To keep your washing machine clean and in top operating condition, it’s a good idea to clean it regularly.
This will get rid of detergent residue and any other nasty bits and pieces that tend to come off your clothes.
There is a cheap and simple way of doing this which won’t ruin your washing machine and is environmentally safe. Here are some tips on how to clean your washing machine.
How to Clean a Top Loading Washing Machine
To clean a top loader, run a normal wash cycle (on hot) and place 1/2 cup bicarbonate of soda and 2 cups white vinegar in, once the machine has filled with water. Let it run as usual. The bicarb and vinegar break down any grease or dirt particles and keep the hoses nice and clean.
Use a damp cloth with a little washing up liquid to clean any stains on the outside and wipe away dust residue.
If the fabric softener dispenser is grotty, remove and either run it through your dishwasher (in the top basket) or wash in the sink with hot soapy water. Replacing fabric softener with vinegar is not only cheaper, it’s better for your machine too!
How to Clean a Front Loading Washing Machine
If you have a front loader, add 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda into the detergent drawer and 1/2 cup white vinegar into the drum then run a normal wash (on hot). Just keep an eye on the machine while it’s washing as you may find it suds up a lot inside due to the build-up of soap residue. The more often you clean your machine, the less often this will occur over time.
Also take time to clean out the filter (follow the manufacturer’s instructions). Clogged filters is the leading cause of problems in front loading machines.
To prevent mould build-up on the seals of the machine, keep the door slightly ajar in between uses. This allows air flow into the machine and allows any water or dampness to dry. If any mould is present, use equal parts of hot water and vinegar to wipe it away with a cloth. Done regularly, mould will not build up on the seals.
Most front loading machines have removable soap and fabric softener dispensers and this is quite often an area loved by mould. Most pull out quite easily (don’t force it!). To clean, either place in the top basket of your dishwasher or rinse in hot soapy water and allow to dry in the sun.
How Often Does Your Washing Machine Need to be Cleaned?
I clean my machine about once every two or three months, but you can do it really as often as you like. If you are washing greasy clothing or heavily soiled children’s clothing, do it more often. I have used these methods with my own front loader machine many times and can attest to its effectiveness. I have owned my front loader machine now for seven years and it hasn’t missed a beat.
But My Machine is Still Stinky!
Oh dear! You’ve tried all of the above and your machine still smells like a dried up muddy creek. There’s mould lurking around in there. There are two options– natural or chemical!
1. The Natural Way to Ditch Mould in Your Washing Machine
In the empty machine, place about 10 drops of Clove Oil into the drum (either front loader or top loader). Wash on the hottest setting. Clove Oil is a great natural mould killer, but is very pungent so make sure your doors and windows are open! Clove Oil is available from most chemists or health food stores.
Clove Oil is also available online from Sulu Organics (ships from United States)
2. The Chemical Way
For a top loading machine, fill the machine with hot water and add one cup of bleach. Allow the water to agitate for 10 minutes, then discard the water. Run another cycle on empty to get rid of any residue bleach (or you might ruin your clothing!). For a front loading machine, add two tablespoons of bleach to the detergent dispenser and run empty on the hottest cycle. Don’t use any more than that or it could over-sud and this can ruin the electronics in your machine. You may need to repeat this a few times for particularly bad mould problems.
Help! My detergent tray is mouldy!
This happens quite often in the summer months and it is worse for some reason if you use creamy fabric softener. There are a couple of options. The first is to carefully pull the drawer right out of the machine, and pop it in the top tray of your dishwasher. It will bring it up like brand new and will kill all the mould from the heat.
If you don’t have a dishwasher, fill the sink with the hottest water you can. Add a little bleach and a teaspoon of washing up liquid and let it soak for an hour or so. Then remove, rinse it off, let it dry totally in the sun, and pop it back in – easy peasy!
One Other Tip You Should Know…
In summer, hang your washing out right away or both your machine and your clothing will smell damp. If you want to put your machine on overnight, use the delayed timing settings so that it’s ready to hang out first thing in the morning.