It might seem a bit odd, that an appliance that’s designed to get your clothes clean could need cleaning itself. But If you’ve had that conversation with a friend where you’ve complained ‘my washing machine smells‘. it’s a fair bet that your washer could do with a spring clean.
Washing machines are vulnerable to invasion by moulds and mildew. If you generally use biological detergents and low-temperature cycles there could be bacteria in there too. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s a relatively simple job. Read on to find out all about the best way to clean a washing machine.
Where should you be cleaning?
The drum itself is not the biggest problem. Mould is most likely to lurk in the hard-to-access places that retain moisture when the machine’s not in use, basically, that’s in and behind the gasket around the door, and also in the rubber hoses that drain the water at the end of the cycle.
Cleaning the Gasket
Figuring out how to clean the washing machine drum seal is a little tricky because it’s designed to fit tightly and you don’t want to dislodge it or damage it. Open the washing machine door and take a good look at the gasket, you may be able to turn it inside out, if so your life just got easier, if not you’re going to have to gently clean it with the rubber in place.
Start with a dry cloth, and rub this around the entire gasket. If the gasket can’t be turned inside out it’s best to cover a finger with the cloth and push into the rubber. If the seal is dirty you’ll see the mould and mildew on the rag when you pull the cloth out. Keep doing this until the cloth is coming out clean. Next, make up a mix of one part bleach and ten parts water, spray this onto the seal if you can, or onto the cloth if you can’t. Again work your way around until you’ve cleaned all the rubber. The water/bleach mix will both lift more dirt and also kill off fungal spores and any bacteria or viruses that are hidden in the machine.
Cleaning the drum and hoses
This is the easy bit. Simply put a cup of bleach into the detergent compartment and run an empty cycle using the hottest and longest setting you have available to you. Add an extra rinse cycle for good measure. At the end of the cycle open the door. If you can still smell bleach run another hot cycle without any extra cleaning products. The combination of bleach and hot water will sanitise your machine, get rid of those unpleasant odours and mean that in future your clothes will come out cleaner and smelling fresher.
Alternative cleaning products
Citric acid is a good choice if you want to remove limescale build up. A 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide is a reasonable alternative to bleach if you have a strong objection to chlorine fumes, but it takes longer to work. You’ll need to start the hot cycle then pause it with water in the washing machine for three hours or so to get the best effect.
Keeping the machine clean
Leave the door open after a wash, it doesn’t need to be wide open, just not latched. Fresh, circulating air is the enemy of all types of fungal spores and making sure that your washing machine is dry between cycles will make the difference between your clothes coming out sweet and fresh or smelling like old socks.