the machine, including the drum, with a clean, damp cloth. For stubborn stains or build-up, you can use a non-abrasive cleaning solution and a scrub brush to remove the residue.’

While the internal maintenance of your machine is essential in order to get the laundry results you need, you shouldn’t forget about the exterior of your machine either. Gurskyi recommends that you wipe the exterior of your machine with a ‘clean cloth or sponge and a mild detergent to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated.’ 

Tips for keeping a top load washer clean

Keeping in a cleaning routine is the ultimate tip for optimal cleanliness when it comes to your top load washer. If you find it helpful, why not set up a chart of how many washes you’ve completed, and once you get to your 25th or 30th cycle, you’ll know that’s exactly the right time to clean. 

If you’re finding that your washer starts to smell before it’s time to clean again, then you might want to consider switching up your laundry products too. An excess of product might lead to more build up, and therefore more bad smells. Switching out to natural cleaning products on your laundry day might just help to alleviate those smells, and contribute to less maintenance over time. 

Molly Cleary

Molly is the Staff Writer for the Home Section at Top Ten Reviews, joining the team after finishing college. When she's not writing she enjoys baking and embroidery, as well as getting stuck into a good book. She now enjoys writing about kitchen appliances, gardening tools, and will even dip her toe into writing about fridges and ovens.

With contributions from