We use our washing machine so often, yet, a recent Expert Home Tips survey revealed that a surprising 35% had never washed their washing machine since purchasing it.
Big deal, right? How could something you put soap and water in practically every day get dirty anyway? Cleaning our clothes is a big enough hassle!
Psst. Anushka can help you with that in The ultimate guide to cleaning your clothes.
Well, what if I told you that thousands of our washing machines could be full of mould as a result of neglecting to clean them? In fact, you might actually be washing your clothes in a big pool of sludge, filth and other ungodly griminess. Yuck!
I don't want to cause panic here, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all moulds have the potential to cause ill health and even kill in extreme cases.
So, cleaning our washing machines suddenly becomes a bigger priority than we all originally thought, doesn't it?
Editor's Note: This post was originally posted in November 2016 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness in August 2018.
How does washing machine mould occur?
Your washing machine seal is the main culprit of mould. This is what prevents water from coming out of the washer and with the door closed. It's deep and narrow, trapping moisture which promotes mould growth.
Your washing machine drum door also gathers dust and unhealthy bacteria that can also contribute to your washing machine damaging your family's health.
Another key area is the washing machine drawer. All sorts of chemicals are put into these compartments and water collects them during the cycle. This means the drawer never really get a chance to dry out properly, and the wet environment encourages mould to grow.
What do I need to prevent washing machine mould?
Today we're sharing the perfect way for you to clean your washing machine. It's strange, but it's simple: White vinegar, water and baking soda- that's all!
This eco-friendly method doesn't use bleach or other nasty chemicals, only costs pennies to make, and is an ingredient you most likely already have in your kitchen, so no excuses!
How to prevent a mouldy washing machine?
Great news! You can clean your mouldy washing machine in less than an hour and it's super simple. You can also Save time & energy on laundry if you really hate it.
Here's what you need:
- 2 cups of vinegar
- 1/4 cup of bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 cup of water
- A rag
- A measuring cup
- A sponge scourer
- Kitchen roll or an old towel
1 . Before you get started, wipe down all the dust that has originally gathered on your drum and inside door. Then, pull back your seal and remove any 'fluff' that has started to form.
This will prevent additional dirt gathering in your washing machine drum while you start your deep clean.
2. Mix together the bicarbonate of soda and water in your small cup. This is going to be your 'detergent' for your washing machine. Then pour the vinegar into a measuring cup and head to your washing machine.
3. Add your baking soda mix into the detergent container of your machine and then the vinegar into the drum. Set your washer to normal load at the hottest water temperature setting to kill as much mould as possible.
4. Hit start on your machine and let the ingredients work away at all that grime.
5. While your miracle products are working their magic, mix white vinegar with warm water and dip your cloth in to wipe down the front of your washing machine. Let it set in for a minute or two, then wipe away all the excess dirt with dry kitchen roll.
6. Once the cycle has finished, open the machine and use your cleaning scourer or sponge to tackle stubborn and tough mould or residue while the machine is still warm. Then wipe clean with fresh water and a cloth.
7. Now it's time to tackle those tricky parts of your machine with all the awkward corners and fixtures. Pour vinegar into the detergent container and let it soak for a few minutes.
8. While it's soaking, pull the rubber seal away from the drum and give it a good scrub with your sponge. It's good to do this at least a couple of times a month to keep away dirt and mould. Wipe down your detergent container to avoid black marks too.
You can also try this...
9. Not all washing machines have a 'lint trap' but if you check your manual and find that yours does, it's best to clean that as well. It will get rid of that nasty washing machine stinky smell. Some washing machines have a lower panel which can easily be removed, but PLEASE consult your manual before trying to pull parts from yours.
10. Place your old towel or lots of kitchen roll down on the floor and open your lint trap.
13. Get scrubbing and clean all the grime away.
That's it, you're all done! That wasn't so hard, was it?
If you repeat this every month, you can keep your family healthy and safe by preventing washing machine mould build up. Plus, the more you do it, the easier it will be every time!
Others ways to keep your washing machine clean
To help prevent odours, mildew or mould, there are also quick and simple ways for people who don't have time to commit to a deep clean every month.
- Leave the door open for a few hours after use to allow it to dry or if more convenient, when the washer is not in use.
- You can refresh or clean the inside of the washer by running the 'Clean Washer' cycle.
- Some washing machines models have an automated reminder mode so you can set or you may prefer to manually select the cycle themselves.
You can also try these:
- Remove items from the washing machine as soon as the cycle ends to prevent excess wrinkling, colour transfer, and odours that may otherwise develop in items left in the washer.
- Dry around the washer door opening, flexible gasket, and door glass.
- When extremely soiled items have been washed, a dirty residue may remain on the drum. Remove this by wiping the drum with a nonabrasive household cleanser to prevent this.
- Rinse it thoroughly with water.
- Periodically, wipe the folds in the bottom of the flexible gasket dry to remove lint and other debris.
