It's used for cleaning – but how often do you think about cleaning the washing machine itself?
It's not just your clothes that need attention; the washing machine deserves some too! If you're wondering how to clean a washing machine, you're in luck. From day-to-day maintenance to deep cleaning, here's everything you need to know to keep your washing machine sparkling clean and in tip-top shape.
What's the best way to clean a washing machine?
When cleaning a front-load washing machine, you should focus on three key areas: the detergent drawer, the machine drum and the doors.
How to clean the detergent drawer
The detergent drawer can quickly become one of the dirtiest areas of your washing machine. The drawer sees a lot of products, and both detergent and powder can gather – especially if you fluctuate between gel and powder products. Once damp product gathers in the drawer, it can become musty and a breeding ground for mould.
You should wipe down the drawer after each use. Most drawers are removable, so you can take them out and soak them in warm water for a more thorough cleaning. Just remember, always let them air dry completely before putting them back into the machine.
How to clean the washing machine drum
The drum of your washing machine sees most of the action. It comes into contact with dirty clothes during every wash, so it can gather a lot of dirt.
A quick and easy solution for cleaning your washing machine drum is white wine vinegar. White wine vinegar is excellent for cleaning and removing odours; add a glass to the empty drum and then run a normal cycle. The great thing about a washing machine is that it will do a lot of the cleaning work for you – you just need to set it off!
If you're regularly cleaning your machine drum with white wine vinegar, this should be enough to keep it clean. However, if you haven't washed your machine drum in a while or you want a more intense clean, you can also use a bleach solution or a professional machine cleaner. Just be careful with harsher products, and always double-check your machine manual and the product instructions to ensure they're compatible.
How to clean the exterior and doors of a washing machine
For the rest of your machine, such as the door and exterior, we'd recommend a regular wipe-down with a soft cloth and a general cleaning spray.
Pay special attention to the seals around the door and drum. These seals keep the water in during your wash cycle, which means they themselves come into contact with a lot of moisture, so they can gather dirt and mould if not cleaned regularly. We'd recommend wiping around the seals after each wash, or every couple of washes as a minimum, to stop mould from building up.
How to deep clean a washing machine
If you're following the above advice regularly, your machine should remain clean. However, every few months, you should put aside time for a thorough deep clean to catch any areas you've missed.
- Use a cloth, a soft brush or an old toothbrush to pay special attention to nooks and crannies, like the seal or around the door.
- Run a hot water cycle, as detailed above, adding white vinegar, bleach or a specialist cleaning solution.
- Double-check and clean the filters of your washing machine. In front-loading machines, these are usually located at the bottom and to one side – but check your manual if you're struggling to locate it. There will usually be a cover, which you should remove before taking out the filter. Then, use a cloth, soft brush or toothbrush to lift any accumulated dirt.
How to get rid of smells from a washing machine
The best way to avoid bad smells in your washing machine is through regular cleaning. Bad washing machine smells are often due to moisture and dirt becoming musty, damp and mouldy, which can be avoided with regular cleaning.
White wine vinegar, in particular, is great for dispelling odours. You can either add some to the drum and run an empty cycle or spray it onto a cloth to wipe down the interior and exterior of your machine.
Bicarbonate of soda, or baking soda, is also a great household item for cleaning and removing smells. You can combine bicarbonate or baking soda with a small amount of water to make a thicker paste for cleaning. Use this to wipe around the drum, let it sit for a while, and then run a hot cycle.
Always leave the machine door open after a cycle to avoid musty smells. This allows it to air dry and stops moisture from becoming trapped and causing issues with dampness.
3 tips to keep your washing machine cleaner, for longer
To help keep your washing machine running at its best for even longer, you should regularly maintain it. We'd recommend:
- Clean your washing machine regularly
The above steps should be enough to keep your machine clean and running efficiently – you just need to remember to do them regularly! Taking five or ten minutes to wipe down after each cycle is a small step that could save you a lot of cleaning time in the long run.
- Remove clothes as soon as they're washed
Leaving damp clothes sitting in the drum isn't good for the clothes or the washer, as they can get musty as moisture sits and bacteria breeds. When your cycle is finished, remove the clothes from the drum as quickly as possible and leave the door open to air out and dry naturally.
- Don't overdo detergent
Many people think using more detergent or fabric softener will make their clothes and the machine smell better – but using too much detergent can actually create a breeding ground for germs. Using too much detergent can block the drawer itself and leave too much residue in the machine drum, so only add the recommended amount.
You should also try to stick to either powder or liquid detergent, or at least ensure the drawer is thoroughly cleaned and dried before you change products. Using a liquid detergent and then switching to power without cleaning the drawer means the powder will stick to any leftover residue, creating a paste that is trickier to clean.
With these simple tips, you can ensure your washing machine is in prime condition and keep your laundry game strong.
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