"A washing machine is one of the hardest working appliances in your home. If you look after it correctly, it will serve you well", says cleaning expert Ben Peach, Laundry Product Manager at Haier Europe.


Cleaning your washing machine is often one of the tasks people overlook or put off because the dirt isn't as in your face as a toilet or a work surface. However, if you don't clean your washing machine, its performance could be affected and it's less likely to last you as long, especially if limescale is allowed to build up.

Not only that but not cleaning your washing machine can cause bad odours from the machine and can potentially affect all the endless laundry that is part and parcel of family life.

If you're hanging your clothes on an airer or putting them in a tumble dryer and you notice a bad smell then it's time to clean your washing machine.

To help you find the best washing machine cleaner we asked out Top Testers Club what they use and recommend to clean a washing machine. We considered value, limescale protection, ease of use and deodorising ability. We also asked Ben Peach and cleaning influencer lauracleanaholic for their recommendations and top tips to keep your washing machine in the best possible condition. For more household products, take a look at the best grout cleaners or the best laundry baskets.

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Best washing machine cleaners at a glance

  • Best washing machine cleaner for cleaning performance: Calgon 3-in-1 Water Softener 15 Tablets, £6
  • Best washing machine cleaner for dirt you can't see: Dr Beckmann Service-It Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner, £2
  • Best washing machine cleaner for fragrance: Fabulosa Washing Machine Cleaner, £1
  • Best versatile washing machine cleaner: Zoflora Concentrated Antibacterial Disinfectant All Purpose Cleaner, £5
  • Best washing machine cleaner for limescale: Dettol Antibacterial Washing Machine Cleaner, £3
  • Best washing machine cleaner for drawer crevices: SonicScrubber Household Electrical Cleaning Brush, £18.99
  • Best washing machine cleaner for pet owners: Vamoosh Pet Hair Dissolver, £5.49
  • Best washing machine cleaner for washing machine exterior: Method Anti-Bac All Purpose Cleaner – Wild Rhubarb, £3.30
  • Best sustainable washing machine cleaner: Ecozone Magnoball, £9.99
  • Best budget washing machine cleaner: Dri Pak Soda Crystals, £1.80

Our pick of the best washing machine cleaners to make your washing machine last longer

1. Calgon 3-in-1 Water Softener 15 Tablets, £6

– Best for laundry and cleaning

Calgon 3-in-1 Water Softener Tablets

Quantity: 15 tablets | Type: Tablets

Calgon laundry tablets don't just keep your clothes clean and smelling fresh they can also keep your washing machine clean and healthy too.

The tablets aim to offer limescale protection which helps prevent machines breaking down and keeps them in top working order. They also have anti-dirt active ingredients which help protect from accumulation of dirt and residue left from detergents over time.

Calgon tablets prevent unpleasant odours forming in your machine too.

They are one of the easiest washing machine cleaners to use as they clean the machine while washing your clothes, saving you energy and time compared to other cleaners where you have to run a whole cleaning cycle in an empty machine. Just add a Calgon tablet on top of your normal detergent in the main wash compartment.

Parent tester Lindsay uses Calgon as she lives in area with hard water which causes limescale. She said, "For me, it's the limescale remover element, I find our water so hard and worry about how limescale clogs up the appliances, I also really like the smell of it."

Pros: Easy to use, works on limescale, prevents odours, can clean while washing clothes
Cons: May be more of a preventive washing machine cleaner and may not be suitable if your washing machine is already dirty

Available from: Amazon, Ocado and Asda

2. Dr. Beckmann Service-It Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner, £2

– Best for dirt you can't see

Dr Beckmann Service-It Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner

Quantity: 1 treatment | Type: Powder

Lots of our Top Testers Club said they use Dr Beckmann powder to clean their washing machine. Parent tester Natasha said, "I chuck one of those Dr Beckmann washing machine treatments in and it keeps it clean and fresh." Parent tester Laure also uses Dr Beckman treatment and said, "they work wonders".

It claims to remove 99.99% of bacteria, fungi and viruses in one treatment.

