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How to Clean Under the Agitator of a Washing Machine

Nathan McGinty

An off-putting smell coming from your washer isn't just annoying, it might also seep into your clothes, following you around all day. These smells are usually the result of mold or mildew growing in the tub of your washer. The area underneath the agitator can harbor odor-causing bacteria, as it provides a warm and damp place for those organisms to grow. Remove the agitator in a washing machine so that you can clean the tub beneath and get your laundry smelling fresh again.

Remove your agitator before cleaning underneath.
  1. Unplug the washing machine from the socket where it is currently connected.

  2. Open the hood over the tub and rest it against the control panel.

  3. Examine the top of the agitator. If this agitator has a fabric dispenser on the top, remove this by twisting the dispenser counter-clockwise. Otherwise, the agitator will probably have a cap on top covering the agitator bolt. Pry the top off of the agitator with the edge of a flat-blade screwdriver.

  4. Remove the agitator bolt with a socket wrench and extension, if needed.

  5. Put on a pair of sturdy work gloves. Reach underneath the agitator and grasp it firmly. Pull up on the agitator and slide it up and off the agitator shaft. Set aside.

  6. Clean the part of the tub and agitator hub concealed by the agitator with a standard bathroom cleaner and rag. A nylon brush can be used to get off any stubborn mold or mildew. Clean off the bottom of the agitator while it is out of the machine as well.

  7. Apply a few drops of dish soap to the agitator hub. Slide the agitator back over the hub. Replace the agitator screw and tighten. Replace the cap or fabric dispenser.

  8. Run a short load on the highest temperature setting. Pour 1/4 cup of bleach into the machine to rinse it out and help disinfect after cleaning.