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If your washing machine starts to smell unpleasant, then of course you urgently want to do something about the smell. In this article we give you tips for ideal cleaning.

But even before it starts to smell, you should take care of your washing machine. Routine cleaning of the washing machine not only promises hygienically clean laundry, but also a longer lifespan for the device.

The essentials in brief

  • You should run your washing machine empty once a week at 90°C. This kills bacteria and fungi in your washing machine.
  • You can easily clean your washing machine with home remedies. This is not only good for the environment, but usually also very good for your wallet.
  • If a washing machine has not been used for a long time, it should be cleaned before the next use. Germs and bacteria can have spread over time.

What you should know about cleaning a washing machine

Before you clean your washing machine, there are a few things you need to consider. We would like to explain this to you in this section. Here you will also get answers to the most important questions that need to be answered before cleaning the washing machine.

Why should a washing machine be cleaned regularly?

If you want your laundry to always be hygienically clean and smell good, it is absolutely necessary to clean your washing machine at regular intervals.

The deposit of detergent residues and lint, combined with moisture, creates an optimal breeding ground for bacteria, germs and even mold. It doesn’t matter whether you use liquid detergent or powder detergent.

That’s why it’s important that the washing machine is cleaned. It is a common misconception that a washing machine does not need cleaning. Many people mistakenly think that a washing machine cleans itself by washing laundry cleanly.

The bacteria that can settle in the washing machine can affect the lifespan of the washing machine as well as your health. The bacteria and mold spores can also settle on your freshly washed laundry.

How often should a washing machine be cleaned?

Of course, this depends entirely on the washing program you use most often. If you often wash at very low temperatures or in an energy-saving manner, then you should clean your washing machine every week in a stripped-down version.

The water hardness and limescale content of your water play an important role when it comes to how often you should descale your washing machine. In general, however, it can be said that it is necessary to use a special washing machine cleaner about once a year.

Approximately every one to two months, depending on the amount of laundry and the condition of the water, all other components of the washing machine should also be cleaned. This includes, above all, the seal, the detergent drawer, the porthole and the lint filter.

This is an easy way to prevent a bad-smelling washing machine.

At what temperature should a washing machine be cleaned?

For thorough cleaning, you should select a washing program with at least 60°C. However, to achieve comprehensive cleaning, 90°C is required.

This also prevents unpleasant smells in your laundry. Most germs are killed in your washing machine at 90°C.

If you are very careful not to wash at high temperatures, there are also special hygiene cleaners that remove unpleasant bacteria and fungi from your washing machine at temperatures as low as 30°C.

However, it has also been proven that some germs and bacteria are not killed even at 90°C. It may therefore be advisable to use a hygiene cleaner even when washing at 90°C.
Nevertheless, at such a high temperature, most of all bacteria and germs are destroyed.

Temperature level temperature
Low washing temperature 20°C – 40°C
Medium washing temperature 40°C – 60°C
High washing temperature 90°C

Clean a washing machine quickly and easily

Here you can find out what you should consider when cleaning a washing machine. We will introduce you to simple home remedies for thorough results and explain how you should use them.

In this section, we will also explain to you how to properly clean and disinfect your washing machine.

Which home remedies are suitable for cleaning a washing machine?

You don’t necessarily have to buy special washing machine cleaners for your cleaning. Simple home remedies are usually enough to get your washing machine working again.

In the end, these home remedies are not only cheaper, but are also more environmentally friendly. Chances are, you already have some of these products at home and don’t even need to buy them.


Vinegar is a real all-rounder in the household. That’s why it’s no surprise that you can also use it to descale your washing machine.

With this option, however, you have to decide for yourself whether you want to use vinegar in your washing machine. The hoses and seals of your washing machine in particular could be damaged by the vinegar.

Alternatively, you can also use conventional vinegar cleaners , although these often have a less strong effect.

Cleaning with vinegar takes just a few steps:

  1. Pour half a liter of vinegar into the empty washing machine drum.
  2. Select the wash cycle with the highest temperature and let it run empty.
  3. When the washing machine reaches the highest temperature point, stop the washing process.
  4. Let the vinegar take effect for about an hour and then let the washing machine continue to run until the end of the washing process.

With these few steps you can get your washing machine clean again in no time.


To clean your washing machine with soda, you just need to add 2 tablespoons of it to the detergent drawer. From there, it not only cleans your washing machine but also helps clean your laundry.

Unlike other home remedies, soda is not only used when the washing machine is empty, but you can also do your laundry at the same time.

With simple home remedies, cleaning the washing machine becomes child’s play.

Baking soda

Baking soda is not primarily suitable for removing limescale in your washing machine. However, it can prevent dirt and germs from accumulating.

So if you add about half a cup of baking soda to each of your loads, this will have the effect of reducing the need to clean your washing machine.

Another bonus is that baking soda softens the water and your washed clothes will come out of the washing machine much softer than normal.

Citric acid

Descaling your washing machine with citric acid is not only good for the environment, but it also protects the seals and hoses of your washing machine.

Citric acid is ideal for descaling and disinfecting your washing machine. However, it is important that the citric acid is not heated, otherwise it will change its properties.

That’s why you should proceed by mixing 8 tablespoons of citric acid in a bowl with about half a liter of water. Before you continue, it is important that the citric acid powder is completely dissolved in the water.

