An easy way to tell that your washing machine is due for a deep clean is when it begins to smell. It’s usually a damp kind of smell, indicating the presence of mould and mildew inside.
In some cases, this smell can transfer to your clothes and no freshener can help.
Even if your washing machine doesn’t smell, it is probably dirtier than it appears. If you haven’t cleaned in in several years, there is likely a build-up of dirt and detergent deposits inside.
If you live in a hard water area, limescale build-up is also a common issue. It can actually damage your washing machine.
The best way to deal with all these problems – smells, limescale and dirt – is using a washing machine cleaner.
A good washing machine cleaner removes mould, mildew, limescale and smell-causing bacteria. It’ll reach nooks and crannies you wouldn’t reach yourself, ensuring a thorough cleaning.
A washing machine cleaner is very easy to use. Put it in the detergent drawer and then run a wash cycle as per the instructions on the label of the cleaner.
We’ve picked five highly rated washing machine cleaners that are available on the UK market. Some of them are good for smells, others are better for limescale while other tackle everything.
But first, a few tips on how to choose the right washing machine cleaner.
What to Consider When Choosing a Washing Machine Cleaner
a) Does it Remove Smells?
Any washing machine cleaner should be able to, at the very least, get rid of smells.
A good way to tell whether the cleaner succeeds at this basic requirement is reading customer reviews. The cleaner shouldn’t just get rid of smells, but keep them away for a long time.
Of course, some cleaners are more powerful than others. With some, you may need to clean more frequently – maybe every 20 or so washes – to keep your washing machine smelling fresh.
With others, you can go as long as 50 washes before you need to use the cleaner again.
b) Does it Remove Mould and Mildew?
This is another basic requirement that any washing machine cleaner should achieve.
Mould and mildew are some of the most common problems in washing machines, which is not surprising considering the damp environment.
Any washing machine cleaner worth its salt should be able to clear deposits of mould and mildew in every nook and cranny.
c) Does it Remove Limescale?
Not every washing machine cleaner is formulated to deal with scale build-up. If you live in a hard water area, check that the cleaner you buy can remove limescale.
Left on its own, scale deposits (from minerals in hard water) will keep building up inside the washing machine. Over time, it can damage various components and reduce the lifespan of your appliance.
Finally, check whether you can use the washing machine cleaner with other appliances such as your coffee machine and dishwasher.
Some lime scale and mould cleaners can be safely used in other appliances, saving you the hassle of buying different cleaners for each appliance.
If you prefer products that are eco-friendly, vegan or cruelty-free, there are plenty of options available in the market.
How To Use a Washing Machine Cleaner
Remember to always ready the instructions on the label before you use the cleaner. Below are just some general tips that apply to most washing machine cleaners and descalers.
- Put the required amount of cleaner (can be 1 tablet or a specific amount of powder or liquid) in the detergent drawer. Some cleaners can be added directly into the washing machine drum.
- Run the washing machine at 60C. Do not add any laundry to the washing machine.
- After the wash cycle, wipe the door, door seal and detergent drawer with a diluted solution of the cleaner. Focus especially on the seal, where you are likely to notice a ring of black gunk. This prevents the seal from cracking or wearing.
To maintain your washing machine in the best condition, use a washing machine cleaner every 2-3 months or every 30-40 wash cycles.
For descaler, repeat the treatment every month.
The Best Washing Machine Cleaners
1. Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner Review
Dettol washing machine cleaner is the best option for getting rid of washing machine odours.
Dettol’s powerful formulation sanitizes your washing machine more effectively than most other cleaners. It targets mould and mildew, the two most common sources of smells, as well as odour-causing bacteria.
Dettol also removes some limescale build-up.
You’ll receive 3 bottles of Dettol washing machine cleaner, each holding 250ml of cleaning solution. A single bottle is enough for most washing machines.
But if your washing machine has gone for years without cleaning or is extra smelly, you may need to use all three bottles for best results.
To use the Dettol washing machine cleaner, pour one bottle in the detergent drawer and then run a wash cycle at 60C without any laundry.
The cleaner does a great job reaching hidden areas, where scale and slime tend to build up most.
If you can still see some mould stains or there is an odour after the first cleaning, repeat the treatment with another bottle of the Dettol cleaner.
To sanitize the detergent drawer, rubber seal and glass door, wipe them down with a diluted solution of 1 tablespoon Dettol cleaner and 200ml water.
Dettol recommends using the cleaner every two months to keep your washing machine smelling fresh and prevent a build-up of mould and scale.
What we like about it:
- Effectively gets rid of bad odours.
- Removes mould.
- Kills over 99% of bacteria.
2. Dr. Beckmann Service-It Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner Review
Dr. Beckmann is another good choice for smelly and mouldy washing machines. Like Dettol, it targets 99.9% of bacteria, which leaves your washing machine cleaner, more hygienic and smelling fresh.
It also tackles dirt that has built up from dirty clothes. Active carbon in the cleaner attracts dirt and then flushes it out of the washing machine.
The manufacturer does not mention anything regarding scale and some users confirm that it doesn’t remove scale. So we wouldn’t recommend it for homes with hard water unless you use it alongside a limescale remover.
But for smells, dirt and detergent build-up, The Dr. Beckman Service-It cleaner works great.
The Dr. Beckmann cleaner (which, by the way, is in powder form), comes in a 250g packet. It is available in a bundle of 2, 4 or 6 packets.
To use it, pour a single packet into the washing machine. Select a wash cycle at 60C but do not add any laundry.
For best maintenance of your washing machine, the manufacturer recommends using it every three months or every 40 wash cycles.
