DIY: Deep Clean Your Washing Machine

3:15 PM

It appeared to be clean before we took it apart
Some dirt here and there on the outside...
For this tutorial I'm not talking about a regular old bleach or vinegar cycle, I'm talking about taking the darn thing apart and cleaning the scum you can't see.

Our clothes were not smelling so fresh even though we washed them multiple times, did plenty of bleach cycles, and used nice fabric softener and detergent. We thought it was time to get a new washer and dryer but I had my engineer hubby take it apart first to see what was going on.

This is what was on the other side of the inner tub. Gross huh!
We gave it a bath

This is how we took it apart.

Ours is a Kirkland brand; made by whirlpool. If you have some other brand you can google something like "how to remove washer tub from such and such brand of washer...."

Here is a YouTube video that shows exactly how to remove the tub in case there is something you don't understand. The end of the video doesn't apply to this cleaning project.

Unplug the machine so you don't get SHOCKED

You need to detach the control board. In the back there are some screws that need to be taken out.
Pop out the hooks on each side of the control board.

Locate the brass clamps
Pop them out with a screw driver

Also, unplug the wire connector. Sorry no picture is shown but you can see in the picture below that they are unplugged.

Pull off the washer "shell" like so...

Locate the fabric softener dispenser and pull it out so you can clean it

Unscrew the screw that is holding it all in place at the base

See, it comes right out

Now you just have the base of the agitator left
Twist it off. Be strong! :)
Pull it out and clean clean clean
Oh yes, you can take this ring off too if you want to clean what's behind it
Now that the agitator is off, you have this drive shaft. Notice there is a clamp resting upon a flat plastic piece. There is a groove on the plastic piece helping the clamp stay in place. Remember that for when you put it back together.

Remove the clamp and the flat plastic piece

Pop off the tub ring

Remove the water spout. See video on youtube

Remove the tub nut. You are supposed to use a spanner wrench but we got away with just using a pipe wrench and a hammer.

Pull out the inner tub to clean it
Clean the plastic outer tub

Cleaning the inner tub in the bath tub

We used target brand all purpose cleaner with bleach. It worked wonders.

We let it dry outside

Put everything back together! Just do exactly what you did to take it apart, only reverse it.
We did a bleach cycle after everything was all done, just to make sure everything was extra clean.

Ahhh, a nice new-ish washer

This project was easier to do than it seems. Be brave and go for it! Now our clothes smell amazing!


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  1. wow. that looks like a ton of work. i'd just buy a new one :). really do most people clean their washers? i've never heard of such a thing. i must be gross.

    thanks for teaching me something new.

  2. I've been using white vinegar in the softener cup for every load. My clothes are soft and fresh, without even a hint of vinegar smell! I'm thinking it may cut the soap buildup - on the clothes as well as the machine!!

  3. tomorrow i'll take on my dirty washer too! thanks!!

  4. I just found your blog (through pinterest!) and had to laugh at your tutorial on taking apart your washing machine. My hubby had ours apart more than once this spring trying to figure out why it was over filling and not spinning. He's quite the wonderful handyman! And yes, he did fix it. I just wish I'd thought to clean it. LOL

  5. Awesome! We had a front loader for 5 years. Even though I would clean out the lint trap (it's a pain to get to) and leave the door open all the time, it stunk. I got a flashlight and looked in the inner rim seal. Okay, it was mold/soap scum buildup like a quarter inch thick in some places. I could scrape some of it off (ew) but you know it had infiltrated the entire wash basket. We replaced it with a Speed Queen top loader. Unless they come up with an easier way to REALLY clean a front loader, I won't be going back to one! And btw, we ditched our dishwasher when we took it apart one day to clean it. I was disgusted with the slime/sewage water that sits in the pump! bleech!!!

  6. I'm guessing your tub was already clean when you took these photos! I know mine will be so full of slug. Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. thanks for that. I am inspired. I'm guessing your inner tank was already cleaned when you took the photos. I'm expecting years of slug.

  8. We are planning to do this as soon as possible. What length and size drill bit did you use to remove the bolt from the agitator? Thank you!