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The 11 best washing machine cleaners for a clean, fresh-smelling washing machine

Prevent nasty smells,  remove build-up and extend the life of your washing machine with the best washing machine cleaners available to buy in the UK in 2023.

By Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Feb 2, 2024

Best washing machine cleaner hero image. Three products from Ecozone, Dettol and Dr Beckman standing side by side on a background that features water droplets

Whilst buying the best washing machine cleaner might not be top of your to-do list, it should be because, just like your best steam iron or tumble dryer, they need regular cleaning, too!  Mumsnetters regularly take to the forums to ask why their washing machines smell, and their laundry isn’t coming out clean. The answer? Residue from laundry detergents, fabric softeners, and limescale has built up to cause unsavoury smells in the drum, seal and pipes. Although, one unfortunate dog owner admitted: “My dog once put a bit of pork chop in the rubber door seal, and that really stank. So check the seals.” Stray pork chops aside, picking the best washing machine cleaner (in addition to installing the best water softener) is essential to taking care of and extending the lifespan of your best washing machine.

Another reason your washer is more likely to need cleaning is that we’re washing at lower temperatures to be more eco-friendly. While this is better for the environment and our energy bills, washing clothes using colder settings and with less water makes it harder for even the best laundry detergent to wash away dirt and bacteria that damage the internal workings of your machine. Ultimately, this can mean your brand-new washer-dryer, predicted to last 20+ years, only lasts you 10, and worryingly, scientists have found germs, including staphylococcus, E. coli, hepatitis A, norovirus, rotavirus, and salmonella living in washing machines.

So, with a range of products on the market, from liquid to powder to tablets, we wanted to determine which washing machine cleaners are the most effective and efficient by using a triple-check vetting system. To help you find the right one, we’ve researched the authentic recommendations of our Mumsnetters to find out which they’d tried, tested and trusted. We then cross-referenced these with experts' opinions and ratings of previous customers to ensure we’d found the best washing machine cleaners available, with options to suit various budgets and needs.

Here is our guide to the best washing machine cleaner in 2024.

You may also want to check out our guides to the best dehumidifiersbest fabric softenersbest laundry basketsbest rotary washing lines and best clothes pegs to help meet all your laundry needs.

1
Best washing machine cleaner overall
What we like
  • Can be used on your dishwasher, too

  • Prevents faults by keeping filters, gloats, drains and pipes clean and free from deposits

  • Easy to use on all brands of washing machine

What we don't like
  • Some users claimed it leaves behind an unpleasant smell and a residue

Key specs

Price: £9 | Type: Powder | Size: 200g

What Mumsnet users say
Laska3Meryl · Tried & Tested
HG Service Engineer for washing machines and dishwashers is the absolute best stuff; you'll find it on Amazon and other places.
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Our verdict

For parents struggling with an overflowing laundry basket and a dirty washing machine, you'll want to try HG Deep Clean and Service. Different label, same great formula, it is the perfect multi-use appliance cleaner you can use on your washing machine and dishwasher. Rated by Mumsnetters for achieving real results, it is hands down the best washing machine cleaner and one of the most recommended on our forums.

From the filter to the pipes, HG claims that its product prevents faults from clogged machinery and smelly build-up, prolonging its lifespan (and saving you money in the long run!). It’s simple to use - pour it into your detergent tray, then run it at the highest possible temperature on a complete cycle. That’s it!  Suitable for all the major washing machine makes and brands, some users claimed it left an unpleasant smell and residue behind. However, as one previous customer said, “a washing machine cleaner is not a miracle worker”. Ensuring it is in complete working order and that you’ve cleaned the filter, gasket rim and detergent drawer first (especially if you have never cleaned your washing machine before!). While you’ll pay more for a multi-pack, the price per pack works out similarly to other products on our list.

