How to Descale a Washing Machine

Your washing machine tirelessly tackles the task of cleaning clothes, sheets, and towels, making it one of the most essential appliances in your home. Yet, ironically, devices designed to clean can become havens for bacteria and limescale due to stagnant water and detergent residues. These unwanted guests can lead to unpleasant odours, less-than-fresh laundry, and even mechanical failures.

The Solution? Regular Cleaning and Descaling.

Ensuring your washing machine remains in peak condition requires routine maintenance to prevent the accumulation of limescale and bacteria. RDO is here to guide you through the processes of cleaning and descaling, safeguarding your appliance's longevity and performance.


Descaling a front-load washing machine

Descaling a washing machine is incredibly easy, and you can have a pristine machine in a few hours with minimal effort. Follow these simple steps to get your machine clean and working as it should.

To clean a front-load washing machine, you will need:

  • A microfibre cloth
  • White vinegar
  • A spray bottle
  • Essential lavender oil
  • White vinegar solution or washing machine cleaning tablets
  • Washing soda


Follow these quick and easy steps to clean a front-load washing machine:

  • Step 1 - Fill the spray bottle with a solution that's four parts water and one part white vinegar, and spray a generous helping around the inside of the drum, making sure to coat the entire surface of the inside of the drum as well as the rubber gaskets (the grey seals on the inside of the machine).
  • Step 2 - Wipe down the inside of the drum with a microfibre cloth. Make sure to get in all the crevices, especially the folds in the rubber gaskets, to remove any grime, debris and limescale deposits that may have started to build up inside the drum.
  • Step 3 - For a quick clean, pour a cup of white vinegar and 4-5 drops of lavender essential oil — or your washing machine cleaning tablets – inside the detergent tray. Set a wash at maximum temperature and the longest cycle to ensure that the cleaning products take full effect and permeate all the components in the machine.
  • Step 4 - Check for any visual dirt marks or any bad smells emanating from the inside of the drum. If there’s any gunk or grime left in the machine — or it smells bad — you may have to repeat step three a couple of times to get rid of any build-ups of limescale that are causing issues.


Descaling a top-load washing machine

Descaling a top-load washing machine is a bit different to a front-load machine — as it’s very difficult to get into the drum to clean it with a microfibre cloth yourself.

To clean a top-load washing machine, you will need:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda


  • Washing machine cleaning tablets/powder


Follow these quick and easy steps for a clean top-load washing machine:

  • Step 1 - Add four cups of white vinegar into the drum and begin a cycle on the highest temperature and the longest cycle — like you would a front-load washing machine.
  • Step 2 - Once the machine has filled up to begin its cycle, pause the cycle for one hour. When the cycle is paused, the water drains down through all the pipes and the inside of the machine — letting the vinegar permeate all the vital components that are prone to limescale build-ups to break them down.
  • Step 3 - After an hour, restart the cycle and make sure the vinegar solution gets to all the vital water pipes in and out of the machine.
  • Step 4 - When the cycle has finished, pour one cup of baking soda into the machine and run it for another small cycle on the highest temperature setting.
  • Step 5 - Once the second cycle is done, leave the machine to dry. Here, it’s best to leave the door open to give maximum ventilation. If you’re using washing machine cleaner in pod or powder form, add it to the detergent dispenser and run a cycle at the highest temperature possible. Similar to your front-loaded washing machine, you may need to repeat the process several times if there is still a bad smell or if the machine isn’t working as well as it should.


How to prevent limescale build-ups in your machine

Limescale build-ups are caused by one thing — mineral deposits.

Water can either be hard or soft. Soft water is water free of minerals whereas hard water contains excess amounts of magnesium and calcium. These deposits form a layer of crust over your machine’s critical components – like heating elements, pipes and even drum motors – severely affecting the efficiency of your machine.

To prevent limescale build-up in your machines, use water-softening tablets with every wash — especially if you live in an area known for its hard water — and give your machines a deep clean, once every three months. Be sure to use a water-softening solution with every wash.



Maintaining the cleanliness and efficiency of your washing machine is crucial, not just for the appliance's longevity but for the freshness of your laundry as well. By adopting the simple cleaning and descaling routines suggested, you can prevent the build-up of bacteria and limescale, ensuring your machine continues to perform at its best.



Why does my washing machine smell? 

Your washing machine smells due to a build-up of mould, mildew and bacteria inside the machine. Overtime, gunk, grime and stagnant water can begin to build up and fester — causing some really bad smells.

This can be caused by a variety of reasons including:

  • A clogged pipe, drain or filter
  • Hard water build-ups causing limescale and blockages in the machine
  • Blockages in the drainage system causing stagnant water to accumulate
  • Faulty drain hose
  • Infrequent use of the machine
  • Improper cleaning


How do I know when my washing machine needs cleaning? 

To keep your machine running at its best — and to prevent any limescale or debris build-ups that hamper efficiency and cause bad odours — it’s important to clean your machine once every three months.

You’ll also know if your machine needs a clean or is suffering from limescale build-up if your machine is:

  • Emitting a bad odour from the drum or water pipes at the rear
  • Struggling to get up to speed on a spin cycle
  • Struggling to reach the required temperatures on a wash
  • Leaving your clothes dirty — even after a hot cycle


What are the best products to clean my washing machine? 

Depending on what kind of cleaner you’re looking for, there’s a range of great products to help you clean machines as well as products to help you keep on top of it.

Natural cleaners like lemon juice, vinegar, and baking soda help break down stubborn limescale deposits while also eliminating odours. They are perfect if you’re looking for a more natural solution without harsh chemicals.

However, for more of a deep clean — or for machines with particularly large build-ups of grime and limescale — chemical cleaners, like washing machine tablets and powders, are necessary to break down clumps of limescale that have been there for some time.

To keep your washing machine working at its best, treat your washing machine with water softener. This helps neutralise some of the minerals in hard water and prevents them from collecting on a machine’s delicate components and damaging it.


Where do you put descales in the washing machine? 

Whether you’re opting for a natural or chemical solution, simply place the powder, tablets or vinegar into the detergent tray. From here, the solution can make its way to all of the machine’s vital components during a hot wash.


Need a new washing machine? 

Browse our extensive range of washing machines and washer-dryers today — we’re your one-stop shop for all your household appliance needs.

If you’re looking to upgrade your washing machine, you can rest knowing that all our offers come with free delivery and the best prices guaranteed.