Tip - Clean Your Machine

Keep your waterproofs rocking for longer by looking after your washing machine, really!

Posted: 4 January 2012
by Jon

Soda crystals pack handy grease-busting super-powers.
Choose the hottest cycle for your service wash. Normal 30 and 40˚ washes leave residues.
You should still rinse out your detergent drawer, but far more gunk lurks deep inside your drum :-/

This week's tip is a care one and all about keeping your washing machine clean with a regular service wash. It might not seem particularly outdoorsy, but actually it's a big help when it comes to maintaining the performance of your shell clothing.

In short, every month or so, you should give your washing machine a 'service wash'. Simply use a biological detergent or some soda crystals and, with the machine empty, run a full wash cycle on the hottest temperature.

Why? Low temperature washing cycles allow a build up of greasy residue and old detergent. This isn't a good thing in general terms anyway and can allow a build up of mould and bad smells as bacteria break down the deposits, but it's particularly important for outdoors people.


Normal washing powders, gels and liquids contain additives which reduce the effectiveness of aftermarket DWRs and reproofing agents. That's why the instructions for outdoors cleaners and reproofers tell you to rinse out the detergent tray of your machine before use and maybe to run a clean rinse through the machine.

That's a start, but unless you service wash regularly, once a month is a good guide, the inside of the washing machine drum and various pipes will also hold residues which, when you wash or reproof your technical shell clothing, could significantly reduce the effectiveness of the treatment.


That's one reason why aftermarket DWRs don't always seem to work as well as you'd expect. To underline that, when we visited the Grangers lab a few years ago, we were shown a machine which was only ever run with Grangers products in it.

If you want some more proof, run an empty washing machine through a cycle and watch the frothing detergent in the drum. Or dismantle your machine and check out the gunk that's likely to have accumulated in the outer casing of the machine's drum. Or more simply, check out the rubber seal between door and drum for evidence of slime.

We're not suggesting that you should buy a new washing machine solely to maintain your technical clothing, but a regular service wash will help those expensive aftermarket cleaners and proofers to do the job they're designed for.

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clothing care, reproofing, DWR

Discuss this story


One of the best bits of advice posted in a long while; doing a service wash (with or without detergent) will also lengthen the life of your machine (thus making the carbon footprint increase of doing a boil wash be much lesser than the footprint of re-manufacture)

The proof of doing a service wash without adding a soap is amazing. Also pour just-boiled water down the detergent drawer to clean that delivery route

In a basic description a detergent leaves a water-loving layer on the garment (thus why there is not a need to perform the double rinses of pre-modern detergent days: think old twins tubs). Anyone who wants to have their waterproof jacket left with a water-attracting residue on its surface should know better (you are encouraging wet-out)

People should also consider washing too much of their outdoor-sport load at 30 degrees. If you have been sweating, then bacteria will be now in your garments (recognised by the smell). A 30 deg wash will just move this bacteria around & encourage more growth; a 40 deg wash will do a better job of killing it off (as that is above your body temperature), but more will be killed by a 70 deg wash

In might seem un-carbon-friendly, but the other result is to have further problems (plus the wash will not be as effective in getting rid of the dirt)

Keep up the good work!

Posted: 05/01/2012 at 15:29

You also need to descale the machine too. Citric acid works very well and is very cheap - don't bother with descalers they want to sell you as it's the same stuff.

Use a low temperature wash if you wish but add some oxy clean to kill the nasties. I've also found stuff like dettol to be very effective.

Take the detergent draw out to clean it- an old toothbrush is perfect.

Posted: 05/01/2012 at 19:29

Just googled oxy clean - any particular type, parky?

Posted: 05/01/2012 at 19:35

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