The combination of warmth and moisture inside and the fact that they are difficult to air out means that washing machines can be susceptible to mildew, odors, and general discomfort (a technical equipment term). Plus, a clogged filter can make your washing machine less efficient and even dangerous.
That’s why you need to clean your washing machine regularly. It’s a good idea to treat it quickly every month or so, or when you notice any discoloration or build-up on the door gasket, or if you notice that your laundry is coming out less fragrant.
How to clean the filter
Do you know where the filter is? Can you identify it if it is standing in front of you, working with a robot? As you might have guessed, the filter is there to collect fluff, hair, tissues, coins and other things that, mixed together, will form the world’s worst stew.
If your filter gets a little clogged, things can get messy, so step one is to get a deep tray (like a baking tray) and an old towel before you do anything else. You will need these as some of the water will inevitably drain when you remove the filter. If your filter is very clogged or your washing machine is not draining properly, it could be pretty much of water.
If you’re in the UK, the filter will likely be behind a small, low door in front of your washing machine. Place the tray below it. You may need to use a flat-head screwdriver to open the door.
Inside, you’ll find a small, circular filter that can be opened. If there is a small tube going through the front of the filter, then gently pull this free piece out and allow it to drain into the tray before you do anything else.
Then simply remove the filter and remove any debris stuck inside. Easy! (Okay, this might be more disgusting than I’m allowing.)
Don’t forget to reattach the filter and close it properly before you use the machine again.
… And the rest of the machine
Laundry detergent drawer
Take out the detergent drawer. It can be inlaid with dry cleaning products and quicklime. Put it in a sink full of warm water and then scrub it with a scouring sponge or old toothbrush. Don’t forget to clean the drawer compartment.
If complete removal is not possible, use a long-handled hand brush or an old toothbrush to scrub the inside of the drawer.
It’s time to seal the door. Remove hair or fluff from the rubber gasket inside the door. Don’t forget to gag while doing this. If there are any marks or stains on the rubber that could be a sign of mold, take that toothbrush out again and brush them back gently. Finally, clean the inside of the washer window if detergent is left on the glass.
Use only detergent and warm water on the rubber gasket. More harsh cleaning products and vinegar can damage the rubber and cause the seal to shrink. That means the machine is leaking.
If there are traces, use a toothbrush or brush to remove them. Otherwise, let the machine clean itself. Put two tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda in the detergent drawer and pour half a cup of white vinegar into the tub, then run the washing machine hot.
Again, don’t overdo it or use it too often, as it can damage the rubber components.
The easy part now. Clean the outside of the machine with a soapy sponge or soft, damp cloth.
Complete! Leave the door open to let air in. Treat yourself to a cup of tea to remove the memory of the disgusting stuff you found in the filter.
For more appliance advice, see our article on how to maintain your washing machine.
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