This cleaner is suitable for all machine types and uses activated carbon which acts as a magnet to absorb any dirt and odours that might have built up in your machine.

To use, pour all of the powder into an empty washing machine drum and wash at a minimum of 60° for 60 minutes without a pre-wash cycle or detergent.

It's suggested to use these every 2 months or after 30 cycles to keep your washing machine smelling fresh. Parent tester Anna said: "We find it useful for making it smell fresh, clean and more hygienic."

Pros: Effective, removes 99.99% bacteria, fungi and viruses, lasts for 2 months
Cons: Only 1 treatment, have to run extra cycle to clean

Available from: Amazon, Waitrose and Wilko

3. Fabulosa Washing Machine Cleaner, £1

– Best for fragrance

Fabulosa Washing Machine Cleaner

Quantity: 250ml approx. 2 cleans | Type: Liquid

If your washing machine isn't in dire need of descaling and you just want to keep it smelling fresh then Fabulosa Washing Machine Cleaner may be all you need.

There are 3 scents to choose from – Precious Gold, Fresh Breeze and Electrify. The cleaner prevents bad odours in your washing machine, leaving a long-lasting freshness and pleasant odour. Parent tester Charlette says, "I clean mine using the Fabulosa washing machine cleaner as it smells amazing!" Parent tester Ionela also uses Fabulosa and says "it works perfectly".

It kills 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. It's easy to use, just pour half of the bottle (125ml) into the soap dispenser and run the washing machine on a short, hot cycle.

Pros: Choice of lovely scents, great for odours, kills 9.99% bacteria and viruses
Cons: Have to run a separate wash to clean

Available from: B&M

4. Zoflora Concentrated Antibacterial Disinfectant All Purpose Cleaner, £5

– Best for versatility

Zoflora Concentrated Antibacterial Disinfectant All Purpose Cleaner

Quantity: 500ml | Type: Liquid

Zoflora is an excellent option if you want a versatile cleaner, as it can be used to clean other things, not just washing machines. The concentrated disinfectant can also clean anything from litter trays, to cupboard doors and work surfaces.

It claims to kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses and can be diluted to make it into a spray or put down plugholes. Fragrances have been tested to last for at least 24 hours and are made consulting perfumers.

To use Zoflora for your washing machine soak a cloth in a solution of 1 capful of the product and 400ml of warm water then wipe down the washing machine exterior. To clean inside the washing machine add 2 capfuls of Zoflora to the empty drum and run a hot cycle. Parent tester Amber said, "I run Zoflora through my machine and use it diluted to clean the rubbers too."

Parent tester Laura uses a combination of 2 washing machine cleaners, "I clean mine properly with Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaning packets and then wipe down with a wet cloth and Zoflora for an amazing scent."

Another bonus is there is a massive range of fragrances to choose from – including limited edition ones.

Pros: Versatile, can be used to clean anything, cleans both inside and outside of machine, should do quite a few washes, lots of fragrance choice
Cons: Does not protect from limescale, have to run separate cycle to clean

Available from: Amazon, Tesco and Wilko

5. Dettol Antibacterial Washing Machine Cleaner, £3

– Best for limescale

Dettol Antibacterial Washing Machine Cleaner

Quantity: 250ml | Type: Liquid

If you're in an area prone to limescale or just struggle to keep your washing machine limescale-free then Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner might be good for you.

It claims to kill 99.9% of bacteria and removes and prevents any bad odours as well as removing limescale inside the washing machine. The lemon scent also provides a nice lasting fragrance.

Dettol recommend using a 250ml dose every 2 months. All you have to do is pour the liquid into the detergent drawer without any other detergent and run the washing machine at 60° without any laundry inside.

Parent tester Megan said, "I use Dettol washing machine cleaner, works every time." Parent tester Sammi also said, "I use Dettol antibacterial washing machine cleaner which leaves my washing machine smelling clean and fresh."