Put this solution in the laundry drum and turn on a cold wash cycle. When the washing machine reaches its washing temperature, you can pause the program and let the citric acid work for about an hour.

You should then let the washing machine finish the washing program.


If you want to clean your washing machine with chlorine cleaner, you should definitely dilute it with water in a 50:50 ratio before use.

It is also very important that you wear gloves and avoid inhaling the fumes from the chlorine. It is best if you wear a mask over your mouth and nose. You should keep your pets and children away from the room so that they do not inhale the fumes or come into contact with the liquid.

  1. After mixing half a liter of chlorine cleaner with half a liter of water (while wearing gloves), you can place a cotton cloth in the solution and use it to clean the porthole and seal of the washing machine.
  2. You can then dip another cotton cloth into the solution and place it at the bottom of the rubber seal. It should stay there for about half an hour.
  3. Finally, you should wash the washing machine at idle at 90° so that the chlorine comes out of the washing machine again.

How do I clean a washing machine properly?

The ideal cleaning should be divided into basic cleaning and extensive cleaning.

You can carry out basic cleaning once a week by running your washing machine empty at 60°C, or even better 90°C.

This will kill almost all germs and bacteria in the washing drum. There are also special hygiene cleaners available for cleaning at lower temperatures. Some of these work at temperatures as low as 30°C.

To thoroughly clean the washing machine, apart from idling at high temperatures, you should also thoroughly clean these other parts of the washing machine regularly:

  • poetry
  • Detergent drawer
  • porthole
  • Lint filter

At regular intervals here means about every one to two months.

Cleaning type Explanation
Basic cleaning Run the washing machine empty at 90°C once a week
Extensive cleaning Clean the seal, detergent drawer, porthole and lint filter every one to two months

How do I clean the individual components of the washing machine?


If the seal is not very dirty and you make sure to clean it often, then wiping the rubber seal regularly with warm water is sufficient.

However, you have to remember that you should really wipe every part of the rubber seal. To do this, you may have to pull the rubber seal apart a little with your hands so that you can really get to every spot.

If the area is very dirty, you can also soak a cotton cloth in a water-chlorine mixture. This mixture should be in a 50:50 ratio.

It is important that you wear gloves and protect yourself as much as possible from the chlorine fumes. This works, for example, with a mask for the mouth and nose.

You can place the cloth soaked in the mixture in the fold of the rubber seal at the bottom and leave it to work for about half an hour before removing it and letting the washing machine run empty at 90°C.

Alternatively, you can use your normal cleaning agent, put it on a cloth and use it to clean the rubber seal.

Detergent drawer

The best way to avoid germs and bacteria in the detergent drawer is to leave it open after washing. This allows the moisture in it to escape.

To clean it, it is usually enough to wipe or rinse the compartment with warm water and then let it dry properly. To do this, you should remove it completely and also wipe out the interior behind it. Bacteria can easily multiply, especially in corners.


The best way to clean the washing machine porthole is with warm water. All you have to do is wipe it off.

If you have limescale deposits, you can also mix a little vinegar with warm water. This solution will remove the limescale deposits when you clean the porthole with it and a cleaning cloth.

Lint filter

To clean the lint filter in your washing machine, you should open the opening on your washing machine behind which the lint filter is located. Then you should unscrew the lint filter and rinse it under lukewarm water.

It’s best if you also clean the interior behind the lint filter. Because germs can also have settled here.

How do I disinfect a washing machine?

When you descale the washing machine, it is also disinfected at the same time. That’s why you can also use our tips with vinegar or citric acid to disinfect your washing machine.

Of course, you can also use conventional descalers that you can buy in the supermarket, for example.

By using these descalers, your washing machine will be disinfected and clean.

What else you should know about cleaning a washing machine

Can I also clean a washing machine with dishwasher tablets?

In principle, it is possible to clean your washing machine with dishwasher tablets.

To do this, you should put two tabs in the laundry drum and let the washing machine run empty at 90°C. The hot water is the best way to loosen existing grease deposits in the washing machine and therefore allows for optimal cleaning.

Afterwards, your washing machine is not only clean, but also smells pleasantly good.

However, you should know that dishwasher tablets do not help the washing machine to be descaled. To do this, you should find another product that will help you descale your washing machine.

Do I have to clean a washing machine after it has been idle for a long time?

It is definitely advisable to clean a washing machine if it has not been used for a long time.

Because it could very well be that there was water in the washing machine while it was standing that couldn’t drain and remained standing. This can cause an unpleasant smell.

It is also possible that the washing machine was not cleaned after it was last used, allowing germs and bacteria to spread while it was idle.

For this reason, it is important that you run the washing machine idle at 90°C at least once before using it again. You can also clean them using other means that we have introduced to you in this article. If the washing machine smells good, then it can be used.


Even though many people neglect to clean their washing machine regularly, it is still important to clean it. Many bacteria and germs can spread in it and lead to unpleasant smells.

This especially happens if you frequently wash at low temperatures. You can therefore prevent the unpleasant smell of your washing machine or your laundry by cleaning your washing machine.

Whether you want to try using home remedies, special washing machine cleaners or simply washing at very high temperatures is up to you.