How to care for your domestic appliances

Many issues and problems that people have with appliances, especially washing machines and dishwashers, can often be solved just by simply taking care your kitchen appliances and carrying out regular maintenance and cleaning.

Here we explain the best ways to do that and how to avoid problems like bad smells, odours, dirt, mould, residues and a host of useful information and tips to keep your appliances in tip top condition and save yourself loads of time and money.

Many problems that you can easily resolve yourself without an engineer's help.

How To Save Money On Soap Powder

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There are two main schools of thought on detergent use, both seem completely contradictory to each other, one from detergent manufacturers and the other from washing machine manufacturers and we want to explain both to people. You can make your own mind up on what to believe from what the motives are for both and, what we see in the field.

After you understand that we'll show you how you can save more on detergent than you could ever hope to save on electricity.

Washing Machine Manufacturers

Since the early 1990’s the focus for washing machine manufacturers has been to increase capacities and to decrease energy use.

As a by-product of this, wash times have been extended and water level reduced. You can find out all about that in other articles but, in essence, it means that the washing machine that you buy today will not operate in exactly the same way as your old one did as the technologies advance.

As a result, users are forced to change their habits given that governments and markets demand that the technologies move forward and that less resources are used.

In an effort to get an AAA rating, A class energy use, A class wash results and A class spin results certain sacrifices have had to be made. But beyond this we are now at A++++ energy use meaning that even more has changed as the lowest possible energy use is chased and, people want that.

Given that a number of manufacturers seem to work out the energy efficiency based on the energy use per kilo of wash load it is in their interest, to get a lower rating and therefore higher sales by being the most efficient, to get the energy down and capacity up. Even if it isn't always the whole truth.

Less water however, you would think logically, means that less detergent or soap powder is needed but, the detergent manufacturers will tell you that this isn’t the case. 

Meanwhile, many washing machine manufacturers will tell that this is indeed the case, you need to use less detergent. 

The motivation to do so, if you were cynical, would be to enhance the “green credentials” but, beyond that there is little to be gained by a washing machine manufacturer in telling you to use less detergent as they don’t make it and, don’t profit by the sale of it.

Laundry Detergent Manufacturers

As we said, almost all laundry detergent manufacturers will tell you to continue to use the same amount of detergent or soap powder that you always have done. In fact, on large capacity washing machines (7kg and above) they recommend that more detergent is used.

If we were to again take a cynical view you would have to say, well they would say that wouldn't they as they make money from selling you detergent, if they sell you more than you actually need they only stand to gain by that.

But, is that really true?

In part it probably is but it also is not. As with many things in life, the answer is often more complicated than a sound bite allows.


Soap powder shelf in a supermarketMost detergents and conditioners are sold in supermarkets in the UK or through their online stores.

They make money when they sell detergents and conditioners. Same when they sell you a whole bunch of add ons that you really don't need, which is why we have conditioner.

Do you really think that these retailers who's job it is to sell you stuff to make money want you to use less?

One Detergent Cannot Do It All

When using detergents you have to consider the volume of clothing being washed, the type of clothing you are washing and how dirty it is before you begin.

Then you have to work around the performance of your particular washing machine as, whilst they all work with the same basic principles, they do so in slightly different ways.

It is of note though that whilst a washing machine maker only has to consider the appliance and how it performs in isolation in test conditions with scant regard for much else, the detergent manufacturer has to make a product that works in all machines spanning back decades. In other words, from the most poorly performing energy and water guzzling machines right up to the newest and most efficient ones.

And, that's not even thinking about special programs, different water loads, different drum capacities and a myriad of other factors.

It would be reasonable to logically conclude then that, this isn't possible. One size cannot fit all.

The only way around that would be to produce a specific detergent for each washing machine type or, person's needs. That wouldn't be financially viable and likely not possible.

Although, detergent manufacturers have looked at personalised solutions, probably due to the problems around this stuff that people have.

When people get problems around detergent use they seem to simply switch brands or, blame their washing machine for doing it wrong. Neither address the actual issues.

