Row of washing machines
Research report

How to care for your washing machine

Looking after your washing machine will maximise its life and performance.

Our member surveys indicate that the average life expectancy of a top loader is seven years, and 12 for a front loader. A little care and maintenance can go a long way, so here are some tips to help you get the most from your washer.

Watch out for keys and coins

Keys and coins kill washing machines. Check pockets before washing, and look for dirt and objects left in the drum, or hidden in the rubber seals after each wash.

Check your pump filter

Many washing machines have these as a last line of defence against foreign objects. Look for a small hatch low down on the outside of your machine. Check this monthly and clear anything that shouldn’t be in there — use a towel or tray to catch the water when you open it up. If your machine isn’t draining, this is the first thing to check before calling for a repair.

Limit your washer's spin speed

Keep this to 1200rpm, even if your machine goes up to 1400 or even 1600rpm. Higher speeds reduce the life of belts, drum bearings and door seals, without removing much more water.

Don’t use fabric softener with laundry detergent

Fabric softeners react to create a waxy residue called “scrud”. No one wants “scrud” – especially as it clings to unseen parts of the machine, such as under the agitator. If blobs break free, they can leave greasy marks on laundry.

Regularly clean the detergent dispenser

Check the manual to see how to remove it, and wash it thoroughly in warm soapy water.

Clean the door seal

Remove water from the door seal after each wash (if you notice mould, wipe the rubber seal with hot water and detergent). Between washes, leave the door and detergent dispenser open – that lets the interior dry.

Use the service cycle

Many machines have a specific “service” or “cleaning” cycle. It helps your machine smell fresh, prevents detergent build-up, and keeps it cleaning at its best.

If your machine doesn’t have a service cycle, run a hot wash with a full-strength powder detergent once a month.

Try a drum cleaner

Washing machines without a service cycle still need cleaning. An easy way to do this is to use a drum cleaner.

My 10-year-old front loader doesn’t have a service cycle, and I’ve never actively cleaned it. Still, I’ve never had problems with musty odours or slime because I dry the rubber door seal after each use, leave the door ajar, frequently run long, hot washes, and never add fabric softener.

Nevertheless, I thought it was about time I gave my washer a scrubbing. Fisher & Paykel recommends Ceraclen ($6.49) to remove “built-up residues and odours” from both front and top loaders, so I added the contents of a sachet to my empty machine as per the instructions and ran an extended 90°C programme.

As this was also a trial to evaluate how well Ceraclen performed, I collected water from each wash and rinse stage. I then put on a shorter hot water cycle without Ceraclen. Again, the machine was empty, and I collected water from each stage. As expected, my machine had been pretty clean from the start, and there was no visible difference in the samples. Clearly, my long-term laundry routine had paid off.

A friend also gave Ceraclen a go. She doesn’t use fabric softener in her top loader, but otherwise doesn’t follow my “machine care” advice. As her two sons generate a lot of muddy sports kit, which she mostly washes in cold water, we weren’t surprised to see tiny pieces of unknown origin in the final rinse of the first cycle (with Ceraclen). However, the second cycle (without Ceraclen) yielded pristine water, so it looked like Ceraclen had done the job.

Ceraclen contains phosphates and isn’t suitable for septic tanks. Also, check your machine’s manual before using Ceraclen, as some manufacturers caution against it.

Member comments

Get access to comment

Linda M.
29 Jun 2022
Cleaning my washing machine.

My top loader F and P machine is still proving reliable after 17 years.
Sometimes I see greyish brown scrud streaks on the laundry from build up of dirt and residue on the outside of the drum.
I use a cup of washing soda in a hot long wash (without laundry) and this cleans the drum beautifully. It gets rid of mould deposits and odours in the machine as well. It is a white crystalline product found in most supermarkets, and much cheaper than a sachet of a specific cleaner, which is largely composed of washing soda anyway. One box of washing soda (sodium carbonate) will provide for several cleaning cycles.
It is safe for septic tanks too.

