Washing Machine Descalers: 12 Answers You Should Know

Descaling is a process of removing mineral deposits OR limescale deposits from the washer.

It should be done on a regular basis to keep your machine running smoothly.

Over time, mineral deposits can build up in your washing machine and make it less efficient.

The term “Descaling” may seem confusing to a layperson or for a new user, and using the wrong solution for descaling can actually ruin the appliance in long run.

Here’s what you should know when making OR using a washing machine descaler.

Let’s dive into it.

What is a Descaling Solution?

A descaling solution is a mixture of water and an acidic or alkaline substance that is used to remove mineral deposits from surfaces.

This type of solution is commonly used on coffee makers, tea kettles, and washing machines to remove the hard water deposits.

What is Washing Machine Descaling?

Washing machines can become stained and have an unpleasant odor over time.

When the buildup of lime, mud, rust, and other mineral deposits is not eliminated by the normal cycle OR clean cycle, the machine needs to be descaled.

Descaler is a chemical compound that removes these deposits from the machine while keeping it in working order.

It is important to use a descaler that is specifically designed for washing machines as the wrong type of solution can damage your machine.

How to make a Homemade Descaler?

You can buy commercial descalers, but they can be expensive and may contain harsh chemicals.

A simple and effective way to descale your washing machine is to make a homemade descaler using items that you probably already have in your home.

If your washing machine is in need of a descaling, there are a few methods you can use to get it cleaned.

You can use any one of the below items to descale your washer.

  • Vinegar – To use vinegar, mix equal parts of water and vinegar in a bowl. 
  • Baking Soda – To use baking soda, mix one cup of baking soda with two cups of hot water.
  • Lemon Juice – To use lemon juice, mix one cup of lemon juice with two cups of hot water.

Instructions to use homemade descaler

  • Pour your homemade descaling solution into the detergent compartment of your washing machine or add them directly to the washtub.
  • Simply run a normal, empty, or clean cycle on hot water settings for optimum results.
  • After the cycle is complete you may run another cycle using hot water to flush out the residues left by the cleaners
  • Also, clean out the inside of your machine with a damp cloth to remove any residue.

Your washing machine will now be descaled and ready to use.

Can you descale with vinegar?

Vinegar is acidic, so it can help to break down and remove mineral buildup.

So, the answer is yes.

You can definitely use vinegar to descale the washer.

To use this method, simply add equal parts of vinegar and water to a spray bottle and spray the inside of your washing machine with the solution.

Let the mixture sit for an hour or so, then run a cycle with just hot water to rinse everything out.

You may need to repeat this process a few times to eliminate all the buildup, but it should eventually come off. And best of all, using vinegar is much cheaper than buying a commercial descaler.

Alternatively, you may simply pour the vinegar solution into the detergent tray and run the clean cycle.

How long does Vinegar take to descale?

Vinegar is very effective in descaling the washer but the time required by vinegar to descale a washer completely depends on the severity of the buildup.

For light surface buildups, vinegar may only need an hour or so to work.

For more stubborn limescale deposits, you may need to run multiple clean cycles with vinegar.

If you have a very stubborn limescale buildup, you may need to use a stronger acid like citric acid.

Having said that, be careful while using acid, as it can damage your washing machine in the long run.

If in doubt, always check your washing machine’s manual before using any type of descalers.

Is vinegar or citric acid better for descaling?

Vinegar can certainly help to break down the buildup of limescale deposits in your washing machine.

However, it is not as strong as some other acids, so it may not be as effective as you would like.

Citric acid, on the other hand, has a much stronger acid and can be more effective at breaking down limescale deposits.

With that said, Vinegar is considered to be a safer option as it does not have any major side effects and it is much easier on your washer.

Can you descale with apple cider vinegar?

Yes, in case, if you don’t have a commercial descaler at home, you can use something else, like apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar can be an effective descaler for washing machines.

Just add a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar to your washing machine’s detergent compartment and run a normal cycle.

The vinegar will help to break down the limescale deposits in your machine and leave it smelling fresh and clean.

Can Lemon Juice descale a washing machine?

Lemon juice is an effective natural descaler because it contains citric acid, which breaks down mineral deposits.

To use lemon juice for descaling your washing machine, simply add a cup of fresh lemon juice to the detergent compartment of your machine and run a normal cycle.

You can also add a half-cup of lemon juice to a gallon of water and use this solution to scrub away any stubborn deposits.

If you have a front-loading washing machine, you may need to descale it more often than a top-loading machine because the seals on front-loading machines tend to trap more minerals.

Descaling with lemon juice is a safe and natural way to keep your washing machine running smoothly.

Can you descale a washer with baking soda?

Yes, Baking Soda is an excellent descaler, therefore you can use it to descale your washer.

You can simply use baking soda alone or add distilled vinegar for better results.

Here’s how you can use baking soda to descale your washer.

Step 1: Add 1 cup of diluted baking soda to the washing machine tub (Use 1 tablespoon of Baking Soda in a cup of water).

Step 2: Run the washer on the hottest setting.

Step 3: Once the clean cycle is finished, you may run the washer again on the hottest setting to rinse away any remaining residues.

Note: Baking soda and vinegar can actually be used together to clean your washing machine however, it is not advisable to do so, it’s best to use them apiece.

How long does baking soda take to descale?

Baking soda is an effective descaler for washing machines. It can take a while for the baking soda to work its magic.

Typically, the baking soda solution may take anywhere between 30 to 60 minutes to remove the build-up and odors from the machine.

Having said that, the average cleaning time completely depends on the clean cycle duration of your washer. 

Simply add a cup of baking soda to your machine’s detergent compartment and run a normal cycle.

The baking soda will help to break down the build-up of minerals and soap scum, leaving your machine clean and fresh.

Is there a risk of damaging my machine if I don’t descale it regularly?

Yes, there is always a risk of damaging your washing machine if you don’t descale it regularly, but this risk can be reduced by using a specific type of descaler formulated for washing machines.

Having said that, simply, refer to the user manual for safety guidelines, especially for the descaling process.

How much citric acid is needed to descale?

If you have a high-efficiency washing machine, you’ll need to use a bit more citric acid to get the same results as a standard washer.

Use 1/2 cup per load, and run the washer on the hottest cycle before starting a regular load.

How often should I descale my washing machine?

It depends on the quality of water in your location.

You may need to descale your machine more frequently if there is a hard water supply at your house.

In general, it is a good idea to descale your machine at least once per year.

Final Thoughts

Always remember to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions (many manufacturers include information related to descaling as part of the cleaning process).

If your washing machine is starting to show signs of limescale build-up, it might be the right time to make a homemade descaler and descale the washer.

Furthermore, if you are located in an area dominated by a hard water supply, then you may descale your washer at least once a month by using some white distilled vinegar or baking soda.

While there are a number of ways to descale your washing machine, we think the best way to descale is to use a homemade descaler because this method is quick, safe, easy, and effective.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at) portablelaundry.com