Washing Machine TLC

How Dirty Is Your Washing Machine?

Your washing machine is one of the most important tools in your household, helping to remove grime & dirt from clothes & fabrics to leave them fresh & wear-ready. In fact, the average family of 4 in the UK can use their washing machine between 8 & 10 times a week. But just like our clothes, washing machines also need some TLC. Cleaning a washing machine is vital for keeping the appliance fresh & dirt-free. But what is the right way to care for your washing machine? We took a deep dive into the most searched Google questions on washing machine care & cleaning as well as conducted a survey to uncover UK cleaning habits.


Discover the full findings below. 

Two Thirds of Brits Do Not Clean Their Machine Enough

From dirty school clothes to stain disasters, our machines help us remove so much unwanted grime and dirt from our clothes. But to ensure our clothes stay as fresh as possible, it’s important that our washing machines receive the proper care.  

Michael at AEG, advised, Generally, a maintenance wash should be done at least once a month to keep the machine in the best possible condition and ensure clothes come out looking their best. A top tip to keep your machine in the best condition and free from smells is to keep the door open for a few hours after a wash to allow fresh air in and prevent odour build up. 

However, despite this expert advice, almost two-thirds of Brits (60%) do not clean their washing machine as often as they should. 15% clean out their machine every two months, whilst 18% stretch this out to the six-month mark. A further 6% also clean out their machine on an annual basis. 

But even more shockingly, 21% of Brits stated that they have never cleaned their washing machine. 

One In Five Brits Have Never Cleaned Their Washing Machine

But who are the biggest culprits of this non-cleaning? Watch out southern England. 

In the South West of England, a whopping 28% of residents stated they have never cleaned their washing machines followed by 27% in the South East. 

Those in the Midlands take more care of their machines with a slightly reduced figure of 23% in the East Midlands and 14% in the West Midlands. 

However, it’s the North West that takes the top spot as the most diligent cleaners in the UK, with only 8% of residents having never cleaned their washing machines. 

As for Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, the Welsh come out on top, with 21% never cleaning their machines compared with 24% in Scotland, and 25% in Northern Ireland. 

A Third Of Brits Do Not Know How To Clean Their Machine

Collected data also showed that almost a third of Brits (32%) stated that they do not know how to clean their washing machines, with 40% of those in the South West and 39% in the North East not having this knowledge. 

Michael says, “Alongside running a maintenance wash monthly, every couple of months, you should remove the detergent drawer and give it a proper clean with warm soapy water.  

“Don’t forget to clean the area inside the machine where the drawer slides into. Top tip: due to the wet environment and detergents used, you may notice mould growth in the detergent drawer. Opening the drawer slightly after every use can help prevent this.  

“The drum and door seals should also be cleaned every two months, wiping it down with a damp cloth, taking care to get in to the seal especially at the bottom of the door. The machine filter should also be removed and thoroughly rinsed to remove any collected debris". Top tip: Make sure to place any towels down to catch excess water. 

Water Hardness & Washing Machine Care

In the UK, water is classified into different categories based on its hardness level, ranging from hard to moderately hard, slightly hard, and soft. Hard water is the term used to describe water that contains a significant amount of minerals, such as calcium & magnesium. It’s these high levels of minerals that can impact household appliances such as dishwashers & washing machines by causing limescale build-up that causes the appliance to work harder and less efficiently. Michael commented, “Every 6 months remember to run a deep clean on your machine using a washing machine cleaner, this will clean the ‘tub’ which is the area you can’t see surrounding the metal drum, removing bacteria and limescale build up.” From gathered data, we found the South East of England has the hardest water in the UK with a median score 286. Following this, Greater London has a water hardness score of 272 with the East of England having 269.  On average, 60% of residents in these regions do not clean their washing machines as frequently as recommended with 21% never cleaning at all. In contrast, the North West of England has soft water with a median score of 70, and 50% of residents here clean their washing machines frequently as recommended. As for Wales & Scotland, they both have soft water with a median score of 69 & 33 respectively. In Wales, 43% of residents clean their washing machines as frequently as recommended while the number drops to just 28% in Scotland. 

Expert Answers The UK's Most Asked Questions

Knowing how to clean a washing machine is a cleaning hack many may not consider until a sour smell emerges from the laundry room.

A washing machine can be a breeding ground for germs if not sufficiently cleaned and maintained so it’s important to keep on top of this.  

Our experts at AEG investigated the most Googled washing machine questions asked by UK households and provided solutions to help struggling Brits. 

See all of the questions below.

1 - ‘How to clean a washing machine’- 485,700 searches  

“Generally, a maintenance wash should be done at least once a month to keep the machine in the best possible condition. This can be done by simply selecting the hottest wash your machine can do with some specialised cleaner either in the drum or the detergent drawer.” 


2 - ‘How to get rid of smell in washing machine’ – 29,610 searches 

3 - 'How to stop a washing machine smelling’ – 27,690 searches 

“To combat nasty smells coming from inside a washing machine be sure to leave the door and detergent drawer open after each wash to allow fresh air in. Wiping down the seals regularly after several washes will help too.  


4 -‘How to clean a washing machine seal’ – 26,120 searches 

“Keeping your washing machine seal clean is crucial to prevent the accumulation of unpleasant odours, bacteria, and mould. It should be cleaned every two months and when cleaning, you should be careful not to scratch the material.”  


Michael continued by adding his top tip, “Check the seal regularly for any small items (coins/buttons and especially hair clips!), as these can cause damage.”  


5 - 'How to clean a washing machine filter’ – 26,040 searches 

“The filter of a washing machine should be cleaned out twice a year, however not all machine have one. When cleaning the filter, the machine should be turned off and allowed to cool after a cycle. Be aware that some water may drain out when you open the filter cover, so make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and have laid down towels in preparation for this.”  

When was the last time you cleaned your washing machine?

If you’re struggling to remember the last time, then perhaps it’s time you take some action. Head over to our laundry cleaning page to discover the perfect products that will make your machine sparkle. 

Time for an upgrade? Our handy buying guide contains all the information you could need to match you up with the perfect machine. 


Using analytical tools we created a seed list of common washing machine TLC-related questions which was then fed into Google Keyword Planner for the past 24 months to gather the search volume.  


Using external data, we also uncovered the regions with the hardest water to determine which areas require more frequent washing machine TLC. Finally, we conducted a nationally representative survey with 500 respondents to gain insight into how Brits currently treat and maintain their washing machines.