If you're trying to find a washing machine cleaner that will actually work on getting rid of washing machine smells, you'll be happy to know we've done all the research you need. Some washing machine cleaners really aren't worth the expense or the application effort – but even good quality buys can struggle if you don't do the basics to get the best results.
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What does that mean? First of all, you do need to give your washing machine a service clean at least once a month – you can find out more about that in our guide to cleaning a washing machine.
If you need an incentive to do this, back in August we reported on the worrying quantities of bacteria found in washing machines, especially when people only do their laundry on low temperature cycles. Give it a read; it'll convince you. But it's not just about bacteria. If you live in a hard water area, you'll have to deal with limescale buildup, too. A humid climate? Welcome mould and musty smells.
Ideally, then, you'll want a washing machine cleaner to tackle all of those problems, descaling and deodorising at the same time. But, as it turns out, not all washing machine cleaners are able to multi-task. Some products on the market work to effectively descale and remove mould, but they leave behind a very unpleasant smell of their own. Not great considering you want your washing machine to be a source of cleanliness and freshness.
Other products may leave behind a lovely fresh scent – liquid washing machine cleaners, we're looking at you – but they don't seem to do very much in the way of cleaning (you might as well just chuck a load of soda crystals in your washing machine instead).
However, we have found two washing machine cleaner products that give the right balance of cleaning and deodorising, and are cheap to buy. The first is the effervescent washing machine cleaner from Amazon – it comes in a bath bomb-like format, and you just throw it into your washing machine when you're doing a service clean (without any clothes in it). These tablets come from China, so may take a while to arrive, but the price – £6.90 for a 25-tablet pack – is worth the slightly longer wait.
Concerned about how eco-friendly your washing machine cleaner is? The Ecozone Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaner has a very simple, biodegradable formula, and it's a two-in-one product, which makes it even more useful. The cost is £5 for six tablets.
Prefer to use household without using commercial products? Read our guide on how to clean a washing machine.