Mandy T.
08 Sep 2021
Love my LG Frontloader

I actually prefer top loaders BUT based on a consumer report I decided to buy the above. A washing machine is a washing machine right? I didn't purposely look for any changes when the machine had finished it's first cycle but straight away I noticed my clothes were brighter. Cold wash, surf washing powder. The machine looks pretty too lol

Pat Lythe
07 Sep 2021
Black marks on tea towels

My top loader F & P washer leaves my tea towels with black marks, although no other items seem to be affected. Any one know why or how to fix it?

04 Sep 2021
Miele - entry level. Residual water in the draining tank.

Owned 20 years. Have maintained as per Judith's comments. Still looks / performs like new BUT... One summer it remained unused for 6 weeks. The residual water (ejected on re-use) smelt really bad. Since then, I try to make my "last wash" the hottest, and occasionally put an empty 95° wash on, but I still get a buildup of smell (particularly in summer) from the water that remains in the base even after draining the drain. Tried the "washing machine cleaner", no joy.
From this I would recommend if you are going away for more than a week, drain your machine before you go, use a rag to draw out as much of the residual water as possible and leave the drain plug&door open.
Although this problem doesn't effect the freshness of our washing, I welcome successful remedies from a anyone who has conquered this experience.

13 Jul 2021
F & P top loader

Bought second hand 6yrs ago for $250 and still going great.

Judith C.
05 Jun 2021
Miele with honey comb drum

After a front loader Bosh which lasted 5 years, we decided to buy a Miele front loader. Although expensive it is the best washing machine I have ever owned. It works excellent on the long cycles. This machine has several options for short cycles and also with great results.
I was advised when I purchased the washing machine to use half the recommended dosis of soap powder which I have done from day one.
I always leave the machine open after a wash, clean the rubber ring and the soap container regular. The honey comb drum has the advantage that it stops small items to end up in the filter.
I do rinse out muddy clothes before I put it in the washing machine.
We have had this Miele washing machine for 10 years now without any issues.

Lesley M.
05 Jun 2021
Bad Beko

I had a 9 kg Beko front loader washer-dryer, which cunningly lasted exactly one month beyond the three-year warranty and then completely blew its motor. I had cared for it throughout its short life exactly as Consumer recommends. Nevertheless it consistently left hideous gunky streaks through my laundry. I never overloaded it! I hated that machine. When I researched it on Google, I found a large number of Australians also hated the model even more than I did. I suppose I should have fought Beko for compensation, but I just never want anything to do with Beko ever again. I now have an AEG, which is doing fine.

Kas S.
05 Jun 2021
Westinghouse 7kg front loader

Had for 15 years before it burnt out the motor and ended up replacing it with an LG 9kg front loader. Last place I lived in we had a shower which could fit 4 adults in at once and was a murder to clean so I ended up buying Wet & Forget Shower Witch spray on one of their sales. My LG has a Tub Clean function which I use with nothing added but every now and then I spray inside with the Shower Witch then let it do it's thing. Does a good job. Hoping the LG lasts as long as the Westinghouse or preferably longer.

05 Jun 2021
F & P top loader

Ours died last week after 20 years. Parts no longer available.We had brilliant run with it - 2 minor repair. Have just bought another.

Tania D.
12 Oct 2021
F&P Top Loader

Bernie our faithful 6.5kg F&P Top Loader just died. Have had it 14years and the mother-in-law however many years prior to that, bought new. We are farming and it has been brilliant!! Now the decision to remain Top or go Front....

Callum Masters
05 Jun 2021
Asko Front Loader

Pleased with our machine, as 4.5 stars for water and power use. However after ? approx 8 years we needed to replace the suspension, which cost $650.

P F G.
05 Jun 2021
BOSCH Front Loader

our 5 yr old Bosch machine needed the carbon brushes replaced on the motor just after the mini lock down ended in 2021, just over $300.00 to do this, the technicians advise was to not use the extended cycles unless really necessary as the longer the machine runs the faster the brushes wear.

Noel H.
05 Apr 2021
Long service

I recently had our top-load washer repaired for the first time, following leaks from the bottom of the spindle. Replacement main bearing and seal cost over $1,000, but it was worth it. The Maytag washer was bought in 1990.
Noel H

Jenny W.
14 Dec 2020
LG Toploader

Had it now for 8yrs +. As with all LG appliances, reliable & still going strong. When it finally gives up, I will replace with another LG.