Zero Communication

Would it come as a shock to learn that all too often that the manufacturers of washing machines, the detergent manufacturers and supermarkets have virtually zero communication with each other?

You see the odd deal done where a manufacturer will endorse a certain detergent, Reckitt are good at this with dishwashers using Finish and it earns a good bit of money for some brands but, in the main, they never talk.

Supermarkets. Well, they don't even give any advice to people on this at all, they just sell the detergent and conditioner, what do they care? They don't even display all the stuff in a sensible way normally which only adds to the confusion.

As for garment manufacturers, forget it. There's no benefit to them in recommending either.

Now you know where the vested interests lie to some degree and that users are left to their own devices to work it all out.

Instructions For Soap Powder

If you look on the packs and, even on the websites that you can find you will normally find very generic instructions for using detergent, powders and conditioner from the makers. If you find any at all as many of the cheaper brands have virtually no instructions.

Washing machine soap powderThen you have your washing machine where the instructions on using detergents and conditioners are, well, not very good at best normally.

The reason for this is fairly simple after you know what's above.

The washing machine manufacturer hasn't a clue what detergents or conditioners you're going to use, how much, washing what and on which program. Because, lots of people do different things and we don't all buy the same stuff that's put in the machine therefore, you cannot determine what will be required.

The best you can do is give generic guidelines on use and assume that the people that buy your washing machines are smart enough and apply common sense to work it out. So all you get is a scoop or measuiring bowl and a few notes, that's it.

The detergent manufacturer has the same problem but, still more, their products are being used in untold numbers of different brands, models, capacities as well as all the user stuff.

Neither can give decent instructions given the huge number of variables.

How You Can Save Money

With all of that knowledge imparted you can now get onto the serious business of saving your valuable cash as, we're quite sure that you have no burning desire to give the supermarkets and detergent makers any more money than you absolutely have to right?

You get now that these guys want you to use more than you have to because, that's how they make their money.

You get that, really, the washing machine makers have no vested interest in you using more than you have to and it suits them if you don't as their machines are then seen, by you, as being more efficient and cheaper to run.

By dosing smart, for a four person household, you can save nearly £100 a year in some cases on detergent alone, never mind conditioner. That is way, way more than you can hope to save on electricity over the same period even with almost any hugely efficient washing machine.

Detergent and conditioners are the most expensive part of the wash process and, the one that's ripe for making savings on.

So here's a chart (it's the easiest way to show you) how much you can save on reduced doses of detergent alone.


  1 Person  2 Person  3 Person  4 Person 
Average No. Washes  117  234 351  468 
Average Annual Cost   £33.14  £66.27  £99.41  £132.54 
Savings Using 50% Dose  £16.57 £33.14  £49.70  £66.27 
Savings Using 25% Dose   £24.85 £49.70  £74.56  £99.41 


Although a simplified version, this chart is based on the average cost of detergent across the leading brands taking into account liquids and powders to give a mean cost per wash then we do some maths and get to the level of saving that you get by reducing the dose.

The average washing machine use is as shown equating to 117 washes per year, per person and the average cost per load for detergent circa mid-2013 is 28 pence.

Whilst we would probably spend the savings on beer, because we're like that and we like beer, we're sure that you can find better things to spend the savings on than soap powder.

Experimentation Is Key

Most detergent packing has a recommended dose on it for soft, medium and hard water and, just as they say, you have to adjust the dose depending on your water hardness.

Here in Central Scotland, we have very soft water and we can easily live with a 25% dose and sometimes even less for clothing that isn't truly dirty. We found that using more caused issues with excessive foaming when we were testing on a Beko machine and an ISE 1606 and W256. The W256 used less, about 20% dose because it was still more efficient than the other two.

For heavily soiled or hot cotton washes for towels and bedding we increased the dose to a little under 50% and the results were absolutely fine. We think we could have gotten away with less but felt it better to get improved wash results given the higher wash temperature and that the laundry would be more dirty.

Importantly however, we didn't test on quick washes as they are not real washes!

