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  Washing Machine Soap Drawers

How to clean out your washing machine soap drawer and why you have to

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 we 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 a 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.

  Fabric Softener Compartment

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.

We explain much more in deth how the fabric conditioner compartment works along with the usual issues people have with them in this article.

  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.

Zanussi washer machine
Hi I have cleaned out my drawer but the conditioner still doesn't wash away. Is there anything I can run through it incase there is a blockage somewhere else?
I have a whirlpool washer and I have never used the detergent drawer and instead put the detergent into the drum. However I now get a hot water leak from the drawer during the cycle. What could be wrong? The washer takes in the cold water with no leak, but after heating it and entering back into the drum it must leak out from the bottom of the drawer. I have tried adjusting the angle of the machine to allow the water to run back but this had made no difference. I presume it to be a little issue since it all seems to work other than this - unless I am wrong. Any guidance on trouble-shooting would be appreciated.
tim foulds
help i can't get my soap box out of my servis easi logic 1500rpm washing machine
Liz Greenwood
I put my washing machine drawer in the dishwasher once a month. It cleans it up perfectly.
Hi there, Very helpfull article thanks.I have a whirlpool washer drier, perhaps about ten years old. I am not sure if the door comes off and am scared to break it.Is there any solution that I can run through the machine that will clean and unblock any blockages?Many thanksAisling
Kenneth Watt
Hi,Please see this article: may well be the conditioner that's the problem and not the drawer.
Hi I have cleaned out my drawer but the conditioner still doesn't wash away. Is there anything I can run through it incase there is a blockage somewhere else??
I have a Hoover model AE130 001 .All the drawer and housing was clean but there was only a trickle coming in to it. I changed the motorised water inlet valve and the conditioner now emptys as it should and the whole wash cycle is quicker.
8) that was very very helpful and you just saved my life because i have 7 children in my house plus a mum and a dad still me includid
colette nuttall
Really helpful article

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