Houseworks: how to clean a funky washing machine

A smell coming from inside the machine is a tell-tale sign of mould and bacteria build-up

Cleaning your machine is a fairly simple task. Photograph: Getty

Cleaning your machine is a fairly simple task. Photograph: Getty

 

I wasn’t aware that cleaning your washing machine was even a thing. However, after googling why there was a musty odour coming from our freshly-washed clothes, and also from the machine, it transpires the smell is a tell-tale sign of mould and bacteria build-up, and that we should have been cleaning our five-year-old machine on a monthly basis.

It’s a fairly simple task, and for the most part can be resolved by running a service wash which involves running a wash using the hottest water setting with no clothes in the machine. On certain machines, there is a dedicated drum cleaning setting on the dial.

It’s a moot point as to whether you should use de-scaling products or chemical cleaners to boost your service wash as doing so may invalidate the warranty, so check the maker’s manual or website first. DID Electrical advises customers to add two cups of white vinegar to the detergent dispenser and run the machine through a complete cycle. Then run another hot empty cycle but this time, add ½ cup of baking soda, mixed with water, to the drum. The combination of baking soda and vinegar naturally breaks up any mineral deposits and mould growth, providing a cheap and easy way to sanitise and extend the life of your washing machine.

Once the two cycles are finished run a damp sponge around the inside of the drum to remove any residue from the vinegar or baking soda.

Rubber seal

Mould and bacteria also have a tendency to build up in the rubber seal in the washing-machine door, so cleaning the seal with diluted bleach or a degreasing kitchen spray will help combat this. If the seal has patches of mould or black marks on it, or if there are cracks causing water leakage, a replacement seal is most likely needed.

Lastly, it’s advised to leave the door slightly ajar (or the lid up propped open a little you have a top-loading machine) between loads, to allow the drum dry out and prevent mould and mildew build up.

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