A map showing the water hardness across the UKIn some areas, notably some parts around Manchester, where the water is incredibly soft many users have found that they have to use about 10% of the recommended dose or they can have issues with overfoaming.

In high water hardness areas like London the reverse is true and the saving that you can make is lessened as you need the component in the detergent called builders in greater quantity to combat the chalk in the water that causes limescale and to still retain the cleaning performance.

The dose that you need to use will vary depending on the hardness of the water in your area, the type of laundry that you are cleaning and the level of soiling in them. So, you need to experiment to get the balance right just for you. Refer to the map for a rough guide but even within these broad strokes water hardness can alter, it is only a guide.

On most modern high efficiency washing machines though, the stock advice from the engineers is to dial back the dose to at least 50% of recommendation and take it from there on a trial and error basis.

Try it and see what you get as a result, the worst that can happen is that you need to rewash the load but it could save you a considerable amount of cash. Can you afford to ignore the possibility?

The Problems We See

As field engineers we see loads of problems that are user generated and, we do mean loads.

Sure we could come out and charge you to give you advice and tell you this but, really, that's not our way of doing things. We repair problems with the machines themselves and we can repair faults with no problem normally. Something breaks, we fix it.

What we cannot repair are use issues, all we can do is advise people as best we can. Whether people want to believe us or not is not our call.

Overfoaming in washing machines are two that we see on a fairly regular basis and can cause a myriad of issues from leaks to direct damage to your washing machine. 

We would rather see our customers not wasting money where there is no need to do so and, that includes paying us to come to your home and tell you this stuff. We would much prefer to be repairing broken machines.

There is loads of advice on this site about how to get the best from your washing machine and detergents, you just need to take a little time to learn a bit about them. 

Smelly Waste Disposal And How To Clean It

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Smelly Waste Disposal Unit And How To Cure It

As most people who have a decent food or garbage disposal unit will tell you they're great things. They get rid of all those smelly food scraps, peelings, tea bags and all manners of organic waste reducing what you through out but also keeping smelly scraps of food that insects love to feed and grow on away in large part. 

The only trouble is that, unless you look after them they can smell and we're not talking about a little pong here, we're talking about a full on putrid smell from the things if they're not cared for and cleaned. When we visit people's homes on service work we can often tell they have a food waste disposal unit in the kitchen because you can smell it!

If you want to know how to beat the stink and keep your waste disposer free of malodours and bacteria build up we're going to show you the way to do it.

Do make sure that the unit is completely off before you do this, someone's hand or fingers getting chewed up by the garbage disposal is not going to be pretty or end well so please be safe and pull the plug!

Flies From A Waste Disposal

You might get the odd little flies coming out a waste disposal and wonder what why.

The reason is drain flies.

These flies will grow where there is gunge in a drain, hence the name, and lay larvae in the gunk that collects iin your waste disposal or drains. So, keeping the waste disposal unit clean is essential unless of course you like flies shooting out your waste disposal or sink. And, they are really, really hard to get rid of once they take root.

Where To Clean A Waste Disposal Unit

The first thing to know, as it seems a number of waste disposal owners don't, is that there's a rubber feed guard that comes out just to allow you to clean the unit.

In the example we used a waste disposer from In-Sink Erator which is probably one of the best and most common domestic waste disposal units and what you should see at first should be something like this:

Waste disposal unit that stinks

The feed grommet that we're talking about which cause most of the bad smells is this one:

Getting into the garbage disposal to clean it

You can see two fingers being inserted into where the food would usually be shoved into in order to dispose of it, well, that bit comes out for cleaning. Putting your fingers in like this you should be able to gently pull up the rubber feed guard like this:

Pulling up the rubber feed guard

And as it comes up you can see just how much food waste is in there, we left this one for a couple of weeks to be able to show you this. Trust me, this stinks to high heaven and is deliriously unpleasant to look at as well. So we'll show you it close up to make the point:

The dirt behind the feed guard on a waste disposal and yes it stinks!

Yes, it is truly disgusting!

