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.
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
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.
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
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.