Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaner: does it really work?

The Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaner claims to remove 99.9% of bacteria from your washing machine. Is that really possible? We investigate

Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaner
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaner claims to be no ordinary cleaner: not only does it claim to clean your washing machine, but it also says it will remove nearly all bacteria from it. 

Why might you need that? If you've been reading our news pieces regularly, you'll know that cleaning your washing machine is important: doing so can lengthen its life by removing limescale, it can ensure your wash comes out fresh and, done properly, can remove the potentially harmful bacteria lurking there in their millions. In fact, if not cleaned regularly or after you've washed anything that someone with an stomach upset has been using, your washing machine can even make you sick by passing the bacteria on to the next load. And this is even more strongly the case if, like the majority of us, tend to stick to cooler wash cycles to help save on energy use.

But can a descaling treatment really remove bacteria? We look at the science behind the Dr Beckmann product. 

So, just how does this washing machine cleaner so many people swear by actually work to kill bacteria? The answer is very simple: it contains bleach. The sodium hypochlorite contained in bleach breaks down the proteins that bind together living microorganisms such as bacteria. 

Now, the truth is that bleach alone will not kill all bacteria: it's actually in combination with 1) hot water, which has a disinfecting effect, and 2) the mechanical process of washing that the 99.9 per cent bactericide is achieved. 

The conclusion? You should always use your Dr Beckmann on a hot washing cycle – and it is recommended for use on a 60ºC cycle. 

What else can Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaner do? It also claims to eliminate detergent residue from the washing machine drum, pipes and seals of your machine, while removing the dirt and grime that creates nasty odours (back to that bacteria again, which is what's making the smell). Alongside moving dirt and grime, this product should eliminate limescale on your machine’s element to improve efficiency while protecting against future breakdowns. 

How often to use it? Every couple of months – or every 30 washes. Or, after you've washed the clothes of someone who's been ill.

As for whether it's any good? In our experience it works as well as any of the other washing machine cleaners on the market – complaints that are common for all of them are that the products don't remove the mouldy smell or leave a chemical smell instead. 

Our advice? A mouldy smell might take more than one or two cleans to remove – or there might be a more serious problem that only a washing machine service can fix. We'd also recommend cleaning your washing machine regularly, whether it smells or not, to keep the problem at bay. Plus, leaving both the drawer and door ajar after a wash will allow it to air, which slows bacteria build up.