We asked a panel of engineers, including Which? Trusted Traders Stephen Neale, from The Spin Doctor Appliance Repairs and Ian Sanders from Wash Tech for their advice on how to make your washing machine last longer. Here's what they came up with:
1. Don’t overload the drum
When loading clothes, make sure they’re at least a hand spans’ width from the top of the drum.
Clothes need to oscillate or fall on top of each during the wash. It is this action that actually gets them clean – not just the combination of water and detergent. Think about if you were handwashing – simply placing clothes in soapy water does not get them clean, you have to move the water around. It’s the same in the machine, the movement of the clothes around the drum, breaks down the detergent and cleans the clothes.
Also, if you overload the machine, you lose all the detergent and it gets pushed out to the sides. Not only does it not clean effectively, ultimately you will end up with a mouldy door and a smelly machine. Stephen Neale from The Spin Doctor Appliance Repairs told us he gets hundreds of customers calling about mouldy door seals because they’ve been putting too many clothes in their machines.
If you need a reliable machine-repairer, find a Which? Trusted trader in your area
2. Empty your pockets
Items that escape your pockets can do damage, or completely write-off, your machine.
Coins, collar stiffeners, nails, screws and hair clips all get caught in the drain pump and stop the machine from draining properly. This can do serious damage, as these stray items will ultimately break the drain pump propeller, leaving you needing to replace the drain pump.
Our Which? Trusted traders told us that this was a common problem for their customers, so ensure you empty your pockets, remove belts and ideally put underwired bras in a fastened laundry bag or pillowcase.
3. Do a service wash
Running a hot wash without clothes will clean your machine, preventing mould and smells from building up. Some machines have a special service wash program, others suggest an existing program. If you’re not sure which program to use, you can check your instruction booklet or phone the manufacturer’s helpline and ask.
You should run a service wash about once a month – particularly if you’re in a hard water area or you use it daily (which isn’t uncommon if you’ve got children). A service wash will prevent the build-up of grit and limescale within your machine.
4. Clear out the filter
Machine not emptying? Missing that £1 coin from your pocket? You should be cleaning out the filter at least once a month – who knows you might find some extra cash too..
Most machines will have a filter at the front of the machine at the bottom. You should be able to open a flap to find it. However, there are a few models where that is not the case and yo have to call in an engineer to clear out the filter.
The easiest way to clear out the filter is to put the machine into a spin only cycle. Then put a towel down to catch any water, open the filter door and clear it out. If you open the filter door while the machine is not in operation a lot more water will come out.
5. Go easy on the detergent
It is not the case that clothes will be cleaner the more detergent you use. Too much detergent can leave marks on clothes and clog parts of the machine.
Liquitabs will hold exactly the right amount of detergent but if you’re using liquid or powder, follow the instructions but err on the side of caution. Liquids – both detergent and fabric conditioner - tend to be sold in concentrated measures, so you don’t need to fill up the drawer.
Bear in mind that washing machines today use a third of the amount of water that they did ten years ago, but detergent manufacturers have not changed their recommended quantities on the box.
If, despite all your best efforts, your washing machine is in need of repair, remember that Which? Trusted Traders have endorsed repairers in your area now.