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The 5 Best Washing Machine Cleaners (2022 Review)

A washing machine cleaner removes residue and odor from your machine. In this review, the This Old House Reviews Team researched the five best washing machine cleaners on Amazon to help you find the product that’s right for you. The products included in this article are available at various home improvement stores, local home centers, and online retailers like Amazon. 

Washing Machine Cleaner Courtesy Lemi Shine

Regularly cleaning your washing machine ensures that it washes your linens and clothes thoroughly every time. To help with built-up grime in your washer, the This Old House Reviews Team researched the best washing machine cleaners on Amazon. Here are our top five recommendations.

Most Thorough: Lemi Shine Washing Machine Cleaner

This washing machine cleaner has a two-step process. You pour the packet of powder into the machine before running a normal cycle with hot water. Afterward, you wipe any remaining grime with the included wipe. Its biodegradable formula uses citric acid to eliminate odors and break down grime.

Key Features

  • Eight packets and wipes
  • Lemon scent
  • Ammonia-, bleach-, quat-, and formaldehyde-free ingredients

What Customers Are Saying

Though it included more steps than other washing machine cleaners, customers said that this product was easy to use. However, some customers were unhappy with the overwhelming lemon scent that the citric acid cleaning agent left behind.

Best Schedule: Active Washing Machine Cleaner

These tablets clean, refresh, protect, and deodorize your washing machine twice a month. Your purchase includes 24 tablets and a reminder calendar to help you maintain a clean machine for one year.

Key Features

  • 24 tablets
  • No scent
  • Lab-tested ingredients

What Customers Are Saying

Customers loved these tablets for deep cleaning. A common complaint among unsatisfied users was that they didn’t clean heavy residue buildup. However, to remedy this, the company suggested wetting and scrubbing the machine before using a tablet.

Most Versatile: Plink Washer and Dishwasher Freshener Cleaner

To use these tablets in your clothes washer or dishwasher, place one in the bottom of the machine, load it with clothes or dishes, and run it on a regular cycle. A foaming enzymatic formula removes foul odors and residue buildup to leave behind a clean, smoothly operating appliance.

Key Features

  • Four tablets
  • No scent
  • Bleach- and phosphate-free ingredients

What Customers Are Saying

Customers enjoyed this product’s versatility and effectiveness. Most reviews stated that it effectively removed unpleasant odors from dirty clothes and dishes. However, some customers didn’t like the scent that it replaced these dirty smells with.

Best Laundry Scent: Eco-Gals Washing Machine Cleaner

These eco-friendly tablets have scrubbing and foaming properties to deep clean your washing machine. They reach the innermost parts of your machine’s tub and drainage system to provide a thorough clean and ensure a smooth operation. They also leave behind a fresh scent that’s reminiscent of clean laundry.

Key Features

  • 24 tablets
  • Fresh scent
  • Eco-friendly ingredients

What Customers Are Saying

Customers were pleased with the performance and ease of use of this product. Most reviewers agreed that it removed unpleasant odors. Those who were unsatisfied with their purchase said that it didn’t provide a long-lasting clean.

Largest Tablets: Renuv Washing Machine Cleaner

These 40-gram tablets remove odor, mildew, and residue from washing machines of all sizes, models, and brands. There aren’t any harsh chemicals, fragrances, or dyes in their ingredients either.

Key Features

  • Six tablets
  • No scent
  • Eco-friendly ingredients

What Customers Are Saying

Customers praised this cleaner for having no scent or a hardly noticeable scent that was ideal for those who were sensitive to smells. However, some customers were frustrated that they had to use multiple tablets to get a thorough clean.

Buyer’s Guide

As you search for the best cleaner for your washing machine, here are some factors to keep in mind.


Most washing machine cleaners come in the form of tablets. You add them to the machine, and they dissolve in water when you run a regular cycle. However, you can also find wipe, liquid, and powder cleaners. Liquids and powders work like tablets, cleaning your machine during a cycle. With wipes, you have to manually clean the tub, and the cleaner doesn’t get into the tubes and other elements of the drainage system. However, a wipe may be useful along with one of the other cleaners if there’s a certain part that the tablet, liquid, or powder didn’t thoroughly clean.


Some washing machine cleaners contain harsh chemicals. Though effective, these ingredients can be harmful to your health and the environment. You may need to use more, but the safest route is to choose a cleaner that’s free of bleach, ammonia, formaldehyde, quat, and phosphate.


Some washing machine cleaners use a strong fragrance to mask the odor of dirty laundry or musty mold. If you would prefer a minimal fragrance, be sure to choose a cleaner that’s labeled as unscented. These cleaners eliminate odor instead of mask it.


Choose a product that can clean your model and brand of washing machine without damaging it. Most cleaners work for all washers, but some aren’t compatible with high-efficiency models.


Most washing machine cleaners are sold in a six- or 12-month supply to cut down on how many purchases you have to make and how much money you have to spend per purchase. However, if you’re trying a cleaner for the first time, it may be useful to purchase a smaller amount to test it first and make sure you like it.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I clean my washing machine?

Most washing machine manufacturers recommend that you clean your machine at least once a month. You can check your appliance’s manual to see if this is accurate for your model.

Can I clean my washing machine with vinegar?

No. Avoid vinegar because it can damage the seals and hoses in your washing machine. This can lead to an expensive visit from a plumber.

Why does my washing machine still smell after I cleaned it?

The cleaner may have missed certain areas of the machine, such as the detergent dispenser. You can clean tough-to-reach areas with a wipe or run another cycle with a tablet, liquid, or powder cleaner.

Why is it important to clean my washing machine?

Cleaning your washing machine removes limescale, bacteria, mold, and mildew and their associated odors. This makes your clothes smell fresh and helps your machine run efficiently.

Why Trust The This Old House Reviews Team

This Old House has empowered homeowners for more than four decades with top-notch home improvement content in the form of television programs, print media, and digital content on its website and social media platforms. The This Old House Reviews Team focuses on creating in-depth product and service review content to help inform your purchasing decision for just about any item or resource that you might need for your home. The This Old House Reviews Team has written over 1,000 reviews on products in the home space, from cordless drills to kitchen trash cans, lawn mowers, and dining room decorations.

We recommend products in each review using an intensive research process, spending hours combing through the best available models on Amazon. For a product to make our list of top picks, it must hold a solid sales record on Amazon, have consistently positive customer reviews, and offer unique features, among other factors. After narrowing down our list of recommendations, we conduct additional research and sometimes in-person testing to ensure that the products meet our standards. Once we conclude the research phase, we craft a well-rounded, user-friendly article that includes our recommended products and additional information to help homeowners like you make the right purchase.

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