Washing machines: Washing machine repairs tool Cleaning a smelly washing machine

We use our washing machines to remove the grime and odours - so the last thing we want is for the washing machine itself to start smelling. But reports of a musty odour in the drum are becoming more common, so here's our video showing you how to deal with it.

If this doesn't sound like what you were after, use our washing machine repair tool to diagnose your faulty washer and find the problem.

But if you just fancy a change of machine and want to minimise the risk of your next washing machine breaking down, have a look at our Best Buy washing machines. We only recommend top-scoring washing machines as Best Buys if they get a rating of three stars or better in our annual washing machine reliability survey.

Video: cleaning your smelly washing machine


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Video transcript

A recent Whichmember survey has revealed one of the most common complaints about washing machines is a bad odor. building up in the drum. To avoid this happening to you it is recommended that you do a monthly service wash. Now a service wash is a wash in your machine at a high temperature without any clothes in the drum.

Most manufacturers now recommend doing a service wash, and you can find details of what cycle you should use in your instruction manual. If not, contact your manufacturer. First things first. Unplug your washing machine before doing any sort of maintenance. Mold or bacteria can also build up in the door seal, and the drum itself.

So make sure you check these areas after washing, and give them a clean if needed. If left too long, black mold can get this is porous rubber of your door seal. If this happens it may be beyond normal cleaning. And you may have to replace your door seal. After each wash it is best to keep the door slightly ajar This will allow air to enter the drum, and will help prevent the buildup of mold and bacteria.

Mold and bacteria that can make your washing machine smell can also build up in the lint filter, and in the detergent drawer. For more information on how to clean these areas, click on the links below. If the bad smells persist, you may want to check your waste pipe. If you find if there is a blockage in the pipe itself, you can use regular drain cleaner to clear it out.

If the bad smells persist despite cleaning all these areas, it's time to call in an engineer. If you go to Which Local, you will be able to find rated recommended repairmen in your area. And for more maintenance and advice tips for washing machines and reviews of the latest models, log onto which.co.uk

1Turn off your machine

Before doing any sort of maintenance on your washing machine, turn it off and unplug it before starting.

2Run a service wash

Here in the UK, most people wash their clothes at 40 degrees or less. This is a great way to save money on energy bills and is better to the environment, but there is a down side.

Washing at these temperatures will not completely rid your washing machine of mould and bacteria as high temperatures would. You need to run a service wash to deal with this problem.

A service wash means spinning the machine without any clothes in at a high temperature. Ideally done once a month, most manufacturers now recommend you use a certain cycle to do this or provide a special drum-cleaning program. Your instruction manual should have this information.

3Clean the seal, drawer and filter

Mould and bacteria can fester in the rubber seal around the door hole. After washing have a look at the seal to see if it needs a scrub - doing this regularly can help prevent the build-up of mould and bacteria. If mould has had too long to fester, it may have sunk into the porous rubber of the seal and be impossible to remove. If this happens, you may need to replace the door seal.

Mould and bacteria also have a tendency to build up in the detergent drawer and lint filter. Watch our videos on cleaning the detergent drawer and strange noises in your washing machine for instructions on how to clean these areas.

4Leave the door and drawer open

Leaving the machine's door open after washing allows air to circulate in the drum and helps prevent the growth of mould and bacteria. You should also leave your machine's detergent drawer open for the same reason.

Check the stand pipe

If bad smells continue, you may have a partial blockage in the standpipe. If you suspect this is the case, use a drain unblocker to try and clear the pipe. Which? has reviewed and rated drain unblockers - go to our drain unblocker reviews for the latest Best Buys.

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