How to clean and descale your washing machine drum

Limescale is a hard, chalk-like substance that builds up over time around areas in machines where water has been heated. Yes, this means that your washing machine is susceptible to limescale, too, especially if the water in your region is hard. To make sure your washer stays in top shape for longer, you’ll need to descale it from time to time. Read on to find out all you need to know about washing machine descaling to ensure a longer life for your washer.

How to know if the washing machine needs descaling

Limescale build-up starts from the moment your washing machine starts to use hot water. With time, small deposits may appear in the water filter, the heating element, or even on the inside of the drum and pipes. This may lead to poor performance, reduced water pressure, and less-than-ideal laundry results. If you’ve eliminated other reasons why this would occur, descaling your washer is likely to be the best option.

Step-by-step guide on how to descale your washing machine

Descaling your washing machine is easier than it sounds. Whether you have a top-load or front-load washing machine, simply follow our step-by-step guide for the best results.

  • 1

    Dose descaler

    If you have a liquid descaler, simply pour the recommended amount into your washer’s detergent dispenser. You can find the dosing instructions on the descaler’s package.

  • 2

    Pick a cycle

    Set a cycle that works on at least 60 degrees to ensure the necessary water temperature for limescale removal.

  • 3


    Make sure your washing machine is completely empty, and don’t use any additional detergent or softener.

  • 4


    Press start and let the descaler work during the whole cycle.

How to use descaling powder and other detergent types for washing machines

Using a powder descaler is fairly similar to using a liquid variant. Simply pour the necessary amount of descaler into the detergent dispenser, set the correct cycle, and let it run with an empty machine.

If you have liquid washing machine drum cleaner at home, you’ll have the pour the necessary amount into the dispenser drawer, and start a cycle with an empty washing machine.

Washing machine cleaning tablets can also be great at removing grime. Just toss a tablet into the washer, and start your machine with only the tablet in it.

How often to descale a washing machine

To ensure the longevity of your washing machine, it’s recommended to descale it at least three times a year. If you know that water is hard in your region, it’s best if you do it a bit more often.

Extra tips on how to clean a washing machine drum

You would think that while cleaning your clothes, your washing machine can clean itself. However, this is not the case. Your washer’s drum, or tub, can pick up dirt, mildew, bacteria, and dirty soap throughout the washing process, and you need to clean it regularly, so it can give you perfect laundry results.

  • Always remove your clothes as soon as the cycle’s finished to avoid musty smells.

  • Mix water with white vinegar, and spray it on the inside of your drum or tub. Use a microfibre cloth to wipe the solution around.

  • Clean the seals, and wipe down the doors.

  • Don’t forget to clean the detergent drawer.

  • Always use the right products for your washer, like Ariel Washing Powder, Ariel Matic Liquid Laundry Detergent, or Ariel PODS.

For further tips and tricks, check out our article on how to effectively clean your washing machine.

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FAQs on how to clean and descale a washing machine drum

  • Yes, to make sure that your washing machine has a long life, you’ll need to get rid of any possible limescale at least three times a year. If you have hard water in your region, you should do it even more often.

  • To find out what kind of chemical is in your descaler, always check its ingredients on the package.

  • It’s not only safe, but absolutely recommended to get rid of any possible limescale that could harm your washer on the long run.

  • If you don’t use a descaler, limescale builds up over time. It can easily result in poor performance and a shorter lifespan for your washer.

  • If you have a top-load washer, you can add one cup of baking soda after the washer has been filled with water. However, we recommend that you use products that have been specifically developed to get rid of limescale.

  • If you want to get rid of limescale in your washing drum, pour some descaler into the detergent dispenser, and start an empty cycle on at least 60 degrees. If you want to manually clean your drum from the inside, use a damp cloth to wipe it out.

  • If you have a top-load washer, you can pour a bit of vinegar into the water to naturally get rid of limescale, however we recommend using products that have been specifically designed for this purpose.