When was the last time you cleaned your washing machine? To most people that sounds like a rather silly question. It’s a washing machine, it’s cleaned every time you use it right? With all of that water and detergent swishing about how can it possibly be dirty? Well, in actual fact it’s not that unusual for a washing machine to br horribly dirty in some spots and even harboring mould. Really.
How do you know if your washing machine needs a good clean? It’s easy. Open the door when it’s empty and take a good smell. Does it smell like fresh flowers or more like dirty socks? All too often the answer is the latter and that means yes, you really do need to clean your washer.
Step #1: Clean the Seals and Nooks and Crannies
Note: This is a must for front loading washing machines!
We hate to be the bearers of rather gross bad news but that slightly unpleasant smell is most likely coming from mould and mildew and the seals are the very first place you should look for it. Because they are assembled with a great deal of rubber around the door mechanism – to prevent water from escaping – this is a real problem with front loaders. The fact is that it is very easy for soapy water to seep into the spaces between the seals and as the area really never gets to dry out properly in an oft used washing machine and the perfect breeding ground for mould is created.
So, let’s approach cleaning these areas with the assumption that mould is there, even if it isn’t (there will still be plenty of nasty gunk anyway unfortunately) What you need to arm yourself with are several rags, gloves and a spray bottle filled with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.
Open the washer door and feel your way around the big rubber seal around the door. On some models you may just be able to flip it rather easily but on others you’ll have to use your fingers into the pockets it creates. This is the reason for the gloves.There’s a good chance that your fingertips are going to encounter a patch of slimy mold, and if you are gloved it will be at least slightly less gross.
Now it’s time to clean. Wipe all around the seal with a dry rag to begin with and you may find that much of the gunk comes right off then. Next, spray your cleaning solution on the seal, or, if that’s too tricky, directly onto a rag and then wipe again. Finally take a new, clean dry rag and wipe again to make sure that the seal is not left damp for the problem to start again.
If yours is a top loading washer the mould may be hiding under the lid, in the corners where the detergents go, and in the gaps between the drum and the machine itself (those can get very nasty) so you would have to perform a similar cleaning procedure in those areas.
Step #2: Clean the Washing Machine Basin and Hoses
If you have already found a bit of mould there’s a good chance it’s growing somewhere else in your washer too. To clean the whole washer, you can spend a small fortune on a ‘specialist’ washing machine cleaner product, or you can rely on the bleach solution again which will be every bit as effective just a whole lot cheaper. If you choose to use bleach, ensure your washer is completely empty (don’t want to chance bleaching any clothes by accident) and then fill the detergent compartment with the solution. Set the washer to run a longer hotter cycle and in addition add an extra hot rinse at the end. By the time the bleach solution and hot water are done, that mould won’t know what hit it!
Step #3: Prevention
Once you have everything nice and clean and fresh smelling again to keep it that way should not be too hard. After each wash is finished leave the door or lid open for a while to give everything a chance to dry out properly after wiping the machine down with a lint free dry cloth. This should eliminate the mould attracting moisture and help ensure that your machine stays as clean as it was supposed to.