The Best Washing Machine Cleaners To Cut Through Odor And Grime

best washing machine cleaner
Courtesy of Walmart

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Ironic as it is, the one thing that keeps all your clothes squeaky clean needs a scrub once in a while. Otherwise, it doesn’t do its job, and can even develop an unpleasant odor over time. If your front-load washing machine cleaner is developing a mystery funk, it’s a sign that you need to invest in some washing machine cleaner. These cleaners come in all forms, from liquids to tablets, and can help remove the residue that detergent and clothing can lead to, over time.

You can even make a DIY washing machine cleaner with tw cups of baking soda, two cups of white vinegar, and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. First, run a hot water cycle with the baking soda, which will remove odor and slough off all the gross stuff. Then, run another cycle with the vinegar and essential oil, which will disinfect and remove mineral deposits or mold.

Doing this can help keep your washing machine as effective as it was when you bought it, along with increasing its longevity. After all, our washing machines are one of the appliances we use most in our home, and you definitely don’t want them spreading leftover soap gunk and mildew to your garments.

Most gels and tablets are run through a regular wash cycle, while wipes are meant to be put on the washer’s surface or the inside of the drum. Some washing machine cleaners have odor-removing boosts, and most of them should have reliable bacteria-killing power. If you live somewhere with hard water, keep an eye out for limescale deposit accumulation, which can also be targeted in certain washing machine cleaners.

Give your washing machine the TLC it deserves, diving deep into those nooks and crannies with the best grime-nixing washing machine cleaners on the market.


1. Affresh Washing Machine Cleaner

These tablets by Affresh have been the #1 choice of front-load washing machine cleaner for years. At an affordable price, this easy-to-use and sudsy formula works on time-release, slowly dissolving to clean deep inside the pump, valve, basket, and drain hose, where all that smelly and icky stuff can get stuck. One buyer claims that it completely transformed a horrific washer “that was full of somebody else’s dirt, lint, and caked-on blue detergent.”

affresh washing machine cleaner Courtesy of Amazon

2. Tide Washing Machine Cleaner

Tide has been providing that ultra-clean, fresh laundry smell for decades, and their washing machine cleaner tablets for front- and top-loader machines get the job done as well as their laundry detergent. It does include fragrances that may be irritating to extremely allergenic or sensitive people. However, if you prefer a more perfumed scent, this is ideal for you. Just run a cycle with hot water and voila! One buyer gives a pro tip, saying, “After cleaning you may have to run the washer again to wash away the debris that was loosened by this product.”

Tide Washing Machine Cleaner Courtesy of Amazon

3. Lemi Shine Washing Machine Cleaner and Cleaning Wipes

If being eco-conscious is your priority, consider the EPA-certified Lemi Shine washing machine cleaner and cleaning wipes, made with 100% biodegradable ingredients. The star ingredient here is citric acid, which will make your laundry area smell like lemony goodness. Lemi Shine has award-winning green formulas that say no to bleach and ammonia, making them safe for every member of your family. The washing machine cleaner allows you to thoroughly clean internally, while the wipes allow you to get around the edges and lids.

Lemi Shine Washing Machine Cleaner and Cleaning Wipes Courtesy of Amazon

4. OxiClean Washing Machine Cleaner with Odor Blasters

If you’re worried about a lingering scent, look no further than OxiClean’s washing machine cleaner that has additional odor-killing measures built-in. Ideally, your washer will have a “clean washer” cycle but if not, you can add it to the drum and run a regular hot water cycle. Just a single pouch a month will keep your washer smelling fresh. The phosphate-free formula can be used on HE washers and regular machines, and won’t do harm to septic tank systems.

OxiClean Washing Machine Cleaner with Odor Blasters Courtesy of Walmart

5. Glisten Washer Machine Cleaner

Glisten’s chemical and bleach-free formula is liquid, getting into all those hard-to-reach corners. It’s suitable for treating the effects of hard water, detergent, or dirt that damages your machine over time. The brand comes repairman recommended, according to reviewers, and if your main issue is mineral buildup, it’s a must. You can also use it to wipe down detergent drawers, which cleaning pods don’t allow you to do. Just add 1/2 a cup to your detergent drawer or inside the washer to use.

Glisten Washer Machine Cleaner Courtesy of Walmart

6. Active Washing Machine Cleaner

Active’s tablets with serious scrubbing power are made for virtually any high efficiency or standard top-loaders and front-loaders. The foaming tablets are made with minimal packaging, as opposed to wipes and liquid descalers which can cause excessive waste. They come in a 24-pack, so you won’t need to restock anytime soon (most people clean their washing machines once monthly).

Active Washing Machine Cleaner Courtesy of Amazon


7. Renuv Washing Machine Cleaner

Just because Renuv’s mix of ingredients is completely sustainable doesn’t mean its washing machine cleaner is any less heavy-duty. But unlike colored tablets which can corrode and leach colors or artificial smells into your machine, these unscented foaming tablets freshen naturally and clean up to three times as much as tinier tablets, thanks to their larger size. Also, unlike less natural formulas, this one completely dissolves and never leaves any residue. While it’s scent-free, one reviewer says “I’ve noticed a freshness to our clothes.”

Renuv Washing Machine Cleaner Courtesy of Amazon

8. Frigidaire ReadyClean Washing Machine Cleaner

Frigidaire targets washing machine sludge by using a proprietary blend of probiotics, surfactants, and odor-fighting ingredients for its washing machine cleaner. This high-performance cleaner can remove limescale, gunk from soap, and any other soil that’s hiding inside the inner water lines or rubber seals. Probiotics are an extremely useful method of cleaning front load washing machines, rather than harsh chemicals, which can sometimes feel like the only way to remove hard water deposits from dark clothes.

Fridgeaire ReadyClean Washing Machine Cleaner Courtesy of Amazon

9. Eco-Gals Eco Swirls Washing Machine Cleaner

Eco-Swirlz is a mom-run business offering a chemical-free alternative that isn’t filled with nauseating floral fragrances. Sometimes, the smell of nothing is all that you’re looking for. It comes with a year’s worth of eco-friendly individually wrapped tablets and can be used with either hot or cold water.

Eco-Gals Eco Swirls Washing Machine Cleaner Courtesy of Amazon

10. PurTru All-Natural Washing Machine Cleaner

This liquid washing machine cleaner uses plant-based ingredients that won’t aggravate your sensitive skin, and it has the testimonies to back it up. According to one reviewer, “This is the best cleaner we have used on our front loaders.” Even the rubber gasket will get a deep sanitizing from this product, which also works to quickly remove stubborn black deposits.

PurTru All Natural Washing Machine Cleaner Courtesy of Amazon

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