How to Clean a Washing Machine Detergent Drawer

The other night on Instagram Stories, where I live part of my life, I randomly shared the importance of cleaning your washing machine detergent drawer. But I didn’t detail how to clean a washing machine detergent drawer. So today I’m doing my due diligence and showing you how I clean the mold and mildew out of mine. I’m also sharing a couple tips for keeping your washing machine free of mold, mildew, and funky smells.

washing machine detergent tray

How to Clean a Washing Machine Detergent Drawer

Remove the Washing Machine Detergent Drawer

First, you have to remove the washing machine detergent tray from the compartment. Whether you have a front loading or top load washer, read your manual to make sure yours will come out because I don’t want you to break it. In order to remove mine, I have to give it a good pull. You can see exactly how in the video below.

Would ya look at all that soap scum and limescale?

dirty washing machine detergent tray

Examine the Detergent Cavity

After the drawer is removed, inspect the detergent cavity. Be sure to look up and on the sides. You can see the mold and mildew spots in my washing machine below.

dirty washing machine detergent cavity

Spray the Detergent Cavity

Fill a spray bottle with distilled white vinegar. Spray the detergent drawer housing with distilled white vinegar. Allow it to soak for 15-30 minutes.

Tip: You don’t have to buy a new spray bottle. Instead, reuse a spray bottle you already have that’s almost out of the current contents. Wash it out and pour in the vinegar. Affix a label or write “vinegar” directly on the bottle so you and whoever lives with you knows what’s inside the bottle.

clean washing machine

Soak the Detergent Drawer

While the detergent cavity is soaking, soak the dispenser drawer in a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and hot water. I like to do this in a bathroom sink. Just plug the sink, fill with hot water, add the vinegar, and then place the drawer in the sink. Rotate it around so the whole thing gets clean. Allow the drawer to soak for at least 30 minutes. It may need to soak a little longer and that’s fine.

Note: since vinegar is acidic, you may want to wear gloves.

clean detergent tray

Scrub, Scrub, Scrub

Scrub the detergent cavity residue with an old toothbrush. You may have to spray the cavity again, let it soak for a while, and scrub some more. Don’t forget the top part of the compartment.

washing machine mold

You may also need to scrub the drawer after it has soaked for a while.

Dentist office free toothbrushes FTW.

clean washer

Rinse, Dry, Insert

Once the washing machine drawer is clean, rinse it with water. Set the drawer on a towel to air dry before putting it back into the washing machine.

detergent tray

Why Distilled White Vinegar?

You may be wondering why I use vinegar instead of bleach. That’s because bleach only kills mold spores on the surface, making it easier for mold to come back. Whereas vinegar, which is a mild acid, will penetrate porous surfaces.

Vinegar is an exceptional household cleaner. Plus, it’s less than $3 per gallon! I always keep at least 2 gallons in the house at all times because I use it to clean so many things.

Tips for Keeping Mold, Mildew, and Funky Smells Away

Keep Your Washing Machine Door Open

Your washing machine needs airflow. So whenever it’s not in use, open the door. I know it’s not the most aesthetic-pleasing laundry room look but if you want to keep mold, mildew, and smells to a minimum, keep the door open. Airflow is key, my friend.

Note: If you’re going to do this and you have little ones, make sure you have some sort of safety mechanism so kids can’t climb in and turn on the machine.

Keep the Detergent Drawer Pulled Out

Whenever our washing machine isn’t in use it looks like the photo below. Door open and detergent and fabric softener drawer pulled out. This keeps the detergent cavity from being closed off, allowing mold and mildew to fester. Ew.

Remove the Drawer Often

On Sunday nights, typically after doing multiple loads of laundry over the weekend, I like to remove the drawer entirely. This allows the cavity to get some airflow and the drawer to air out as well.

Clean Your Washing Machine Often

Clean your washing machine once a month or every other month with washing machine cleaner. It’s as simple as dropping a tablet into the machine and following the directions on the box for what wash cycle and temperature to run the machine on. Your machine may also have a cleaning cycle that you can select.

washing machine detergent tray

How to Clean a Washing Machine Detergent Drawer

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One Comment

  1. This was very useful thank you.

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