Easy fixes for washing machines that won't clean properly

June 30, 2015

A washing machine that appears to be functioning well may have hidden issues that prevents it from thoroughly cleaning your clothes. Follow the below tips and tricks to keep your machine in top working order.

Easy fixes for washing machines that won't clean properly

My washing comes out dirty

Clean the detergent tray

If your machine consistently fails to get your clothes clean, first check that you are not overloading the drum. Don't exceed the maximum weight of washing recommended by the machine's manufacturer because this will affect its ability to wash and may strain the motor.

  • Try cleaning the detergent tray. Congealed powder or washing liquid can build up in the reservoir, choking the supply of detergent to your wash. Pull the tray out completely and scrub it in hot water, paying attention to the channel that passes from the tray into the drum.
  • While the tray is out, use a long-handled brush to scrub the water outlets above the tray. Push the bristles of the brush into the water jets to clear any blockages.

My clothes smell swampy

Run a maintenance wash

Today's liquid detergents are formulated to work well at low temperatures. However, low-temperature washes don't kill the bacteria that thrive in the drum of your machine. This can lead to a smelly machine and clothing, and even to black marks on your laundry when lumps of microbial growth wash out of the drum.

  • Run an empty wash cycle at the highest possible temperature (about 100°C/200°F) using a bleach-containing powder detergent, not liquid soap.
  • Carry out such a maintenance wash at least once a month.

Make it last

  • Air out your machine between washes. Keep the door open and its detergent tray extended to ventilate the machine and so prevent the growth of mildew. Wipe down the door seal to remove any trapped water.
  • Wash at the temperature indicated on the garments — not lower — and use the precise amount of detergent recommended by the machine's manufacturer for different loads. Too much liquid detergent can encourage the growth of bacteria in the tank.
  • Cut lime if you live in a hard-water area by using a water-softening powder in your machine to reduce lime buildup on the heating element. Alternatively, descale your machine every three months using a dedicated descaler product or a cup of white vinegar added to an empty wash at 60°C (140°F).
  • Check your pockets for coins, pens, and — especially — children's toys. These end up in the wash all too often and can cause damage or blockages.
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