2
Best budget washing machine cleaner

Dr. Beckmann Service-it Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner

What we like
  • Budget-friendly price

  • Milder formula (no harsh chemicals)

  • Leaves behind a fresh lemon scent

What we don't like
  • Needs a longer cycle to be effective

  • Not effective on substantial product build-up

Key specs

Price: £2 | Type: Liquid | Size: 250ml

What Mumsnet users say
Tawdrylocalbrouhaha · Tried & Tested
You need Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaner. Just put it in the drum and run a long empty wash at 90°C. I tried all the soda crystals, vinegar, bio powder on a hot wash etc., but there was a lingering whiff, which suddenly increased in the hot weather. Then I used Dr Beckmann, and it smells completely clean (maybe a slight whiff of a dry cleaner shop). Wish I'd used it sooner.
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Our verdict

Trusted by Mumsnet users, Dr Beckmann Service-It Deep Clean is our best budget washing machine cleaner that'll solve your laundry woes. Most effective when used regularly, this product won’t remove months of build-up but will prevent it if used consistently. Its main ingredient is sodium percarbonate – a gentler alternative to chlorine bleach – which can still kill microorganisms and mould spores and sterilise the insides of your washing machine. It also uses activated carbon to absorb harmful particles and substances, helping your system flush out dirt and limescale.

Dr Beckmann Service-it Deep Clean Washing Machine Cleaner claims to eliminate 99.9% of bacteria and fungi and tackles limescale, reducing the risk of machine breakdowns. Zeolites soften the water, while hexyl cinnamal and limonene create a fresh lemon scent. Some previous customers noted that this brand needed a longer cycle to be effective, which isn’t ideal with high-energy prices, but they all found it simple to use. Just pour it into the detergent drawer of your washing machine and set it on a hot, empty wash. The manufacturer advises using every two months or every 30 washes, depending on which comes sooner for you.

Read next: Best window vacs for getting rid of condensation

3
Best scented washing machine cleaner
What we like
  • It offers 5-in-1 protection

  • It leaves behind a fresh scent

  • It's easy to use and affordably priced

What we don't like
  • Some users found the foam leaked out of the machine

Key specs

Price: £3 | Type: Liquid  | Size: 250ml

What Mumsnet users say
Disfordarkchocolate · Tried & Tested
I occasionally use the Dettol washing machine cleaner. It ensures you clean the drawers, drum and seals and leaves it very fresh. I used to do this once a month, but since I changed to using washing powder, I don't need to do it as much. I also leave the drawer open when the machine is not in use.
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Our verdict

Dettol Washing Original is a 5-in-1 washing machine cleaner that claims to eradicate bacteria, odours, limescale, and dirt and freshen your machine simultaneously. We particularly love the simplicity of this product - available in Fresh, Lemon or Lavender scents; just pour a 250ml dose into the detergent drawer and switch on a 60°C without any laundry in the drum. Job done.

It contains benzalkonium chloride to kill microorganisms, lactic acid to descale and disinfect and surfactants to eradicate dirt. As you’d expect from a staple brand such as Dettol, it also includes disinfectants. Dettol advises using this liquid washing machine cleaner every two months. Be warned; some reviewers claimed it foamed up so much that it leaked out of the machine, so follow the instructions carefully!

Read next: Best ironing boards to keep clothes smooth and wrinkle-free

4
Best washing machine cleaner for hard water areas
What we like
  • 3-in-1 protection prevents build-up and limescale

  • Cleans your machine and washes laundry at the same time (Safe to use on all fabric types)

  • Helps to optimise your machine's energy efficiency

What we don't like
  • Need to add one tablet to every wash, which can get expensive

Key specs

Price: £13 | Type: Tablets | Size: 45 tablets

What Mumsnet users say
RaptorInAPorkPieHat · Recommended
If it is gunky, using Calgon (or the cheaper own-brand equivalent) really does make a difference, especially if you're in a hard water area. I never really bought into the hype, but our machine is a lot cleaner using it regularly.
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Our verdict

Living in a hard water area can be tough on your appliances; from your best clothes steamer to your washing machine, they must be de-scaled frequently. Whilst it is true that Calgon Powerball Water Softener Tablets are expensive, there is no doubt that they’re effective. Recommended by Mumsnetters and plumbers, they agree that this is the best washing machine cleaner for hard water areas - a one size fits all solution to your problems!

