Washing machine cleaning
You don’t always think about it, but it is very important to clean your washing machine regularly. This will make your washing machine last longer, prevent bad odors and keep it washing your clothes. Everything you need to know about cleaning your washing machine can be found on this page.
Why you should clean your washing machine
Many people assume that it is not necessary to clean your washing machine at all, because the appliance is designed to clean. Nevertheless, it is very important to clean your washing machine from time to time. If you don’t clean your washing machine properly, there is a good chance that it will develop limescale or grease lice and this can be harmful to your washing machine and/or cause your laundry to be less clean. Here are the reasons why we clean washing machines:
- Cleaner laundry: without you knowing it, particles can get stuck in your washing machines that keep your laundry from being as clean as it could be. Leftover detergent, grease and hair accumulate in nooks and crannies of your washing machine, providing a breeding ground for bacteria. This forms a gray gunk that smells, known as grease lice or laundry lice. Not very hygienic, and it can also cause stains that are difficult to remove.
- Fresh smelling: if you want your laundry to smell good, you can’t have a smelly washing machine. Regularly cleaning your washing machine, especially the drum, takes out foul odors and keeps it from smelling.
- Your washing machine will last longer: this of course applies to most appliances – if you maintain it properly, they will last longer. By keeping your washing machine clean, you reduce the chance of parts wearing out, not doing their job as well or breaking down.
- Save money: when your washing machine is clean, it does its job best! This means that it heats the water quickly, you can use a short wash cycle and you don’t have to run an extra wash cycle because your clothes didn’t come out completely fresh. This saves you water and energy, so your bills stay nice and low.
Bonus fact: these days washing machines get dirty faster. This is because they use less water and wash at a low temperature. This is best for the environment and your wallet, but this could be the reason why your washing machine stinks and you need to clean it every now and then.
Cleaning a washing machine: how and how often
Now that you know how important it is to keep your washing machine clean, you probably want to know how to go about it. Cleaning a washing machine is actually very simple and it is only needed once in a while. Usually, doing it once a month is sufficient. Our first tip is: read the instruction manual of your specific washing machine. Under the heading ‘maintenance’ it is described exactly how to clean it.
Don’t have your washing machine’s instruction manual at hand? Then these tips are universal and can be applied to almost all washing machines. To clean a washing machine, follow these steps:
- Clean the rubbers of the washing machine: with rubbers we mean the rubber edge at the door of the washing machine, this is also called the “cuff”. Moisture often stays on these and too much detergent and dirt often sticks to them. Clean the rubbers by wiping them with a cloth.
- Cleaning the soap compartment of the washing machine: when you use the soap compartment, for example for liquid detergent or fabric softener, there is always some dirt that sticks to it. This soap residue attracts other dirt – such as dust and bacteria – and creates a smelly washing machine. Clean it by running a cloth through it.
- Run a wash cycle at 90 degrees: this is also called a ‘boil wash’. Running at a high temperature loosens a lot of dirt and kills a lot of bacteria. You can run this program with or without laundry.
After that, there are several things you can do to clean your washing machine. Our advice: read them all once and decide what suits you best.
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Washing machine cleaning with soda
Soda binds and neutralizes acids through a chemical reaction. Very useful when cleaning, as it helps you get rid of foul odors and grease stains. To clean your washing machine with soda, you can put half a cup of soda in the washing machine – through the soap dish or directly into the drum.
Then run a second wash cycle at 90 degrees – this time without laundry. When it has finished running, all the soap residue, grease and dirt should have been removed from the drum. This will also benefit your pipes!
Cleaning the washing machine with vinegar
Vinegar is a natural product, and therefore you can use more of it to clean your washing machine. Many pour out a whole bottle of cleaning vinegar per cleaning – but if you keep up with your cleaning, you can use less.
You decide whether to add the vinegar through the soap dish or directly into the drum. Then you can run a program at 90 degrees. You can use either cleaning vinegar or natural vinegar. In general, cleaning vinegar works better against limescale.
