PSA: Washing Machines Need Cleaning Every Few Months

This is your reminder to run a hot cycle, ASAP.
Elvira Kashapova via Getty Images

If you can’t remember the last time you gave your washing machine a deep clean, listen up.

The lifespan of washing machines depends on the quality of your machine – so, if you take care of it properly (and this means giving it a good clean once in a while) it could last you up to 20 years.

Ian Palmer-Smith, appliance expert at Domestic & General, says: “We wash lots of things in washing machines, but sometimes these machines also require a thorough cleaning to keep them from needing appliance repair.”

It’s also nice to clean them because they can get a bit smelly over time.

The best way to clean them is to run an empty hot cycle, says Palmer-Smith. Adding a small amount of white vinegar can also help to remove any stubborn residue and bacteria.

“If it’s been a long time since you last cleaned your machine or have never done so, you’ll be able to notice a difference in the cleanliness of your laundry,” he adds.

Most hygiene experts recommend doing a maintenance wash once a month to keep washing machines in tip top condition. However manufacturer Beko suggests one to three months is fine for a deep clean.

Here are some of Palmer-Smith’s other top tips for increasing the lifespan of your washing machine:

1. Avoid using too much laundry detergent

When our clothes get really dirty, we might think using a large amount of laundry detergent is the way to go. But, this can mess up the quality of your washing machine.

“When you use too much detergent, it can be difficult for the washing machine to effectively drain the excess. This then results in clothing and bedding that feels sticky or slimy,” Palmer-Smith says.

Additionally, excessive amounts of detergent could also damage your washing machine due to the build-up of leftover residue. Palmer-Smith explains that “over time, this can prevent the water from flowing as usual and may even result in a leak that calls for a washing machine repair”.

2. Aim to load up your washing machine to 80% capacity

It can be tempting to try and squeeze one too many items in a single load, but this can impact the state of your washing machine.

“Whilst I’d always recommend waiting until you have a good amount of laundry, there is a fine line between being energy-efficient and potentially damaging your washing machine,” Palmer-Smith says.

As a general guide, he suggests aiming to fill your machine so it’s around 80% full. “Your washing machine requires the right amount of water to wash effectively,” Palmer-Smith explains.

He continues: “If you stuff the machine too much, you may find clothes are coming out less clean and still with visible marks intact. Not only can this be frustrating, but also comes at a price.”

Palmer-Smith warns that overloading the drum puts the machine under great strain and weight, and could result in damage to the mechanical parts.

3. Make sure your washing machine sits perfectly flat on the ground

It might seem insignificant, but the position of your washing machine can help maintain it’s longevity.

“One of the more important steps to take when you first install a washing machine is to make sure the machine sits level,” Palmer-Smith says.

Though it might seem obvious, an uneven washing machine can shift around during a spin cycle which could potentially lead to damage or dents in the machine.

“To avoid this mistake, check that all feet are touching the ground and adjust the front-levelling legs to the right height,” Palmer-Smith adds.

4. Regularly remove lint from your machine

Whilst the lint filter helps to gather pesky clothing fibres, it’s important for you to stay on top of cleaning this.

“Whilst lint may not seem like a potential threat to the maintenance of your washing machine, over time the build up can begin to cause problems,” Palmer-Smith adds.

He adds: “Washing machines have a lint filter to help gather and trap these fibres, but if not removed on a regular basis, this can clog the machine - and leave your clothes full of lint.”