How to clean a washing machine

Make your washing machine pristine and clean by following these simple steps.

Woman pulling clothes out of washing machine

by Bryony Firth-bernard |

Just because your washing machine cleans your clothes and makes them smell fresh, doesn’t mean it also shouldn't be cleaned from time to time.

Every week it works hard to banish stains from your favourite garments, as well as remove dirt and bacteria, so it’s important it gets a good cleaning so it can continue doing its job well. You should aim to clean your washing machine once a month. Not sure where to start? Just follow these simple steps below to help keep it in tip top condition.

How to clean a washing machine

Any leftover fabric conditioner and detergent that’s leftover from your wash will build up over time and can lead to mold and your washing machine smelling bad. Here’s how you can give it a deep clean:

• Run a cycle - newer washing machine models come with a cleaning cycle where all you need to do is add some bleach. If yours doesn’t, just add ½ a cup of bleach to the dispenser and just run a normal cycle with hot water. Alternatively, you can always use a washing machine cleaner.

• Rinse and spin - once your washing machine has completed its cleaning cycle, pop it back on for another rinse and spin. This is just to make sure all the bleach has been washed away.

• Clean the dispenser draw - some washing machines have a removable dispenser draw, if yours does, take it out, pull it apart and clean it in a sink of hot water. If there’s any old build up of detergent or conditioner, just gently scrub it away with an old toothbrush. Once it has been cleaned, dry it, reassemble and pop it back into the washing machine.

• Clean the drum and rubber seal - wipe the rubber gasket clean (as mold can build up here) and make sure you dry it thoroughly too. Give the door and drum a final wipe too, then leave the door open to let it air dry.

Related: How to clean a tumble dryer

Washing machine cleaners

Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner Lemon, 250ml

Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner Lemon, 250ml
Amazon

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This washing machine cleaner won't only leave your machine smelling of zesty lemons, it also removes 99.9 per cent of bacteria, works as a descaler and removes limescale. Recommended to use every two months.

Verified customer review: "Cleared my washing machine that I discovered was blocked up when the fabric softener draw wouldn't drain the excess water. Left it smelling nice and fresh."

Dr. Beckmann Service-it Deep Clean Washing Machine

Dr. Beckmann Service-it Deep Clean Washing Machine
Amazon

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Simply pour this into the drum of your washing machine and select a 60 minute wash at 60u00b0C and it will kill 99.99 per cent of bacteria, fungi, viruses and leave your machine smelling lovely.

Verified customer review: "Removed the odour that was starting to build in my washing machine. I drum wash the machine once a month and regularly clean the detergent drawer however a sour, mildew smell was starting to build. The powder completely eliminates the odour. Will be purchasing again as recommended."

Dylon Washing Machine Cleaner 5-in-1

Dylon Washing Machine Cleaner 5-in-1
Amazon

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Removing limescale, dirt and residue, providing freshness, a hygienic clean and preventing odours, is what you'll get from this 5-in-1 washing machine cleaner.

Verified customer review: "Easy to use, just pour in and turn machine to the right temperature setting and away you go. Washing machine was sparkly and smelt fresh afterwards."

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Tips to clean a washing machine that smells

1. Leave the washing machine door slightly open after each use. This will allow the air to circulate around the drum and dry out remaining moisture that can lead to damp, musty smells.

2. Remove your clean clothes soon after your wash is complete. Again, this will prevent musty odours from developing.

3. Make sure there’s no pet hair in the drum. If you have pets in your household, you’ll most likely find hair in your machine. Leave your washing machine door open until the drum is dry, once it is, go back in with a hoover using a soft end nozzle to remove the hair.

4. Regularly check the gasket is dry and free of any small items, as this can become a breeding ground for mould.

Related: The best ways to clean a dishwasher

Washing machine cleaning cycles

As well as using a washing machine cleaner, some washing machines come with specific cleaning cycles designed to give your machine a thorough clean. We spoke to Vivien Fodor, Hotpoint’s Category Manager for Laundry in the UK and Ireland, who shared how their washing machines have been made to keep your wash as hygienic as possible.

“Contrary to their primary purpose of keeping our clothes clean, washing machines can collect dirt and bacteria inside of them. Yet one in five Brits never clean their washing machines – this is partly due to a lack of awareness of needing to, and people not knowing how. To tackle this, at Hotpoint, we developed an automatic cleaning cycle that runs through our washing machines. Simply press and hold the AutoClean button for five seconds, and the machine will start a cleaning cycle - removing detergent, soap build up, chemicals and bacteria.

“Many of Hotpoint's washing machines also features an antimicrobic door seal, which prevents and protects your machine from bacteria build-up by 99 per cent*. Therefore with Hotpoint, you don‘t need to worry about cleaning your washing machine by hand, and it will work effectively for longer warding off unpleasant smells and keeping your clothes clean and fresh.”

*Certified by TUV

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