Doing laundry on cool wash cycles? You'll need to use a washing machine cleaner

What happens when you only wash on eco-friendly cool cycles? Harmful bacteria builds up inside the drum, which means nasty washing machine smells at best and tummy upsets at worst

couple doing laundry
(Image credit: Getty/Richard Drury)

Are you careful to stick to your washing machine's eco cycle, only doing cool washes to save energy and money? If you do, you should use a washing machine cleaner regularly. 

Why? Put simply, a washing machine that isn't cleaned and never experiences a hot wash can suffer from a build up of harmful bacteria, particularly within the drum. And these germs can leave you at risk of falling ill from a bacterial infection (think good old salmonella and E.coli). 

And yet, fewer than 20 per cent of us clean our washing machine at all, let alone giving it the monthly maintenance scrub recommended by manufacturers. 

Have we convinced you (We're putting 'clean the washing machine!' in our diaries right now)? 

Fortunately, cleaning your washing machine is really simple: run your washing machine on the hottest cycle it's got, and use a washing machine cleaner. Don't be tempted to do a quick 30 minute wash with a bit of detergent as your maintenance clean; allow the machine to do a full cycle. 

Which to buy: washing machine cleaner tablets or liquids? With liquids there is still a chance that some will be left in the tray or other parts of the machine, which could lead to ineffective cleaning – meaning the machine might benefit from two cycles before being used again for laundry. 

Washing machine cleaner tablets are the most effective, especially in hard water areas. Of all the different ones we've come across, Calgon Washing Machine Tablets 2 in 1 are our top pick, as they not only clean inside the appliance but help to protect the drum and any plastic parts from limescale build-up, too. We also think the Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner in lemon is worth buying, as it kills 99.9% of bacteria and also acts to remove limescale inside the machine.

The long and short? Invest in a good washing machine cleaner – whatever temperature you wash on and however frequently you wash.