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A man looking at limescale build up in a washing machine door seal

Keeping Your Washer Hygienic: How to Clean a Smelly Washing Machine

Your washing machine, along with your Persil detergent, does a lot of hard work: getting load upon load of laundry fresh and clean, and banishing the mud and stains that active children have on their clothes’s. Which is why it’s so important to give your machine a little regular care and cleaning so that your family can continue having fun getting messy.

To keep your washing machine in tip top condition and to prevent it from developing nasty odours it is important that you clean it regularly. You also need to find ways to clean the parts of your washer that you can't reach in order to kill germs and stop bad odours.

This easy guide provides a few simple tips for regular washing machine maintenance and suggestions for how to keep your machine clean and smelling fresh.


How to Clean a Washing Machine

It’s not the most glamorous of jobs but giving your washing machine a good once-over every so often will keep it in peak condition. If you’re methodical about it, the whole process really won’t take long – just follow these easy steps:

  1. Consult your machine’s manual for instructions on how to clean your machine. Some manufacturers discourage the use of de-scaling products or cleaners in their machines and using them may invalidate your warranty, however, limescale in the drum can be removed using a specialist anti-limescale product and may be of particular importance if you live in a hard water area, but do check your manufacturer’s instructions first.
  2. For front-loading machines, remove the detergent drawer (your manual may have instructions for how to do so). Soak it in hot water and use an old (clean) toothbrush to remove any residue or mould. Rinse it thoroughly and let it dry before putting it back.
  3. Use an antibacterial laundry sanitiser to clean your washing machine from the inside. For exceptional results, pour 100ml of Persil antibacterial laundry sanitiser into the empty drum of your washing machine and wash at 60°C. Do not add any detergent or clothes.
  4. At the end of the cycle open the door and air-dry the inside of the drum. If any bad odour or residue remains, repeat the process.
  5. Finally, take a damp cloth and wipe around the rubber seals of the machine, being careful to lift them away from the metal where possible to get any residue that’s hidden away. Wipe the surfaces of your machine, too.
  6. Your washing machine should now smell fresh and clean!

Germ-fighting laundry tip! You can also use Persil antibacterial laundry sanitiser when washing clothes to kill germs. Add it to the wash along with your favourite Persil detergent to give extra protection. It kills 99.9% viruses* and bacteria even at 20°C making it a great way to help disinfect your clothes and your machine!


How Often to Clean a Washing Machine

Although this will depend largely on level of use, it's a good idea to give your washing machine a clean once per month. You can also look out for other signs that your washer might need some TLC. These include:

  • A smelly washing machine: if it smells musty or damp then this is a sign it needs a clean. Our tips above will teach you how to clean a smelly washing machine and remove bad odours which can often be caused by bacteria.
  • Mould or mildew: pay close attention to the rubber seal around the door. If you notice black stains then this is likely to be mould or mildew which thrives in damp environments. 
  • Clogged filter: if your washing machine has a filter then it's important to check it regularly as all sorts of things from hair to fluff and other debris can collect here. If you don't empty it regularly then it could be one of things contributing to any bad smells you notice coming from your washer.
  • Dirty detergent drawer: if your washing machine has a detergent drawer that you use for detergent powders, liquids, and fabric conditioners then it's important to keep it clean. Residue from these products can built-up in the drawer and only require a quick soak or wipe with a damp cloth to remove them. Failure to do so could lead to mould growth as this is a dark, damp area of the machine,


Now you know how to clean your washer machine with bleach for disinfection and how to keep on top of general maintenance through washing machine cleaning, you may find you get better results in your laundry and fewer problems with your appliance.


*Laboratory tested on Influenza H1N1, Vacciniavirus, murine coronavirus (EN14476, 10 mins).

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