How To Clean A Washing Machine And Keep It Clean


Washing machines are modern miracles, saving us all a lot of time and hard work in keeping our clothes clean. Despite all they do for us, we don’t always treat them properly to maximise their effectiveness and longevity.

That’s probably because it’s not as obvious how to clean a washing machine as it is an oven or dishwasher. There are lots of compartments to check and there are some unique problems that don’t really occur with any other appliance.

We’re here to teach you the best ways to clean a washing machine and how to proactively avoid it getting as dirty again in future.

How to clean a washing machine

Clean the detergent drawer

The first element of your washing machine that you should clean is the detergent drawer, which can often be the dirtiest part of the appliance. Especially if you live with pets and have to keep your home clean. For such a small space, it can get dirtier than you’d think, especially if you recognise yourself in any of these 12 household chores and cleaning mistakes.

To clean it, remove the drawer entirely from the machine and use a household detergent, warm water, and a toothbrush to get it spotless. While the drawer is out, make sure you clean the cavity too.

Clean the filter

The debris filter in your washing machine stops all of the stuff you leave in your pockets from entering the pump, causing damage, and meaning you need a washing machine repair service. That means that the dirt that comes off your clothes, tissues you forgot to remove from your back pocket, and coins you didn’t realise you’d lost can all end up lodged here.

To clean it, first, you must find it. The filter is normally located on the lower half of the machine, underneath the door and behind a hinged cover. If you can’t locate it, check your manual.

  • Lay a towel on the floor before you open the cover, as water and debris can run out.
  • Open the cover and use the drain hose to siphon off any excess water into a bucket, before unscrewing the filter cap and sliding it out of the machine.

Most of the dirt and debris should leak out of the machine onto the towel but use a damp cloth to wipe around the filter anyway and make sure it’s spotless.


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You can then replace the filter, hose, and cover until next time.

Clean the drum

The final job is to clean the drum itself, where it’s most important to make sure that all of the dirt is gone so it doesn’t end up on your clothes again which would especially risky if you want to make your life fresh and clean, especially grandchild-friendly!

To clean the drum and door seal,

  • Run an empty wash on a high heat setting (60°+), using bicarbonate of soda and vinegar instead of detergent.
  • Mix around 80g worth of bicarbonate of soda with an equal amount of water and pour into the detergent tray.
  • Then add roughly 250ml of white vinegar directly into the drum.
  • Let the cycle run, and the mix of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar should break down any mineral deposits, leaving you with a clean, sanitary, and fresh smelling drum.
  • Make sure that you also thoroughly clean inside the door seal with a damp paper towel, where lots of fluff, dirt, and debris will have built up.

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What makes washing machines dirty?

As with any other appliance, washing machines tend to get dirty fairly quickly.

Because we use appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, and ovens so often, their condition can fast get out of hand and they end up being a looming job that you dread when it comes time to clean. There are a few main things that cause your washing machine to become dirty and knowing what they are means you can try to avoid contributing towards them in future.

Soap scum

The most common cause of a build-up of dirt in your washing machine is the remnants of liquid detergent and fabric conditioner that can build up in the detergent tray and the drum. This slimy coating can cause dirt from your clothes to get stuck in the drum, and when it becomes dislodged, it’ll end up back on your clothes which are supposed to be clean.

The best way to avoid this build up, or at least delay it, is to always use the correct amount of powder or liquid detergent.


Another build up that can occur inside the drum of your washing machine, as well as in the pipes and tubes that provide water to the appliance, is limescale. This primarily is a result of living in an area known for having hard water and leaves a chalky white residue in your washing machine’s drum, as well as potentially on your clothes.

The first step in avoiding this in future is to test if you have hard water and, if you do, make use of a water softening product.


The least noticeable and also least pleasant build up your washing machine can suffer from is bacteria. Although washing clothes at low temperatures is good for the environment and is gentler on your clothes, it may mean that bacteria can thrive in your drum. If you wash at temperatures below 60°, bacteria like E.coli won’t be killed.

If you don’t maintenance your unit on a regular basis, you risk dealing with some of the common issues down the road:

This can be avoided by occasionally running a hot wash, or just making sure to clean your washing machine regularly.

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Nicholas Carr

Nicholas Carr is a blog meant for various domestic tips mainly but not limited to cleaning, washing and wiping dust, stains and dirt away from your home.