How to clean a laundry basket or hamper – and how often you should be doing it

Experts reveal the best methods to effectively clean your laundry basket regardless of what it's made from

laundry room with sink and hamper
(Image credit: Porcelain Superstore)

Our laundry hampers are one of those areas that we often overlook when doing a regular clean, but when left alone, they collect smells and bacteria that permeate the home and become unhygienic. 

And while doing laundry isn’t the most arduous household chore, there does seem to be a never-ending supply of it to be done, so our hampers are regularly exposed to all kinds of germs. 

Most laundry baskets and hampers can be cleaned using a hard surface disinfectant, available at Walmart. But for a deeper clean, our experts have shared their top tips to clean your laundry basket depending on its type of material.

Experts share how to clean your laundry basket or hamper

Whether you are cleaning cloth, wicker or plastic, there is a variety of cleaning techniques and products you can use to suit your type of hamper.

yellow and green laundry room with tongue and groove

(Image credit: Original BTC)


‘Plastic containers are the easiest to clean,’ says Colin Matthiesen, which is great especially if it has been used to house dirty clothes and transfer the clean clothes after a wash.

‘Simply fill the hamper with warm water and add a couple of drops of a mild detergent,’ Colin continues. ‘Scrub the interior, exterior, and bottom with a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly and air-dry completely before using again.’

Cloth or fabric

Laundry baskets

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If your hamper has a removable fabric or canvas liner, you can typically launder it. ‘Start by emptying the hamper or basket, take it outside and give it a good shake to remove loose dirt and debris,’ says Muffetta Krueger, Founder of Muffetta's Domestic Assistants.

‘Wash it in the washing machine on a gentle cycle using warm water and mild detergent. Be sure to air dry the liner completely before putting it back in the hamper.’

Muffetta Krueger

Muffetta is the founder and CEO of Muffetta's Domestic Assistants, a licensed agency. They provide personally tailored maids & household placement services in The Lower and Mid Hudson Valley, New York City, Connecticut and Nationwide.   


Laundry room ideas with large windows filling the upper half of the room, white painted walls and gray cabinetry with a tall wicker laundry basket in front.

(Image credit: Lifestyle Floors)

Despite being an attractive way to contain and hide dirty laundry in our laundry rooms and bathrooms, wicker and rattan require a little more care and attention when cleaning.

‘Wicker material cannot withstand water consistently for extended periods of time,’ says Dave Bringer, laundry expert. ‘So I wouldn’t suggest running your wicker laundry basket under water as it will ruin it.’

Dave Bringer does recommend thoroughly wiping the basket clean with a cloth and some liquid soap or soda solution. Brush dust and dirt off it thoroughly and air it out in the sun.

You could also line your wicker basket with a fabric bag, at Amazon, fitted into it to clean it more easily.

Dave Bringer
Dave Bringer

Dave Bringer is from Louisville, Kentucky and is a laundry appliance expert with over 30 years of experience.

How often should you clean your laundry basket or hamper?

First of all, your laundry basket ideally needs to be empty before you can effectively clean it. With cleaning schedules adapting to daily life, one general rule is to clean it once a month, however, if you notice yourself putting in heavily stained clothes more frequently, fortnightly may be required.

How do you get mold out of a cloth laundry basket?

Spray the cloth laundry basket with equal parts white vinegar, at Walmart, and water. Vinegar has antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it an effective way to kill many types of mold spores. Saturate any visible mold stains with the solution. Allow the basket to soak for five minutes.

For a quick and easy clean, most laundry baskets and hampers can be sprayed with a disinfectant and left to dry. For a more thorough clean there are some effortless techniques to remove any bacteria or bad smells from your home or on your clothes. Keeping it clean will banish any odors and make things more hygienic, and if you would rather have yours out of sight, there are lots of ways to hide a laundry basket that also keep it within easy reach.

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.