There's no nice way to put it, it is rank rotten.

Now we set about cleaning it and the best thing we've found to do this is a good old washing up brush, hot water and a bit of washing up liquid. It's simple, it's old fashioned but it works well as washing up liquid is built to breakdown the grease and food particles.

Starting to clean the rubber feed guard on the waste disposer

Scrubbing the feed guard with a washing up brush

Just get in there and scrub away. Make sure you get into all the little nooks and crannies to get all the old food waste removed or the smell will come back pretty quickly.

Next up we have to deal with this little issue:

The dirt in the feed tube and this smells really bad as well

See all the same sort of lovely food waste all around the lip of the feed for the waste disposal? Well, you have to clean that as well so it's back to the hot water, washing up liquid and trusty washing up brush:

Cleaning the food waste disposal unit

Scrub away all the leftovers and make sure that it's all nice, clean and shiny the way it should be.

Now you need to put back the rubber fed guard and to do that all you do is sit it in place and gently push down until you feel it popping into place, like this:

Putting the rubber feed guard back into place after cleaning the disposal

Now that you've cleaned all the bits that you can get to, you need to clean the bits that you can't get to. 

There's two ways to do this and we recommend using both and this is how we do it.

The first thing is that you should, in our opinion, once a month fill the sink that has the waste disposal in it with a bit of bleach and hot water then allow it to drain while still hot. This cleans and bleaches the whole lot in one hit. But you must do this fairly regularly or, yep you guessed it, your waste disposal will start to stink again. 

What we also do is once every week or two, it really depends on how much you use the disposal, hit it with some Affresh waste disposal and dishwasher cleaner, here's how to do that as it's really very simple, quick and easy:

Dropping in an Affresh tablet to clean and freshen the garbage disposal

Run water until it's hot and drop in a tablet. 

Pulse the waste disposal for a few seconds and then go have a cuppa or something for half an hour. 

Come back, run the water in the other sink until it's hot again then flick it into the one with the disposal if you can and have two sinks, if not just run the water till it's hot. Then turn on the disposal till it clears the tablet.

You now have a nice clean and citrus fresh waste disposal and not a smelly one in a bad way!

Affresh Dishwasher & Waste Disposal Cleaner

Affresh dishwasher and waste disposal cleanerThis stuff is brilliant, especially if you have a waste disposal and a dishwasher.

It's been formulated to break down food waste and grease so it clears out the parts that you ordinarily can't get to in a dishwasher or a waste disposal. In our opinion it does a pretty good job of it as well, better than any other product we've tried. It's also ludicrously simple to use as well, no mucking about with it or silly bottles, just chuck one tablet in the disposal, two in the dishwasher and use a hot program on the dishwasher or do as above on a garbage disposal and you're done. Easy, simple and not really much you can do wrong.

It's great stuff for a dishwasher alone but, of course the really good news is that, if you happen to have both a dishwasher and a waste disposal it's utterly brilliant as it's one cleaner for both machines which, apart from being much more convenient for those of us that really don't want any hassle, it saves money as well.

That's why we sell it and recommend it. You can buy Affresh dishwasher and waste disposal cleaner from this link.

Bad Smells From Ovens And Cookers

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We will often be asked about bad smells or odours from most appliances but one that's really hard to pin down and tell a customer is when we encounter a smelly oven or cooker.

The thing of it is and, what's really hard to tell people at times, is that asides from the initial burn off of protective coating that's on the elements there's nothing in a cooker to actually produce any sort of malodour. Every manufacturer that makes an oven or cooker will not use any materials that produce any sort of odour through use.

A bad smell from the cookerWhen you think about it this is very, very sensible as the last thing that any cooker manufacturer would want is a product that could be producing some sort of stench in the kitchen. For a start it would cost them money dealing with the complaints or doing whatever remedial work was required to resolve the smell. But aside from that it would do their reputation no end of damage.

Inside An Oven

Inside an oven or the oven section of a cooker there is nothing, not a single item that can produce any sort of bad smell or malodour. It's just not there.

