Your washing machine washes your clothes so does it really need cleaning? Yes it does.
Many people believe that because washing machines are constantly in contact with detergent and water, that they will always be clean. That is not true. In fact these machines are prone to dirt and germs because they are exposed to moisture and have many crevices which often trap and accumulate dirt.
Moisture which doesn’t dry properly causes mildew or mold which could be behind the unpleasant smell coming out of your washing machine.
There are many washing machine cleaners which can be used to clean and care for your washing machine. In this article we look at 7 best washing machine cleaners to help you find an ideal product for your machine.
We recommend Weiman washing machine cleaner because you don’t have to run a washing cycle when you use it.
Benefits of Using the Best Washing Machine Cleaner
To get rid of odors
Low temperature or economy washes help to save money but they create a perfect environment for bacteria to breed. These cause a musty smell in the machine and if left long enough, the same odor is transferred to your laundry.
Proper machine operation
There is a lot going on in a typical wash. There are a host of chemicals in detergent, dirt from dirty clothes and fabric softener.
Residues from all these can get caught in different parts of the machine. When this happens they form a thin film which traps bacteria. These bacteria can then grow and clog the inner mechanisms of the machine so water doesn’t get as hot as it should. Bacteria could also interfere with detergent action so that it is not as strong as it should be.
Products Tackle Specific Problems
Washing machine cleaning products can be pricey. As a cost effective alternative, many people use baking soda and vinegar or bleach.
While these are effective in achieving a deep, general clean and getting rid of odors, they cannot match up to store bought cleaning products.
Apart from a thorough clean, these products allow you to tackle specific individual problems which homemade solutions cannot do.
If you live in a hard water area for instance, you can select a cleaning product which gives a thorough clean but is also specifically formulated to deal with limescale.
If you have many pets and are constantly dealing with pet hair in your machine, you can get a product which cleans but is specifically made to tackle hair in machines.
Most homemade washing machine cleaning solutions are time consuming or require more water.
When using bleach for instance, it is recommended that you leave the bleach in water in the drum for an hour before proceeding with the process. Homemade solutions also require you to run a few cycles for a satisfactory clean.
Store bought cleaners are often packed in convenient forms such as tablets and only need a single cycle for a complete and thorough clean. This saves you time, water and electricity if your multiple cycles are done with hot water.
7 best Washing Machine Cleaners – A Comparison table
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Weiman washing machine cleaner and deodorizer
At the end of washing for the day
2 fluid ounces
Affresh W10501250 washing machine cleaner
Monthly or every 30 cycles
6 tablets per pack
Clorox washing machine cleaner
30 ounce bottle
OxiClean washing machine cleaner
4 pouches per pack
Ecozone washing machine cleaner
Tablet with soluble wrap
6 tablets per pack
Tide washing machine cleaner
5 pouches per pack
Dettol washing machine cleaner
Every 2 months
250 ml bottle
If you can’t afford the time to run a cycle to clean your washing machine, the Weiman spray-and-go formula is best for you.
You only need to spray and go. You don’t even have to wipe. This not only saves you time but also saves you water as well as electricity if you usually clean using hot water. It removes residue and deodorizes to control odors.
Another advantage of a spray cleaner is that you get to reach all problem areas, including the door seal and gasket which often harbors a lot of residue. A wash cycle will not reach these hidden parts.
It is bleach free, has neutral PH and contains no VOCs. It doesn’t matter what kind of machine you have. This spray can be used on front load, top load and high efficiency machines. It is also compatible with all septic systems.
One demerit is that this spray cleaner needs to be used quite frequently in order to enjoy the intended results. While other forms of cleaners are used anywhere between once a month and once every few months, recommended frequency for this one is after the last load of the day.
- Convenient use – spray and go
- Saves time and water
- Reaches all problem areas
- Can be used on any machine
- Requires frequent use
Affresh washing machine cleaner comes as a foaming tablet. It is specially formulated to dissolve slowly so its effects continue throughout the cycle.
It works by getting under residue and grime left after regular washes, breaking it up and washing it off. This leaves the machine clean and smelling fresh.
It is conveniently packed such that one tablet is sufficient for one cleaning cycle. Simply place the tablet in the empty wash basket and run a normal cycle with hot water. Alternatively, select the clean washer cycle.
After the cleaning cycle is complete, check to see if the entire tablet dissolved. If there is any left, the manufacturer recommends that you discard it rather than leave it in with your next load.
The recommended frequency of use for Affresh washing machine cleaner is once a month or every 30 cycles.
It is safe for all washing machine components and is septic tank friendly. Affresh cleaner can be used on both top loader and front loader washing machines as well as high efficiency machines.
- Convenient tablet – one per use
- Slow dissolving
- Safe for front load, top load and HE machines
- Component and septic tank friendly
- May need to use repeatedly
Clorox is a liquid-based washing machine cleaner which takes care of dirt, mold and hard water build up. It does a great job at cleaning all these out but it shines most in odor elimination.
If you have an exceptionally stinky washing machine, this is a good option for you. Being a liquid, no residues are left after a cleaning. Simply pour half a cup into the bleach dispenser and start a washing cycle. All odor causing bacteria is eliminated and unpleasant smells removed for good.
Recommended frequency is once month though you may vary this slightly depending on your needs.
This product contains bleach. This may be a merit or demerit depending on who you ask. Some people like the strong chlorine smell while others cannot stand it. It doesn’t contain any fragrances and this works in its favor for people who suffer from allergies.
You can use Clorox with top loaders, front loaders or high efficiency machines.
