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How to clean a washing machine

How to clean a washing machine

It may sound strange: clean a washing machine? But if you notice a rotten smell after opening the door, your machine is probably dirty. Residue laundry detergent and bits of dirt are often the main culprits as these can get stuck inside the drum, filter or drain, causing unpleasant odours and can even leave stains on your clothes. Regular cleaning can help prevent mould, dirt, and mildew in the long run. From natural methods to cleaning tabs – we’ve got you covered with these top tips to clean a washing machine, for that fresh, just-washed whiff and sparkly clean clothes .

Cleaning your washing machine naturally with vinegar

Vinegar is a great natural cleanser and is safe to use with almost all washers. Empty your machine and remove any large pieces of dust or hair. Prepare 100 cl of white vinegar mixed with 60g of bicarbonate of soda. Pour the mixture into the detergent drawer or the drum, and run a normal empty washing cycle. The bicarbonate of soda and vinegar will help to loosen built-up residue. For persistent dirt, you can leave the mixture to work its magic a little longer using your machine’s soak option. Afterwards, rinse the machine with a cold water cycle and leave the door open to help dry the inside.

Using washing machine cleaning tabs

If your machine still stinks after using natural cleaners or you don’t like the smell of vinegar, several commercial product options are available. But first, it’s worth checking that your manufacturer’s guarantee doesn’t advise against using certain cleaning products as that could invalidate your warranty. Tabs are usually safe choices for cleaning the washing machine drum. Simply add a tab to the empty drum for a wash cycle. They’re suitable for both front and top load machines and can be used once a month. 

Cleaning washing machine mould

The best way to keep your machine mould-free is to prevent it through general maintenance. But we know that’s not always possible. Mould is usually found around the rubber seal on front-loading machines. It’s where moisture collects to become a perfect breeding ground for mould. To effectively get rid of spores, prepare a cleaning solution of half a cup of hydrogen peroxide (or white vinegar), a few squirts of lemon juice and two cups of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it on the affected surface. Leave it to soak for a few minutes and then scrub away the mould with a sponge or towel. Make sure you wear gloves when handling hydrogen peroxide.

It happens rarely, but if you suspect that mould is growing at the back of your washer drum, it’s best to call in an expert. 

Washing machine drain cleaning

Over time, detergent residue, dirt, and grease can block the drainpipe. When a washing machine drains slowly, it’s time for a clean. Locate your washer’s drainpipe (usually at the back of the machine). If the blockage is mild, you can try pouring very hot water down the pipe to dislodge residue. For more tenacious blockages, use a commercial drain cleaner and follow the packaging directions.  

Cleaning the washing machine filter

The filter is where most of the dirt and germs are caught to help block larger pieces of gunk from obstructing the machine. It’s a good idea to empty the filter regularly (every two to three weeks) and wipe all its parts with a damp cloth. Most machine filters are located at the front bottom of a washer. Simply open the hatchet and clean away. 

General maintenance tips

A good scrub every month or two is important, but you can help keep your machine in shape for longer in between cleaning cycles by practicing some general maintenance. 

When it comes to cleaning a front-loading machine , wipe the inside with a dry towel after each use. Irrespective of washing machine type, keep the door open after use for the inside to air-dry. Run your machine without a load or detergent adding a cup of oxygen bleach every three to six months.