Can You Run A Washing Machine Empty?

The washing machine is one of the most utilized home appliances, and one of the most commonly asked questions is if it can be allowed to run empty. This has been a topic of many discussions which is why we've looked into this to learn more about running your washing machine empty and we have some tips to share with you in this post.

Yes, you can run a washing machine empty. Actually, you should run it on empty because this is the best way to deep clean the accumulated dirt inside your washing machine. Running your washing machine on empty is one of the preventive maintenance procedures you should do to keep your washing machine in tiptop shape.

We know that this information may be a surprise to some, which is why we are going to elaborate more in this post. We will discuss ways on how you can clean your washing machine and some tips to keep it working at its best. Keep reading this post to learn more about the best practices in owning your own washing machine.

Washing machine with towels in laundry room interior, Can You Run A Washing Machine Empty?

Can You Run A Washing Machine Empty?

Laundry room with white wall,wooden floor and flowers

Washing machines are blessings in disguise, especially for moms who have to do multiple loads of laundry for their families. Out of all the home appliances, it is quite possibly one of the many that run at least once each week. Multiply this by months and years, and you've got a washing machine that has accumulated a lot of gunk.

A lot of washing machine users believe that they are cleaned every time you run a wash cycle. This is completely false. Dirt, lint, and other things that were stuck on your clothes do tend to accumulate in the washing machine after a cycle. This will clog the ducts and all this dirt will eventually stain your clothes.

One of the most important things that you should do is to regularly clean your washing machine. To keep your machine at its peak condition, make it a point to run it on empty to completely flush out the dirt and grime that has collected. If you haven't cleaned your machine for a very long time, it is highly suggested to deep clean it as well.

How To Clean A Washing Machine

Hand in blue gloves cleaning washing mashine with piece of cloth

Maintaining your washing machine is as simple as running a regular wash cycle—only without the clothes. You also need a few simple household items to thoroughly clean your washing machine, and you only need to do this at least once a month. Here are the steps for cleaning a washing machine:

Items needed:

  • Spray bottle
  • Microfiber cloth or rag
  • Old toothbrush
  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda


  1. Using a spray bottle, spray vinegar inside the washer drum and let it sit for a few minutes. Wipe the drum with the microfiber cloth to remove the grime that the vinegar has removed.
  2. Clean and wipe the door and the rubber gasket of your washing machine. Take your time wiping down all the nooks and crannies because these areas tend to collect mold and grime.
  3. Add about two cups of vinegar to your washing machine's detergent dispenser and run your machine on the highest, hottest cycle setting. This will be the longest cleaning cycle and the hot water will help eliminate stuck grime and dirt in your machine.
  4. After completing the cycle, drain the water from your machine. Sprinkle about half a cup of baking soda directly on the washer drum and run another hot cycle. This will effectively clean your washing machine and it will act as the final rinse.
  5. While waiting for the cycle to finish, wipe down the exterior of your washing machine to keep it clean.

Doing this quick cleaning cycle for your machine should help keep it in its best shape. Alternatively, if you don't have that much time to do this deep-clean method for your washing machine, you can use ready-made washing machine cleaners to make life easier.

These washing machine cleaners are easy to use. All you have to do is throw a tablet in the washer tub and leave your machine to run on its own. This should save you lots of time and keep your washing machine clean and free from accumulated gunk. These washing machine cleaners will also help remove odors that might have lingered in your washing machine.

Check out this washing machine cleaner on Amazon.

Should You Run A New Washing Machine On Empty First?

Ideally, a brand new washing machine should be allowed to run on empty before you use it to wash clothes. Running a cycle on your brand new washing machine will help clear out dust and other machine residue left in the machine.

Once your new washing machine has been properly installed, put it on the hottest wash cycle without any clothes inside. This should clean your washing machine initially, plus you should be able to see if there are any defects or problems in your machine. You do not need to add any cleaning products during this time because the hot water will take care of the cleaning for you.

What Shouldn't You Put In A Washing Machine?

Close-up of a woman with a laundry basket washing clothes

Part of doing laundry is making sure to separate clothes and keeping things out of pockets before chucking them in the wash. While this might be a tedious task, it is very important to make sure that certain items are kept out of your washer tub because some items can ruin your washing machine.

If it's not your machine that's getting ruined, you can be sure that it's your clothes that are taking a beating. Some items are not meant to be put inside a washing machine and here is a quick list of these items.


This goes without saying but do not try to wash your suits in the washing machine. Most suits are made of fabrics that quickly shrink or tear, so protect those investments and bring them to the dry cleaners for a wash.

Baby socks

Baby socks or any socks, in general, tend to have a missing partner every time you take out a load of laundry. These small garment items tend to get stuck in washing machine vents and hoses. When washing these items, make sure to put them inside laundry bags to keep them all in place (and complete with a partner).

Check out mesh washing bags on Amazon.

Swimsuits and bras

Swimsuits and bras tend to lose their elasticity more quickly when washed in the washing machine. Your bras might also twist out of shape quickly in the washing machine, and the hooks sometimes cause rips and tears on your other clothes during a cycle. Keep these items out of the washing machine and handwash them to make them last longer.

Embellished clothes

Clothes that have embellishments like sequins, sewn-on buttons, or other glued clothing items should not be washed in a washing machine. The hot water used during a cycle tends to loosen the adhesive, and all the rolling and tumbling in the wash often rip out the sewn-on embellishments from the clothes.

Pet-hair covered clothes

We know you had a great time cuddling and snuggling with your pet, but don't throw that fur-covered shirt in the washing machine right away! Remove as much pet hair as you can with a lint roller before washing your clothes. Wet fur tends to clump in the wash and it may stick to your other clothes or clog the drains of the washing machine.

Sweaters and blankets

Most fabrics used in sweaters and blankets like wool, cashmere, or velvet are a little bit delicate to wash in a washing machine. If you would like to wash these in the washing machine, make sure to check the tags and see if they can be thrown in the wash. However, the best way to keep these items clean is to bring them to a dry cleaner.


Lace is a very delicate item and with the rough washing motions of a washing machine, this material will easily get ruined. These delicate items are best washed by hand.


A lot of people don't know this but ties are typically made of delicate fabric that easily gets ruined in the washing machine. To remove stains from your ties, it would be best to spot clean them before handwashing.

Final Thoughts

Interior of a real laundry room with a washing machine at home

A washing machine is quite possibly one of the things that are going to be so hard to live without, especially for a family with lots of laundry to wash. Always make sure to maintain your washing machine properly by running it on empty. Do this regularly and you will never, ever have to worry about your laundry for years to come.

Are you looking for ideas and information for your laundry rooms at home? We've got a couple of articles that might interest you:

How To Keep Laundry Room Pipes From Freezing

4 Best Places To Keep Your Laundry Basket


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