If you don’t like the smell of bleach, you may not be a happy with the strong chlorine smell which lingers for a few days.
- Gets rid of all odors
- Effectively cleans dirt and grime build ups
- Suitable for all washing machines
- No residues after use
- Contains bleach
- Leaves a strong chlorine smell
This is a powder washing machine cleaner which effectively clears your machine of all odor-causing residue and leaves it smelling clean and fresh.
It has what the manufacturer calls odor blasters to deal with bad smell no matter how strong.
OxiClean comes in a pack of four pouches of the cleaning powder. You use one pouch each time you clean the washer, therefore making it easy and convenient to use. The manufacturer recommends one clean per month to maintain a clean and fresh washer.
Tear open one pouch of the cleaner and pour the contents into the washer drum. Select the ‘Clean Washer Cycle.’ If your machine doesn’t have this option run a normal cycle using hot water. After the cycle is complete use a clean towel to wipe off any residue on the door, rubber gaskets or the drum.
- Effective dirt and residue removal
- Effective removal of odors
- Comes in convenient pouches for single use
- Doesn’t remove water stains well
Ecozone is the only multipurpose product on our list. It can also be used to clean your dish washer.
This eco-friendly cleaner is formulated to remove dirt and grime as well as get rid of stubborn limescale and detergent residue. Pipework and hoses get cleaned in the process and it is safe for use in septic tanks. It is lemon scented so your machine is left clean and smelling fresh.
It comes in tablet form with a standard pack holding enough for 6 uses. The manufacturer recommends one clean per month in order to prevent buildup of dirt and ensure the machine never develops that unpleasant musty smell.
Place one tablet in the empty drum and run a hot cycle (60 degrees or more.) You don’t even need to unwrap the tablet because the packaging is soluble.
Ecozone is free from animal testing under the Humane Household Products Standard. It also vegan and non-toxic.
If you live in a hard water area, you might need to use this cleaner a few times before all the limescale build up comes off.
- Convenient tablet with soluble wrapper
- Vegan and non-toxic
- Multi-purpose use
- Might need a few tries for full limescale removal
Tide is a trusted brand in the industry so it is no surprise that the Tide washing machine cleaner made it on to our list.
It has surface-active ingredients which help to remove residues as well as grime and mold accumulated in hidden areas. This is a pocket friendly option considering it comes in a pack of 5 pouches. You need one pouch per use which the manufacturer recommends should be done at least once a month.
Tide cleaner can be used for both standard and high efficiency machines. It does an exceptionally good job in high efficiency machines which tend to have more dirt because they use less water and have tight seals.
One downside to Tide cleaner is the strong ‘clean’ scent it leaves after a clean. For some people it is exactly what they need to feel like the washer is completely clean. For others it can be overpowering.
- Works well with both standard and high efficiency machines
- Surface active ingredients
- Convenient, easy to use pouches
- Strong ‘clean; smell after cleaning
Dettol is a well-known name associated with antiseptic. This washing machine cleaner promises to kill 99.9% of bacteria as well as remove bad odor. It also promises to remove limescale caused by hard water minerals.
This is a liquid cleaner which comes in a 250 milliliter bottle. You may have to repeat the treatment if you are dealing with an old machine which has never been cleaned before.
Pour a small amount of liquid into the detergent drawer then run a cycle with hot water. Being a liquid cleaner, it dissolves well and typically fills your washer with bubbles. For best results, use it every 2 months.
The bottle you purchase is intended for a single use which works out to be quite expensive for only one use. You can save a few dollars by buying a pack of 2 bottles.
- Removes dirt and grime efficiently
- Leaves pleasant fresh smell
- Dissolves well
- Pricey for one use
Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Washing Machine Cleaner
Your Specific Need
Just about any cleaner you come across is made to meet certain standard needs such as kill germs, get rid of mildew and odors.
With these needs taken care of no matter what you pick, you can then look for a brand which specifically mentions a need which is specific to you.
Limescale and hair are some specifics.
Does it remove limescale?
Limescale is that whitish scaly deposit you notice in your machine after a few months of use. It is a side effect of hard water.
Every time this kind of water passes through your washing machine, deposits are left in the drum, seals, hoses and other parts of the machine.
If you live in a hard water area, it is more likely to be a problem for you. Select a washing machine cleaner which mentions limescale as one of the problems it tackles.
Does it remove hair?
Pet hair in your clothes can be a stubborn problem in washing machines. When mixed with water it forms clumps which can prevent proper draining. If you have several cats for instance, you will need a washing machine cleaner which tackles pet hair.
Form of cleaner
Washing machine cleaners come in different forms. They could be in tablet, powder or liquid form. It is up to you to pick what works best for you.
Tablets are convenient because they are pre-measured quantities. You only need to throw one into the drum and start the machine.
Powders are often packed in pre-measured sachets so you just snip and empty the contents into the drum. Liquids are more soluble than tablets and powders so they work faster.
Method and frequency of use
Each manufacturer indicates a recommended frequency. Some are best for regular monthly maintenance and others provide a deep clean which is necessary every few months.
It doesn’t hurt to have a good quality, effective cleaner which can be used for other cleaning.
Most washing machine cleaners are made for that and that alone. Others like Ecozone washing machine and dishwasher cleaner can be used for both of these purposes.
If you come across a cleaner which can serve another need for which you ordinarily purchase a separate product, it becomes more convenient and probably ends up being cheaper.
If you thought there is no need to wash a washing machine, now you know different. Finding a good cleaning product can be confusing because there are so many to choose from.
Look for a product which meets your individual needs and performs well in terms of the standard expected outcomes of thorough cleaning and odor removal.