Designed with 3-in-1 protection for your washing machine, adding just one tablet to your wash will clean your laundry, prevent limescale and remove residues left over from detergents, adding years to the lifespan of your washer. However, with only 45 tablets in the box, a family of four is sure to rocket through them and, as a result, not be as cost-effective over time. Although, what you lose in your weekly supermarket shop, will be balanced out by using these tablets to optimise energy consumption by keeping critical internal parts of your machine clean - saving you money on your water and electricity bills! If your budget doesn’t stretch, consider buying a supermarket brand alternative (as these can be just as good).

5
Best eco-friendly washing machine cleaner
What we like
  • Eco-friendly, vegan-certified, dermatologically safe, non-toxic and septic-tank-safe formula

  • Value for money, six tablets with a fresh lemon scent in a soluble wrapper

  • Removes limescale and detergent build-up in washing machines and dishwashers

What we don't like
  • Scent left behind can be unpleasant

  • Users say it is more effective in washing machines than in dishwashers

Key specs

Price: £5.50 | Type: Tablets | Size: Contains six tablets

What Mumsnet users say
PlausibleSuit · Tried & Tested
I can also highly recommend Ecozone's dishwasher and washing machine cleaning tablets. They're basically just citric acid, and very effective. They do something similar in powder form that gets the crust and limescale out of kettles, too.
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Our verdict

For the eco-conscious looking to make environmentally-friendly product swaps, Ecozone’s washing machine cleaner tablets might just be for you. Non-toxic, vegan-certified and dermatologically safe, pop one of their six tablets into your machine at 60°C+ for lemony-scented freshness that’ll help your laundry to come out cleaner than ever!

Like HG Service-it Deep Clean, Ecozone’s Washing Machine Cleaner can also be used on your dishwasher! However, some reviewers report that it is less effective and that they’d prefer to buy a dishwasher-specific cleaner instead, but it’s worth giving it a whirl at this price.  Animal lovers will also be happy to learn that this product is free from animal testing and approved by Cruelty-Free International.

Read next: For other environmentally-friendly product swaps, check out our guide to the best laundry detergents for babies to see which are kind to skin and the planet.

6
Best long-lasting washing machine cleaner
What we like
  • Its 3-in-1 cleaning action removes dirt and detergent and lifts limescale

  • Only need to use it every three months

  • No residue left behind, just a fresh scent

What we don't like
  • More complicated to use than other cleaners

Key specs

Price: £4 | Type: Liquid | Size: 250ml

Our verdict

Duzzit’s washing machine cleaner is a reasonably priced addition to your laundry routine that is guaranteed to leave your machine smelling lovely and fresh. The catch? It is slightly more complicated than others.

To get it to work effectively, mix 50ml with four litres of water and leave it to soak in the detergent drawer for 30 minutes. Then pour 200ml into the detergent drawer and run a wash programme at 60°C, ensuring the drum is empty. At the end of the cycle, wipe the rubber door seal with a damp cloth. That’s a pretty hefty addition to your to-do list, but Duzzit claims you only need to do this every three months with their product, so you might want to set a reminder. It is a 3-in-1 cleaner that uses surfactants to absorb dirt, antimicrobials to stop nasty bacteria from growing and chloromethylisothiazolone to fight mould and fungi. Duzzit claims it also combats 100% of limescale, leaving behind a fresh scent and a clean machine.

