How to clean a washing machine in 6 simple steps

Follow our top tips for killing germs, banishing bad odours and preventing timescale. Make your washing machine gleam and your whites bright

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Over time your washing machine will get grimey and possibly even start to smell. If you notice bad odours this means mould or bacteria may be building up inside. Removing mud and stains from clothes, especially if you have active children, will eventually take its toll on any machine. Which is why it’s important to to know how to clean your washing machine and give your appliance some TLC as often as possible. 

By following our simple step-by-step guide your machine will be in peak condition and your clothes will look and smell great.

Once you're done, see all our cleaning buys, how-tos and hacks to keep your home sparkling.

You will need:

Read your washing machine’s manual for instructions on how to clean, some manufacturers discourage the use of de-scaling products in their machines. In some case this may invalidate your warranty, so check before you do anything. 

1. Wash the detergent drawer

To begin cleaning your washing machine remove detergent drawer at the front of the machine, check your manual if you need advice for how to fully remove. Soak the drawer in hot, soapy water and using an old toothbrush scrub away any soap build up or mould. Rinse thoroughly, dry with a tea towel and put back.

2. Cleaning with vinegar

Set your machine on its hottest cycle (or a minimum of 60 degrees) and pour 230ml of white vinegar directly into to the drum. The vinegar is the perfect solution to help to purify your machine. 

interior of a washing machine drum

(Image: © Getty)

3. Cleaning with bicarbonate of soda or baking soda

Add two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda into the detergent drawer, this will be acting as the soap. The soda and vinegar work together to naturally break through dirt and remove mould while cleansing and refreshing your washing machine. Start the hot cycle. 

4. Leave to dry

Let the cycle come to a natural finish and open the door letting the inside of the drum air-dry. If any bad smells or excess grime are lingering repeat the process again.

5. Clean the rubber seals

Using a damp cloth saturated with soapy water wipe around the rubber seals of the washing machine. Be careful when you lift them away from the metal as you may accidentally rip or unseal them. Where possible wipe away any residue that is stuck to the seal. If necessary gently remove any stubborn grime with a toothbrush 

6. Exterior clean

Using a damp cloth and washing up liquid clean any stains from the outside of the washing machine and wipe away any dust. Dry the exterior with a clean kitchen towel. 

Hacks to keep your machine in tip top shape

  • Use only as much detergent that is necessary: follow the guidelines on the packaging; overloading detergent will create a build up inside the machine.
  • Rinse and remove any excess dirt from muddy clothing before putting inside your appliance.
  • If you live in a hard water area use a water softener attached to your in-flow pipe or put softener tablets in with your wash. Both of these will help minimise the build-up of lime scale.
  • In between washes leave the door open, or at least until the interior and drum has dried out. This reduces the chance of mould and bacteria growing inside.
  • Leave the detergent drawer open as well in between cylces, to prevent mould growing in there.
  • Once a month run an empty hot wash to eliminate any build-up and smells. 

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