Around about that oven cavity there will be some form of insulation, usually a fibreglass based insulation sort of like the insulation that you will have in your loft. This insulation is designed to keep the heat in and not to come into direct contact with any of the oven elements or anything that is being cooked in the oven. It has been seen to discolour, even "burn" slightly but it's never been known to cause any sort of odour.

Other than that, there's really nothing to cause a smell.

Of course there can be occasions where wiring burns out or perhaps an oven selector switch, but if that happens you'd have an actual fault with the oven or cooker and you would be well aware that there was a problem as things wouldn't work.

What Does Cause Oven Odour

This is the part that service engineers often struggle to tell people.

It's something that you've put in the oven that's causing the smell or, it's something that you've used to clean the oven that's causing the odour.

We know that all the components are inert in so far as odours go so, that being the case, it can only be something that you, the customer, has put in or used in the oven. There's really not a lot of other options.

Smelly Smoke From The Oven

If you don't clean the oven regularly, especially the hard to get at parts, then over time a grease residue will build up and every time the oven heats up that will start to emit an odour. Exactly the same thing will happen if you use cleaning products inside the oven and they are not properly wiped down afterwards.

What you will often see as a symptom of this is a light smoking and it can smell pretty bad.

The clue however is in the symptom, if this bad smell is being emitted when the oven is on and running hot then it's something in the oven that, when heat is applied is emitting the odour and that's the point, it's something that's in the oven and not the oven itself that's producing the smell.

The number one cause of this without any doubt is grease residue.

When you cook in an oven (just about anything) there is fat and grease in the food that cooks off as a part of the natural cooking process. This "vaporises" and gets carried about the oven with the steam produced while food cooks and deposits itself on just about any surface. This is why you see grease deposits very often on the glass doors in ovens.

When you grill food, the grease and fat "spatters" and will often hit the roof of the oven cavity and this is highly noticeable. Left untreated and not cleaned off and it can become a fire hazard and, in fact, virtually every single oven or cooker fire ever reported has been caused by this or by food being left unattended while cooking and igniting so do take care on these fronts.

Do bear in mind though that this type of grease deposit builds up over time, layer after layer so the longer you leave cleaning the oven, the harder it gets to get it clean.

When we see grease deposits a few millimetres thick, we know the oven not being looked after and cleaned properly.

Oven Cleaning Products

The other common issue is that people use some cleaning products and don't wipe down the inside of the oven correctly and miss a bit. There is also a fair few service calls we've seen where a totally unsuitable product has been used to clean an oven, such as raw bleach or suchlike.

The problem with some of these cleaners is that they can seep into gaps, get into the insulation and that can cause a smell. There's not a lot that you can do about it after that happens and, even if the oven or cooker is under warranty, it is highly unlikely that this would be covered as it would be considered to be customer misuse. Basically, it's not he fault of the machine.

Often though you will see white streaks or marks inside an oven where a cleaner has been used and not cleaned off completely, this can mark the inner oven cavity but it can also smell as it heats up, often quite badly.

The trick is twofold, use good quality oven cleaning products, we sell a number of specialist oven cleaners in the store, and also remember to follow the instructions and clean off any residues after use.

Other Less Pleasant Reasons For Bad Smells

Out on the road repairing appliances you see a lot and, a lot of it you really didn't want to or sign up for and some things you see in cookers and ovens can be, well, pretty bad.

It's not uncommon to see the bottom of an oven coated in a patina of grease, as this heats up it can smoke and absolutely stink. It's so baked onto the cavity that the only way to even make a dent in it is to use a paint scraper or a specialist degreaser to get it off, something incredibly caustic that cannot be sold over the counter.

There is also the problem of food spillage. Gravy or suchlike seeps in behind elements and until it burns off it just stinks. Or the bits of burnt food soaked in grease laying at the bottom of the oven, round the door and in the vents. All these things can cause bad smells.

