Unfortunately, your washing machine doesn’t receive a spring clean every time you rinse a load of laundry. The soap scum from your clothes likes to hang around inside the drum, and it can even damage your machine when it’s left alone for too long.
If you’ve never cleaned your washing machine before, don’t worry – it’s incredibly easy. Special washing machine cleaners are starting to hit supermarket shelves, though you probably already have the solution in your home.
We’re talking about dishwashing tablets.
Let’s take a step back: why is it important to clean your washing machine?
Every time you wash a load of clothing, dirt and soap residue build up inside the machine’s drum and pipes. This can make the machine less effective at reaching hot temperatures or properly distributing detergent.
Washing machines are also moist environments, turning them into breeding grounds for mould, mildew and bacteria. Not only can this make your machine pretty smelly, but it can transfer that yucky stuff back onto your clothing. That’s why cleaning the inside of your machine every two to three months is more important than you might think.
How to clean your washing machine with a dishwashing tablet
We can’t take the credit for this amazing hack, which has been making the rounds thanks to Facebook group Mums Who Clean, but we’re more than happy to share it!
A good Samaritan from the group recently revealed that the easiest way to clean your washing machine is to throw about four dishwashing tablets into the drum and then run a normal cycle with the temperature on high (without any clothes inside, of course!). The dishwashing tablets will quickly attack the soap scum lingering inside the drum, leaving your machine pristine when done.
Don’t forget to clean the outside of your machine as well
While this cleaning cycle is running, it’s worth disinfecting the top of your machine too. Bacteria tends to build up when you rest dirty clothes and towels here, and it will transfer back onto your clean clothes if you set them down.
To clean the top, front and sides of your machine, mix two-parts water to one-part vinegar, and simply wipe everything down with a cloth. You can even use an old toothbrush to reach those tough spots like the seals around the door.
How to keep your washing machine clean for longer
There are two simple things you can do to prevent muck from building up inside your machine over time:
- Don’t let your clothes sit inside the machine after a cycle has finished.
It’s easy to forget about a load for hours when you’re doing other chores, but the humidity within the drum can breed mould and bacteria, which will make your clothes need washing again anyway.
To avoid forgetting, set the delay start timer on your machine so that the cycle starts right before you’re due to get up in the morning or arrive home from work. Then you’ll be more inclined to retrieve your clothes straight after the cycle finishes. If you don’t have a delay start timer on your washing machine, set a reminder on your phone.
- Leave the door of the washing machine open after taking your clothes out. This allows the drum to dry out, preventing mildew.
What other things can you clean with dishwashing tablets?
You might be surprised to learn that dishwashing tablets can be used to clean other items around the house too, including:
- The sink: A dishwashing tablet can be used as a detergent and a sponge inside your sink. Just fill the sink with warm water and run the tablet around to wipe away food and grime.
- The oven door: We hate cleaning inside the oven door, but dishwashing tablets are here to save the day! Use a tablet dipped in warm water to get tough food stains off the glass.
- Outdoor furniture: If your garden furniture attracts a lot of dirt and bird droppings, you can use a tablet dissolved in hot water to scrub it off.
- Motor oil stains on the driveway: This one might be our favourite hack. Start by wiping up the excess oil with an old rag, before wetting the stain with water. Then scrub it all over with the dishwashing tablet until the stain starts to lift. You might need to let the detergent sit on the stain for at least half an hour to completely remove it. But we swear it works like magic!