How to Clean a Washing Machine

Washing machines are just like us, if not cleaned and fed they simply won’t function. If you’re unsure how to clean a washing machine or you notice your washing machine isn’t doing a great job with the laundry, our handy guide with help you through the process. 

Over time, your laundry detergent and fabric softener can build up inside the washing machine, leaving behind soap residue, also known as soap scum. This stops it from being able to properly function and instead your washing machine can end up leaving sticky soap scum on your clothes. Not what you want when you’re getting the uniforms ready for Monday morning! 

While cleaning your washing machine might seem like a difficult task, it’s actually quite easy! We’re going to give you a simple break down so you can keep your washing machine sparkling clean.

Can I use dishwasher powder in washing machines?

While this hack has been suggested a lot on the internet, it’s not actually very useful. Using a dishwasher tablet or powder won’t cause serious damage to your washing machine but it also isn’t likely to help it. 

How do I stop my washing machine from smelling?

Without regular maintenance, your washing machine can begin to smell. Your washing machine is frequently loaded with dirty items and as it’s in a damp environment, it rarely gets the chance to dry out; this makes it a breeding ground for mould and mildew. 

This can lead to odd smells in your kitchen and can leave your clothes smelling less than fresh, even straight out the washing machine. With a few simple tips though, it’s easy to clear a washing machine of any odours.

Our top tips to prevent your washing machine from smelling:

  • Leave the door ajar between washes to let the damp air dry and clean air circulate into the drum. This will minimise the growth of mould and mildew.

  • Once a month, run a hot cycle with a cup of vinegar in the empty drum of your machine. This will give it a thorough clean and help stop soap scum from building up.

  • Wipe the seal down after a wash if it is particularly damp.

  • Don’t always use a cold or cool cycle, try to use a warmer or hot cycle occasionally.

  • Clean out the filter regularly.

How do I clean the outside of my washing machine? 

If you have a freestanding washing machine or washer dryer, the outside might not have too much impact on how the machine functions, but it is the most visible part. Whilst this doesn’t really apply to integrated washing machines in the same way, keeping your machine at its best on the outside can help your kitchen look more put together and polished, and can prevent things such as corrosion and rust spots forming. 

How to clean the outside of your washing machine: 

  • Wipe down any buttons or knobs with a cloth and a simple white vinegar mixture.

  • If you have an extra pair of hands, pull the machine out from the wall enough that you can vacuum behind it. Many machines have wheels on the back which makes them far easier to move.

  • Inspect the rubber water supply hoses. You should look for signs of wear, such as cracking along the rubber or small tears. You’ll need to replace the water supply hose immediately if you do find damage to avoid a water leak.

  • Give the overall washing machine shell a wipe down with a cloth and white vinegar. This will remove any marks and make your machine look brand new. 

How do I clean the inside of my washing machine?

Cleaning the inside of your washing machine can certainly seem like the most intimidating part! There are so many hidden parts and there’s always a fear that using the wrong cleaning product could actually damage your machine. Here we’ll look at what to use to clean a washing machine so it’s in perfect condition. 

How to clean the inside of your washing machine

  • If your machine has any removable parts, such as the soap tray, remove these. You can clean them more thoroughly in the sink.

  • If you have a front-loaded washing machine with a rubber gasket, give it a wipe down with a clean cloth.

Tip: If you have an old toothbrush, these are great for scrubbing nooks and crannies! 

  • If you can’t remove the soap tray, you can fill it with white vinegar and leave it to soak while you clean out the washing machine.
  • Using a cloth and white vinegar, give the inside of your machine a good wipe down.
  • Many front-loading machines will have a small door that catches items like buttons and coins. If it is accessible, it will be a small door or port on the front of your machine. This is worth checking regularly as if it becomes clogged it can prevent your washing machine from draining properly. 

How do I clean my washing machine’s wash drum? 

The wash drum is where your clothes are actually loaded. They have perforated holes throughout to allow water in and out during a wash cycle. As this is the part of your washing machine that actually has direct content with your clothes, it’s very important to keep it clean. If soap scum begins to build up on the drum, it will be impossible to keep your clothes clean. Luckily, you don’t need a special drum cleaning powder, it can be easily cleaned with some vinegar and a cloth.

How to clean the wash drum 

  • Pour a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda into the wash drum. It helps to spin the wash drum with your hand to ensure the cleaning mixture coats the entire drum.
  • Using a nylon brush or sponge, scrub the inside of the drum. 
  • Run a hot water cycle with the cleaning solution still in the drum. 
  • This does leave a vinegar smell so you can run another cycle with some of your favourite smelling laundry detergent to cover the smell.

Does cleaning your washing machine improve performance? 

Absolutely! Keeping your washing machine clean will stop soap scum from building up which is then deposited on your clothes. When soap scum is left on your clothes, it can leave an unpleasant sticky residue and your clothes will need to go straight back into the dirty pile. 

Helpful washing machine maintenance tips:

  • Be careful about how much washing powder you use! You might think there’s no such thing as TOO clean but it can clog up the washing machine drawer so water won’t be able to easily flow through. 
  • Wipe the door seal regularly with a clean cloth and a white vinegar solution to remove any mould or mildew. 
  • Occasionally run a hot wash on your washing machine to kill any germs, this is especially important if you generally run your washing machine at a lower temperature. This is easy with Amica’s variable temperature washer dryers.
  • Run a rinse program with a cup of white vinegar to bring the drum back up to a sparkling finish; this also works for dishwashers.
  • Every few cycles remove your detergent drawer and give it a soak before rinsing and drying it. This will help remove any laundry powder or liquid buildup. 
  • Dry the seal, drawer and drum with a clean cloth after running a cycle to leave the machine fresh and ready for your next wash.


We hope this guide has helped you see how with just a bit of white vinegar and elbow grease, you can keep your washing machine in great condition. If you do have any more questions you can check out our washing machine Q&A or a friendly member of our team is available so get in touch.

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