How to Clean a Washing Machine

A smelly washing machine is a common problem, but it isn’t one which should be ignored. The best way to tackle unpleasant odours, and dirt, within your washing machine is to clean it regularly.

In this post, we explain how to clean a washing machine, in the most effective way to clean your washing machine, without the need for an expensive washing machine cleaner. Instead, when it comes to cleaning your washing machine you will need to focus on the 4 Ds – door, dispenser drawer, drum and door seal – then all that’s left to do is follow the advice below…

Washing Machine Door

Cleaning the washing machine door, to remove limescale and other dirt, is neither a difficult nor time consuming task. It can be done in the time it takes to boil a kettle, and is as simple as separating your dark laundry from your whites.

  1. Fill a bowl with hot water
  2. Add washing up liquid
  3. Wipe the glass with a scourer
  4. Once the glass has been wiped clean, dry it using a clean tea towel

Detergent Drawer & Housing

Black mould isn’t uncommon in washing machines and is usually found on the door seal or in the dispenser drawer. This mould will be contributing to unpleasant odours, and can also divert jets of water to the front of the drawer causing your washing machine to leak.

Mould can cause health risks and lead to allergies/illnesses, so it’s important to make sure the dispenser drawer and housing of your washing machine are thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.

Tip: When it comes to cleaning the dispenser drawer, do not use a wire brush as this can cause damage. Instead use a long handled dish brush.

To clean your washing machine dispenser drawer you’ll need to remove it from its housing, and this can be done in one of two ways:

  1. By pressing a release clip (common on Balay, Bosch, Neff, Siemens and Zanussi models)
  2. By simply giving it a sharp pull (applicable for most washing machines)

Once you’ve taken the dispenser drawer out of its housing, we recommend you submerge it into a bowl of hot soapy water, and leave it to soak for at least 20 minutes, before agitating any remaining dirt with a dish brush.

As you clean your dispenser drawer, you should also clean the removable tube which is visible. This tube acts as a siphon to which the fabric softener is taken into the washing machine during the final cycle. To clean this tube, simply pull it off and run it under hot water.

Once the drawer has been cleaned, leave it to naturally air dry before placing it back into its housing.

Black Mould In Powder Dispenser

Whilst your dispenser drawer is out of its housing, we recommend you give the dispenser drawer housing a thorough clean too – this will also be affected by a build up of mould and / or washing powder which hasn’t dissolved. Such dirt will significantly reduce the performance of the appliance.

To clean the dispenser housing, simply dip your long handled dish brush into hot soapy water, before agitating the dirt which has built up. Once the dirt is loose, wipe it away using a clean cloth or kitchen towel. Alternatively, if the dirt is stubborn, spray a dedicated washing machine cleaner into the housing and scrub using your dish brush.

Washing Machine Drum

The drum of your washing machine is the main component which comes into contact with your dirty laundry, and as such it comes into contact with a range of dirt, which results in unpleasant odours.

To help your washing machine remain clean and fresh it is important to make sure the drum is cleaned on a regular basis. Such a task is relatively straightforward and can make all the difference to the appliance.

The most effective way to clean your washing machine drum is to carry out a monthly maintenance wash. These washes are becoming more and more important as many of us opt to wash at lower temperatures. Whilst lower temperature washes may be beneficial for bringing our utility bills down and helping the environment, they do not completely remove mould and bacteria from our appliances.

To carry out a maintenance wash:

  1. Place your washing machine onto its hottest setting
  2. Run an empty cycle, allowing the hot water to clean and sanitise the drum
  3. Add eSpares Limescale and Detergent Remover as per the instructions on the packaging. The product tackles mould, limescale and detergent which have built up in the drum, as well as on the internal components.

Tip: To help prevent odours from your drum, after each wash cycle leave the door ajar so the appliance can naturally air dry. This will help reduce the risk of mould growing.

Washing Machine Door Seal

Mould and bacteria can harbour itself in your door seal, and if left this will lead to unpleasant odours.

To clean a “light” build up of mould or bacteria on your door seal, simply dip an old toothbrush into a bowl of hot, soapy water and scrub the seal until the dirt has been removed from the surface. For those more stubborn stains, we recommend spraying a mould and mildew remover liberally onto the door seal and allowing this to soak in, before scrubbing clean with a scourer.

