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Not sure how to clean a washing machine or even why you should be doing it in the first place? In this post, we’ll share some effective cleaning tips for maintaining your machine and emphasising the importance of preventing bacterial growth.
Why You Need to Clean Your Washing Machine
There are so many reasons to clean a washing machine that you might not have considered before. First of all, most of us now operate our washing machines at low temperatures, which can lead to more foul odours coming from the appliance—even on newly cleaned clothes. These low temperatures can be a perfect environment for germs and bacteria to live in, resulting in a musty, dirty aroma that easily transfers onto your laundry.
Although washing at 60 degrees can stop this build-up of bacteria, we all know that this setting isn’t that great for the environment and our wallets. Not to mention that a higher temperature can result in shrunk clothes. Instead, we’ve gathered some cleaning tips to keep your washing machine low maintenance and long-lasting while eradicating any nasty smells.
Cleaning Your Washing Machine
Bleach is a great contender because it can power through dirt and mould from all areas of the washing machine. For the top and front loader of the washing machine, add 64g of bleach into the drum and 64g into the detergent drawer. Then, begin cleaning your dirty washing machine with an empty hot wash. Once the washing machine has run for an hour, pause the setting and start the cycle again.
Once finished, run a rinse cycle without any liquid detergent to ensure that there’s no more bleach. Once the cycle has finished, wipe the inside of the door with a damp, clean cloth and leave the seals to dry out. For your next wash, ensure that there are only white clothes inside the washing machine (just in case there’s any bleach remaining).
Using White Vinegar and Baking Soda
White vinegar is an effective ingredient for cleaning a washing machine because it can kill bacteria, and the smell won’t linger during the next washing cycle.
For the top loader, set the washing machine to its hottest temperature and pour 230 ml of white vinegar into the drum. Once the cycle has finished, add baking soda that’s about 1/2 teaspoon full and run it on the hottest cycle again. Then, clean the interior door seals and exterior of the door once complete, and wipe down everything on the inside to make sure that the solution has properly come off.
For the front loader of the washing machine, open the detergent drawer and add 120 g of white vinegar, then run a cycle at the hottest temperature. Once the cycle has finished, wipe down the drum using a soft cloth and target the door seals and exterior of the washing machine.
Citric acid is effective in cleaning a build-up of rust, limescale, and detergent.
Begin by boiling water in a pan and removing it from the heat. Dissolve 300 g of citric acid in the hot water, and add the solution directly to the washing machine’s drum. Then, pour a little remaining into the tray. Run the washing machine on a hot cycle without anything include.
Cleaning the Exterior of a Machine
You should also clean the washing machine’s exterior to keep the washer in tip-top condition. For the top and front loaders, use a damp cloth and wash up liquid to remove any stains from the outside of the washer and remove dust. Dry the surface with a clean towel to remove any liquid.
Another component to focus on is the rubber seal, which can breed mould and mildew, as well as hair grips, coins and more. Use a damp cloth with soapy water and wipe down the rubber seals, ensuring that you’re careful when you left them away not to rip them. Wipe away any residue that’s stuck to the seal, and remove any grime with an old toothbrush.
When you clean your washing machine, it’s important to clean out the detergent drawer, too, as this can be a breeding ground for mould, mildew, grime and bacteria caused by leftover fabric softener and old water. Fortunately, doing so is easy. Remove the drawer and rinse the inside under hot water to get rid of any soap scum. To get rid of any product build-up, use an old toothbrush.
Cleaning a Washing Machine’s Filter
A clean filter can prevent any vibrations and loud noises while the washing machine is in use. And it’ll take longer to complete the cycle while also randomly stopping the cycle. Here’s how to thoroughly clean your machine’s filter for the best results.
Step 1: Unplug and Wipe
Begin by turning off the appliance and disconnecting it from the power, and ensuring that the water supply is shut off. Then, lay a towel on the floor and place a large shallow container outside of the washer to catch any loose water. Locate the black drain hose and unclip the pump cover.
Step 2: Drain
Remove the cap off the drain hose over the bowl to allow the water to seep into the leak. You might need to complete this process several times. Once all of the water has drained, ensure that you replace the cap and the drain hose and put it back into position.
Step 3: Remove the Filter
For the next step, unscrew the filter cap and slide it out. Water will leak into the towel you’ve placed on the floor in front of the washing machine. In addition to water, you may also find coins and lint. Ensure that you remove all loose pieces and accessories and clean the filter.
Step 4: Secure
Screw the filter cap back into the locked position, and close the pump cover, ensuring that it clicks into place to make sure it’s properly secured.
Ways to Prevent a Stinky Washing Machine
Nobody likes a smelly washing machine, so here are some top tips to avoid a bad smell in the first place.
- After a wash cycle, leave the detergent drawer open to air out in-between cycles to prevent mould build-up.
- Don’t use more detergent than what you need. Overloading the drawer can leave a build-up of product, which can then result in mould, mildew, grime and soap scum forming.
- Around once a month, run a hot wash cycle to prevent mildew and bad smells from forming. You can also add vinegar or baking soda to the drum for extra precaution.
- Leave the door open on the washing machine in-between washes to allow the interior to dry out and reduce bad smells from forming.
