5 tips to help extend the lifespan of your washing machine

Could winter jumpers be damaging your washing machine?

washing machine
(Image credit: Cris Cantón / Getty Images)

There's no denying that washing machines have become one of the most helpful appliances in modern households. The best washing machines are enormously efficient, very clever and capable of saving you tons of time, but they really take a hit over the colder months. This is due to washing heavier loads, such as jumpers, sweatshirts and blankets.

To try and understand this further, we spoke to Ian Palmer-Smith, appliance expert at Domestic & General. He explained that “The lifespan of washing machines really does depend on the quality of your machine. However, they can work effectively for up to as much as 20 years if cared for properly.

Recent living costs and inflation therefore make it more important than ever to prolong the lives of expensive appliances, particularly in the colder months. To help you out, Ian has shared advice on how you can protect your washing machine and increase its lifespan in five simple steps.

Before you do, have you seen our other washing machine maintenance guides? Check out 10 things you should never put in a washing machine and how to clean a washing machine

1. Regularly remove lint from your machine

Whilst the lint filter helps to gather pesky clothing fibres, it is just as crucial you stay on top of cleaning this. This is especially important in the winter months when washing jumpers as they produce excess lint and build up in the filter. 

Ian says: “Whilst lint may not seem like a potential threat to the maintenance of your washing machine, over time the build up can begin to cause problems. Washing machines have a lint filter to help gather and trap these fibres, but if not removed on a regular basis, this can leave the machine in need of a repair, and leave your clothes full of lint.”

2. Aim to load up your washing machine to 80% capacity

As we make greater efforts to ensure we are being energy-efficient in our homes, it can be tempting to try and squeeze one too many items in one single laundry load. The evidence shows that this will have an impact on your machine.  

Ian advises: “As we try to reduce the amount of energy we are using in our homes, some will be looking to cut down on the amount of washing cycles per week. Whilst I’d always recommend waiting until you have a good amount of laundry, there is a fine line between being energy-efficient and potentially damaging your washing machine.

As a general guide, I’d suggest aiming to fill your machine so it is around 80% full. Your washing machine requires the right amount of water to wash effectively. If you stuff the machine too much, you may find clothes are coming out less clean and still with visible marks intact. Not only can this be frustrating, but also comes at a price. 

Overloading the drum puts the machine under great strain and weight and if more than the machine is designed for, it could result in damage to the mechanical parts.”

3. Avoid using too much laundry detergent

Sometimes our clothes can get particularly dirty and so we may think more laundry detergent is needed. This may mack your clothes smell wonderful, but it can actually cause problems for your washing machine.

Ian says: “When you use too much detergent, it can be difficult for the washing machine to effectively drain the excess. This then results in clothing and bedding that feels sticky or slimy - which is not what you want!

Not only this, but excessive amounts of detergent could also damage your washing machine due to the build up and leftover residue. Over time, this can prevent the water from flowing as usual and may even result in a leak that calls for a repair.

4. Make sure your washing machine sits perfectly flat on the ground

The position of your machine may not be considered too carefully, but ensuring it sits level is key to maintaining your washing machine.

Ian explains: “One of the more important steps to take when you first install a washing machine is to make sure the machine sits level. This may seem obvious, but an uneven washing machine can shift around during a spin cycle which could potentially lead to damage or dents in the machine. 

To avoid this mistake, check that all feet are touching the ground and adjust the front-levelling legs to the right height.”

5. Give your washing machine a deep-clean every once in a while

It turns out our cleaning appliances also need some cleaning TLC sometimes, as Ian explains.

We wash lots of things in washing machines, but sometimes these machines also require a thorough cleaning to keep them from needing a repair.

The best way to do this is to run an empty hot cycle, adding a small amount of white vinegar to remove any stubborn residue and bacteria. If it’s been a while since you last cleaned your machine, or have never done so, you will be able to spot a noticeable difference in the cleanliness of your laundry.”

Was that helpful? Use these washing machine tips to save money on your monthly bills!

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.