But the one that really frightens the life out of ever service engineer is dead things. Yes, it's not at all uncommon to visit a range cooker, especially in rural areas, and find the odd deceased mouse that thought the inside of the cooker's insulation was a nice place to be and, sometimes, they even chew on the wiring and end their existence that way.

The Bottom Line

As a general rule, there's nothing in the oven or cooker or it's manufacture that can cause any sort of malodour or bad smell.

If you have a service engineer visit and he can't find a cause, it's because that mechanically any reason for one does not exist.

The chances are that it is an almost foregone conclusion that it is something that has been put in the oven or a cleaning issue that is causing the bad smell, not the machine.

Stainless Steel Appliances

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The Basics For Cleaning Stainless Steel

Whatever you do DO NOT clean stainless steel appliances with the likes of a Brillo pad (as shown in the photograph to the right) or other abrasive cleaning pad or you WILL cause irreversible damage to the surface!

Cleaning a stainless steel hob

Great success in cleaning stainless appliances, like hobs, hoods and ovens has been achieved using bicarbonate of soda, it acts as a simple cheap and very gentle abrasive cleaner. It's also very cheap! However care is required especially where there is printed lettering on the appliance as this will remove it. Most cleaning products will remove such printing but this method, or any other abrasive cleaning material, will remove the print far faster ans as a general rule replacing cosmetics, especially stainless fascias, is not cheap affair with many costing the lion's share of £100. But for many stainless appliances this is a superb method of getting rid or "spot" stains, simply dab a damp cloth in the bicarb and rub the mess away.

Bicarbonate of soda can be used on non-stainless appliances as well but with the same caveat regarding printed surfaces so please take great care using this method and I'd only advise this once all the non-abrasive methods have been tried first.

To keep that nice clean look you just got and eliminate any smears that are left get some kitchen roll and some baby oil, the clear stuff that's really runny and put some on the kitchen roll. Not a lot of it mind and then simply wipe over the stainless appliance and it will come up like new.

This method also stops a lot of the likes of fingerprints on the appliance as well and it will look good for a few days afterwards as well Also if you clean regularly it will aid the removal of minor spills and grease spatters and you get a nice deep shine on the product.

This method will only work on stainless steel, not on stainless steel coloured appliances or on any painted surface unless anyone can tell me differently.

Although this works it's nowhere near as effective in my opinion as the Elica cleaner (mentioned later on in this article) and is far mor time consuming to do. The commercial cleaner that we use is just spray, wipe, done!

Don't leave salt, vinegar, citric fruit juices, mustard or pickles on the surface of stainless steel for long periods as they could cause corrosion.

Commercial Cleaning Products

You see loads of them promising miracles on supermarket shelves and the quality and performance of some are, shall we say, a little less impressive than the marketing hype that is on the pack. Sure they all look nice and promise this, that and the next thing but a lot of them just don't seem to live up to expectations.

A good way to get stainless to come up looking really nice is to use a GOOD quality microfibre cloth. I must admit being massively skeptical about this, especially at the price of what looked to me to be a glorified rag, but they do work and there are massive differences between the cheap ones and the more expensive ones. Somehow I never thought I'd say that, or even get remotely passionate about a cloth, but there you go.

We sell the Electrolux produced version which you can find in our online shop from this link and it is very, very good.

The nice thing about this is that, not only does it bring up most appliance surfaces like new, it does so without risk as it was designed for the purpose so doesn't cause any damage to the appliance. Most importantly it doesn't remove the stencils or lettering and so it's safe. Add to that the fact that all you need is a little water with it and, to me, it's a winner.

As this also only uses a little water it's also a very environmentally friendly way to buff up your stainless steel. It also works on stainless steel sinks and the likes as well and is extremely effective.

After that I'd recommend the use of the Chromol stainless steel cleaner that we sell in the shop as it brings up steel surfaces, especially brushed stainless absolutely brilliantly. Let me put it this way, we use it to bring up stainless appliances in showrooms under bright lights and it's one of the few that works with almost zero effort.

If the surface isn't too bad with residues on it though you can use this stuff straight off the bat and it just brings stainless up like new.

