How To Remove Hardened Detergent From Washing Machine?

If you haven’t cleaned the washing for a long period or used excess detergent, you will notice hardened detergent spots. It reduces the efficiency of cleaning and leads to bacteria and mold development in the hidden areas of your washing machine.

To remove hardened detergent from your washing machine, run the hot water cycle with the mixture of 2-3 cups of white vinegar and baking soda. The vinegar’s acidity helps dissolve the machine’s limescale and detergent buildup. You can also use the brush to scrub the stubborn detergent deposit. 

In this article, I will help you understand the step-by-step process of removing hardened detergent from your washing machine. You will also know how much detergent you must use according to your washing machine model.

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Signs you are using too much detergent:

A common misconception is that adding more detergent to your laundry makes the clothes extra clean and germ-free. 

If you are thinking this, you are wrong!

The concept of extra detergent for the extra clean clothes is something you want to reconsider. 

It won’t make your clothes clean and fresh.

In contrast, it will make them look fady and dull. 

If you use too much detergent in your laundry over the years, it will produce a foul smell because the excess detergent will start to build up in the areas that are not visible from the outside.

It will also pave the way for bacteria and mold growth. 

Also, if you notice white spots in your clothes, it is because of the excess detergent you are using.

Another visible sign is the suds left behind during the wash cycle. 

While these are common signs, using too much detergent will also lead to the long-term problem of hardened deposits in the washer’s interior.

If there is a hardened detergent deposit in your washing machine, it will lead to constant faults and repairs and will also increase power consumption.

Also read: Can You Put Detergent Directly On Clothes? (+The Correct Way)

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Difference between top-loading machines and front-loading machines

In both machines, the common difference is how the machine opens.

In the top loading machines, you can open a door even mid-cycle as water won’t rush out, but that’s not the case in the front loading washing machines.

Due to this difference, the cleaning process differs in both machines. 

Because of the difference in the position of doors, the detergent reaches the clothes differently.

Generally, top-loading machines don’t have detergent drawers to dissolve or dilute the detergent before it reaches the clothes.

Even if they have, they are not removable.

So while cleaning, we cannot take out the detergent drawer to clean. 

That’s not the case in the side loading machines, which have a detergent drawer that is removable for cleaning.

In these machines, you can dilute detergent before it reaches the clothes. 

Regarding front-loading washing machines, they come with a rubber seal around the edges of the door to prevent the water from leaking or rushing out during the wash cycle. 

Another major difference is the front-loading washing machines don’t have an agitator while the top-loading machines have one to rotate the clothes.

So, hardened detergent and build-up around the seal are possible.

You have to pay extra attention while cleaning the front-loading washing machines.

To conclude, the cleaning process will be widely different in both machines because of their major differences in the detergent drawer’s presence.

Things you need to remove hardened detergent from the washing machine

Removing the hardened detergent from the washing machines is not easy, but it is possible to do so.

Here are the common things you need which will be easily available in every household:

  • Old toothbrush 
  • A New toilet brush
  • Cleaning cloth 
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Vinegar cleaning solution 
  • White vinegar

How to clean the top-loading machine to remove the hardened detergent? 

As the detergent is hardened inside the washing machine, you can use ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and white vinegar to soften the detergent build-up.

  • Open the washing machine’s lid, and begin a hot water cycle of 140°F.
  • Let the washing machine fill with water. 
  • Add 1 cup of vinegar to the hot cycle directly into the machine’s drum as there is no detergent drawer in the front load washing machine.
  • Close the washer’s lid to run the cycle with the vinegar. Doing this will soften the hard detergent build-up.
  • Now open the lip, and soak the washing machine with vinegar water for an hour. It will further soften the stubborn detergent build-up.
  • During this soaking time, you can clean the outer body of the machine with the vinegar cleaning solution. Vinegar is the best solution to kill all the bacteria and germs causing a foul smell. 
  • After the first washing cycle, add 60 grams of the baking soda to start the hot water cycle again. The acidity of the baking soda will let the hardened detergent dissolve. 
  • Close the lid to run the cycle for a few minutes, and pause the cycle by opening the lid. Let the mixture of vinegar and baking soda soak for 30 minutes. 
  • After 30 minutes, drain the water. You can see the hardened detergent will be softened.
  • Now wipe the interior drum of the washer with the vinegar cleaning solution.
  • Still, you might see a detergent build-up in the hidden areas. In such cases, you can scrub it with the new toilet brush or any brittle brush of your choice.
  • Scrub in all the areas where you can see a detergent build-up until they are completely dissolved. As you have run the hot cycle with the vinegar and the baking soda, it will not be hard for you to scrub the detergent buildup.
  • After scrubbing the detergent build-up, use a clean cloth saturated with the vinegar cleaning solution to wipe out all the detergent flakes.
  • Run the hot water cycle again by adding the white vinegar directly to the drum. Once the cycle is completed, drain the water. Wipe out the extra water. Let the lid open to dry the excess water. 

How to clean the front-loading machine to remove the hardened detergent?

The front-loading washing cleaning process is almost similar to the above method, but a few things are different.

