How To Clean Washing Machine Detergent Tray


Why Clean the Washing Machine Detergent Tray?

The washing machine detergent tray is an essential component that holds and dispenses detergent, fabric softener, and other laundry additives during the wash cycle. Over time, residues from these products, along with dirt and debris, can accumulate in the tray, leading to unpleasant odors, mold growth, and even clogged dispensers.

Cleaning the detergent tray regularly is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it helps maintain the efficiency and performance of your washing machine. When the tray is free from buildup, the detergent can flow smoothly into the drum, ensuring a thorough and effective cleaning of your clothes.

Secondly, a clean detergent tray prevents the growth of mold and bacteria. The warm and damp environment of the tray provides the perfect breeding ground for these microorganisms. If left uncleaned, they can transfer onto your clothes, causing them to have an unpleasant odor and potentially leading to skin irritations.

Additionally, a dirty detergent tray can result in poor rinsing and insufficient dispensing of fabric softener or bleach. This can leave residue on your clothes, making them feel stiff or discolored. By regularly cleaning the tray, you ensure that your laundry additives are properly dispensed, providing the desired softness and brightening effects to your garments.

Furthermore, maintaining a clean detergent tray extends the lifespan of your washing machine. The buildup of residue can clog the dispensers, causing them to malfunction or become completely blocked. This can lead to costly repairs or even the need for a new machine. By incorporating regular cleaning into your laundry routine, you can avoid these issues and prolong the life of your appliance.

Overall, cleaning the washing machine detergent tray is not just a matter of hygiene and fresh-smelling laundry. It is a necessary step to ensure the optimal functioning of your washing machine, prevent the growth of mold and bacteria, maintain the quality of your clothes, and avoid expensive repairs. Make it a habit to clean the detergent tray regularly, and you’ll enjoy fresh and clean laundry every time you run a load.

Things You Will Need

Cleaning the washing machine detergent tray is a simple task that requires just a few basic supplies. Before you begin, gather the following items:

  1. Warm water: You’ll need warm water to soak and clean the detergent tray effectively. Make sure the water is not too hot to avoid damaging the tray.
  2. Mild dish soap or laundry detergent: Choose a gentle cleaning agent to remove any buildup and residue from the detergent tray. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as they can damage the tray’s surface.
  3. Soft-bristle brush or toothbrush: This will be used to scrub away any stubborn stains or residue from the detergent tray. Opt for a brush with soft bristles to prevent scratching the surface.
  4. Microfiber cloth or sponge: Use a microfiber cloth or sponge to wipe down the detergent tray and remove any remaining soap or debris. These materials are gentle on the surface and highly absorbent.
  5. Vinegar or baking soda (optional): If you’re dealing with tough stains or odors in the detergent tray, you can incorporate vinegar or baking soda into your cleaning process. Vinegar can help remove mold and mildew, while baking soda acts as a natural deodorizer.

By having these supplies ready, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the task of cleaning your washing machine detergent tray. Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations for cleaning your specific model of washing machine.

Step 1: Remove the Detergent Tray

Before you can clean the detergent tray, you’ll need to remove it from your washing machine. The process may vary slightly depending on the make and model of your machine, so consult your user manual if you’re unsure. Here’s a general guide on how to remove the detergent tray:

  1. Turn off the washing machine: Ensure that the washing machine is completely powered off and unplugged to avoid any accidents during the cleaning process.
  2. Locate the detergent tray: The detergent tray is typically located at the top or front of the washing machine. Look for a compartment or drawer labeled “detergent,” “soap,” or a similar indication.
  3. Release the tray: Most detergent trays have a release mechanism that allows you to remove it easily. Look for a small lever, button, or tab that you can push or pull to release the tray. Gently apply pressure to release the tray from its locked position.
  4. Pull out the tray: Once the release mechanism is engaged, carefully pull the detergent tray out of the washing machine. Pull it towards you, using a slightly upward angle if necessary, as some trays may be designed to slide out at an angle.
  5. Inspect for additional compartments: Some detergent trays have multiple compartments for different laundry additives. Take note of any additional compartments and their purpose, as you’ll need to clean them as well.

With the detergent tray removed, you can now proceed to the next step of disassembling and cleaning each component. Make sure to handle the tray with care to avoid any damage and keep track of any small parts or pieces that may come loose during the process. By following these steps, you’re well on your way to a cleaner and more efficient washing machine.

