Our washing machines go through a lot in their lifetimes. Whether they’re banging around our dirty trainers or shrinking our favourite sweater, we depend on them for a great deal. When your washing machine eventually comes to the end of its life, you can be left in a difficult position until a new one is ready.
Though there will always be the option of laundry pickup while your machine is out of service, we’ve put together a complete guide to take you through the lifetime of your washing machine, from installation to upkeep, so that you can always have clean clothes in your home.
How to install a washing machine
If your property already has a washing machine that needs replacing, you may want to get help from a plumber when installing the new one. Many companies that supply washing machines also offer installation services at an extra cost. However, if you’re interested in how you can install your washing machine yourself, these are the steps you need to follow.
1. Switch off and unplug your old machine.
Typically, there will be a separate switch for your washing machine somewhere in your house. Make sure this is switched off before proceeding to unplug the machine and moving it.
2. Switch off the cold water supply valve.
This is usually a small blue valve on the water supply pipe connecting to the washing machine.
3. Unscrew the cold water supply pipe.
Once the water supply has been isolated, you can unscrew this pipe from the back of your machine. Be sure to have a bucket ready to catch any water left in the pipe, too.
4. Remove the waste water hose.
This hose usually leads into your kitchen floor and is how your washing machine empties itself of used water. Once this is removed from the floor, your machine will no longer be connected and you can remove it.
5. Remove the carriage bolts.
Carriage bolts are used to keep the drum from moving around while your machine is being delivered. There are usually four carriage bolts that are simple to remove.
6. Reattach the cold water hose.
Once your new machine is in place, screw the cold water pipe into the back and release the water supply valve.
7. Check for leaks.
Once you have started the water supply again, you will need to ensure everything has been screwed on properly by checking for drips and leaks.
8. Attach the waste water hose.
This will involve connecting the waste water hose on your new washing machine to the waste water down pipe in your house.
9. Make sure the machine is level.
Once everything is connected, your final step will be to check it’s level on your flooring. Using a spirit level, see where the washing machine is standing level and adjust the front legs with a spanner if necessary to straighten its position.
Do I need a plumber?
It’s not always necessary to pay a plumber to install your washing machine, and doing it yourself could save you money. However, if it’s not the job for you, a plumber will be able to ensure the job is done to a professional standard.
How should a washing machine waste pipe be fitted?
The waste pipe will be positioned higher than the drum to prevent syphoning. Where it will be fitted to your waste plumbing will depend on your system. Typically, this will be a pipe in your floor that the waste pipe will easily fit into that allows the water to drain into your sewage system.
Some systems will require that you fit a u-bend to the waste water pipe to allow it to curve round and fit onto your waste pipe. Many washing machines will have this part included.
Do washing machines heat the water themselves?
Modern washing machines only need access to cold water as they heat the water themselves. This is why only your cold water input pipe is needed when installing your washing machine.
What size washing machine do I need?
This will depend entirely on the needs of your household. Larger households may need a larger machine than a person living alone. Those who regularly wash heavily soiled clothes, such as those who work in construction, for example, may need a larger drum to accommodate for these needs. Generally, a drum capacity of 7-8kg will be suitable for the average UK household.
How to use a washing machine
How do I know which setting to use?
Many detergents wash clothes at as low as 30 degrees and, as most run-of-the-mill clothes are made from cotton or synthetic fabrics, washing a setting that matches these requirements will generally be good enough to wash your clothes. However, this isn’t always the case and you should always check your clothing labels to confirm the right way to wash it before you throw it in the machine. It could be that your new dress or jacket is dry-clean only and running it through a spin cycle will ruin it forever.
Laundry symbols aren’t taught in school and many of them can look like complete nonsense, to get yourself acquainted with them, check out our laundry symbols guide.
What not to put in the washing machine
Coins and other items that get left behind in pockets can damage your machine and your clothes. Hard or sharp items can pull and tear clothes, while repetitive banging against the inside of the drum and the machine window can, in some cases, cause breakage that leads to leaks.
2. Zippers and hooks
In the same way, zippers and hooks from bras can snag on other clothes and scratch the drum during washing. Zippers are less likely to cause damage if the zipper is pulled all the way up to the top and it’s recommended that you wash bras in a mesh bag to avoid snagging.
3. Too much detergent
There is definitely such thing as too much detergent. While we many think that extra detergent will make our clothes even cleaner, it can actually be bad for our clothes and washing machines.
Too much detergent leaves residue on clothes, too much residue can even trap bacteria in the clothing so they are no cleaner than when they went in. Excess detergent can also build up in the machine and clog it, which will bring the life of your washing machine to a premature end.
4. Too many clothes
Overloading your washing machine makes it much harder to spin at the super fast speeds it usually spins at. This can cause the drum to shake around which can lead to damage if done repeatedly.
Too much clothing in the machine at once can also make it harder to drain so that when you open your machine, your clothes will be soaked or there will be excess waste water in the drum to contend with.
How to clean a washing machine
Most of us depend on our washing machines to keep our clothes squeaky clean. But, to keep washing our clothes to the best possible standard, we need to make sure the machines themselves are regularly cleaned.
How often do I clean the washing machine?
How often your machine will need cleaning will depend on how often you use it. As a general rule, you should run a 60 degree wash on your machine with nothing in it around once a month to kill the bacteria that builds up. You should also try to wipe the inner rubber seal down with diluted bleach or antibacterial cleaner every five or six uses to prevent mold growth.
How do I deep clean the washing machine?
If you think your machine needs a deeper clean, you might want to try a specialised washing machine cleaner. Otherwise, run a 60 degree wash with white vinegar to break down soap buildup and then another 60 degree wash with two cups of bleach to kill off mould and mildew growing in the machine. After this, run the machine on a rinse cycle to ensure all the residue and bleach is cleared away.
Deodorising a washing machine
Sometimes, you may open your machine up and be greeted with a foul, musty smell. This is usually down to mould buildup and can be prevented in a number of ways. Regularly wiping down the inner seal of your machine will avoid the mould buildup common in this area. You should also always leave the door of your machine open after a wash to allow air to enter and dry the washing machine. If water is allowed to sit in the machine, it makes the perfect environment for mould that eventually will cause a nasty smell.
Disinfecting a washing machine
Washing clothes at 30 degrees doesn’t guarantee that all bacteria will be killed off during the wash cycle. If you’re trying to properly disinfect the clothes you’re washing or your machine in general, run the wash on a higher heat, to help kill off those tougher germs.
As always, before you do that make sure that none of the clothes in the load will be damaged by being washed on a higher heat.
How long should a washing machine last?
The average lifespan of a washing machine is around 11 years. Whether your machine lasts more or less time will depend on how you take care of it, as well as how often you use it. Family washing machines often do heavy duty, especially when taking into account uniforms and sports kits, etc.
The lifespan will also depend on the quality of the machine. You would expect a high-quality washing machine to last longer than a cheaper appliance but this won’t always be the case. The best thing to do is clean the machine regularly and understand where to look for problems when they arise.