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How to clean a washing machine

A regularly-cleaned washing machine will last longer and provides the best laundry results. Find out how to clean a washing machine using vinegar and baking soda here.


clean front loading washing machine

Key Steps:

  1. Clean your washing machine regularly to keep it functioning at its best – this way your clothes will always come out of the wash clean and smelling fresh.
  2. There’s no need to go out and buy a commercial cleaner. To freshen up your washing machine you can simply use white vinegar and baking soda – two household staples.

Do you know how to clean your washing machine? This might seem like an odd question, but it’s surprising how often people don’t bother or even forget how. Scrubbing out a washing appliance can often feel a little contradictory (“How can cleaning equipment get dirty? Do I know how to clean my washing machine in the first place?”), but it’s actually vital to the laundering process that you do it. From the filter to the drum, to the detergent drawer, read on as we show you how to clean a washing machine and keep your laundry looking clean and feeling fresh.

Allowing air to circulate in your washing machine drum will prevent a build up of excess humidity, thereby discouraging bacteria from spreading – so be sure to leave the drum door open after washes.

How to clean a washing machine filter

What is it? Most washing machines will have a filter to catch any fluff, coins, hair grips or whatever else is lurking in the forgotten depths of your pockets. It can normally be found on the front of the washing machine behind a small hatch.

Why clean it? By keeping your filter free from blockages you can prevent a build up of water, which is often to blame for leaks and water damage to both your machine and kitchen floor.

How to do it: Simply unscrew the filter cap and pull out anything that’s clogging, soaking the filter in hot water if you find the blockage difficult to budge.

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hand cleaning filter with detergent and water

How to clean the washing machine drawer

What is it? It’s the drawer in the front of your washing machine for detergent and fabric softener.

Why clean it? The detergent drawer sees all sorts of cleaning solutions and softeners poured into it – deposits of old detergents mixing together and clinging to the drawer can give you some pretty unreliable laundry results, as well as potentially blocking your machine entirely. So it’s as important to know how to clean out washing machine products as it is to know how to clean the washing machine itself.

How to do it: Sometimes the simplest tools are the most effective and in this case, an old toothbrush can be incredibly useful. Remove the whole drawer and give it a good scrub with washing up liquid and hot water. If you have a dishwasher, placing the detergent drawer inside and running a hot wash is another easy way to give the drawer a good clean inside and out. If there’s mould growing, use a specific mould and mildew product first, which can be applied to the problem area and wiped off easily. Repeat regularly and wave goodbye to any mould, soap scum, limescale, or nasty germs.

hand cleaning detergent drawer with toothbrush

How to clean a washing machine drum

What is it? The main compartment you place your laundry in to wash.

Why clean it? Smell something funny? It’s important that you understand how to clean the washing machine drum as its warmth and humidity can often encourage the development of limescale, and it can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria.

How to do it: By running an empty wash every couple of months you can easily remove odours, limescale and soap scum as well as kill germs. Simply set the empty cycle on the hottest setting, add 500ml of vinegar to the drum and 50g of baking soda to the drawer and press ‘Start’. 

Hand cleaning rubber in washing machine drum

Voila! You should now have a sparkling washing machine, which (if cleaned regularly) will keep you and your family in fresh clothes for years to come.

You might also like to read our articles about how to clean a smelly washing machine or how to use oxygen bleach when doing your laundry.

Originally published