Step 2: Disassemble the Tray

Now that you have removed the detergent tray from the washing machine, it’s time to disassemble it to clean each component thoroughly. Disassembling the tray will allow you to access all the nooks and crannies where dirt, residue, and mold may have accumulated. Follow these steps to disassemble the tray:

  1. Identify the parts: Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the different components of the detergent tray. This may include a primary detergent compartment, fabric softener compartment, bleach compartment, and any other compartments specific to your machine.
  2. Remove the attachments: If there are any attachments or removable parts inside the tray, such as dividers or caps, carefully detach them. These attachments may pop out or have small tabs or buttons that need to be pressed to release them.
  3. Separate the compartments: If your detergent tray consists of multiple compartments, gently separate them from one another. Some trays have snap-on connectors or screws that hold the compartments together. Use your fingers or a small screwdriver to detach them.
  4. Inspect for residue: Once the components are separated, examine each compartment for any residue, mold, or clogs. Pay special attention to areas that are hard to reach, such as corners and drainage holes.
  5. Take note of any damage: While disassembling, check for any signs of damage or wear and tear on the tray or its components. If you notice any cracks, breakage, or missing parts, consider replacing them to ensure optimal performance.

By disassembling the detergent tray, you will have a clearer view of any build-up or issues that may have been hidden when the tray was fully intact. This step is vital for thorough cleaning and helps ensure that all parts of the tray are properly cleaned. Once the tray is disassembled, you can move on to the next step of soaking and scrubbing the components to remove any dirt and residue.

Step 3: Soak the Tray in Warm Soapy Water

After disassembling the detergent tray, it’s time to give the components a thorough cleaning. Soaking the tray in warm, soapy water will help loosen stubborn residue, dissolve any detergent buildup, and remove any odors. Follow these steps to effectively soak the tray:

  1. Prepare the soaking solution: Fill a basin or sink with warm water. Make sure the water is not too hot to avoid damaging the tray. Add a small amount of mild dish soap or laundry detergent to create a soapy solution. The soap will help break down oils and residue on the tray’s surface.
  2. Place the tray in the water: Submerge the disassembled detergent tray into the warm soapy water. Ensure that all the compartment parts are fully submerged, allowing the water and soap mixture to penetrate every crevice.
  3. Let it soak: Allow the tray to soak for at least 30 minutes to an hour. This will give the warm soapy water enough time to loosen and dissolve any stubborn residue or stains. For heavily soiled trays, you may need to extend the soaking time.
  4. Agitate the water: Occasionally, gently agitate the water and tray to help dislodge any dirt or buildup that may be clinging to the components. You can do this by swirling the water or lightly brushing the tray’s surfaces with a soft-bristle brush or toothbrush.
  5. Focus on stained areas: If there are specific areas of the tray with stubborn stains or residue, use the soft-bristle brush or toothbrush to gently scrub those areas. Be careful not to apply excessive force, as it may scratch or damage the tray.

Soaking the detergent tray in warm soapy water softens and loosens dirt and residue, making it easier to clean in the next steps. Remember to be gentle when handling the tray, especially if it’s made of plastic or has delicate components. After the tray has soaked, you’re ready to move on to the next step of scrubbing and removing any remaining residue from the components.

Step 4: Scrub the Tray

Once the detergent tray has finished soaking in warm soapy water, it’s time to scrub away any remaining residue and dirt. Scrubbing the tray will help ensure a thorough cleaning and remove any stubborn stains or buildup. Follow these steps to effectively scrub the tray:

  1. Retrieve a soft-bristle brush or toothbrush: Select a brush with soft bristles to avoid scratching or damaging the tray’s surface. A toothbrush or small cleaning brush works well for this purpose.
  2. Take one tray component at a time: Start with one compartment of the detergent tray. Lift it out of the soapy water solution and place it on a clean surface or in a separate container.
  3. Scrub the tray: Dip your brush into the warm soapy water and scrub the interior and exterior surfaces of the tray component. Pay attention to any corners, crevices, or drainage holes where residue may have accumulated. Use gentle but firm strokes to dislodge any dirt or buildup.
  4. Focus on stubborn stains or residue: If you come across any areas with stubborn stains or residue, apply a bit of extra pressure while scrubbing. You may also use a paste made of baking soda and water or vinegar to help lift and dissolve tough stains and odors.
  5. Rinse the tray component: Once you have scrubbed the tray thoroughly, rinse it under warm running water to remove any soap residue. Make sure all traces of soap and dirt are washed away.
  6. Repeat for the remaining tray components: Repeat the scrubbing and rinsing process for each compartment or part of the detergent tray. Take your time to ensure that all parts are clean and free from residue.

