5 Tips To Rid Your Washing Machine of Black Flakes

Have you ever had this happen to you? You go to do a big laundry load only for it to be covered in ugly black flakes.

Don’t worry; I think it happened to all of us once in a while! This can be a really annoying issue that means you have to wash your clothes all over again. So, why does this happen, and how can you rid your washing machine of black flakes?

The five tips that I suggest for getting rid of black flakes in your washing machine are the Clorox soak, hot wash, and vinegar, regular tub washes, airing out your machine, and not letting wet clothes sit in the machine.

With a combination of more intense cleanings and regular maintenance, black flakes should become a thing of the past.

This article is going to get into five tips on how to rid your washing machine and black flakes and stop them from coming back ever again.

Gomestic Fact: Washing machine cycles are getting cooler, and detergents are more environmentally friendly and less harsh. This may lead to a higher build-up of black flakes.

5 Ways To Rid Your Washing Machine of Black Flakes

Before we tackle the tips, we need to know precisely what they are.

Essentially, these black flakes are a build-up of grease, mold, and bacteria that has happened after many, many washes. This is particularly prevalent with colder washes and hard water.

These tips can be used for both top and front loader machines, but where they need to be adjusted, I will indicate it so you can fit these techniques with your machine.

Here are five easy to rid your washing machine of black flakes:

Clorox Soak

Black flakes can be very tenacious, but Clorox or any bleach will help immensely.

For a top loader:

Fill your machine with water until it is about ¾ full before adding 1-2L of bleach. Leave this to sit overnight before draining.

This should kill off all the bacteria and remove the black flakes, but I recommend doing a tub clean and maybe even a quick wash with the machine empty to get rid of the bleach smell.

For a front loader:

Before you start, put on gloves to protect your skin. Dilute some bleach and use it to soak into paper towels. Then you can use these towels to line the dirty rim of the machine. Be sure to tuck them into the folds of the seal to be extra effective.

Leave them to soak for at least 20 minutes before removing and cleaning out any loosened flakes. Using a cloth, fully clean out the washing machine drum to eliminate any black flakes in that area.

Run a quick wash or tub clean when you are done to remove the bleach smell.

Hot Wash, Vinegar, and Baking Soda

If you want to go the more natural route, you can use the vinegar and baking soda method.

Set your machine on the hottest, highest capacity, and longest setting. Then add 4 cups white vinegar and ½ cup baking soda to the machine and let it run.

If you have a top loader, open the lid when the machine is full of hot water and let it sit for an hour. This will allow the vinegar and baking soda to do their job more thoroughly.

This process may need to be repeated for more stubborn cases.

Once you have gotten rid of the black flakes, there are a few preventative measures you can take to stop this from happening again.

Tub Clean

This may not work on more stubborn black flakes, but it works very well for maintenance.

The way I do it is after every five washes, I will do a tub clean to prevent any black flakes or mold from growing in the tub. This will prevent the issue from happening again and save you from having to use any of the other tips.

This is particularly important for front loaders as the seal for the door can easily trap debris and provide a convenient place for mold to grow.

You can do this simply using the tub clean setting or a washing machine cleaner available in sachets from various brands.

Air Out Your Machine

Mold can very quickly build up in your machine if it is always left closed. This will trap all the excess moisture from the wash and create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

To remedy this, simply leave your machine’s door or lid open for at least an hour after each wash.

Remove Clothes Immediately

In a similar vein to the above tip, removing your clothes right after the wash is finished is a good way to prevent black flakes from building up.

Letting wet clothes sit in the machine will create a moist environment that is a breeding ground for bacteria. It may also cause your clothes to have a weird smell, so you have to wash them again.

Gomestic Tip: Always ensure that you use the right amount of detergent. Not using enough can lead to a faster build-up of bacteria that lead to black flakes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the grey gunk left in my washing machine?

Grey gunk is a different issue from black flakes.

If your detergent doesn’t lather correctly, it will create a grey soap scum that will congeal in the drum and seal on the door. This may happen if you use too much detergent and don’t regularly clean your machine.

What causes debris in washing machine?

Debris and dirt in a washing machine is typically caused by improper maintenance and care. Dirty lint filters can cause the build-up of debris and the accumulation of dirt, fabric softeners, detergents, and other residues in the water and on the drum.

Over time, these contaminants can create clogs or blockages that damage the machine, and leave debris on clean clothing.


Black flakes are a very frustrating part of laundry that can really ruin your day. Luckily, as I have outlined, there are a few things you can do to fix it.

My advice is to handle the existing issue with the Clorox soak or hot wash with vinegar; then, once you have got the issue under control, maintain your machine with a tub wash, airing out the machine and removing wet clothes immediately.

If you add a little extra maintenance to your laundry routine, then black flakes should become a thing of the past.

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