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Washing Machine Cleaner

Your washing machine is a breeding ground for all sorts of mold, mildew, and soap scum. Front-loading washers can get especially bad (as you know if you’ve ever opened it to start a batch and been repelled by the smell). Take heart, there are many preventative steps you can take so you can feel like your clothes are clean and fresh every time you do laundry.

To discourage mold and mildew as much as possible, leave the lid open after every wash cycle. Another simple change: use the amount of detergent recommended for your machine. Sometimes when we use too much, we think we’re getting our clothes extra-clean. In reality, it only leaves behind more soap scum. If you have an HE washer always use detergent labeled that way. (The doTERRA On Guard® Laundry Detergent is perfect for HE washers.)

We have two recipes that will help keep your washer clean, with variations for if you have a front-loader versus a top-loader. The first recipe should be used on a weekly basis, while the second is for a deep clean to do only a few times a year.

The Weekly Wipe-down
Once a week after you’ve finished a batch of laundry, use this recipe with Tea Tree and Grapefruit oils to help cleanse and refresh your machine.

¾ cup white vinegar
10 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca) oil
5 drops Grapefruit oil


  1. In an eight ounce glass spray bottle, combine all ingredients. 
  2. Shake well and spray the solution around the seal (the rubber at the front), drum, and door of your washing machine.
  3. Using a soft cloth, thoroughly wipe down.
  4. Remove your soap dispenser tray. Spray and wipe down, then put it back.
  5. Let air dry before you do the next batch of laundry.

For top-loading washers, you can use this same recipe to wipe down the drum and outside of your washer.

The Deep Clean
Many online recipes have you mix baking soda with vinegar. The only problem with this is baking soda and vinegar cancel each other out—when they react and bubble, the ingredients become water and a little bit of salt. While water in itself can dissolve most compounds, all the cleaning power of the vinegar and baking soda are gone. The same goes for washing soda. However, both ingredients used separately are powerful natural cleansers. For this reason, the deep cleaning of your washer is separated into two phases.

½ teaspoon natural dish soap
4 tablespoons washing soda
1 cup white vinegar
20 drops Tea Tree (Melaleuca) oil

Phase One:

  1. Remove tray dispenser and fully submerge in hot water with natural dish soap. Scrub away residue with a toothbrush, rinse and put back in the machine.
  2. Put washing soda in the drum. Using the hottest setting on your washer or the “tub clean” cycle on certain models, run your machine.

Phase Two:

  1. After the cycle finishes, pour vinegar and essential oils into your liquid dispenser. Run your washer using the “tub clean” cycle or hottest setting again.
  2. Wipe out the seal, drum, and door with a cloth and let dry completely before doing a batch of laundry.
  3. Remove and clean the filter at the bottom of the machine if your washer has one.

If you have a top-loading washing machine, use the same recipe for deep cleaning, but add the washing soda to a drum full of hot water. For phase two, pour the vinegar directly in the drum.

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