If you have young children or pets, the likelihood of fecal matter ending up in your washer is high. This can happen easily if you have not inspected each clothing item or you forgot to rinse infant diapers or pet bedding before throwing it in your machine. The problem with poop is that it does not break down in water sometimes. You may find small clumps or large smears of it on your machine’s interior walls. Alternatively, even if the feces did break down enough to drain out of the machine, your washer may reek of it. It is very important, both for aesthetic reasons and for health reasons, to clean and sanitize your washer if this has occurred. Here is how you can do this.
Supplies You Will Need
Before cleaning your washer, make sure you have vinyl or latex gloves, paper towels, a trash bag, a disposable scrubbing sponge and chlorine bleach. Wear old clothes in case you are splattered with some of the bleach.
Scrubbing Things Down
Put on a pair of vinyl or latex gloves. Inspect the machine for visible traces of poop. If you see any, dampen paper towels and remove as much as you can from the machine. Place the soiled paper towels in a trash bag for later disposal.
Dampen your disposable scrubbing sponge with water. Add a teaspoon of bleach to the sponge and scrub the interior walls of the washing machine.
Disinfecting the Machine
After you have finished scrubbing the machine, close the lid and let the machine fill with hot water. When the machine is full, add one cup of bleach and let the machine go through an entire wash cycle. If your machine has a “sanitize” cycle, this is the setting it should be on: otherwise, just use the hottest water setting.
When it has gone through the whole cycle, repeat the disinfecting procedure. Let it fill up with hot water, add bleach and let it go through another cycle.
If the poop is stuck on and it will not come off easily with paper towels, use a putty knife or similar instrument. You should get as much of the feces off the machine as you can before disinfecting.
Instead of chlorine bleach, you may use white vinegar. White vinegar is less toxic and still disinfects very well. If you use vinegar, stop the cycle for 30 minutes after the machine has filled up – this way the vinegar has more time to freshen and sanitize the machine. Do not use bleach and vinegar together.
Even when feces is not visible, if you use your washer to wash diapers, you should sanitize it afterward. Bacteria from diapers can remain and contaminate other clothing.
Gina Howard is writing on behalf of PartSelect, an easy way to diagnose and repair your own appliances.