How to … extend the life of your washing machine

It’s one of our biggest appliances, and most households spend hundreds on them, so how do we make sure our washing machine lasts as long as possible?

There are a few simple steps to keeping this vital household tool ticking over, some of them simple and some of them sensible.

Clean the cleaner

People often think the things that clean don’t need cleaning, but that’s simply not true. 

You need to clean your dishwasher and you need to clean your washing machine.

You can use commercial cleaners that are available at most supermarkets or simply put vinegar in the soap dispensing receptacle and a good handful of bicarb soda in the drum. Run a regular cycle. 

It is also a good idea to wipe the seals regularly. 

For front loaders, don’t forget the dispensing drawer. Pop it out using the release mechanism and give it a good scrub with hot water and soap.

Wet and wild

Take out the wet load as soon as you can.

Leaving wet loads in the machine for any length of time is a breeding ground for mould and mildew on your clothes and the appliance.

Didn’t we all know some grub from sharehouses in our 20s who was a regular offender of this particular practice? How annoying was it? Don’t be like them.

Heavy responsibility

You don’t want to waste water and power by not putting a full wash on, but you shouldn’t overload the machine either.

Overloading the machine can force it to work harder, putting pressure on the motor and the bearings.

Also, clothes don’t come as clean as they should, which is kind of the point of washing them in the first place.

For the final nail in the overloading coffin, it also means your clothes will be more wrinkled.

Balance out the load

If you are planning on washing one or two heavy items such as a pillow or a blanket, make sure you balance out the load with a towel or two.

If the weight isn’t spread evenly in the drum, the machine will struggle to get up to spin speed and may put the drum out of alignment.

If you are going to wash heavy items, also consider lowering the spin speed to lower the strain on the machine.

Pocket change

Go through all the pockets and remove any change and bits and bobs, especially anything metal or hard.

Things clanging around the machine can damage the drum and from bitter experience, change in the outlet pipe will stop the machine from working on front loaders.

At least I get a few bucks out of the truly awful job of draining the machine.

Local support

Another danger item is bras. The metal underwire can cause havoc on your drum or drainage system should it get loose.

Wash your bras – and anything else with metal bits such as studs – in a mesh wash bag.

This one works two ways, as bras are delicate items and washing them in a mesh bag can protect them too.

Measured approach

Using more detergent does not mean a cleaner load. In most cases, it will simply mean your machine will have to work harder to remove the suds.

For stains and smells, use a pre-wash stain remover and if the load is still dirty run it through again.

And you almost never have to use the full amount the soap manufacturers recommend.

Unless you have a particularly filthy load, only use about half or a bit more.

Open to anything

Keep the door open when not in use. Mould and mildew love wet, dark cold environments so opening the door to a bit of fresh air should discourage them from inhabiting your machine.

Do you wash your washing machine? Do you have any other tips to add? Why not share your advice in the comments section below?

Also read: How to decode laundry symbols

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. I have a top loader and remove the center bit ( conditioner) remove and clean the filter and rest the center piece so the lid stays open a bit and allows air flow but I can still have btw wash basket on the top

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