Cleaning Your Washer Using Bleach and Vinegar

I recently started noticing my washer would leave these little brown flakes on my clothing after a wash. It wasn’t a lot, just a flake here or there on clothes and it’s most noticeable on my whites obviously. I can clean them off with a paper towel. The thing is I wouldn’t see any buildup inside the tub but whenever I start a wash and let the empty water churn, I’d see the flakes in the water. So it would seem this stuff builds up in another layer underneath the tub. (My washer is a top-loading washer by the way).

I tried empty washes with hot water to flush the stuff out but the flakes still kept showing up. Extra rinse cycles would also fail to fully wash the flakes off my clothes and the stuff obviously can’t be clean. I did some research online and apparently this is some type of soap scum from your detergent, mixed with oils and dirt washed off from your clothes, that can build up over time in your washer. Yuck.

The Solution

The trick to clean this gunk away is to use chlorine bleach and white distilled vinegar. First, fill your washer up with hot water and add 1 quart of chlorine bleach. Put the washer on the longest wash cycle. When it’s done, fill it up with hot water again and this time, add 1 quart of white distilled vinegar. Yes it seemed odd to me too that you’d put something you cook with in your washer but it works!

The bleach loosens up the gunk and the vinegar seemed to dissolve the stuff, letting your washer flush it out when it expels the water. You might have to repeat this process if there are still flakes. I just had to do it once.

Maybe moms everywhere already know stuff like this but I was just thinking – before the Internet, how would I even go about figuring out stuff like this without finding someone who just happened to know? Now I can just look it up online with a few keystrokes. We don’t even think about how the Internet has really changed our lives, so much information is readily available to us.

Yes, I just blogged about cleaning my washer and digressed into the power of the Internet. WHATEVER, I’m out.


To clean your washer of dark flakes, do one full wash with hot water and 1 quart of chlorine bleach. Do another full wash with hot water and 1 quart of white distilled vinegar. Repeat as necessary or with just hot water until you no longer see flakes in the water after it’s been churned.

10 responses to “Cleaning Your Washer Using Bleach and Vinegar”

  1. Also tried (6 years later!) and it was a noticeable improvement! Thank you!

    In researching this topic, I found the manual for our Samsung top loading (WA400) – I should have read the manual a long time ago, but our washer has a ‘Pure Cycle’ – not sure why it isn’t name something like ‘Washer Cleaning Cycle’ but that is what it is. Suppose to run every month or so to get that buildup out. So with this little trick this should help KEEP it clean!


  2. I also have a Samsung top loading WA400 and ran the “Pure Cycle” multiple times and still had brown flakes. I tried your bleach and vinegar recipe and the flakes seem to be gone after one treatment cycle. Thank you for the information.

  3. I am sooo excited to try this. I have been having this problem since one year after I bought my Samsung top load washer. Had three repairmen out who all thought I was crazy. I use Pure Cycle frequently and it did little. Even though I haven’t tried this trick yet, I am happy to know I have a viable option.

  4. This worked for me too! I used 4 cups (1 quart) of Chlorine Bleach in the first hot water cycle and then immediately followed that with a second hot water cycle with 4 cups (1 quart) of Distilled White Vinegar. Now, I just have to remember to throw in a box of Baking Soda (only 60 cents) into the washer tub before starting a hot water cycle after about 10 to 15 loads of laundry to make sure I can keep the brown flakes/slime/sludge away! Thank you so much!!!!

  5. This is what I found. You have to put your head down inside the tub and look up where the stainless steel tub top edge ends and rolls back as it meets the plastic outer tub. There is a gap at this point where brown stuff collects and builds up to a point that it starts to end up on clothes occasionally. Clean this gap with an old toothbrush or similar item. Being that my washer is in the basement, I also use a jet stream from my garden house aimed in this area as I manually rotate the tub. Then do a tub clean and I’m good for about a year.

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