Read next: Best lint remover and fabric shavers to get rid of lint, hair and bobbles from clothing

7
Best washing machine cleaner alternative
What we like
  • An eco-friendly, low-maintenance solution for your washing machine and dishwasher

  • Non-toxic, cruelty-free and allergy-friendly

  • Easy-to-use and value for money - can last over a year with daily use

What we don't like
  • A few previous customers found that theirs did split after a few months

Key specs

Price: £11 | Type: Ecoball | Size: One unit

What Mumsnet users say
Kjhkj · Tried & Tested
I have a magnetic ball which prevents limescale. You can use it in the washing machine and the dishwasher. It lasts five years.
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Trickle · Recommended
I use a Magnoball in mine because we do live in quite a hard water area, and I think we use the cleaner about once every six months.
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Our verdict

The second Ecozone product on our list, the Ecozone Magnoball, is designed to be added to every wash and claims that you’ll see results within five days of use. It is a cost-effective, reusable washing machine cleaner that is kind to the environment, cruelty-free and can be used for the dishwasher, making it great value for money.

Ecozone's anti-limescale ball works by softening water and preventing limescale accumulation by using two magnets to attract minerals; just chuck it into the drum and let it do its thing. To top it off, it is cruelty-free, non-toxic and approved by Allergy UK. The Magnoball can be used over and over again in every cycle below 60 degrees for up to five years. However, a few previous customers found that their ball broke, so most customers say they tend to replace it after a year of use.

Read next: Looking for additional eco-friendly, money-saving swaps? Check out our guide to the best heated clothes airer, the best rotary washing line, and the best clothes pegs

8
Best heavy-duty washing machine cleaner
What we like
  • 5-in-1 de-scaler and cleaner

  • Leaves behind a fresh scent

  • Only needs to be used every three months

What we don't like
  • Some found that the wipes were missing from the box

Key specs

Price: £2 | Type: Powder | Size: Available in one unit or six units

Our verdict

Dylon’s 5-in-1 washing machine cleaner is ideal for heavily soiled machines, with some previous customers finding it effective even against dye! An effective descaler, it claims to protect your trusty washer from colour-run, promising to tackle bacteria, smells and limescale build-up.

Containing surfactants and benzalkonium chloride to blast nasties, it should leave your washing machine smelling fragrant. Reasonably priced at just £2, a pack comes with two sachets; to use, just dump one in and let the machine run on a 60-degree wash. Afterwards, Dylon recommends you wipe the inside of the seal with their treatment wipe, which should come included (just double-check the box on arrival!).

9
Best for cleaning the seal of your washing machine

Cillit Bang Mould Spray

What we like
  • Multi-functional household product with a powerful formula

  • Great for cleaning mould off the rubber seal and other components

  • Visible results in minutes

What we don't like
  • Has a strong smell

  • Powerful formula, so use gloves and take care when cleaning

Key specs

Price: £12 for 3 | Type: Liquid | Size: 750ml

What Mumsnet users say
Fizzyfuzzy123 · Tried & Tested
Cillit Bang Black Mould Remover. The best I've found so far.
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threepiecesuite · Recommended
Cillit Bang Mould Spray is brilliant - spray it on, wipe it off.
See Post
Our verdict

Not strictly a washing machine cleaner, Cillit Bang Mould Spray is a versatile household product you can use in any damp, hard-to-reach areas where mould may be present. It is ideal for the rubber seal, detergent draws, and filter of your washing machine, and it’s so effective you shouldn’t need to scrub.

Wherever you've found black mould, simply spray onto the seal and leave for 15 minutes, and you should see visible results in minutes. Not only will it look so much cleaner, but it can also help kill bacteria and germs. Just remember, this is a powerful cleaner, so please wear gloves and be careful when using it. It also leaves a potent chemical smell, so make sure to give it a good rinse.

