Smelly washing machine? You might be forgetting to clean a crucial part

When all else fails, it could be that you have missed an essential part when cleaning your washing machine. Check you are getting every bit with these tips

how to clean a washing machine
(Image credit: Ikea)

Think you know how to clean a washing machine? We all do the same thing – shove in some bleach, vinegar or washing machine cleaner and pop it on a hot wash. Job done right? Wrong. More often than not, this will leave your drum and the outlet nice and clean, but there is still a bit of a pong when you open the door.

There are a few reasons why your washing machine could smell and as we all know, a smelly washing machine will inevitably lead to smelly clothes. Nobody wants that. So, while there is no shortage of advice on cleaning washing machines online – our own guide to cleaning a washing machine included – here are the top places you might have missed in your clean.

Read on, grab your Marigolds and that smell will be gone in no time. 

1. Clean the washing machine door seal

It is amazing how many people forget to clean the rubber seal around the door of their washing machine, and unfortunately it is one of the easiest places for dirt and mildew to gather. First, pop on some rubber gloves and scoop out anything that may have got stuck in the gaps between the seals. Coins, fluff, hairballs and all sorts end up here. If there is a lot of water in there dry this out with a cloth to start, too.

Then get a sponge and some soapy water (washing up liquid will do) and give the seal a good scrub. Embedded mildew might need a specialist spray but do check it won't cause the rubber to perish.

To keep this clean, wipe out excess water after every load of washing. It takes a couple of minutes, but will save lots of time getting rid of mould down the line.

2. Don't forget the detergent tray

The detergent tray is another place that standing water can collect and cause mildew. Leftover detergent can also form a nasty slime if left. To get rid of this dirt, spray in some vinegar to kill the bacteria and mould. Leave for half an hour, then arm yourself with an old toothbrush to give everything a good scrub. You can then pour some water through to rinse.

If it is really dirty, you can see if the drawer can be removed. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to get it out, then leave to soak in hot soapy water. Give it a good clean with a toothbrush and sponge, then dry thoroughly before replacing.

3. Empty the filter

Many of us don't touch the filter until there is a leak or blockage. Check it regularly and these are less likely to happen. Every fortnight, get a shallow tray under the filter outlet to catch any water (or some old towels and newspaper if it is too close to the floor for a tray) and unscrew the filter. 

This can start to smell if things are left in there, so remove any debris or gunk, give it a quick clean in soapy water and replace. If you have pets and fur gets on lots of things you wash, you may need to do this more regularly. 

4. Clean the drum to finish the job

Only once you have cleaned the seals, detergent drawer and filter should you put in some of the best washing machine cleaner and finish with the drum. This means any leftover detergent and grime will get washed away rather than getting pulled into your next wash.

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