Thanks for reading. I hope this article helps you remove washing machine mould and keep your clothes clean and fresh! If you have any tips of your own, please share them in the comments below.
To prevent black mould forming in the detergent tray simply wash with sterilising fluid eg. Milton
Great tip, thanks Jo! x
This sounds really good. Thanks for the tips. I am going to try it and let you know how it goes!
Thanks for reading, Jackie. Yes, please me know how it goes. I was shocked to see the results! x
Hi Collette, I've just read your article re washing machine mould, and it's really frightening. but I do clean my machine with a dettol product once a month although it is much more expensive than your method, but I will try it so thanks. Shirley.
Hi Shirley, thanks for reading. It is quite shocking to think that mould is building up in there! Dettol is super expensive so yes, give it a go and let me know what you think. Thanks again, Collette x
Hi I do this and it works fantastic! Am glad Thank you
Fabulous! Glad it helped :) x
Hi Collette, my rubber door seal when viewed with the door shut shows really bad black stains at the bottom. I find it embarrassing when friends call around. Would it be okay to use the scourer with detergent to clean it, the scourer wouldn't damage the rubber or would it?
Hi Emma, I used it on mine and it turned out great, I would try a small area first just to check :) I hope this helps! Thanks for reading x
I wouldn't use a scouring pad on the rubber seal, or anything metal for that matter, particularly if it's the Brillo pad metal wool type of scourer. I cleaned the inside of the seal on my machine by filling it with vinegar soaked cotton wool (use the roll type not balls) and leaving it for 24 hours. Then put four dishwasher tablets on the hottest wash (remove the cotton wool first!) . Use the cheapest vinegar you can find - the more "acidy" the better and also cheap dishwasher tablets work just as well as expensive ones. It will still need a bit of elbow grease if it's built up over time, but once done it's easy to maintain. Always keep a special cloth by the machine to wipe the inside of the seal after use and remember to wash that weekly too. If it's nearby you're more likely to actually use it And if you make it out of a pretty fabric, even better. To the lady who uses dettol - please be very careful if you have pets as dettol and similar type products are dangerous, especially for cats. Even if they just walk on dried floors you have used it on it can cause serious illnesses long term.
Thanks for sharing Julie, great tips!
I think you are forgetting the dispenser draw, I remove the draw at least monthly and if you look inside where the water comes in you will see slimy black mould around the water filler outlets, which is very hard to reach, I use an old tooth brush and a bottle brush with some sterilising solution mixed with washing liquid any sort will do and scrub away until all of the slimy mould has gone, you will be surprised how mucky the water outlets get and that's where the smell comes from, I then clean the Dispenser draw and give that a good going over with the sterilising mixture cleaning it in the sink, then rinsing it clean before replacing it, I then put the washing machine on a rinse cycle first to get rid of any muck that has dropped down into the machine, and them I put it on a hot wash empty with some washing powder/liquid and a good old squirt of sterilising solution, I don't use bleach it is a cheaper version of Milton which you can purchase in the pound shops or in home bargains, it works well on the rubber seal to no need to scrub to much As even if it is stained YOU WILL KNOW IT IS CLEAN,! Works on a dish washer too!
Hi Anne. The dispenser draw can get quite dirty, so you are right to mention it. Your method involving a toothbrush and bottle brush sounds like a great idea - thanks a lot for sharing it with us. :)
I always had a problem getting the detergent dispenser clean - not the drawer itself which pulls right out but the surrounds where the water comes out of little holes into the drawer which were getting so bunged up with mould that the water was not coming through properly. After trying many different cleaning products on this and banging my knuckles trying to get my hand in with a toothbrush to scrub, I had a go with diluted white vinegar in a spray - magic!! Hey presto, all the mould gone!! However, I will try adding some baking soda to the vinegar solution next time to see if that works even better.
Hi Michele. Vinegar is a surprisingly effective solution for many cleaning problems. It's great to hear it worked for you! Thanks a lot for sharing :)
Rubber gasket on top is gross. How to clean it?
Hello Bea! We'd suggest using a cleaning cloth and hot soapy water to get it looking good as new. You could also try a mildew remover if that doesn't work.
you MUST wear a mask while scrubbing! not a funny mask - this is not a carnival : )
I tried the vinegar and baking soda method outlined by the author and unfortunately, despite the machine being less than 3 years old, the mold seems totally ingrained and didn't come off. I also tried Julie's suggestion of vinegar wool soaked overnight in the rubber seals nd then dishwasher tablet and a good bit of elbow grease, but that made no difference. I guess I'm stuck with the moldy rubber......😣
Sorry to hear that, Bryce! Sometimes things are beyond saving...
the washing machine drum has mildew and its smelly. How do I fix it?
Hi there! Have you tried the tips in this article?
Dealing with sticky black flecks a few weeks. Just now they covered the clean clothes 😱. Looked up found this site and am running an extra hot normal little ad now. Wiped down bleach dispenser and soap dispenser first and rim of tub with warm water/ white vinegar. Fingers crossed.
Hope it helps!
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