Tip: Help limit the risk of mould and bacteria developing on your washing machine’s door seal, by leaving the door ajar after each wash, so the seal can dry naturally.

If your seal has a large build up of mould or bacteria or mould has stained the rubber, it can often be easier to purchase a replacement washing machine door seal, which can be fitted by following the advice outlined in the video, below.

Washing Machine Filter

The filter on your washing machine may only be a small part, but it plays a big role in preventing debris getting to the pump and causing damage. It’s therefore important to regularly remove, empty and clean it.

You’ll usually find the washing machine filter located behind a hatch at the front of the appliance, and to remove it you simply need to:

  1. Flip the hatch open
  2. Undo the filter cap
  3. Pull the filter out. As you remove the filter, water may follow, so it’s important to make sure you’ve drained the appliance and placed a towel on the floor to soak the water up.

Removing Washing Machine Filter

With the filter removed, get rid of any dirt and debris which may be caught in it, before giving the filter a rinse under warm water to ensure it is thoroughly cleaned.

Washing Machine Pump

Although the filter should prevent the majority of debris from getting to your pump, it can still become dirty and should be cleaned on a monthly basis. The cleaning of your pump should be done at the same time as you clean the washing machine filter.

With the filter out of your washing machine, check the pump chamber to make sure no debris has become stuck and to make sure that nothing is tangled around the pump mechanism. If anything has got lodged in the pump chamber or tangled around the mechanism, carefully remove it.

Washing Machine Hoses

If your washing machine is leaking or won’t drain properly, there’s a good chance the hoses are the reason for the fault. But this doesn’t necessarily mean a rip or split, it could be something much simpler such as being blocked with dirt and debris. It’s therefore important to make sure you unblock your washing machine hoses as soon as it becomes apparent a blockage may have occurred.

Before unblocking the hose make sure your washing machine has been switched off and unplugged from the wall.

Checking and unblocking the hoses can be time consuming and will require you to remove the plate from the back of the appliance, by removing all screws holding it in place. Once the plate has been removed, locate the drain hose – this will be the one with the largest diameter and will be attached to the drain pipe.

You can then:

  1. Check the hose for any kinks or bends caused by blockages.
  2. If any are found, remove the drain hose by using a screwdriver to open the clasp which holds it to the pump. (It’s advisable to keep a bucket nearby to catch any water which comes out of the drain pump when the hose is removed)
  3. Use a plastic coat hanger to dislodge the blockage
  4. Refit the hose or if it has been damaged purchase a replacement washing machine hose and fit this.

Taking the time to clean your washing machine and focusing on each individual component, as listed above, can not only make a difference to its cleanliness and freshness, but it can help improve its performance and its life expectancy – helping you to save money in the process.

So remember, when it comes to cleaning your washing machine concentrate on the:

  • Door
  • Detergent Drawer
  • Drum
  • Door Seal
  • Filter
  • Pump
  • Hose

Should you find any part of your washing machine has become damaged or needs replacing, you’ll find the right washing machine spare parts through eSpares, along with dedicated advice, helping you to fix your washing machine yourself.

Tags: , ,

Related Posts


  1. Phyllis Griffith

    on October 5, 2015 at 9:49 am - Reply

    For me it is very important the good condition of the washing machine because of all the bacterias that contains. The article gives many tips on how to keep the good condition of the washing machine and i am certainly about to try them.

  2. Mike

    on October 5, 2015 at 10:45 am - Reply

    Hi Phyllis, many thanks for your comment on the above post. I’m glad that you found the information and advice shared helpful – and hopefully by following our advice you will be able to keep your washing machine working effectively and efficiently for longer.
    Key to keeping your washing machine working (and your dishwasher too), is to run a monthly maintenance wash with a dedicated cleaner.

  3. Pauline

    on January 30, 2017 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Hi. I have a problem with limescale build up in the pipe that the filter screws into . It was difficult to get the filter out and I’m having trouble screwing it back into place. What can i use to clean this?

Leave a Reply