Read next: For more mould-tackling products, don't forget to check out our guides to the best mould removers and best dehumidifiers

10
Best traditional washing machine cleaner
What we like
  • Very versatile cleaning product

  • Can be used to clean and deodorise washing machines

  • Helps remove limescale and residue

  • Cost-effective

What we don't like
  • Can arrive in a lump, so it may need breaking up

Key specs

Price: £2 | Type: Soda crystals | Size: 1kg

What Mumsnet users say
CoolaSchmoola · Tried & Tested
I've been using them to clean my machine every month for the last ten years, also using white vinegar monthly to remove limescale. My machine works and looks as it did when new. Soda crystals are gentle on laundry and recommended for delicates.
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Erictheavocado · Recommended
I put a small scoop of soda crystals in with the washing powder when I do washing. It helps to soften the water, so you need less washing powder, and it helps to stop limescale build-up, or so the washing machine engineer told me last time he came out.
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Our verdict

Many Mumsnet users swear by soda crystals as a powerful and effective way to clean your washing machine. It also helps that at around £1 a bag, the Dri-Pak Soda Crystals are very cost-effective, saving you time and money!

Simply add the crystals to your machine and run a hot wash to help remove limescale and residue build-up. Dri-Pak Soda Crystals also help to remove any nasty odours. Be warned; you may need to take a hammer to it as some users found the crystals arrived in a big lump. We love the versatility of these soda crystals - as well as cleaning your washing machine; you can use them to remove stains, soften clothes, clean everything from your sinks, paths and jewellery and even remove burnt-on food from pots and pans.

11
Best multi-purpose washing machine cleaner

Zoflora Concentrated Disinfectant

What we like
  • Mrs Hinch recommended

  • Multi-use, 3-in-1 disinfectant

  • Odour elimination technology

  • Can be used neat or diluted

What we don't like
  • Not strictly a washing machine cleaner, won't be effective against limescale

Key specs

Price: £20 for 3 | Type: Liquid | Size: 120ml

What Mumsnet users say
FedUpWithBriiiiiick · Tried & Tested
I throw a slosh of Zoflora in the detergent drawer and run the hottest wash cycle. Paradise Peach FTW.
See Post
Our verdict

Zoflora is a Mrs Hinch-recommended product that is much beloved by Mumsnet users for its multi-purpose, gorgeous scents and highly-effective formula. You’ll be able to find this product pretty much anywhere, both in-store and online, usually at pretty reasonable prices, too!

Although it won’t tackle limescale, it will stop your washing machine from smelling as it kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including E-Coli, Salmonella and Influenza - leaving behind one of its beautiful fragrances with its patented odour elimination technology. From your floors to your worktops to your toilets, you can use Zoflora on pretty much anything! To clean your washing machine, Zoflora suggests using a diluted solution to wipe down the doors and rubber seal before chucking two capfuls of neat liquid into the drum on a hot cycle.

How do I deep clean my washing machine?

A maintenance or service wash is how to deep clean your washing machine. It shouldn’t be complicated – load the machine with a specialist washing machine cleaner and then run it at its highest temperature or the temperature advised by the manufacturer.

Don’t forget to check your machine’s manual; some washing machines have a specific cleaning programme, and remember, when you run a service wash, your machine’s drum should be empty.

Do washing machine cleaners actually work?

It is a fact of life that every appliance in your home needs a little TLC now and then, and your washing machine is no different. Wash cycles at 40°C and below can be a breeding ground for bacteria, residue and limescale and using a washing machine cleaning product can make a huge difference.

Regularly cleaning your machine reduces the chance of breakdowns, increases lifespan, and improves energy efficiency - saving you money and hassle in the long run.

What should I look for when buying a washing machine cleaner?

When looking for a washing machine cleaner, make sure you consider the following:

  • Most washing machine cleaners are suitable for top-loading and front-loading machines but not all, so double-check before buying.

  • Some are cost-effective cleaners suitable for washing machines and dishwashers to keep both staple appliances in good condition.

  • If you suffer from allergies, you may prefer to use a chemical-free washing machine cleaner such as Ecozone Magnoball.

  • If you’re against animal testing, Cruelty-Free International-approved products such as Ecozone’s Washing Machine and Dishwasher Cleaner are worth considering.

  • You may like to choose from a range of scents – the Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner, for example, is available in Fresh, Lavender or Lemon scents.

