When you think about it, it makes sense - washing machines deal with not only the dirt and grime from our clothes, but the residue of all the powders and liquid softeners we put in there daily. Eventually it's going to build up and bits of gunk are going to bust loose.
Luckily there is a cheap and simple way to clean your machine which is environmentally friendly, too.
How to clean a top loading washing machine
To clean a top loader, run a normal wash cycle on HOT. Once the machine has filled with water, place 1/2 cup bicarbonate of soda, 2 cups of white vinegar and 2 capfuls of Bosisto's Eucalyptus Oil in the water. Let it run as usual. The bicarb and vinegar break down any grease or dirt particles and keep the hoses nice and clean. The eucalyptus oil freshens and deodorises, leaving a nice fresh scent.
If the fabric softener dispenser is grubby, remove it and run it through your dishwasher. Or, wash in the sink with hot soapy water and a splash of eucalyptus oil or solution (a 'solution' is just essential oils but water-soluble, so it can be better for jobs like this). Consider using vinegar instead as a fabric softener. Believe it or not, it works, it's much cheaper, and it's better for your machine too!
How to clean a front loading washing machine
If you have a front loader, add 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda into the detergent drawer and 1/2 cup white vinegar plus 1 capful of Bosisto's Eucalyptus Oil into the drum, then run a normal wash on HOT. Keep an eye on the machine while it's washing as it can create a lot of suds inside due to old soap residue coming out. The more often you clean your machine, the less this will occur over time.
Also, take the time to clean out the filter (follow the manufacturers' instructions). Clogged filters are the leading cause of problems in front loading machines.
To prevent mould build up on the seals of the machine, keep the door open in between uses. This allows air flow into the machine and lets any dampness dry. If any mould is present in the seals, use Bosisto's Tea Tree Solution on a wet cloth to wipe it away. As a natural antifungal, Tea Tree Oil is great for helping remove and prevent mould.
Most front loading machines have removable soap and fabric softener dispensers and they often get mouldy, too. Clean it with a capful of Bosisto's Tea Tree Solution in hot water (a squeeze of dish soap can also help, particularly if you are using pure essential oil), scrub well and allow to dry in the sun.
How often should I clean my machine?
Once every 2-3 months is the minimum, but you can do it as often as you like. If you are regularly washing greasy tradies' clothes or heavily soiled children's clothing you might need to do it more often. For a quick fortnightly clean, run a hot wash with a 1/2 cup Bosisto's Eucalyptus or Tea Tree Solution and leave the cleaning of seals and trays etc. for your big cleans.
Here's where to buy Bosisto's Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Oils and Solutions.