  • Start the hot water cycle and let the water fill. 
  • Add the white vinegar to the detergent drawer. 
  • Close the lid and let the cycle continue for an hour. 
  • Meanwhile, take the detergent drawer out and soak it in hot water with a vinegar solution.
  • Take the toothbrush to scrub the detergent built up.
  • After the cycle is completed, you can add baking soda to the cycle and let it run for another few minutes. It will help to soften the hard detergent build-up.
  • Once the second cycle is completed, drain out the water. 
  • Now it’s time to clean the rubber gasket found at the edges of the front door. 
  • To do so, take a cloth. Get it wet with the vinegar solution. 
  • As the first step, remove the detergent build-up, dirt, and mold deposition at the surface of the gasket. 
  • Even after this process, you might see stubborn build-ups, hard to wipe with a cloth. In these cases, use a toothbrush or any other strong brush to scrub the hardened build-up.
  • Inspect the machine’s interior, and see if the hardened detergent is still there even after the vinegar and baking soda treatment. Use a new toilet brush to scrub the stubborn deposit in the hidden areas and the bottom of the tub.
  • Use warm vinegar to spray at the stubborn deposit, and use a brush scrub until the machine is free of any build-up manually.
  • After this scrubbing process, wipe out the flakes of the deposit. 
  • Run the hot water cycle with the vinegar solution for a few minutes.
  • After the cycle ends, drain the water. Open the lid and let the extra water evaporate. 
  • Complete the process by reattaching the detergent drawer to the washer.

Should you use bleach?

It is good to think twice before using bleach in your washer.

Try the above methods when removing the hardened detergent.

But even after an attempt to remove the detergent deposit with the vinegar and the baking soda, if you still see the detergent deposition, you can try using bleach.

Before using bleach, ensure that there is no vinegar and that the baking soda mixture remains in the washer because if combined, it will produce harmful gas.

Follow the same process I discussed above to run the hot water cycle with bleach.

Guide to measuring the laundry detergent

When using the detergent, it is not wise to follow the detergent’s labels. 

In the end, detergent companies want you to use more detergent to increase their sales. 

And also, the detergent usage differs based on the type of washing machine you use. 

There are two types of washers, high-efficiency washers and traditional washers. 

In the high-efficiency washer, less detergent is required compared to the traditional washers. 

If you use pre-measured packers, don’t use more than one pack per cycle. 

And if you are using detergent powder, use 3 tablespoons.

Even if clothes are too dirty, don’t use more than 4 tablespoons.

Let’s say you are using liquid detergent; use two tablespoons for the traditional washers and two teaspoons for the high-efficiency washers. 

Above mentioned measurements differ based on the water available in your area.

If the water in your area is soft, use only one and a half spoons for the traditional washing machine and one and a half teaspoons of detergent for the highly efficient washing machine.

How to clean the washing machine detergent drawer?

You can find the hardened detergent mostly in the detergent drawer, so it is important to clean it separately. 

Refer to the user guide of the washer, and see if the detergent drawer is removable.

Remove the detergent drawer, and see if there is mold development along with the detergent deposit. 

Take a tub, fill it with hot water and add the mixture of white vinegar and baking powder. 

Let the detergent drawer soak in the tub for the next 30 minutes.

Vinegar will soften the hard detergent deposit and kill the molds and the bacteria. 

After 30 minutes, take it out of the water.

Use a toothbrush to scrub the excess deposition, sticking to the drawer even after soaking in the vinegar and the baking soda mixture. 

After scrubbing, wash it again with hot water. 

Then, let it dry before you fix it with a washer.

How often should you clean your washing machine detergent drawer?

It is essential to clean the detergent drawer weekly to keep it clean from the hard detergent deposit and mold development. 

Monthly one deep cleans the detergent drawer by soaking it in vinegar and baking soda water.

Along with cleaning the detergent drawer, clean the washing machine at least twice a month for efficient functioning. 

You can schedule your cleaning weekly, monthly, and quarterly. 

Following this schedule will let you enjoy a hassle-free laundry experience.

Final thoughts

Overusing the detergent or not cleaning the washing machine are two important reasons for finding hardened detergent in the washing machine. Once it is hardened, you can’t easily remove the detergent deposit. You have to scrub it manually.

Follow the step-by-step process mentioned in the article to remove the hardened deposit from your washing machine. I have also mentioned how much detergent you should use.

Clean your washing machine at least twice a month to avoid hardened detergent deposits.

Also read:

Reference: APPLIANCE STANDARDS AWARENESS PROJECTLG Official GuideKenmore User manual.

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Jeniffer Smith

Hi, I am Jeniffer Smith, a housemaker and blogger, and I grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. I have been researching and fixing appliances and other things around the home and kitchen from a young age to help my single mother. Every time something went wrong, I couldn't rest until I fixed it. And ever since, I have enjoyed fixing things around my home, and I am always ready to help my friends and family with advice and hands-on help. Since we were always looking for affordable ways of fixing things, we rarely hired experts and tried to fix most things ourselves. That interest brought me to write for this blog, as I realized my knowledge could help many people trying to fix things around their homes on their own without spending hundreds of dollars.

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