Washing your clothes on 20°C cycles? You'll want to use a washing machine cleaner

Horrifying amounts of harmful baceria in our washing machines are due to low temperature washing cycles. Start using a washing machines cleaner, now.

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

Do you use a washing machine cleaner? If you don't you certainly will consider it after reading this. 

There is so much confusion over what temperature you should wash your clothes at – or even if you should wash them at all. Washing your clothes in hot cycles damages them; washing manmade fibres pollutes oceans with microplastics; and, if you are in Stella McCartney's camp of non-washers, there's no need to wash anything, ever. 

It can be hard to know what to do. Am I washing my clothes enough or not? Well, washing your clothes less may prolong their lifespan, and may (marginally) reduce your environmental impact on the planet, but the growing global trend of washing our clothes on lower temperatures could be bad news for our health, as our recent investigation into the horrifying amounts of bacteria that live in people's washing machines has revealed. 

Put simply, if you are always washing everything in 20°C water, you are risking 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 thirty-minute wash with a bit of detergent as your maintenance clean; allow the machine to do a full cycle. We also don't recommend using liquid washing machine cleaners or liquid bleach, as there is still a chance that some of the liquid will be left in the tray or other parts of the machine, which means ineffective cleaning. 

Washing machine cleaner tablets are more effective, especially in hard water areas. Of all the different ones we've come across, Finally Fresh cleaner tablets were the best at removing both dirt and unpleasant washing machine smells but at the moment they are only available in the US. If you are UK based, take a look at Power Fresh instead on Amazon.

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