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Is Your Washing Machine Making Your Clothes Even Dirtier?

Is Your Washing Machine Making Your Clothes Even Dirtier? 27 Apr

According to recent research published by House Beautiful, nearly three quarters of Britons don’t clean their home appliances as often as they should. The very same research also found that the washing machine is the most neglected appliance as it on average gets cleaned only once a year. So is your washing machine making your clothes even dirtier if you're neglecting to maintain it?

Dirty Washing Machine Means Dirty Laundry 

Just because your laundry looks and smells clean, doesn’t necessarily mean it is. On the contrary, an American study has shown that your laundry could even be dirtier than before washing. This is because the washing machine is a breeding ground for a range of bacteria which are not necessarily eliminated during the washing process. As a result, they may get onto your “clean” clothes. 

The American researchers explained that underwear is particularly problematic due to the presence of faecal matter which can contain various germs, including potentially harmful ones such as E.coli, norovirus, hepatitis A, salmonella and others. And these can be transferred to the next load of laundry unless you add bleach or set the water temperature to 60 degrees Celsius or higher. 

Photo credit: nexus7/Shutterstock 

How to Prevent Germs Contaminating Freshly Washed Laundry?

Detergent may not kill all the germs but bleach and hot water are highly effective against most bacteria, viruses and mould. But what if using bleach or/and very hot water isn’t an option? Scientists recommend to let the clothes dry in the sun rather than tumble drying them because the UV light will kill the germs. But they also recommend to clean the washing machine on a regular basis – ideally once a month.  

Here is how: 

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully, especially the section explaining how to clean and maintain your washing machine. Please note that the use of some products and cleaners – including those made especially for cleaning and maintaining washing machines – may void your warranty. 
  2. Clean the detergent drawer. If not cleaned on a regular basis, the remnants of washing powder and fabric softener in the detergent drawer become a heaven for germs. To clean the detergent drawer, submerge it into a very hot water and carefully remove any remnants of washing powder and fabric softener (a hint: use an old toothbrush for hard to reach areas).
  3. Run an empty hot wash. Unless instructed otherwise by the manual for instruction, you may also add one cup of white vinegar to the drum to help sanitise the machine. 
  4. Clean the drum and door seal. Be sure to pull back the rubber seal because it is one of the dirtiest areas of your washing machine. To prevent washing powder and dirt from accumulating under the rubber seal, it is recommended to wipe it clean after each wash. 
  5. Leave the door of your washing machine open to allow the drum to dry. It is also a good idea to do so after each wash because it will help prevent mould growth inside the machine. For the very same reason, you are also advised to open the detergent drawer. 

Photo credit: FotoDuets/Shutterstock

Feature image credit: TanyaRozhnovskaya/Shutterstock 

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