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How Often Should You Clean Your Washing Machine?

Much like we rarely think of doctors getting sick, we don’t often think about cleaning our washing machine. After all, it’s the one that does all the cleaning. 

However, just like any other household appliance, our washing machine needs to be regularly cleaned and maintained, if we want our clothing to come out of the wash fresh and clean too. 

How often is often enough, you may be wondering? Let’s come up with a reliable washing machine cleaning schedule, shall we?

How Often Should You Clean Your Washing Machine?

You should clean your washing machine every month or every month and a half, as long as you use it fairly frequently. Between thorough cleanups, also run your machine’s cleaning cycle once every two weeks. 

If your washer doesn’t come with this option, run an empty washer on its hottest cycle. 

If you use your washer often (for example, if you are running daily cycles because your three-year-old loves to play in the mud), you should run a weekly cleaning cycle, and give it a proper clean every three-ish weeks. 

On the other hand, if you use your washing machine very rarely, you can skip the cleaning cycles, and just give it a detailed clean every couple of months. 

The obvious exception to this rule is easy to detect: if you notice any detergent residue on your clothing or in the washer, if fluff and debris start to pile up on the rubber seal, or if your clothing no longer smells as fresh: it’s time to give your washing machine a clean. 

Do I Need to Clean My Washing Machine? 

Yes, you really do need to clean your washing machine, both inside and outside. 

It may be one of those chores you rarely think of, and even one that you find especially annoying, but if you want to ensure your washer both does its job well, and that it lasts you a long time, you need to clean it regularly.

Even if you are using the best quality detergent and fabric softener, the washer still needs to be cleaned. 

What Happens if You Don’t Clean Your Washing Machine?

If you don’t clean your washing machine, bacteria will start to build up inside it over time. This will both clog up the washer itself, and cause your clothing to come out smelling musty and far from clean. 

Washing machines are by their very nature a dark, hot and humid place, making them a veritable breeding ground for bacteria. The combination of detergent residue, water minerals and all the different debris and bacteria that clings to our clothing can wrec proper havoc, unless the washer is regularly cleaned. 

Don’t expect to be able to see this damage though, as the worst of it will happen inside the inner workings of your machine. It may take a long time, but unless it is regularly cleaned, it will eventually break down.

You may start to experience a variety of issues beforehand: the water temperature may become unpredictable and it may not be as hot as it should, and your detergent and softener may not be as effective. 

Of course, the most pertinent offender will be the smell your machine (and clothing) start to emit. And while you can remove that musty smell from your clothes, save yourself that chore, and clean your washer instead.

How Do I Know if My Washing Machine Needs Cleaning?

If your washing starts smelling unpleasantly, or if you notice any kind of residue inside the drum or on the machine’s rubber seal, it’s time to clean it. 

Your nose will be an excellent guide. If your clothing smells of anything other than the products you have used to wash it, and especially if there is a mouldy whiff to them – you really need to consider cleaning the washer. 

You may also notice a whitish film clinging to the inside of the machine. This will be caused by detergent and softener buildup, and should be taken care of as soon as possible. 

There may even be some flaky spots on your clothing. Unless you have washed a paper tissue with that last load, this is most likely down to a limescale presence in the machine itself. 

The sooner you tackle the cause, the longer both your washer and clothing will last.

How Often Should You Clean the Filter on Your Washing Machine?

You should clean your washing machine filter every 3 months. This will ensure your machine is fully operational, and that it lasts you a good long time. 

Most people will forget all about their washer’s filter and never clean it, so if this is you, now is a great time to locate that filter and give it a good clean. Consult your user’s manual to determine where it is, and carefully remove it. Soak it in some hot water after getting rid of all the surface nastiness (I can guarantee there will be plenty of hair on there). 

Don’t be surprised if your machine does not come with a filter, as some newer models have self-cleaning filters that don’t have easy access.

How Often Should You Run the Cleaning Cycle on a Washing Machine?

You should run your washing machine’s cleaning cycle every 1-2 weeks. 

If you do frequent loads of laundry, try to do it every week. You can let it do its thing while you are at work, if the noise of the washer going off is distracting. 

You can stretch it to 3 weeks, if you only very rarely use the washer. However, if a washing machine hasn’t been used for a while for whatever reason, always run a cleaning cycle first, as you don’t want your clothing to come out smelling like stale water. 

The same rule applies if there has been a prolonged water outage in your area. 

How Often Should You Use Calgon in Your Washing Machine?

To achieve the best results, use Calgon with every wash. 

However, bear in mind that you might as well skip this product, as the difference it makes is not all that significant, and the costs of regular use can quickly pile up.

If you really want to prolong the longevity of your washing machine, make sure it is regularly cleaned. 

Wrapping It Up 

Cleaning your washing machine should make it onto your regular home appliance maintenance list. It can not only ensure your washer keeps working as it should, it will also keep your clothing smelling and looking fresh. 


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