Cleaning the washing machine with a dishwasher tablet
If you don’t have vinegar or soda in the house, you can also use a dishwasher tablet for cleaning a washing machine. You can place these in the soap dish as well as directly in the drum, and then you turn on the hottest washing program, at least 90 degrees. Just don’t forget to take the packaging off the dishwasher tablet.
Many dishwasher tablets these days come with soluble packaging, you should also remove this when you use it to clean washing machines. If the packaging doesn’t dissolve properly, it can cause a blockage in your pipes, and no one wants that.
About scale in your washing machine
Lime scale develops in almost every washing machine sooner or later. It’s perfectly normal, but you’ll want to do something about it. After all, limescale build-up on your washing machine’s heating element can cause it to take longer to heat up – costing you more time and electricity – but it can also cause the heating element to break down.
There are several things you can do to prevent limescale build-up in your washing machine. Here are our two tips:
- Find out online how hard the water is that comes out of your pipes. The hardness of the water determines how quickly lime scale forms. Then read the packaging of your detergent, because it contains ingredients that prevent limescale. If you use too little detergent for the hardness of your water, your laundry may be clean but lime may still form on the heating element. So adjust the amount of detergent to the recommendations on the package.
- Lime scale develops faster at high temperatures. To prevent limescale, it is therefore better to wash at a low temperature. To prevent limescale, it is better to wash at 30 or 40 degrees rather than 60 or 90 degrees.
Do you wash regularly at 60 or 90 degrees? Or does your detergent do nothing against limescale? Then it is important to regularly clean and descale your washing machine. Once a month is enough, and fortunately this job is a piece of cake! These are our tips for descaling washing machines:
- A descaling agent from the supermarket: You can buy washing machine descaling tablets or descaling liquid. The instructions for your descaler will tell you how to use them. This usually makes you run a wash cycle at 60 degrees.
- Descaling with soda: You put half a cup of soda in the soap dish or directly in the drum – make sure it is empty – then you can run a program at 90 or 95 degrees.
- Descaling with vinegar: This goes almost exactly the same as descaling with baking soda, for this you empty a bottle of cleaning vinegar into the drum or soap dish. Let the washing machine run at 90 or 95 degrees and you’re done!
About grease in your washing machine
Do you have a smelly washing machine and is there a dirty, gray gunk in the rubbers of the washing machine? Most likely you are suffering from grease lice. This is an accumulation of too much detergent, grease, hair, skin cells, bacteria and more. Not very hygienic, but it also makes your “clean” clothes smell and stain.
How do you prevent grease lice? We have several tips for that, and you do them all with a flick of the wrist:
- Use less detergent: Detergent is often the source of grease lice. Soap residue gets stuck in the rubbers of the washing machine (at the door) and all kinds of other dirt gets stuck in there. Therefore, do not use more detergent than necessary per wash.
- An old-fashioned cooking wash: Run a cooking wash once a month. This is a normal wash program, but at 90 or 95 degrees. This removes a lot of soap scum, residue, bacteria and odors from a smelly washing machine.
- Wipe down soap dish: There is often leftover detergent in here, which causes other junk to get stuck in there and create grease lice. You solve this by wiping through it every now and then with a cloth.
- Leave the door open: Bacteria love a damp washing machine. By leaving the door open after each wash, it dries thoroughly and you prevent grease lice from developing.
Remove grease lice
Do you regularly clean your washing machine and follow the tips above? Then you won’t have problems with lice. If it does happen, you can take the following two steps to get your washing machine clean.
- Boil wash: Nowadays we wash more often at low temperatures, often not hotter than 60 degrees. By occasionally running a hot program (90 or 95 degrees), a lot of dirt comes loose. This also includes fat lice.
- Repeat with vinegar: By then turning on the same wash program again, but with a dash of vinegar, you neutralize the smell and remove the remaining grease.