Why do I need to run a maintenance wash?
Washing at low temperatures, using colour detergents (that don't contain bleach) and the fact that modern washing machines use much less water than they used to, have made it necessary to run a regular maintenance wash with your machine to avoid certain problems. Here are some of the symptoms:
- Your whites wash will come out with a grey tinge to it
- Coloured washes will soak up black residues left from previous washes
- Detergent residue will build up in the drum and door seal
- Mould may begin to grow inside around the drum seal
- The drum will become smelly - especially if the door is kept closed at all times
What is a maintenance wash?
- A maintenance wash is effectively a deep-cleaning cycle for your washing machine.
- There are specialist products available for maintenance washes; you can find these at your local supermarket. Whatever you use, it must contain bleach.
- Maintenance washes need to be run at a high temperature (about 90°) - they do this to sterilize the inside of the washing machine and to remove bacteria, soap scum and mould growth.
- They also clear any residual murky water which has collected in the drum - this water, if left, can cause white washes to turn grey.
How do I run a maintenance wash?
- Most washing machines have a special maintenance cycle, but not all do.
- If you don't have a designated setting for maintenance, just find the longest-running, hottest cycle on your machine.
- Make sure you also choose the highest spin cycle, and run this with an empty machine (i.e. one without clothing in it).
- While a maintenance wash should run without clothes, it needs a cleaning agent to complete the maintenance process.
- The best cleaning agent to use will contain bleach - don't use neat bleach, this is too harsh.
- Check the instruction leaflet for the cleaning agent - you may need to empty the powder directly into the drum (rather than into the detergent drawer).
- Avoid a cycle which has a pre-wash. You need to run the full cleaning cycle at its maximum temperature.
How often does the machine need attention?
You should try to run a maintenance wash once a month. This generally depends on the type of washing detergent you use - if you use a powder which contains bleach on a regular basis, and wash at higher temperatures you probably won't need to run a maintenance wash quite so often.