How To Clean And Detoxify Your Washer And Dryer

By Marilee Nelson |

featured image: How To Clean And Detoxify Your Washer And Dryer

Our washers and dryers work hard for us day in and day out. Just ask any great- or great-great grandmother and they will tell you: the washing machine is one of the world’s greatest inventions! Yet, most of us have never been taught how to clean these appliances properly. That’s right, all washers and dryers (top-loading and front-loading) need regular cleaning to keep them running smoothly and prevent maintenance issues. The good news is cleaning these workhorses only takes a few minutes every few months, and does not require harsh chemicals! 

Why Bother Cleaning Your Washer And Dryer?

The idea of taking extra time to clean an appliance that is designed to clean and sterilize doesn’t exactly speak to commonsense. However, without regular cleaning washing machines experience build up of detergent, minerals and/or mold and mildew, all of which hamper performance. Likewise, your dryer should be cleaned out regularly to prevent build up of lint, dust, microplastics and other particles which if left alone will circulate throughout the house degrading your indoor air quality.

Also, if you’re switching from chemical-based and/or fragranced laundry products to Branch Basics or another non-toxic brand (congratulations!), you’ll need to take a few extra steps to deep clean and detoxify your machines from these harmful chemicals.

The result is better performing appliances which equals cleaner clothes with less detergent, shorter dry-times, better energy efficiency overall, no chemical residues from previously used products and improved air quality throughout your whole home!

How To Clean, Descale & Detoxify Your Washing Machine (Top Loader + Front Loaders)

Clean and Descale Your Washing Machine With Vinegar

Many washers have a self-clean feature, which usually includes using bleach on a special setting. We highly highly recommend against using bleach (sodium hypochlorite) because it is classified as a pesticide under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act. It’s also a lung and skin irritant, asthmagen, a carcinogen, and is involved in more household poisonings than any other chemical! 1 2  

What should you use instead? Plain old distilled white vinegar will do the trick for basic cleaning. To verify this, we even called the manufacturers of several appliance brands of front- and top-loading washers. They all whole-heartedly agreed that white vinegar is an acceptable and beneficial alternative to bleach! Plus, if you have hard water it will help descale and reduce mineral deposits which can wear down your washer over time. Read more about The Impact of Soft And Hard Water On Laundry here. So, you’re safe to make the switch (and if you’re in doubt, you can call, email or DM the manufacturer to ask).

Type: Top Loading Washing Machine

  • Fill with hot water, add one gallon of vinegar, and run for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the washer and let the solution stand overnight.
  • In the morning, run your washer through a complete cycle.

Type: Front Loading (HE) Washing Machine

  • Run one gallon of distilled white vinegar through a full hot water wash cycle with no detergent OR use the self-clean cycle.
  • This will not only clean your washer but will also reduce scale and mineral build-up.

Repeat periodically or monthly if you have very hard water.

Detoxify Your Top And Front Loading Washing Machine

These instructions are for deep cleaning a washer that hasn’t been cleaned in a while (if ever!), and for detoxifying your washing machine from chemical-based detergents and fragrance. Learn more about the what, whys, and hows of this method in Detoxifying Your Laundry Room. Typically, you’ll only need to do this once or any time you use chemical-based detergents… which we hope you don’t have to!

Type: Top Loading Washing Machine

  • Fill washer with hot water
  • Add one of the following:
    • 2 to 4 cups of hydrogen peroxide
    • 2 to 4 cups vinegar 
    • 2 lb box of baking soda
  • Add ¼ cup Branch Basics Concentrate
  • Let sit overnight
  • Run through full cycle
  • Repeat as many times as necessary to remove build-up and fragrance (if applicable) using a variety of the above options

Type: Front Loading (HE) Washing Machine

  • Use hot water
  • Add one of the following directly to the drum
    • 2 to 4 cups hydrogen peroxide
    • 2 to 4 cups vinegar
    • 2 lb box of baking soda
  • ¼ cup Branch Basics Concentrate
  • Run through full cycle
  • Repeat as many times as necessary using a variety of the above options
  • Additional treatments
    • Spray Branch Basics (Bathroom Dilution) in the washer when not running.
    • Wipe down with a microfiber

