Get your washing machine washed! – Or face the risks

Almost 1/5 of Brits never clean their washing machine, putting themselves at risk of bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus.

We asked 2000 Brits about the usage of various household appliances and how they maintain them.

Previous research studies have shown that organisms such as Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa are present in home laundry, and that 44% of washing machines contain bacteria like E. coli.

Exposure to these types of bacteria can lead to infections such as pneumonia, skin and soft tissue infections, amongst other diseases.

However, only 29% of those we surveyed said that they follow the recommended once a month washing machine clean, and more than 50% of respondents said they clean their machine every few months or less.

Kim Woodburn from How Clean Is Your House? told us “The problem is that people do not clean their appliances at the right temperatures. To save money many people will consistently wash at 30 or 40 degrees but by doing this all the time runs the risk of bacteria building up.

“Depending on how often you use your washing machine you need to occasionally wash it on as much as 90, because 30 is inadequate, it will not clean it out.”

Younger people are least likely to clean their appliances as 30% of 18-24s and over 20% of 25-34s admitted to never undergoing the clean.

The older people surveyed were more likely to regularly clean their appliances, yet over 10% of those aged 55 and over still admitted to never cleaning their washing machine.

There are more than 20,000 reports of E. coli infection in the UK each year and the people most affected are the elderly.

People in the West Midlands are most likely to clean their machines, whereas the South West have the dirtiest machines with 22% admitting to never cleaning theirs.

Kim said: “If you have a large family and do a lot of washing you should clean your machine at least, at least twice a month.

“You also need to consider what goes in with each wash, a workman’s clothes will be full of germs and gunge. To make sure no bacteria gets lodged people should clean those at higher temperatures and clean regularly after these washes.”

The 74-year-old also warned against overloading the machine because this stops the cleaning process from working on all the clothes and the inside of the device.

She recommends a third full machine to ensure the clothes can beat around the drum.

We  also asked about other appliances and found that almost 10% of dishwashers have never been cleaned by their owners, 20% of respondents have never cleaned their kettle and the average person cleans their fridge every few months.

The cleanest appliance was the microwave as 31% of those we surveyed claimed to clean their machine once a week, while only 1% never clean it, possibly indicating that Brits will only remember to clean their appliances when there is visible grime.

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