Washing machines are an essential appliance in most homes and they’re one that we don’t like to be without. They can also be costly to replace, so it makes sense to do all you can to look after them and ensure they last for as long as possible.

But how exactly do you do that? One of the keys, according to a recent article for Pretty52, is to regularly run a service wash on your machine. This involves giving your washing machine a thorough clean by running it on its longest, hottest programme with either normal detergent or a cup of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar.

According to Lauren Clarke, large appliance trading director at AO.com, this is one of the most efficient ways to give your washing machine a deep clean. 

This will help to kill off all the bacteria and mould that can build up in your machine when you’re washing clothes and other items on lower temperatures. Making sure that your washing machine is clean will also prolong its life.

Not only that, but it will make it run more efficiently, which will also save you money in the long run. So, it’s certainly worth planning a regular cleaning wash into your household chores.

But there’s another reason you may want to do this regularly – when you learn just how much bacteria can build up in your washing machine.

Earlier this month, Dr Lisa Ackerley, who calls herself the Hygiene Doctor, told HuffPost UK that washing your underwear at temperatures of less than 60 degrees C just isn’t enough. Even then, a wash cycle will struggle to get rid of the bacteria found in your underwear.

Her top tip is to add a laundry sanitiser to your wash loads, which will mean that you’re able to get rid of the worst bacteria even when you’re washing at cooler temperatures. However, Dr Ackerley did acknowledge that most of us probably wash our clothes too often.

She recommends washing jeans, for instance, after four to five washes, while tea towels should be changed every day and bed sheets should be changed and washed once a week. Underpants need to be washed after just one wear, while bras should go in the machine after every two to three wears.

Which? recently offered some advice on how to get the best out of your washing machine, and how to make your clothes look good for longer. One mistake that many of us make is to wash our whites and darks using the same detergent.

According to the consumer rights organisation, whites are best washed using washing powder, because most of these products contain bleach and this will help keep your whites looking bright. Darks, on the other hand, hold their colour better if they’re washed with liquid detergent.

Another mistake people make is washing everything at the same temperature. Rather than putting everything on a 40 degree cycle, we’d be better off considering what we’re washing and how dirty it is. Lightly soiled clothes, for instance, will probably be fine on a 30 or even 20 degree cycle.

Bedding, towels or clothes with lots of stains, meanwhile, should go in a 60 degree wash to help get them properly clean.

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Top Tips To Care For Your Washing Machine

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