How to Clean Sludge from Washing Machine: A Step-by-Step Guide

By sarvottam

Published on:

A washing machine is a valuable appliance in any household, making laundry tasks much more manageable. However, over time, washing machines can develop a build-up of sludge, which can impact their efficiency and cleanliness. Sludge is a mixture of detergent residue, lint, fabric softener, and other debris that accumulates in the machine’s drum, pump, and hoses. If not addressed, it can lead to foul odors, mold growth, and even affect the quality of your laundry. Fortunately, cleaning sludge from your washing machine is a relatively simple process that can be done using common household items.

Step 1: Empty the Washing Machine

Before you begin cleaning, ensure the washing machine is completely empty. Remove any clothes, towels, or other items that may be inside the drum. This will allow you to access all areas of the machine that require cleaning without any obstructions.

Step 2: Clean the Detergent Drawer and Filter

Start by removing the detergent drawer and the filter from the washing machine. The detergent drawer is often a hot spot for sludge build-up, so give it a thorough cleaning. Use warm soapy water and a brush to scrub away any residue or grime. Rinse it thoroughly and allow it to dry completely before placing it back in the machine.

Next, clean the filter, which is usually located at the bottom front of the machine. Unscrew the filter and carefully remove it. Wash it under running water to get rid of any accumulated sludge. Once clean, reattach the filter securely.

Step 3: Run an Empty Hot Water Cycle

To further remove sludge from the washing machine’s drum and hoses, run an empty hot water cycle. Set the washing machine to its highest temperature setting and longest cycle. Add a cup of white vinegar or baking soda to the drum before starting the cycle. The acidity of vinegar and the cleaning properties of baking soda will help dissolve and break down sludge build-up.

Step 4: Wipe Down the Drum and Exterior

While the hot water cycle is running, use a damp cloth and mild detergent to wipe down the interior and exterior of the washing machine. Pay attention to any visible sludge or stains and make sure to clean them thoroughly. Additionally, clean the rubber gasket around the door, as this area can also accumulate sludge and mold.

Step 5: Run an Additional Rinse Cycle

Once the hot water cycle is complete, run an additional rinse cycle with plain water. This will help flush out any remaining vinegar or baking soda residue and leave your washing machine fresh and clean.

Step 6: Regular Maintenance

To prevent future sludge build-up, it’s essential to perform regular maintenance on your washing machine. Here are some tips to keep your machine clean and efficient:

  1. Use the right amount of detergent: Avoid overusing detergent, as excess soap can lead to sludge formation. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the correct detergent dosage.
  2. Clean the detergent drawer regularly: Make it a habit to clean the detergent drawer at least once a month to prevent residue build-up.
  3. Leave the door open after each wash: When not in use, leave the washing machine door slightly ajar to allow air circulation and prevent mold growth.
  4. Check and clean the filter: Regularly inspect and clean the filter to ensure proper water drainage and prevent sludge accumulation.
  5. Use vinegar or baking soda: Occasionally, run an empty hot water cycle with vinegar or baking soda to maintain a clean and odor-free washing machine.


Cleaning sludge from your washing machine is essential to keep it running smoothly and to maintain the quality of your laundry. With regular maintenance and proper cleaning, you can prevent sludge build-up and ensure your washing machine continues to function efficiently. Follow the step-by-step guide provided here to remove sludge effectively and keep your washing machine in top condition.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. What causes sludge to build up in a washing machine?
    • Sludge in a washing machine is caused by a combination of detergent residue, lint, fabric softener, and debris that accumulates over time. Using excessive detergent, not cleaning the detergent drawer regularly, and leaving the washing machine door closed after each wash can contribute to sludge formation.
  2. Can I use bleach to clean sludge from my washing machine?
    • Bleach can be effective in removing sludge from a washing machine, but it should be used with caution. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and ensure proper ventilation when using bleach to avoid harmful fumes.
  3. How often should I clean my washing machine to prevent sludge build-up?
    • It’s recommended to clean your washing machine at least once a month to prevent sludge build-up and maintain its efficiency. Regular maintenance, such as cleaning the detergent drawer and filter, can help prevent sludge formation.
  4. Is it safe to use vinegar in my washing machine to clean sludge?
    • Yes, vinegar is a safe and effective natural cleaner for removing sludge from a washing machine. It helps dissolve residue and leaves your washing machine smelling fresh.
  5. What is the best way to clean the rubber gasket of the washing machine?
    • To clean the rubber gasket, mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the gasket and wipe it down with a damp cloth. Be sure to clean in between the folds of the gasket to remove any accumulated sludge or mold.
  6. Can I clean sludge from a front-loading washing machine the same way as a top-loading machine?
    • Yes, the cleaning process for sludge removal is similar for both front-loading and top-loading washing machines. The key is to follow the specific steps outlined in the guide and adapt them to your machine’s type and features.
  7. Will cleaning sludge from my washing machine improve its performance?
    • Yes, cleaning sludge from your washing machine will improve its performance and efficiency. Sludge build-up can affect water drainage, cause foul odors, and impact the quality of your laundry. Regular cleaning will ensure that your washing machine functions optimally.
  8. Can I use dishwasher detergent to clean my washing machine?
    • While dishwasher detergent is designed for different types of machines, it is not recommended for cleaning a washing machine. Stick to using appropriate detergents, vinegar, or baking soda for effective and safe cleaning.

Leave a Comment