From the laundry basket of the Homegrown Mama
I do a lot of laundry in this house. I have 2 kids in diapers, we play outside and we don't use paper towels. You do the math. I use either soap nuts or homemade detergent for my laundry, so there aren't chemicals swirling around in the basin
After some lengthy research online, I discovered that you actually need to clean the washer from time to time. I imagine that as my kids get older and our adventures lead us to muddier pastures, I may need to use this clean up again. Until then, maintaining a washer can help lengthen the life of the machine and keep you from ruined clothes as a result of soap scum building up in your washer drum (trust me, when I say this, there was a horrible disaster involving a sweater that I had only gotten to wear once and I'm still sad over it).
Instead of using bleach, I scrub down the washer drum with a paste made from half a cup of baking soda, 5 drops of tea tree oil and 1 teaspoon of Dr. Bronner's liquid castile soap. I add enough water to the paste so that it has a slushy consistency and then hang over the side of the washer into the drum, scrubbing away. Then, I run a quick rinse cycle with a cup of Borax (and the rag from scrubbing) with warm water. After that, the only lingering scent in your washer is well... nothing. And as far as I'm concerned the smell of nothing when I toss my dirty laundry into the washer beats the smell of stink or bleach any day!