Monday, 18 March 2013

How to Clean a Washing Machine

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Yep, it's another Monday spring cleaning post! I say "spring" cleaning but with the weather we've had this last week it's more "Siberian winter cleaning". But I digress (sorry, Brits generally like to talk about the weather)...

I didn't think my washing machine was particularly dirty until I took a good look at it. My intention was just to give it a deep clean for general maintenance but it turned out that parts of it were decidedly yuck and in dire need of a scrub. So warning, this post comes with graphic pictures of dirt and grime.

This was the ickiest part of the washing machine. The detergent drawers can grow all sorts of nasties because of the warm, damp environment, and you will also get a build up of soap over time. Many detergent drawers are removable which makes them far easier to clean. You can run them through the dishwasher and they will be sparkly clean and bacteria free. As far as I can tell, my detergent drawer is non-removable though, so I had to fall back on my white vinegar and baking soda paste cleaning staple. 

If you can't remove your drawer but it isn't too grubby then a spray and wipe with some white vinegar might do the job. My washing machine had some tough-to-remove stains so instead I mixed a couple of tablespoons of baking soda with a little white vinegar, and spread the paste on the worst affected areas. 

Don't forget that you will need to clean beneath the drawer too. It also gets mucky under there. 

I left it for a while then gave it a thorough wipe. An old toothbrush helps with hard to reach spots. This is how it looked once I was done.

Next I turned my attention to the door, which wasn't nearly as bad. I used a spray bottle filled with one part white vinegar to one part water to remove build up from the glass, then wiped around the rubber seal. After wiping around the seal I wiped the area with a damp cloth soaked in plain water. This is because white vinegar is great for cleaning pipes, removing build up, deodorising and killing nasties but it's not so great for rubber in the long term. It's best not to leave vinegar on there. 

Last of all I put a cup of white vinegar in the detergent drawer and ran the washing machine on the hottest wash cycle. Many people regularly use low temperatures to conserve energy but this causes problems for the machine in the long term, like mould, build up and musty smells. You need to run a hot wash (preferably 90 degrees) at least once a month. If you don't have white vinegar then you can also use soda crystals or citric acid to remove grease and other build up from your washing machine. 

After cleaning your washing machine or doing a load of laundry you should leave the door open on your washing machine to allow the drum to air dry. Obviously you will need to exercise common sense and caution if you have small children or pets in your home, particularly if you have a top loading machine. 

Anyone else got some tips for cleaning a washing machine naturally?


  1. Another tip: never forget the filter -:)))

    Have a nice day

    1. Yes, that is an excellent tip :)

      I haven't included it in the post as how you remove and clean out filters can be highly individual to the machine, but it is good to do it once in a while to preempt the possible problems from lint build up, small coins that have worked their way into the machine, etc.

  2. Great post! I really need to do this to my machine! It really needs it! I just vacuumed out my furnace filters, and boy did they need it! Have a lovely week Angela! Angie xo

  3. So interesting that you posted this because I just cleaned my washing machine yesterday. I used my steam machine and was amazed at the gunk that came loose with the steam. I even steamed the inside basket. I have a top loading machine and I noticed an area just outside & around the basket that was unbelievably dirty, probably because I don't use hot water often. I think steam, vinegar, & baking soda are a much better option for cleaning than the little tablets you can buy.

  4. Great post! Spring cleaning here in Germany as well and I needed this one!

  5. Great tips! Thanks for sharing at my Twirl & Take a Bow Party! Have a great week.
    House on the Way

  6. Great tips!

    Would love for you to link it up at my new Empty Your Archive link party which is a chance to dust off great posts from your archive - there is a focus this week on laundry - would really love to see you there, Alice @ Mums Make Lists x

  7. I giggle every time I see a teeny tiny British washing machine!!


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