Having to clean something that you use to clean another thing seems like a confusing concept, and cleaning my washing machine had definitely fallen through the cracks over the year. But one day when I opened my top-loading washing machine it smelled a little musty, and I realized the top of the barrel was sticky from spilling detergent. So I logged on to Pinterest to find some options for cleaning it.
The post I found suggested using bleach and vinegar in a 3-hour process. It seemed simple and cheap enough so I gave it a try. First you fill your washer with hot water and add one quart of bleach. Then let the washer agitate for a minute, before stopping it and letting it sit for one hour. After one hour, you let the washer run through its longest wash and spin cycle. After the washer is done you fill it with hot water again and add one quart of distilled white vinegar. Then let the washer agitate for a minute and let it sit for another hour. After the second hour your let the washer run through its longest cycle again and take the opportunity to use a rag to wipe down the top of the barrel, the lid and other nooks and crannies that have probably accumulated lint and detergent like mine had.
According to the original post I found on Pinterest, the bleach and vinegar will clean away bacteria, soap scum and mineral deposits from the wash basket and the machine's hoses. In addition to actually cleaning the machine, it takes care of any musty smell the washer might have had.
Pinterest do or don't? If you have a top-loading washing machine and don't want to spend $5 on a detergent-brand cleaner like I didn't, this is a great alternative. It takes a little bit of time (not time you'll actually be actively cleaning…just time that you have to let the machine sit and run its cycle), but it is super simple and seems to take care of any grime that accumulates in a washing machine.