What we like about it:
- Highly effective at removing smells.
- Also removes detergent build-up.
- Easy to use.
3. Indesit Limescale & Detergent Remover Review
For homes that receive hard water, we recommend the Indesit Limescale & Detergent Remover. It tackles soap scum, scale and slime that has built up in the washing machine after years of use.
But it’s not just for hard water areas. A washing machine that uses soft water will still have a build-up of detergent and some scale. Even soft water has some amounts of hardness minerals that can cause scale.
Most people don’t realize just how much of a scale problem they have until their washing breaks down and they have to replace it or spend a lot of money on repairs.
The Indesit descaler removes years’ worth of scale build-up. You just need to use a single sachet for every descaling.
Pour the contents of the sachet in the detergent drawer and run an empty wash cycle at 60C. Repeat the descaling every month with another sachet to prevent scale from building up again.
By the way, you can also use Indesit to remove scale from your dishwasher.
Note that the Indesit Limescale & Detergent Remover is strictly a descaler. It does not tackle bad smells, bacteria and dirt.
If your problem is a smelly washing machine, this won’t help. We still recommend getting it for the scale but use it alongside another washing machine cleaner like Dettol or Dr. Beckmann.
What we like about it:
- Powerful descaler.
- Pack of 10 sachets – enough for 10 months.
- Extends the life of your washing machine.
- Safe for use in all washing machines and dishwashers.
4. Ecozone Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaner Review
If you prefer eco-friendly products, we recommend the Ecozone washing machine cleaner. It is vegan and free from animal testing.
The Ecozone cleaner is mostly for descaling but can also help get rid of unpleasant odours.
However, if your washing machine has a particularly nasty smell that won’t go away, try Dettol or Dr. Beckmann in addition to Ecozone.
The Ecozone cleaner excels mostly at removing hardness minerals (limescale) that have built up inside your washing machine or dishwasher. It also removes old deposits of detergent.
While it may not completely get rid of all bad odours on its own, the refreshing lemon scent it leaves behind helps.
To descale your washing machine, drop a single tablet in the drum and run a 60C washing cycle (with no laundry). Do not remove the wrapping on the tablet; it is soluble.
Descale with a single tablet every month to stay on top of the scale and detergent build-up. The pack comes with 6 tablets that are good for six months.
What we like about it:
- Highly effective descaler for washing machine and dishwashers.
- Eco-friendly and certified allergy-friendly.
- Nice lemon scent.
5. Pro-Kleen Washing Machine Cleaner and Descaler Review
If you want an all-round washing machine cleaner that will get rid of odours, remove scale and pick up dirt, get the 5-litre Pro-Kleen washing machine cleaner and descaler.
This is the most economical washing machine cleaner we’ve picked. It’s a whopping 5 litres at roughly twice the price of other smaller cleaners.
But Pro-Kleen lasts much longer. While other cleaners are good for only 3-6 uses, Pro-Kleen lasts for 50 uses.
That’s because you only need 100ml of the liquid for a single clean. That’s enough to deep clean your washing machine and remove all built-up limescale.
The deep cleaning part is the one that helps with odours. Pro-Kleen tackles bacteria, mould, mildew and any other gunk that’s making your washing machine stink.
If your clothes come out smelling damp and mouldy, Pro-Kleen will help.
The Pro-Kleen cleaner also improves the efficiency of your washing machine and extends its lifespan by clearing deposits of scale and detergent. This is especially helpful for homes that use their washing machine daily or are in a hard water area.
To use Pro-Kleen, add 100ml of the liquid to the detergent drawer and run a wash cycle at 50C. Repeat this treatment every 2-3 months to keep your washing machine fresh and scale-free.
What we like about it:
- Very economical.
- Lasts long.
- 2-in-1 formula – removes scale and deep-cleans your washing machine.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How to use a washing machine cleaner?
You can do a simple, easy home clean of your washing machine by simply running it on a hot cycle, with no detergent and no washing. This will keep the machine clean and running smoothly by itself, but if you have never cleaned your machine then you can bring in some big guns to help with the process.
- Cleaning tablets are a great thing; simply add one to your washing machine along with your normal laundry load. You can do this once a month to keep things running smoothly.
- Vinegar is a champion cleaner, and one that can be used to clean your washing machine. Don’t worry, the smell dissipates very quickly, so you won’t end up smelling like a pickle every time you wash your clothes! Add a pint of white vinegar to your machine and run it on a cycle without clothes.
- Baking soda is another great cleaning agent. You can either add a cup of baking soda to the powder drawer and run a cycle without clothes, or you can combine this with the vinegar suggestion above.
2. What is in a washing machine cleaner?
Depending on what option you choose to clean your washing machine, you either have natural ingredients or some chemicals. Don’t get me wrong, natural cleaners work amazingly well – but sometimes you want something a bit more harsh.
Especially if you have a machine that has never been cleaned or is consistently making your clothes smell musty or not cleaning them well, then you may consider adding a splash of Dettol to your powder drawer.
Other washing machine cleaners may contain a type of bleach which is good for removing smells or stains.
You can also get lime scale removers to help clean out your washing machine – this is great for those who live in hard water areas, where lime scale build up can affect the performance of a washing machine.
3. What does a washing machine cleaner do?
A washing machine cleaner does exactly what it says on the tin – it cleans your washing machine! We don’t often think to clean the things that do our cleaning for us, but your machine – and your clothes – will thank you for a bit of TLC and a little clean every now and again.
A washing machine cleaner, whatever type you get, will help your washing machine perform at its best, and make your clothes cleaner than you could have ever imagined they could be.