Why Is There Dirty Residue in My Washing Machine?

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Washing machines are designed to clean your clothes quickly and efficiently. However, in order to accomplish this, washing machines must be kept clean and in good condition. Over time, dirt, soap residue and minerals build up inside a washing machine.

This residue may show up on your clothes or cause the washing machine to run less efficiently.

Dirty Clothes

Much of the dirt and residue found inside washing machines is caused by dirt and food crumbs left on clothing. While most of the debris on clothing is rinsed out of the washing machine along with the water, some dirt may remain, and may stick to the soap and mineral residue already present inside your washing machine. Shake out your clothing before placing it inside the washing machine to reduce the amount of dirt and debris that is left behind.

Detergent Residue

Over time, laundry detergents and fabric softeners leave a residue similar to soap scum inside your washing machine. When combined with dirt and lint, this residue can become a dirty, grimy mess inside your machine that affects your machine's ability to properly clean your clothes. Cleaning your washing machine regularly will cut down on this residue. In addition, using less detergent and fabric softener may cut down on the residue as well. Remove this residue by running an empty cycle with hot water. Add 2 cups of white vinegar or lemon juice to the water, and finish the cycle. In addition, clean the bleach and fabric softener dispensers to remove detergent build-up.

Mineral Deposits

Mineral deposits present in water may build up over time, leaving a dirty residue inside your washing machine. These mineral deposits may also build up inside the hoses attached to your washing machine, reducing water flow and resulting in a machine that does not work properly. This residue may also damage your clothes, fading colours and causing fabric to become thin and rough. To remove mineral deposits, begin a hot water cycle. Once the washing machine is filled with water, pour in 1 cup of white vinegar and half a box of baking soda. Complete the wash cycle. Repeat this procedure monthly to avoid mineral build-up.


It is important to keep your washing machine clean so that it can properly clean your clothes. To remove large amounts of dirt from the washing machine, leave the lid open until the inside is dry. Vacuum the dirt from the inside of the washing machine, using a vacuum hose attachment. Sanitise the inside of your washing machine regularly by adding bleach to an empty wash cycle at the highest temperature possible. Keep the outside of your washing machine free of soap residue and debris by wiping it with a wet cloth as needed.