Pros: Great for limescale, kills 99.9% bacteria, prevents odours, lemon scent, lasts for 2 months
Cons: Have to run separate cycle to clean

Available from: Amazon, Sainsbury's and Tesco

6. SonicScrubber Household Electrical Cleaning Brush, £18.99

– Best for drawer crevices

SonicScrubber Household Electrical Cleaning Brush

Quantity: Unlimited use | Type: Brush

This isn't exactly a washing machine cleaner but it can be useful for cleaning the laundry detergent drawer which can get mouldy or full of hard-to-reach remnants of laundry detergents.

Its non-slip handle allows you to get the brush into the detergent drawer's nooks and crannies to make sure every part is clean. The oscillating head moves 10,000 times a minute to dislodge dirt and grime. There are a choice of 4 heads that can be used for different tasks.

Parent tester Aimèe uses this for her washing machine drawer with disinfectant and finds it works well.

Pros: Helps get into hard-to-reach areas, versatile, reusable
Cons: Only cleans the drawer and the outside of the machine, cannot be used inside the washing machine

Available from: Amazon and Lakeland

7. Vamoosh Pet Hair Dissolver, £5.49

– Best for pet owners

Vamoosh Pet Hair Dissolver

Quantity: 1 | Type: Powder

If you're a pet owner, you will know that pet hair can get everywhere, including inside your washing machine. This cleaner dissolves hair with active oxygen and leaves your washing machine clean and free from your beloved pet's hair.

It also eliminates odour and leaves your washing free of pet hair. There is no chemical residue and it contains zero chlorine bleach.

To use, simply pout 1 sachet into your washing machine drawer with your usual detergent and your laundry. It's particularly good to use if you are washing pet bedding or blankets – or that jumper of yours that they love to sit on. Then, run your washing machine on the longest, hottest cycle you can.

Parent tester Hannah said, "I just put on a hot cycle with Vamoosh Pet Hair Dissolver as we have 2 doggies and it helps to get rid of any hairs in the machine."

Pros: Dissolves pet hair, do not have to run an empty wash to use
Cons: May still need a washing machine cleaner for limescale if that's an issue

Available from: Pets at Home, The Range and Amazon

8. Method Anti-Bac All Purpose Cleaner – Wild Rhubarb, £3.30

– Best for the washing machine exterior

Method Anti-Bac All Purpose Cleaner – Wild Rhubarb

Lots of our Top Testers said how they used washing machine treatments and cleaners for inside the drum but then used anti-bacterial sprays for the drawer and outside.

This wild rhubarb Method spray smells great and all the ingredients are naturally derived and biodegradable and it kills 99.9% of bacteria.

It's easy to spray and wipe clean with a cloth and can be used to clean pretty much anything, not just your washing machine.

Pros: Good for cleaning outside compartments, smells lovely, versatile, kills 99.9% bacteria, biodegradable
Cons: Still need washing machine cleaner for limescale and inside the drum

Available from: Amazon, Tesco and Ocado

9. Ecozone Magnoball, £9.99

– Best for sustainability

Ecozone Magnoball

Quantity: 1 ball | Type: Ball

Ecozone's Magnoballs last and are a great sustainable option. You can physically see the effects of limescale removal after around 5 washes. The soft ball has 2 magnets inside which are proven to prevent and remove limescale.

To use, just place the ball in your washing machine along with your laundry and wash your clothes like normal.

These handy balls can also be used to clean your dishwasher too.

Pros: Long-lasting, sustainable, removes and prevents limescale, no need for a cleaning wash, can also be used in dishwashers
Cons: Does not have a fragrance or remove odours

Available from: Amazon, Robert Dyas and Currys

10. Dri Pak Soda Crystals, £1.80

– Best budget buy

Dri Pak Soda Crystals

Quantity: 1kg | Type: Crystals/powder

One of the most basic ways to clean your washing machine is by using soda crystals. These are just over £1 for 1kg and should last quite a few washes.

The crystals clean and deodorise your washing machine, however, they do not have as pleasant a scent as some of the other options on this list.

They are versatile and can be used for dishwashers, sinks, drains and more. If you're on a budget but want to keep your washing machine clean then this is a good option.

To use, empty your washing machine, put the soda crystals into the empty drum and then run on the longest hot cycle.

