Appliances Home Tips

The Dangers of Not Cleaning Your Washing Machine

A woman reaching into a washing machine to grab clothes.

Cleaning your washing machine? Why would you possibly need to clean your appliance when its sole job is cleaning? The idea may seem a little odd but the truth is, almost every appliance in your home needs maintenance of some kind. Just as our bodies require self-care activities like regular eating, bathing and physical exercise to maintain peak health, so do the machines in our home. If you want to keep your washing machine “healthy”, or performing at the highest level, keep reading to learn why cleaning it is so important. 

What To Expect From A Dirty Washing Machine

Germs & Bacteria

Because the inside of your appliance is constantly filling with moisture, it’s the perfect place for germs to breed. This is why you often see tips telling you to keep your washing machine door ajar when not in use. While you may think your soapy detergent is destroying these germs, some bacteria can survive a cold-water cycle. Bacteria have a variety of sources, but one is the undergarments you’re washing. Whether you can see it or not, these fabrics contain microscopic traces of waste. Human waste is full of viruses, so when you wash clothing with traces of it, the viruses begin to flourish inside your washing machine. Worst of all, they can even contaminate other clothing. The most common viruses found in dirty appliances are norovirus, adenovirus and salmonella. Infections from these viruses can cause symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever and headaches. Luckily, combining proper appliance cleaning with pre-washing or scrubbing your dirtiest clothing can help combat this.


If you’re not cleaning your washing machine, the bacteria in your appliance will build up. But eventually, that bacteria will turn into mold. Mold growth can happen in any type of washing machine, whether it’s in the washer drum, detergent dispensers, around the lint filters or in the drainage pipes. Front-load washers are especially prone to it because of the rubber gaskets built into the doors. Coming into contact with mold is just as harmful to your health as the viruses listed above. If you’re not regularly cleaning your appliance, mold will eventually come into contact with your laundry items and can even cause stains. For this reason, we recommend consistent checks on the different parts of your washing machine to check for mold.

Dirty, Smelly Laundry

Health risks aside, the viruses and mold that breed inside a dirty washing machine can cause even dirtier laundry. Yup, even if you’re watching your load spin in the drum full of soapy suds, in reality, your clothing is not really getting clean if it’s inside an unclean appliance. You’ll know this is occurring if you notice a foul smell when switching your laundry to the dryer. That smell is all due to the untouched debris and grime building up in your washing machine. No amount of detergent will get that smell out of the fabric unless you’re giving your appliance a good cleaning. Do not be fooled even if your laundry isn’t letting off an odor. If you are not cleaning your washing machine regularly, your clothing could still be covered in unseen bacteria.

A person wearing yellow gloves cleaning a washing machine with a sponge.

The Benefits of Cleaning Your Washing Machine

Energy Savings

If you’re not already cleaning your washing machine regularly, your attempts to get your laundry truly clean may equate to more waste. Many users run their appliance cycles with higher power settings, longer times or put the same loads through multiple cycles to get smells or mold stains out. In turn, this just uses more water and more energy. You’ll eventually see this waste reflected in higher water and utility bills every month. If you’re attempting to run a more energy-efficient household or looking to cut down your budget, then cleaning your washing machine regularly is the best solution.

Appliance Longevity

Let’s face it: home appliances are an investment. While you can save money on different brands offered at Abt, bringing a new washing machine home often requires a larger price tag. Unfortunately, if you’re not already cleaning your washing machine, you may have to shop for a new unit sooner than you’d like. Without cleaning, not only will the grime and mold accrue, but detergents and fabric softeners will build up as well. This build-up can cause components of your washing machine to break down, either calling for a repair or a complete replacement. Luckily, regular cleanings lengthen the lifespan of your appliance significantly.

How Often Should You Be Cleaning Your Washing Machine?

If you’ve made it this far, this is the question you’re probably dying to know the answer to. So how regularly should you be giving your washing machine a good cleaning? The general answer is about once a month, or every 30 loads/cycles. Ultimately, though, it depends on who you live with. If you’re a single resident in a studio flat, you may be able to stretch these cleanings out. If you share a home with your family and have children who are prone to getting dirty, perhaps cleaning more often is the safest maintenance option. 

So now that you’ve discovered the dangers of not cleaning your washing machine, you may be ready to get started. But if you’ve never cleaned this appliance before, you may not know where to start. Luckily, our cleaning guide can provide you all the extra assistance you’ll need (psst, you probably have all the supplies you’ll need in your home already). Concerned you’ve let the build-up go on too long? Abt also offers appliance repair services to all local customers, so give our team a call about your washing machine today!

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