Cleaning Established Mold From Your Front Loader’s Gasket

Front loader washer seals and gaskets are prone to mold and mildew, especially if you live in a hot, humid climate or keep your appliances in the basement. That is why you should always leave your front loader door open in between washings to prevent mold growth and clean them once per month. Here’s how to clean your front loader washer seal and gasket:

  • Pull back the gasket
  • Spray with Branch Basics Bathroom Cleaner liberally
  • Let sit a couple of minutes
  • Then dip a microfiber or scrubbing brush in hot water and scrub the sprayed area under the gasket
  • Use a damp or dry microfiber cloth for the final wipe
  • Next, spray the drum and seal with distilled white vinegar, wait 5 minutes, scrub, and wipe with a damp microfiber cloth. Follow the same procedure with 3% hydrogen peroxide. If necessary, repeat the entire process until no mold issue remains. 

Stubborn mold or a lot of it? Click here for more tips on preventing and cleaning mold in any type of washer.

Cleaning Detergent Drawer in Front Loader Washing Machine

Front loader detergent drawers can be a haven for detergent buildup, mold, debris, and germs

  • Remove the entire detergent drawer
  • Wipe out the empty cavity with a microfiber sprayed with Branch Basics All Purpose
  • Spray the drawer with Branch Basics All Purpose
  • Use an old toothbrush or scrub brush to clean thoroughly
  • Wash and rinse with warm water
  • Dry cavity and drawer
  • Return drawer to washing machine

How To Clean And Detoxify Your Dryer

Just like your washer, choose the right method for your dryer based on whether it needs a basic monthly clean or you’re detoxifying chemicals from detergent residue, dryer sheets, etc.

Clean Your Dryer Using Branch Basics

  • Spray Branch Basics (Bathroom Dilution) on the dryer interior
  • Spray a damp towel with Branch Basics (Bathroom Dilution) and run through a drying cycle
  • Also, can spray and wipe Branch Basics (Bathroom Dilution) on the dryer interior when dryer is not in use

Detoxify Your Dryer

Alternate between the following methods:

  1. Use Medina’s BOC, an all-natural product which helps to break down chemicals, neutralizes mycotoxins from mold and decomposes hydrocarbons. 
  • Spray undiluted BOC on the dryer interior
  • Close dryer for 1 hour
  • Open up and ventilate
  • Spray a damp towel with BOC and run through a drying cycle

Repeat this process until all odors are gone. Keep at it, don’t give up, it could take several weeks for the smell to be eliminated completely.

  1. Use Branch Basics
  • Spray Branch Basics (Bathroom Dilution) on the dryer interior
  • Spray a damp towel with Branch Basics (Bathroom Dilution) and run through a drying cycle
  • Also, can spray and wipe Branch Basics (Bathroom Dilution) on the dryer interior when dryer is not in use

To get started with the Branch Basics products mentioned in this article and to learn more about all natural, human safe cleaning products, start here.

Want More Tips On How To Clean And Detoxify Your Whole Laundry Room?

Believe it or not, chemical residues and fragrance from chemical-based laundry soap can dwell on your laundry room surfaces for years. Where they quietly pollute not only your laundry room but your entire home’s air. Fortunately, you can remediate this yourself by switching from toxic laundry products and doing a deep clean of your laundry room. These articles walk you through the process step-by-step:

Detoxifying Your Laundry Room—gives a full tutorial on getting rid of established fragrance/chemical residue in your laundry room for good (this is a great procedure to use when you buy a new home and/or switch from using chemical-based detergents).

Dangerous Detergent: Is My Laundry Detergent Toxic?—takes a deep dive into the little-told history of chemical-based laundry detergents, how they impact our health, and how to read detergent labels to find a truly non-toxic, human-safe brand.

And of course, check out our free Online Course, #TossTheToxins (creation still in process)! Scroll to the bottom of our Toss The Toxins page for Marilee’s step-by-step, room-by-room system of creating a healthier home by removing all harmful chemicals. It’s well worth the effort and much easier than you’d think!

For even more tips and support on everything-laundry, cleaning, and healthy lifestyle, follow us on Instagram @BranchBasics. 

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.