How often should you clean your washing machine?

How often you run a service wash depends on how often you use your machine. Generally, you should clean your washing machine every 30 washes or every two or three months – whichever comes soonest. If you have a hi-tech washing machine, it might even send you a reminder!

What is the best washing machine cleaner?

Our top-rated washing machine cleaner is the HG Deep Clean and Service-it. It not only comes recommended by Mumsnetters and experts but also is easy to use, highly effective and prevents faults in multiple appliances (including your dishwasher!).

What is the best way to clean a smelly washing machine?

If there is a musty smell coming from your washing machine, try running a service wash to see if it helps. Also, clean inside the washing machine, including the rubber seal where mould and bacteria can build up, and wash out the soap drawer and filter before running your washing machine cleaner of choice through on a hotwash. If that doesn’t work, try swapping to a powder laundry detergent and reducing your use of fabric softeners (as liquid products can increase build-up).

How do you remove mould from a washing machine?

If you don’t regularly clean your washing machine, mould can quickly build up in hidden places in your machine, such as inside the detergent drawer and rubber seal. To tackle and eliminate this problem permanently, you’ll need to use a specialised, effective mould remover, such as Cillit Bang Black Mould Remover. It is easy to use; just spray, leave for 15 minutes, wipe it off and run a hot wash using a washing machine cleaner. Some recommend using bleach or vinegar as alternatives. However, these are only short-term solutions to a long-term problem. Once you’ve removed the mould, remember to leave the machine door, and detergent drawer open after use to give it a chance to dry thoroughly. If you have a problem with mould, you may want to have a look at our round-up of the best mould removers, as recommended by Mumsnetters.

What else can I do to keep my washing machine in good condition?

If you aim to keep your whites whiter and your pile of laundry smelling fresh every time, then it’s a good idea to keep your washing machine in tip-top condition between the service washes. Here are a few ways to ensure your washing machine stays clean and does its job:

  • Give it a once over: Give your washing machine a gentle clean with a disinfectant once a week. Use a cloth or sponge with soapy water or diluted disinfectant and wipe the drum, detergent drawers, rubber seals and inside the door, cleaning all those hard-to-reach places.

  • Run a frequent hot wash: If you’re always doing lots of washing and use a lot of fabric conditioner, running a hot wash once a week will give it a good rinse. (Remember to open the door and detergent drawer after use to let the machine dry out.)

  • Get rid of excess pet hair: If you have a build-up of pet hair in your washing machine, remove it as much as possible before washing and regularly clean the filter and drum.

  • Clean the filter: Some manufacturers recommend giving your washing machine filter a good clean every three to four months, depending on how frequently you use the machine. This may sort out issues like improper drainage, a build-up of excess detergent on clothes after washing or a damp, mildew type smell.  Be sure to check your machine’s manual for specific instructions related to your machine.

How we chose our recommendations

Recommendations from parents

Whenever we want to find good products, we start by asking our Mumsnet users which ones they recommend. With over 10 million users each month, we know we’re getting products that can both withstand the needs of family life and also cater for a range of different needs and budgets.

Expert guidance

We also look to the experts to help us find products that can stand up to scrutiny. In order to recommend a list of tried-and-tested products, our trusted and experienced parenting journalists research each category thoroughly.

This means using a variety of sources to work out which products are the best, including consulting independent review sites, such as ,Which?, to ensure we are bringing you an honest summary of the best washing machine cleaners in 2024.

Consumer feedback

We also know the importance of an online review. We scour the internet to see how well-rated the products are when they are put to the test at home, consulting reviews on websites such as Argos and Amazon to make sure the products are worth spending your money on.

We look for both positive and negative feedback to help us consider the quality, safety, value for money and any extra features to ensure the products perform well across the board.

Celebrated best products

We make sure to look out for any products that have received awards. We then cross-reference all of our research to help us recommend the best washing machine cleaners in 2024 that will leave your drum sparkling clean.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.