How to clean your washing machine without bleach


As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have been making my own cleaning products for quite a while now.  When I started doing this, I was having a hard time finding a way to clean our washing machine using natural products. The problem is that when you look up “how to clean a washing machine”, a majority of the instructions tell you to use bleach!  NO!  Don’t do it!!!  There are many dangers of using chlorine bleach as a cleaning agent.  I even found a pin on Pinterest regarding the dangers of using chlorine bleach.


This will link you to an article explaining some of the reasons not to use bleach.  This article mainly concentrates on the cleaning facts of bleach.  Namely, the following three facts.

  • Bleach is not an all-purpose cleaner.  The oxidizing effect of the bleach can be tied up with soils. This means that in order to use bleach to kill germs, it has to be used on a surface that has already been cleaned, otherwise the dirt and grime on the surface blocks the disinfecting properties of the bleach.
  • Bleach isn’t as effective for mold removal as you thought it was.  Chlorine bleach kills surface mold only. Mold can grow deep roots within porous surfaces, so bleach will not work in this case to remove mold. The chlorine actually stays on the surface, while the water component seeps in further.  This can actually contribute to mold growth!
  • Bleach expires quickly. Chlorine bleach loses it’s effectiveness rapidly, and if it’s been sitting in your cupboard or on a store shelf for a while, then it’s cleaning properties are greatly diminished.

Already, we see that bleach is not as effective as a cleaner as we may have thought.  Now for the more serious reasons not to use it – it is extremely toxic and can produce fumes in the air that are harmful to our health. Chlorine bleach also generates a by-product called dioxin, which is linked to cancer. Use over time builds up these pollutants in the environment.

Workers handling bleach in their workplace are required to use a mask and gloves to handle the chemical in order to protect themselves according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  Chlorine Bleach is a strong corrosive material.  It will irritate the eyes, skin and the respiratory tract by merely inhaling the gasses.  Also, it can even be fatal to someone who is exposed to large quantities. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) recorded many exposures to household cleaning products that were serious enough to require hospitalization and physician care.  This is no joke, guys – this stuff is NOT GOOD for you, and can even result in death!

Some symptoms that can be caused by exposure to chlorine bleach are as follows.

  • Shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Bloody noses
  • Nausea
  • Irritation to the throat, nose, and eyes
  • Neurological disorder
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest Pain
  • Serious skin burns
  • And sometimes even death

These toxic effects become even more deadly when you mix chlorine bleach with ammonia, vinegar, or any other acid type cleaning material.  Most people are unaware of this fact, and that makes this chemical even more dangerous!

Yes, I realize I keep harping on the fact that this stuff can kill us, but seriously???  So basically, what we see is that 1.) bleach isn’t as effective as we thought is was in cleaning, and 2.) It can severely impact our health to the point of killing us!  Bottom line is that chlorine bleach is TOXIC to people, animals, and our environment, so finding an alternative is of upmost importance!

Okay, now that I’ve probably given you nightmares about the effects that bleach has on our health (sorry!), let’s talk about some good news!  I have a GREAT way to clean your washing machine without the use of this terrible chemical!  I let our washing machine collect a bit of grime – ew!  I know, but I wanted to be able to show you before and after pictures so you can see how well this works!  The only two ingredients you need are white vinegar and baking soda.  The vinegar is fantastic for killing germs and getting rid of mold and soap scum, while the baking soda is excellent for getting rid of any odors caused by those yuckies!  My secret is that after you’ve gone through the first couple of steps, you use a stiff bristled brush of some sort to scrub the soap scum.  It works like a charm.  I use whatever brush I have on hand that is new.  This time, I used a brush used for scrubbing dishes, and it worked great.  You can even use an unused toilet bowl brush (emphasis on UNUSED! 🙂 ) – I’ve done that in the past too, and it works perfectly!

Okay, so here we go!  First, I will show you the before picture – gross, but it needed to be done so you can see how well this process works!  You can see the soap scum and grime on the center pole of the washer and at the water lines – Yuck!


Materials you’ll need:

  • 4 cups white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup baking soda
  • A stiff bristled brush
  • A washcloth


1.) Start a wash cycle with your setting on as large a load as possible and your water temperature as hot as possible.  As the machine is filling with water, dump in your vinegar and baking soda.

wash3 wash4

2.) When the machine has filled with water, let it agitate for about a minute to really mix in the vinegar and baking soda.  Turn the machine off and let it sit for 45 minutes like this. While the machine is sitting,  wipe down the outside of the machine to get it clean.  At the end of the 45 minutes, turn it back on and let it finish it’s cycle.

3.) Now comes the stiff bristle brush.  Use the brush to wipe over the areas that need attention (the water lines of soap scum and the center pole in my case).  After soaking in the hot water, vinegar and baking soda for those 45 minutes, you will be surprised at how easily it comes off with the brush – you don’t even have to scrub, just run the brush over it, and you will see the soap scum and mildew come right off.

wash5 wash6

4.) Fill the washer with a small amount of hot water and use your washcloth to wipe off the sides and get rid of any specs of mildew that are there after brushing it off.  Drain the machine, and you are done!

Here is my after picture.


Sparkly clean without the use of any harsh chemicals or any backbreaking scrubbing!  Enjoy! 🙂


2 thoughts on “How to clean your washing machine without bleach

  1. Vinegar and baking soda are better solution than bleach. They are natural ingredients and cleaning with them is really easy. I clean with baking soda almost everything. I am going to try my washing machine , too. Thank you for sharing your advice. Best regards!


    1. Hi Essie! Thanks for stopping by! I completely agree! There’s so many great alternatives to the chemically laden commercial cleaning products out there that can help to eliminate toxins in our environment and greatly improve our health! Feel free to check out my other homemade cleaning solutions under the “For the Home” category!


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