How To Clean A Washing Machine: a simple way to extend its life

How to clean a washing machine laundry image

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It might seem paradoxical, but we need to learn how to clean the washing machine. Apart from being the hygienic choice, it’ll also help your washing machine last longer, which is great for your wallet and the environment. 

If you want to learn how to clean mouldy rubber seals, how to clean your washing machine with soda crystals and vinegar, or simply how to clean the washing machine drawer, but your brain already feels like it’s on a spin cycle, don’t worry! We’ll get you through this. 

How often should I clean my washing machine?

You might be laundering – sorry, wondering – “It’s full of water and soap when it’s working, so surely we don’t need to…do we?”. Well, yes you do. After all, you want your clothes to smell as fresh as a daisy when they come out of the washing machine, right?. 

So, to avoid the build up of bacteria, fluff, old leaves, and an ungodly amount of tissue which could leave your clothes smelling the bad kind of funky, we recommend you clean your washing machine once a month.

How to clean a washing machine with soda crystals

Add 500g of soda crystals to the detergent drawer, turn the dial up to a hot setting, and wash on an empty load.

If you add white vinegar to the drum before the wash, that’ll help remove any limescale and leave your dream machine looking brand-frickin’ new. 

White vinegar is a great natural cleaning product which doesn’t harm the environment after it leaves your house. It’s affordable and easy to find, and great for getting into all the nooks and crannies where fluff likes to build up, such as the door or under the rubber folds. 

How to clean a washing machine seal

Ah, the seal. The perfect habitat for mould and mildew, the smelly twins of the washing world. 

For this next trick, we will call forth white vinegar, a cotton-pad and cotton bud (or old, disused toothbrush if Q-tip is unavailable). 

Starting with the large, exposed parts of rubber, soak your cotton pad in white vinegar and scrub mercilessly (careful not to damage the rubber).. 

Then, peel forward the rubber folds and delicately run your vinegar-soaked cotton bud through those hard-to-reach areas. 

Finally, rinse on an empty load on a warm setting. 

READ MORE: Latest Washing Machine Energy Ratings Explained

How to clean a washing machine filter

Filters are like the gallbladder of the washing machine – no one knows they’re there until something goes wrong.

Cleaning the filter is the real piece de resistance of the ‘Wash Your Washing Machine’ adventure and it is the best way to extend the life of your loving washing companion. 

Here’s the simple, nine step process:

  1. Turn off your machine and unplug it (or switch off the plug power). 
  2. Locate your filter. 
  3. Remove your filter. 
  4. Gently use a paper towel to remove any lint from the filter. 
  5. Remove the filter screen and soak it in hot water for 15 minutes. 
  6. Pat it dry before putting it back on the filter.
  7. Inspect the filter socket for any further lint. 
  8. Reassemble. 
  9. Turn the power back on. 

If you want your washing machine to last a long time (and why wouldn’t you?? It’ll help you save money and be mindful of the environment), then repeat this process every two to three months. 

How to clean a washing machine drum

The drum is where all the fun happens, so it can get a little messy in there with mould and ‘interesting’ smells. And while it might seem like the cleanest part of your machine, it still needs a little TLC from time to time.

How to clean a washing machine drum lemon and vinegar image

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  1. Step one: bribe a young family member to clean the drum for you (our experience tells us a young nephew can be bribed with exactly one Twix).  Failing that, take 300ml of vinegar (or 450ml if you have a top-loading machine) and add the vinegar into your drum.
  1. Then set the temperature to about 90 degrees celsius, and sit back and enjoy the relaxing sounds of whooshing water and germs being obliterated. 
  1. If you don’t have vinegar at hand, you can always turn to the humble baking soda. It’s great for removing bad smells.

(Bonus tip: if you have both, you can use them at the same time as they act in different but complementary ways to clean your machine!) 

  1. Then add a few spoonfuls of baking powder to the detergent drawer, set the temperature to about 90 degrees celsius, and wait around 40 minutes. 
  1. After you’re done, set your machine to do another wash, this time with just clean water, to remove any residues of baking powder and vinegar.

How to clean mould from washing machine drawer

Mould, the silent, toxic killer, and ironically the root of all delicious French cheeses. You definitely don’t want it in your washing machine drawer. Luckily, we promised we’d tell you how to clean a mouldy washing machine, and here we are!

Whenever you’re dealing with mould, you want to make sure you wear goggles, rubber gloves and a dust mask because it is toxic, and it can get into your body and make you ill, so:

  1. Put on goggles, dust mask and rubber gloves. 
  2. Remove the washing machine drawer
  3. Place the drawer in a hot water and vinegar mix and let it soak for an hour. 
  4. Scrub the drawer clean. 
  5. Clean the drawer space in your machine with water and vinegar.
  6. Let the drawer and drawer space air dry
  7. Pop the drawer back in!

How to clean washing machine pipes

In order to clean your washing machine drain pipe, you’ll want to: 

  1. Turn off the water connection and unplug your machine. 
  2. Locate your pipe and get a bucket. 
  3. Place the bucket next to the pipe hatch to catch any water. 
  4. Pull out the pipe into the bucket. 
  5. Pour some water through your pipe to check for debris. 
  6. Using a wire attached to a cloth, pull the wire through your pipe to dislodge any debris. You can do this a few times to really get any gunk out. 
  7. You can then soak your pipe in warm water either a cup of white vinegar and a cup of baking soda, or soda crystals. 
  8. After an hour, remove the pipe from the water and pass the wire and cloth through it once more. 
  9. Rinse with clean water and let it air dry. 
  10. Reinsert into the machine, reattach the water and turn the electricity back on. 

How to get rid of black mould in washing machine

Mould likes to hide in wet and warm places, so unfortunately, your entire washing machine is susceptible! 

Your best bet is to scrub any visibly mouldy areas with vinegar and lemon (make sure you’re wearing goggles, mask and rubber gloves!). 

Then, give the entire area a thorough wipe down. Mould spores travel easily and start growing before they become visible to us. 

Finally, put your machine on a high heat cycle, after which you should open everything up (remove drawer, open door wide) and let it dry. Wick up any excess moisture with a microfibre towel. 

So now that you’re awash with information… 

Clean washing machine free of black mould image

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… some final notes about keeping your machine clean. The best thing to do is prevent mould and residue from building up as much as possible in the first place. 

To do this:

  • Wipe down the door and seal after every use
  • Leave the door open to air-dry
  • Consider putting a dehumidifier in the same room as your washing machine
  • Regularly clean your washing machine

The environment, and your bank account, will thank you for it. Remember, if you don’t want to use DIY products like vinegar and lemon, you can always opt for eco cleaning products.