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1 October 2020

How to fix a dodgy detergent drawer

Mouldy, grimy, detergent drawer? Watch our video to solve common problems with your washing machine detergent drawer.
Matt Stevens

Detergent drawers are prone to build-ups of mould, detergent residue and in extreme cases – a black jelly-like substance. 

As well as looking unpleasant, if it builds up it can prevent detergent from being taken into the machine and water spraying out of the front of the washer.

Manufacturers recommend cleaning your detergent drawer regularly but just in case you haven't yet and have noticed it's either a bit mouldy, more awkward to slide out than normal or even spitting out water, then it's time to clean the detergent drawer. Here's how you do it.

Turn off your machine

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

Clean the drawer thoroughly

Most problems with detergent drawers can be fixed by giving it a good clean. If your detergent drawer is actually broken, replacements can be bought from the manufacturer. See more about washing machine spare parts in our separate guide.

To clean the drawer, remove it completely from the washing machine - your instruction manual will show you how.

Give the drawer a good clean using lukewarm water and washing-up liquid if needed. Wear gloves to protect your skin from detergent residue.

It's just as important to clean the housing that the drawer sits in as this is where water enters to push detergent through to clean your clothes. Pay particular attention to the holes at the top, as any partially blocked holes deflect water away from it's intended target.

It's also worth doing a service wash on your machine, which means running a very hot wash or a special program on your machine - check in your manual for details. Doing this once a month will help to keep dirt and grime at bay.

The only downside to this is that washing on hot temperatures costs more. In our tests, we measure how much water and energy each machine uses, so we can give you an average running cost. 

Our tests have actually uncovered A+++ rated washing machines that cost more to run than A+ ones, so if you're thinking of getting a new machine, use our washing machine reviews to find one that's not only a great model, but that won't cost the earth to run either. 

Fixing or replacing your washing machine

If the problem is serious, you'll want professional attention. To find a reliable repairer in your area, use Which? Trusted Traders to find one that has been assessed and checked by Which? trading standards professionals. 

If you're considering replacing your washing machine, our guide to the most reliable washing machine brands reveals the washing machine brands that are less likely to let you down, based on the data we've collected from thousands of washing machine owners.

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