Pros: Great value, cleans and deodorises washing machine, versatile
Cons: Does not have a scent, have to run a separate cycle to clean

Available from: Amazon

Pic credits: Product website

How did we choose our 10 of the Best?

When testing and selecting the best washing machine cleaners we considered value, limescale protection, ease of use and deodorisation.

Our 10 of the Best lists are compiled by qualified and experienced parenting journalists. They rely on a number of sources, including our independent reviews, testing undertaken during the MadeForMums Awards, and feedback from our home testing panel and Top Testers Club. Each year thousands of products are put through their paces by hundreds of parents across the country on behalf of MadeForMums, to ensure we’re bringing you honest and true reviews and recommendations.

Our list is not an ordered ranking from 1-10, instead it is a carefully selected group of tried-and-tested products, each of which we believe is best for a different situation or requirement. We don't just tell you what is best, we help you discover what is best for your family.

Tips on keeping your washing machine clean and in good working condition

To help you keep your washing machine in tip-top shape and get the optimal performance from it, we asked Ben Peach, Laundry Product Manager at Haier Europe and cleaning influencer Laura, also known as lauracleanaholic on Instagram what they advise:

Ben Peach's tips:

  • Once the washing is complete, remove the finished laundry immediately and put it to dry (if possible) as leaving laundry inside the washing machine wet can cause mould and mildew to fester.
  • Do not close the washing machine door immediately after, give it time to air.
  • Always keep the outer shell of the washing machine clean as well as the glass on the door.
  • Clean around the inside rubber door seal as this is an area were bacteria and bad odours build up.
  • The detergent we pour in the dispenser for laundry is not always completely used by the washing machine. The detergent that isn't used remains encrusted in the drawer and can get mouldy. Remove the drawer and soak for half an hour in hot water for a more effective clean. For hard-to-reach corners use a brush or toothbrush.
  • Do an empty load wash at 60° with your choice of washing machine cleaner once every 2 months
  • Look for a cleaning cycle option when buying a washing machine

Laura's (lauracleanaholic) tips:

  • Always keep the washing machine door open when not in use to avoid mould growth.
  • Keep the detergent drawer cleaned regularly by removing it and soaking in a bowl of washing up liquid to stop it getting clogged up with detergent or fabric conditioner.
  • Clean behind the drawer and door seals using a brush and a cleaner to remove any soap scum and limescale
  • Empty the filter regularly, this is usually at the bottom corner of the machine. Lots of water will come out along with any gunk and debris like loose change or hair clips so it's best to put a towel down or baking tray to collect it all.

How often should you clean your washing machine?

The general recommendation is that you clean your washing machine once every 1-3 months according to Beko. However, if you're using one of the washing machine cleaners listed above it's best to follow the product instructions as some cleaners are stronger than others.

Also, it really does depend on how often you use your washing machine. If, like most families, you're using it almost every day then it's likely going to need a clean nearer to once every month than once every 3 months.

A good way to tell your washing machine needs a clean is if you start to smell it. However, ideally you want to get in there before that.

Can I use vinegar to clean my washing machine?

A lot of the members of our Top Testers Club said they cleaned their washing machine with soda crystals and vinegar and this can be a very effective and cheap way to clean your washing machine.


However, we do not recommend this over other washing machine cleaners as vinegar can damage rubber seals and hoses in washing machines which can end up causing leaks.

About out experts

Ben Peach is the Laundry Product Manager at Haier Europe who knows all about keeping appliances clean and working their best.

Laura AKA lauracleanaholic is a cleaning influencer on Instagram with fantastic cleaning tips and tricks that she shares with her 500K+ followers.


Picture of Chloe Brightwell
Chloe BrightwellDigital Reviews Writer and Coordinator

Chloe is a Digital Reviews Writer and Coordinator for Immediate Media's Parenting team, specialising in household and trying to help parents save money. She researches and writes articles, recommending the best products, ranging from best cordless vacuums to best playpens. She has a First-Class Honours Psychology degree where she developed a strong interest in child development. During her teenage years she worked as a play worker and Brownie volunteer to support children's play.