The 2 Ingredients You Should Be Putting in Your Washing Machine

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Bonus: You probably already have them in your house.

Your washing machine is probably the most loved appliance in your house. Very few people actually like doing laundry, but it’s necessary to keep a clean house. Just like with anything else, the more you use it the dirtier it gets. While you might not think that your washing machine needs to be cleaned—since it’s constantly being run with soap and water to clean your clothes—it actually does. Make sure to avoid these laundry products that are a waste of money.

You might have noticed a mildew smell coming from your washing machine while being close to the drum when loading clothes in. It’s likely caused by bacteria and mold that has built up from water and detergent sitting in your machine between washes. Luckily, to get that smell to go away and give it a thorough cleaning you only need two ingredients—and chances are you already have them in your pantry. Those ingredients: baking soda and vinegar. Here are some other secret ingredients you should be adding to your laundry.

“The mixture of vinegar and baking soda is perfect [for cleaning your washing machine], not only for whitening clothes but for cleaning the parts of your washing machine as well,” said the expert cleaners at Top Cleaners. “You can use it for removing bad smells and mold. It’s a very budget and eco-friendly way to prolong the life of your machine.”

There are a few different ways you can use baking soda and vinegar to clean your washing machine.

  • Take 2 cups of vinegar, ¼ cup of baking soda, and ¼ cup of water and mix together. Pour the mixture into the detergent compartment of your machine and run your washing machine (empty) on the cycle with the highest temperature.
  • Use the same mixture with a soft sponge to scrub down all parts of the machine (the door, drum, and detergent draw).
  • If you want to kill two birds with one stone throw in a load of laundry with some vinegar and baking soda directly in the drum, put detergent in as normal and run a cycle.

It’s that easy. The cleaners at Top Cleaners warn that vinegar is acidic, so, be cautious when using it around rubber parts of your machine because it could deteriorate them. As long as you dilute your vinegar and don’t let it sit in your machine for a long period of time though it will be fine.

You should be cleaning your washing machine once every month. If you notice a strong mildew smell though (it might be more prevalent during the summer), you can clean it more often. Another appliance that people often forget to clean is their dishwasher—this is the one ingredient you should always be adding to it.

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Morgan Cutolo
Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She writes for, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office.