My washing smells mouldy…

Help… my washing smells mouldy!.. I hear you cry.

It’s one of the things people are plagued with and often ping Distinctive to chat about.  Lets face it if you are doing laundry and it smells – it can feel a rather embarrassing question to ask friends about.

So what do we reply?

Well –  the first thing to check is your washing machine!

We remember to clean the dishwasher… but for some reason, we all forget about the washing machine.

Look closely at the seal on your washing machine door. Does it look grubby, smelly and unsightly?  Is there a layer of fluff your belly button would be shocked by? If you put your head in the drum is there any odour? Have you removed the dosing drawer compartment recently and cleaned it?  If there’s a layer of disgusting black slime clinging to both the drawer and the underside of the compartment roof when you’ve removed the drawer then you know that same black gunk (mould and bacteria slime) is most certainly running through the pipes of your washing machine all the way through to the drum.

Anyone that has ever seen mould on a bathroom window or a damp wall in a house, will be aware how quickly mould thrives. Unfortunately, mould spores that land on your wet washing at the end of a wash programme, (if your tubes are mouldy) will re-populate on damp washing quickly.

And, when did you think to check the Drain pump and hose filter?

Do you know what this even is? Don’t be embarrassed if not, as we surveyed customers of Distinctive, and most people had never read their washing machine manual to know that this needed cleaning.

For those that hadn’t heard about it or cleaned it before, it’s the little compartment located at the bottom front of the machine, which if you open up, reveals a filter covered in gunk.  Warning: Have plenty of old dirty towels to hand and a cooking tray to catch some of the water before you open it up.

Yuck….but who knew this all needed cleaning? Washing machine manufacturers’ report that up to 1 in 3 of us won’t have ever cleaned this filter before they report washing machine breakdown.

So why don’t they educate us I wonder?

Back to the cleaning at hand..

Residues of dirt and fibres from clothes all catch in the rubber seal door area and if the machine pump filters get at blocked (important as the dirty water drains away) then a build up of stale water along with the loose change, bits of fluff, leaves and twigs from washed pockets, (and dare I say it occasionally mud from trainers) collect in the base of the drum. Sitting there out of sight blocking the filter and harbouring bacteria, which thrives in warm damp conditions.

In the washing machine drawer, the culprit is the residue of Liquids and fabric softeners which are gunky and thick and are really difficult to rinse through the compartment fully, meaning that goo gets left behind. Thus providing the perfect environment for black mouldy matter to grow.

It is part of the reason, along with the environmental one, and because powder circulates and washes better, that we have chosen powder formulations over the trendier adoption of liquids and gels.

Liquids and gels need strong preservatives to try and reduce the mould problem, bad for skin and environment. Whereas, in a clean drawer, powder might clump if it gets wet but doesn’t ever go mouldy or cause a washing machine to.

So Here’s What to Do!

Step by step guide to cleaning your washing machine and pump filter.  

If the washing machine is at all mouldy or smelly then don’t expect to launder clothes well.


First – Carry out a routine maintenance wash on hot and a full scrub of your machine drawer, not forgetting the underside of the compartment too. An old toothbrush and cloth is perfect for this.  If its really bad finish it off in the dishwasher if need be. You can use spray cleaners designed for taking mould if it is a particularly bad problem.

Once it’s re assembled, add a little hydrogen peroxide solution if you have any to hand.  A splash in each compartment will work fine. Hydrogen peroxide breaks down to oxygen and water so it is super safe in the home, yet still brilliant at killing and reducing bacteria and mould. A little in the compartments will help flush out the tubes through to the drum as you run a cleaning wash.

Cleaning wash programme:-

  • MUST be done on an empty machine. Logical really as you want your detergent to clean your machine, not clothes!
  • Use a normal dose of powder or washing soda – remember this is for cleaning your machine, not your clothes.
  • Run the machine on a hot boil wash (90 if possible).

Second – Wipe clean around the outside of the door and hinges.  White vinegar is great at this but if you decide to use bleach, please remember to rinse well to prevent damage to the rubber.

Thirdly – For a particularly bad case of “smelly washer” you might want to buy a purpose bought washing machine cleaner product!  Or wash some hydrogen peroxide, (readily available from any chemists) through the entire machine.  If you are a mum with children and have milton sterilising tabs to hand they will work too. It won’t harm your machine used for one clean wash programme but will kill traces of anything nasty. TA DAHH – you’re done!

Now Switch to a powder formula such as ours to keep and maintain a clean machine. Use offer code secrets for 15% off your first order 😉

And, leave the door open as often as possible between washes to let the machine dry out.