Although you think of your washing machine as a cleaning machine, believe it or not it can get dirty too, especially when hard water is involved. Hard water can cause, among other things, lime deposits and rust in your washing machine and its water lines, hoses and parts. These build-ups reduce your machine's efficiency, wear it down faster and increase the wear on your clothes.
Pour in a vinegar solution. You can either use a few cups of white vinegar or lemon juice. Pour in the vinegar, then run the machine in a hot water cycle.
Unplug the washing machine to prevent electrocution. Take out the fabric softener receptacle and soak it in hot water and laundry detergent. Clean the bleach dispenser using paper towels and a cleaning solution, using cotton swabs to get into corners. Wipe down and clean the upper rim of the washing bucket with a rag or paper towels and a household cleaner. Run the empty washing machine again on a hot cycle.
Use everything you can to clean the machine. Use special products such as Washer Magic, which are made to clean washing machines. Some companies also make specially formulated detergent for hard water. Clean the outside of the machine with a rag or paper towels and vinegar. Using chlorine bleach on clothes that can take it helps prevent hard water problems.
Clean the lint traps inside the machine by removing the lint. With the water turned off, disconnect any hoses and clean around the openings of the hoses using vinegar. Clean out any traps on the hoses also. After cleaning everything, reconnect all of the hoses and plug the machine back in. Run a hot water cycle one more time with no clothes.