By scrubbing the detergent tray, you effectively remove any remaining residue, stains, or dirt that may have persisted after soaking. Remember to be gentle yet thorough in your scrubbing process to avoid damaging the tray. Once all the components have been scrubbed and rinsed, you can move on to the next step of drying them and preparing for reassembly.

Step 5: Rinse and Dry the Tray

After scrubbing the detergent tray components, it’s essential to rinse them thoroughly to remove any remaining soap residue. Proper rinsing ensures that the tray is clean and ready to be reassembled. Follow these steps to rinse and dry the tray:

  1. Rinse with warm water: Hold each tray component under warm running water, allowing the water to flow through and rinse off any remaining soap residue. Ensure that all surfaces, corners, and crevices are thoroughly rinsed.
  2. Check for soap bubbles: While rinsing, pay attention to the water running off the tray. If you still see soapy bubbles in the water, continue rinsing until the water runs clear. This ensures that no soap residue is left behind.
  3. Shake off excess water: After rinsing, gently shake each tray component to remove any excess water. This helps speed up the drying process.
  4. Pat dry with a clean towel or microfiber cloth: Using a soft and absorbent towel or microfiber cloth, gently pat dry each tray component. Take care not to rub or scrub the surface, as this may leave lint or scratches.
  5. Air dry the tray components: Once you have removed most of the moisture, place the tray components on a clean, dry surface to air dry completely. Make sure to leave them undisturbed until they are fully dry.
  6. Ensure complete dryness: Before reassembling the detergent tray, double-check that all components are completely dry. Moisture or dampness can lead to mold growth or unpleasant odors.

By rinsing and drying the detergent tray components thoroughly, you eliminate any remnants of soap and ensure a clean and fresh tray. The completely dry components are now ready for reassembly, allowing you to proceed with the next steps in the cleaning process.

Step 6: Clean the Detergent Compartments

With the detergent tray components cleaned and dried, it’s time to focus on cleaning the individual detergent compartments. These compartments are separate areas within the tray where you add detergent, fabric softener, bleach, or other laundry additives. Follow these steps to effectively clean the detergent compartments:

  1. Inspect the compartments: Take a close look at the detergent compartments inside the tray. Check for any residue, stains, or clogs that may have accumulated.
  2. Prepare a cleaning solution: Mix warm water with a small amount of mild dish soap or laundry detergent. This gentle cleaning solution will help break down any remaining residue in the compartments.
  3. Dip a sponge or cloth into the solution: Moisten a sponge or cloth in the cleaning solution. Make sure it is not dripping wet, as excess water can make a mess inside the tray.
  4. Scrub the compartments: Use the sponge or cloth to scrub the inside of each detergent compartment. Pay special attention to any areas with stubborn residue or stains. Gently scrub in circular motions to dislodge any buildup.
  5. Rinse with warm water: After scrubbing, rinse the compartments with warm water to remove the cleaning solution and any loosened residue. Use a clean sponge or cloth to wipe away any remaining soap or debris.
  6. Check for clogs: While rinsing, ensure that the compartments’ drainage holes or nozzles are clear from any clogs. Use a small brush or toothpick to unclog these openings if necessary.
  7. Dry the compartments: Once rinsed, use a clean towel or cloth to dry the compartments thoroughly. Make sure there is no residual moisture left behind.

Cleaning the detergent compartments ensures that they are free from any residue or clogs, allowing for proper dispensing of laundry additives during future wash cycles. With the compartments cleaned and dried, you can now proceed to reassemble the detergent tray and continue with the next steps in maintaining a clean washing machine.

Step 7: Reassemble the Tray

With the detergent tray and compartments thoroughly cleaned, it’s time to reassemble them to their original configuration. Follow these steps to reassemble the detergent tray:

  1. Take each tray component: Gather the cleaned and dried detergent tray components, including the main tray and any separated compartments or attachments.
  2. Fit the compartments back into place: Slide each compartment back into its designated slot in the main tray, ensuring they fit snugly and are evenly aligned.
  3. Reattach any removable parts: If there were any removable attachments, dividers, or caps, securely place them back into the appropriate compartments.
  4. Ensure a proper fit: As you reassemble the tray, double-check that all components are securely in place and properly aligned. This will prevent any leakage or dispenser malfunctions during future use.
  5. Push the tray into the washing machine: Once the tray is fully assembled, carefully insert it back into its designated slot in the washing machine. Push it firmly but gently until it locks into place.
  6. Verify a secure fit: Give the tray a slight tug to ensure it is securely locked in position. It should not wobble or easily come loose once reassembled.

