This is the latest news from us. Check back here once in a while to see what we've learned in our travels around Melbourne, visiting sick and elderly appliances.
It may seem strange that as someone who is called out to fix washing machines, I often have to explain to disbelieving owners that there is nothing wrong with their machine. Usually, these soul-weary guardians of the household linen will point to a machine caked up with a thick layer of muddy grime, and point to oily stains on their blacks and whites that have them convinced their machine gearbox has sprung a leak.
These jobs are often the longest, although my toolbag stays in the car. What takes the longest time is convincing the owner that there is nowhere in the machine that has engine oil or gearbox oil. Once that is done, it takes almost as long to explain to them how to cure the problem.
The problem is being caused as a result of the removal of phosphates from all of today's detergents. Phosphates were an ingredient of all detergents until 2011, when they were removed because of the catastrophic harm they causing in rivers and lakes. The job of the phosphates was to keep the dirt in suspension in the water until it left the machine. Without the phosphates, this dirt is now settling onto the machine parts.
Just as with those jobs of mine, explaining what the problem is sometimes takes longer than explaining the actual fix. The cure for this increasingly common issue is just to clean the machine regularly. And cleaning the machine is simple.
Newer machines have a Tub-Clean function that is intended to combat exactly this issue. If your machine is older and doesn't have this function, a less-effective approach is to run the machine without clothes on the Cotton cycle at 60 degrees on a regular basis.
This process does not need detergent. However, if you don't feel happy about washing something without detergent - although bear in mind, this is an issue more in your mind than in the machine - then you can put in a tablespoon of dishwasher powder or one dishwasher tablet from which you have removed the rinse-aid portion of it. The powder goes in the dispenser where you usually put the detergent, but the tablet would go inside the machine, as it needs to be in the water all the time.
If you have never carried out this process, then the layer of grime on the inside of your machine may be so thick that a single clean will not get through all of it. In that case, perform this process once a week for about three weeks. Each cleaning cycle needs to have at least one wash of clothes before the next one.