If your washing machine seems to have developed a nasty niff, here's the solution

Most householders agree there's nothing quite like the fresh clean smell of laundry to elevate the mood. Unless... the clothes from your machine don't come out smelling that clean anymore? Perhaps they even emerge with a distinctly mouldy whiff? Environment-conscious UK households rarely use a wash-cycle hotter than 40-degrees these days, but few realise this tends to allow grime to build up inside the machine. Using excessive detergent, or one that's too foamy, can also leave suds residues which provide a perfect medium for mildew to grow in. 


Washing machine

Because of this problem, engineers and leading manufacturers now recommend a monthly maintenance wash for your front-loader, and the benefits are instant. A detergent to shift greasy grime and a chlorine-free bleach to kill any mould is all you need, and most of us have these already in the cupboard. If your usual washing powder has bleach in it, running the machine empty for a full cycle of its hottest wash with half a dose of that ought to do the trick. Or buy a suitable powder just for the monthly maintenance wash. Alternatively, lots of people prefer to use dishwasher powder for its specific grease-cutting properties. You can boost the effectiveness of any detergent with a spoonful of washing soda crystals, or add extra oxygen bleach powder to zap black mould without damaging the rubber. A rinse with white vinegar will get rid of any lingering mouldy smell, and you can also use it to wash the musty odour from towels.   


To clear black mould from the rubber door seal, apply oxygen bleach as a paste, making sure you get into the folds where problems tend to start. After it's been there for a quarter of an hour, wipe it off and make sure it's dry. It's also a good idea to check the drain filter, which you'll usually find behind a service flap at the bottom front of the machine. Follow your machine's instructions for clearing the filter, and don't forget to pop something underneath beforehand to catch any dirty water and gunge that may emerge. If your detergent dispenser is dirty or mouldy, gently lift it out and wash and dry it thoroughly.


Now your machine is back to its pristine best, it's really simple to keep it that way.  Always take care to dose your detergent according to the manufacturer's instructions. Switching from liquid to powder detergent can also help. Give your machine a chance to dry out between uses. If it's in a dry environment, this may mean leaving the door open for a while. If the room is very damp or steamy, it might be better to wipe the inside with a dry cloth and then keep the door closed.


Care for your machine and it should serve you well for years.