- Regularly wipe down the exterior of your washing machine. It is one of the easiest yet most effective cleaning tips to prevent a smelly washing machine. There won’t be a damp breeding ground for bacteria.
- To keep your appliance as clean as possible, don’t throw dirty clothes straight into the washer without checking them over. Brush off excess dirt and mud from clothes before throwing them into the washer.
- If you have hard water in your area, add a water softener detergent or softener tablets in with each wash to prevent a build-up of limescale.
- Clean the filter once every four months so the washing machine can function at its best.
- Clean the seals on the washing machine, and check that nothing has fallen in between the crevices of the seals.
Maintenance Tips for Washing Machines
Use It With Respect
It can be easy to assume that your washing machine can handle anything because it’s so big and bulky, but this is a misconception. Although a washing machine has a powerful motor, it’s still a delicate piece of equipment that requires proper care and operation. Never stuff clothes into the machine because it’s easy to tear the rubber gasket this way. Instead, take a few extra seconds to gently place your belongings inside the machine to prevent any scratches and damage to the washing machine.
Additionally, never overload the washing machine with more clothes than the capacity can handle because it won’t be able to rotate thoroughly, which will have a negative impact on the drum’s movement. As a result, you’ll be left with a damaged motor and partially cleaned laundry.
Use the Best Detergent for Your Clothes
Don’t just use any detergent in the washer; instead, choose the best cleaning product for your clothes. In particular, there can be a big difference in quality between budget and expected detergents. Some cheaper detergents can be too harsh and contain too much alkaline, which can damage your clothes (especially those with gentle fabrics) and your washing machine.
Keep Your Eye on the Hose
Your washing machine’s hose requires care and attention for the machine to work to its best potential. For a smooth flow of water at all times, keep your eye on the hose. No matter what time of washing machine you hair (whether that’s semi-automatic or automatic), it’ll contain three hoses. Make it your duty to check that the inlets are connected to the water source without any cracks. Not only will this prevent any water leaks, but it’ll ensure that your washing machine works at its optimum.
Your machine’s hose is responsible for taking out dirty water, lint and small particles. But these can often build up in the pipe, causing a pipe. If this happens, you might need to replace the drainpipe completely or book your washing machine in for a service.
Keep On Top Of Spillages
It’s inevitable that spillage will happen because it’s important to keep on top of the exterior of your washing machine by removing spillage when they happen. It includes detergent leaking from the drawer due to overloading the drawer. This residue can become sticky over time and create a pungent smell, so avoid leaving it on the surface for a long time.
Add a Drip Pan Underneath
Place a drip tray underneath the washing machine on the outside to keep it in the best condition. Doing this will protect your floors because water leaks can create damage as well as build bacteria and mould on the washing machine itself.
Keep the Washer on a Stable Surface
Ensure that your machine is on a stable surface to prevent any rocking or vibrations during use. It is particularly important when you’re using the machine on a fast spin cycle. Turn the legs clockwise to lower it and the other way to raise it. Alternatively, placing the machine on an uneven surface can cause a lot of noise and vibrations during use.
What Happens If Your Washing Machine Is Never Cleaned?
There are so many ways to make your washing machine cleaner. But what if you choose to ignore these cleaning tips? What will happen to your machine? Perhaps the most obvious yet least dangerous is smelly clothing, which results in a smelly you.
Think of the frustration of putting on a clean wash for your clothes to come out of the washing machine, smelling worse than when you put them in. When clothes aren’t completely washed, they can create serious mildew problems. Although perfumed detergents can mask odours, these fragrances can fade, which can make the original problem noticeable again.
Superbugs Can Breed
Another reason for regularly cleaning your washing machine is to prevent breeding superbugs. If you don’t clean a washing machine often enough, it can result in bacteria and mouth growth. Additionally, if you’re not regularly cleaning your washing machine, it can experience more gunk, which is made up of leftover fabric softener and minerals and chemicals building up, which creates a film that can trap bacteria.
This bacteria then builds up in rubber seals, in the washing drum and in detergent drawers. And if you’re constantly using a low-temperature washing cycle, that bacteria isn’t dying, but it’s actually breeding more.
It Won’t Last As Long
Finally, the best way to keep your machine in tip-top condition is to embark on regular cleaning sessions on the inside, front and back of the washer. Unfortunately, if you don’t service or properly care for your washing machine, it’s less likely to last as long due to blocked tubes, bacteria build-up, bad smells and more.
Put the Cleaning Tips to Good Use
Whether you run an empty cycle or use baking soda after every use, learning how to clean a washing machine is as important as knowing how to use it. Remember that cleaning doesn’t just mean the inside of your machine. It also means taking care of the exterior of your washing machine as well as its filter.
How do you take care of your washer? Let us know the best home tips in the comments.
Amy is a U.K.-based writer and editor with a penchant for helping consumers find the best home products for their needs, as well as providing easily digestible guides for living better at home. Her dedication to her work means she can usually be found elbow-deep in research or hunting down samples of the latest and greatest on behalf of her readers.
An avid DIYer herself, Amy’s passion lies in teaching others how they too can achieve their dream homes by tackling some of those pesky projects themselves! Whether it’s building furniture from scratch or turning an old dresser into a coffee table, Amy is always happy to share what she knows about making your house feel like home without spending a fortune.