It' s not cheap, but then the good stuff rarely is! However in fairness I've been using a can that was opened about eight months ago at the time of writing and I'm only half way through the can. To put that in perspective, I have a stainless steel dishwasher, oven, hob, hostess trolley and a big 90cm stainless steel canopy cooker hood that all get the treatment regularly. In other words, you don't need a lot and a can lasts for ages so it is highly recommended.

I've also recently discovered a new one called Chromol stainless steel cleaner which we also stock which is from Germany. Liebherr recommend this cleaner and, I have to say after using it, that it is outstanding. It cut trough the grease and grime on my waste compactor and left the thing sparkling. It gives a gorgeous deep even gloss to the steel which is way better than baby oil ever did and, it doesn't appear to attract dust, which baby oil does.

I really can't recommend this cleaning product enough, it really is brilliant and I'm amazed that none of the stores seem to sell it. Where it really comes into it's own though is on large stainless panels found on fridge freezers and dishwashers most often as the results with Chromol have been just brilliant.

Of course there are cheaper ways to get a good sheen off your stainless steel appliances, but I have to admit this (at least so far) has been the best of the bunch that we've tested.

Washing Machine Soap Drawers

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Washing Machine Care And Cleaning - Soap Drawers

Almost all washing machine soap drawers can be removed for cleaning purposes pretty easily and the soap box also needs cleaned if you don't want as smelly washing machine.

Washing Machine Soap Drawers

Soap drawers and boxes get mucky and they need cleaned pretty regularly really. You get the build-up of powder residues and that of fabric conditioner or softener and, combined with the nice warm atmosphere in most people's homes and the wet or damp environment in the soap drawer it forms an almost perfect place for bacteria to grow.

When I talk about the soap drawer this is in reference to the bit you pull out to put the powder into. The part that this drawer slots into is known as the "“soap box".

There seems to be basically two different methods for removal, a sharp tug for most of them or, in some cases like many Zanussi washing machines, a small push to release clip. Below is a picture of the ISE soap drawer being removed for cleaning or maintenance.

Most washing machine soap drawers are easily removed for cleaning

removing a washing machine soap drawer

After removal the drawer can be cleaned easily using hot water and a brush, normally detergent is not required although if the water is dirty in your area you may wish to bleach the areas that have scum marks on them. We have found great success when a soap drawer has been soaked in hot water with some bleach in it to ensure that all the bacteria gets wiped out, or at least as much as is possible.

Normally at the back of the fabric conditioner section there's a removable bit that forms a siphon to which the softener is taken into the machine on the final rinse. This needs removed and cleaned as if it's not clear then often the siphon will not work correctly. In almost all machines these just pull off for cleaning.

If you don't clean this then you can get a congealed mass of conditioner and/or soap detergent building up which can lead to unpleasant smells from the washing machine. It can also cause other issues, like the soap drawer not clearing properly or cause the machine to leak from the soap drawer in extreme cases as well as resulting in the machine not taking the conditioner.

Washing Machine Soap Boxes

Sadly these also need cleaned out regularly as well as the soap drawer.

Below is a typical example of a poorly cleaned soap box with the drawer removed, in this case it is a Hotpoint washing machine that is in the picture.

Once the drawer is removed you should see something like this

a washing machine soap drawer caked in soap and softener

This is a bit tougher to clean that the drawer itself as you can't really get into the soap box all that easily. However you can see from the photo above that it is pretty important as you can end up with a build up of soap residues and softener residue in there which, after a while, can get quite smelly. It's also a breeding ground for bacteria.

The bottom half isn't too bad to clean but t the top, or lid, has little holes (known as jets) through which the incoming water rains down on the detergent and softener carrying it into your wash. It is vital that these little jets are cleaned with a good stiff brush, the best thing for it is an old toothbrush dipped in a bleach solution as this will help kill any germs lurking in there.

If you follow this simple advice you should have no problems with build-ups in the drawer and it should work perfectly for many years without any other maintenance being required and you can avoid other problems such as a leaking soap drawer as well.

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