It might seem strange to be talking about how to clean a machine that… cleans. But that’s exactly why we need to talk about looking after your washing machine – the dirt has to go somewhere and there are plenty of places it can get caught up.
In this article we’re going to take a look at why you need to clean your washing machine, how to keep it in good working order, what causes limescale and how and when to use Calgon, before finishing up with a look at some great washing machine cleaners.
Why Do Washing Machines Need Cleaning?
Today’s washing machines and detergents clean our clothes perfectly well at lower temperatures. But unfortunately, cooler washes can allow bacteria and mould to build up in the machine itself, as they feel very much at home in a warm, damp environment.
You might also find detergent residue left behind that a hot wash would have removed, especially if you use liquid detergent.
As well as all this, the dirt that comes off our clothes has to go somewhere. Most of it’s rinsed away as part of the washing cycle, but washing machines have lots of nooks and crannies where dirt can get caught up.
But don’t let all that put you off. There are lots of easy things you can do to keep your washing machine clean and in good working order.
How Do I Keep My Washing Machine Healthy?
There are a number of steps you can follow to keep your washing machine clean and working well:
- Run a hot wash without any laundry in the drum, using a washing machine cleaner to clean inside the machine and kill any bacteria.
- Remove the detergent drawer and give it a good wash to get rid of any detergent or fabric conditioner residue.
- Wipe around the door seal with a damp cloth to take care of any excess detergent and dirt.
- Remove and clean the filter.
- Leave the door and detergent drawer ajar after washing to let air circulate and help them dry out, helping prevent a build-up of bacteria and mould.
You should check your washing machine manual for how to remove the detergent drawer and filter for cleaning as different models vary. The filter is usually behind a small door towards the bottom of your washing machine.
As well as following these tips every 1-2 months (depending on how often you use your washing machine), you might need to be aware of limescale. This is more of a problem in hard water areas and can cause your washing machine to stop working properly.
To check how hard your water is, visit your local water authority website.
What Causes Limescale?
Limescale is caused by a reaction between hard water and one of the key ingredients in laundry detergent.
Hard water contains calcium and magnesium ions, which react with the sodium carbonate in your detergent, meaning the detergent doesn’t work as well. You’ll also see soap scum and limescale residue when the water is gone.
The main issue with limescale in washing machines is that it can accumulate in the inner workings of your machine, particularly around the heating element. This makes the heating element less efficient as it takes more energy to do its job.
Limescale can also build up in the pipes, potentially causing corrosion and leaks. All this means you may not know you have a problem until your machine stops working properly.
Prevention is better (and easier) than cure in a hard water area, so it’s a good idea to use a water softener like Calgon to stop the problem occurring in the first place.
How Does Calgon Work?
Calgon works in three ways:
- It stops new limescale forming.
- It stops existing areas of limescale growing any further.
- If any limescale has formed in the wash, it prevents it settling and removes it during the rinse cycle.
To manage all this, Calgon has a few special ingredients, including polycarboxylates which soften hard water.
Another active ingredient called a chelating agent binds the calcium and magnesium ions together. This stops them reacting with the sodium carbonate in your detergent or any carbonates that naturally occur in hard water.
Together, these ingredients stop new limescale forming.
Another ingredient called a dispersing agent prevents any particles of limescale that have formed from settling, and makes sure they leave your machine during the rinse stage. This also ensures any existing areas of limescale don’t grow any more.
The important thing to bear in mind is that Calgon isn’t a descaler. So if you haven’t used a product like Calgon before and you live in a hard water area, it might be a good idea to use a washing machine descaler to remove any existing limescale first. Then you can start using Calgon to help prevent any more limescale forming in your machine.
The good news is you’ll be able to reduce the amount of detergent you use in each wash. This is because detergent is more effective in soft water than it is in hard water. Just check the usage instructions on the pack to find out how much detergent you should now be using!
When Do I Use Calgon?
For Calgon to be as effective as possible in preventing limescale, you should use it with every wash – and that’s at all temperatures, too.
For best results, pop the correct dose of Calgon into the dispensing drawer, in the main wash compartment. It should sit on top of your detergent.
Calgon starts to work as soon as the water flows into the washing machine drawer.
Best Washing Machine Cleaner: At A Glance
Calgon 3in1 protects against limescale, prevents dirt residue building up and guards against odours, so it’s a great all-rounder for keeping your washing machine clean.
Calgon 3in1 Powerball Tabs are quick and easy to use, making it easy to pop one in with every wash to help protect your machine from limescale and dirt.
If you’d prefer, there’s also a Calgon 3in1 Gel. This does the same job as the Powerball tablets – the only difference is that it comes in a gel form instead.
For a cleaner that also has an antibacterial effect, try Dettol 5in1 Washing Machine Cleaner. It removes 99% of bacteria and leaves your washing machine smelling lemony fresh. How delightful!