Reassembling the detergent tray properly ensures that it functions optimally and dispenses the right amount of detergent, fabric softener, or bleach during each wash cycle. By following these steps, you can confidently move on to the next step of cleaning the exterior of your washing machine, knowing that the detergent tray is securely in place.

Step 8: Clean the Exterior of the Washing Machine

While you’ve been focused on cleaning the detergent tray, it’s also important to give attention to the exterior of your washing machine. Over time, dust, dirt, and other debris can accumulate on the surface, making it appear dull and less appealing. Follow these steps to effectively clean the exterior of your washing machine:

  1. Gather cleaning supplies: Prepare a bucket of warm water, mild household cleaner, and a soft cloth or sponge for cleaning the exterior of the machine. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that may damage the surface.
  2. Unplug the washing machine: Before cleaning, make sure your washing machine is completely powered off and unplugged for safety.
  3. Dampen the cloth/sponge: Dip the cloth or sponge into the bucket of warm water and wring it out to remove any excess moisture.
  4. Clean the top and sides: Starting from the top, wipe down the surface of the washing machine using the damp cloth or sponge. Move in gentle circular motions, paying close attention to areas that may accumulate dust or dirt.
  5. Pay attention to buttons and knobs: Use a cotton swab or toothbrush dipped in the cleaning solution to clean around buttons and knobs, where dirt and grime can collect.
  6. Don’t forget the control panel: Carefully wipe down the control panel, taking care not to apply excessive pressure that may damage the sensitive buttons or digital display. If necessary, use a gentle, non-abrasive cleaner specifically designed for electronics.
  7. Clean the door and rubber seals: Focus on the washing machine door and the rubber seals around it. Wipe away any dirt or residue using the damp cloth or sponge. An old toothbrush can also be handy for cleaning hard-to-reach areas or removing stubborn stains.
  8. Remove detergent spills or stains: If there are any detergent spills or stains on the exterior, use a mild cleaner and a cloth to gently remove them. Avoid using abrasive materials that may scratch the surface.
  9. Rinse and dry: Rinse the cloth or sponge and wipe down the exterior of the washing machine with clean water to remove any cleaning residue. Use a dry cloth to wipe away excess moisture and ensure the machine is completely dry before plugging it back in.

Cleaning the exterior of your washing machine not only enhances its appearance but also helps maintain its overall cleanliness. By following these steps, you can keep your washing machine looking clean, fresh, and well-maintained.

Step 9: Maintain a Clean Detergent Tray

Now that you have thoroughly cleaned the detergent tray, it’s essential to establish a routine for maintaining its cleanliness in the long run. Regular maintenance will help prevent the buildup of residue, mold, and unpleasant odors. Follow these steps to keep your detergent tray clean:

  1. Clean the tray regularly: Make it a habit to clean the detergent tray at least once a month or as needed, depending on the frequency of your laundry usage. Regular cleaning prevents the accumulation of residue and ensures optimal performance.
  2. Wipe down after each use: After each wash, take a few moments to wipe down the detergent tray with a damp cloth or sponge. This helps remove any excess detergent or fabric softener that may have spilled during use.
  3. Leave the tray open to dry: To prevent moisture and mold growth, leave the detergent tray open after each wash to air dry completely. This allows any residual water or moisture to evaporate, reducing the chance of mold or mildew.
  4. Use appropriate amounts of detergent: Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for the recommended amount of detergent and laundry additives. Using excessive amounts can result in excessive suds or residue that can accumulate in the tray.
  5. Choose high-quality detergents: Opt for high-quality, low-residue detergents to minimize buildup in the detergent tray. Look for detergents specifically formulated for your washing machine and type of laundry.
  6. Inspect and clean dispenser nozzles: Regularly check the dispenser nozzles or ports where the detergent is dispensed into the washing machine drum. Use a small brush or toothpick to remove any clogs or residue that may hinder proper dispensing.
  7. Address any mold or mildew promptly: If you notice any signs of mold or mildew in the detergent tray, clean it immediately using a solution of vinegar or bleach diluted with water. This helps prevent the spread of mold and keeps the tray fresh and clean.
  8. Read the manufacturer’s instructions: Familiarize yourself with your specific washing machine’s cleaning recommendations. The manufacturer may provide specific instructions or cleaning cycles designed to maintain the cleanliness of the detergent tray and other components.

By incorporating these practices into your laundry routine, you can maintain a clean and properly functioning detergent tray. Regular cleaning and maintenance not only ensure the longevity of your washing machine but also keep your laundry smelling fresh and clean.