How To Remove Mould From A Washing Machine’s Detergent Drawer

It’s an unfortunate truth that washing machines breed mould and mildew. The problem is that mould spores thrive in damp, moist areas and inside the washing machine is often damp.

If your washing machine detergent drawer has unsightly black mould patches, keep reading. In this article I explain the best way to remove mould, as well as giving you tips on how to prevent it from reappearing after cleaning.

Why Does Mould Grow In The Washing Machine?

open washing machine door

Modern washing machines are designed to be leak proof and an unfortunate side effect of this is the interior stays wet for a long time after use. Black mould and mildew spores are ever present in water and find their way into the washer during a regular wash cycle.

The problem is that some of those mould spores remain in the remnants of water left inside the machine. Mould thrives in damp places and as the interior of the washer is damp, the mould grows and spreads.

One of the places that never ordinarily dries out on a washing machine is the detergent dispenser drawer. Dried on detergent and limescale deposits make a great anchor point for the mould spores to attach themselves to.

How To Remove Mould From The Washing Machine Detergent Dispenser Drawer

Washing Machine Drawer Compartments

Now we know why mould forms on the dispenser drawer and where it comes from, it’s time to remove it. 

You Will Need;

  • White Vinegar
  • Bicarbonate Of Soda
  • Soft Bristled Brush (like a toothbrush or nail brush)
  • Bucket
  • Hot Water
  • Clean Cloth
  • Spray Bottle


  1. Remove The Drawer
    Remove the dispenser drawer from its housing (consult your user manual for model specific instructions).
  2. Soak The Drawer
    Place the dispenser drawer in a bucket filled with hot water and white vinegar (50/50 mix) for around 15 to 30 minutes.
  3. Scrub The Drawer
    Using an old toothbrush or nail brush, scrub the dispenser drawer ensuring that you remove all traces of mould and detergent build up as well as any limescale. Make sure you clean the underside of the dispenser as this is where mould often forms.
  4. Clean The Dispenser Housing
    Fill a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of hot water and white vinegar and spray all around the dispenser housing. Allow the vinegar to soak into the mould. Remember to spray the ceiling of the dispenser housing as this is often where mould forms. Wipe the interior with a cloth soaked in white vinegar to ensure all traces of mould are removed.
  5. Clean The Dispenser Tube
    While the dispenser is out, pour 1 tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda into the drawer space and spray it with white vinegar. The mixture will fizz up and slowly trickle into the dispenser tube removing any detergent build up, limescale or mould spores as it goes.
  6. Rinse The Drawer & Housing
    Once all of the mould has been removed, rinse the drawer and housing using fresh, clean water.
  7. Air Dry The Drawer & Housing
    Once all of the vinegar has been rinsed off the drawer and dispenser, allow them to air dry.
  8. Replace The Drawer

Once the drawer and dispenser have fully dried, replace the drawer into the housing.

Tips For Preventing Mould Growth

white vinegar going into washing machine

I find white vinegar the best cleaning agent for removing mould and limescale from the washing machine detergent dispenser drawer. This is because it is natural, effective and inexpensive. Vinegar is also effective at removing more than 80% of mould species and will help prevent it from reforming.

However, you can use a commercial washing machine cleaner, bleach or even a bathroom cleaner if you prefer. For more information on how to clean a washing machine like a pro click here.

Avoid Using Too Much Detergent

If you use more detergent than is needed the dispenser could become clogged with detergent that doesn’t get washed away. This provides a base for mould spores to grow.

Always ensure that you only use the recommended amount of detergent. If you are using detergent tablets, they should be placed directly into the drum and not in the dispenser drawer.

Check The Water Pressure

In some cases, low water pressure can prevent the detergent from getting flushed through properly. This can be caused by;

  • A twisted inlet hose
  • A defective inlet valve
  • The inlet tap not fully open
  • Insufficient water pressure from the water supply

You should check that the inlet hose is straight, the inlet tap is turned fully to the open position, the inlet valve is working properly and that the water pressure entering your home is sufficient.

Decent Air Flow

The reason mould forms is because it thrives in damp areas so when the washer isn’t in use, you should leave the door and the dispenser drawer open to allow air to flow freely. This will dry the interior of the machine and help prevent mould from growing.

Maintain A Regular Washing Machine Cleaning Schedule

Once you have successfully removed the mould from your washer’s detergent dispenser drawer, you should regularly clean your machine to help prevent it from reforming. You should run a hot 90o C service wash in an empty machine using 1 to 2 cups of white vinegar once a month.

Remember to leave the door and drawer open after the cycle has completed. 

SEE ALSO: Washing Machine Drawer Compartments Explained (with drawer symbols)

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the black stuff in my detergent drawer?

The black stuff in the detergent drawer on your washing machine is mould growth. Mould spores are ever present in our water supply and they breed in damp places. The detergent dispenser on a washing machine is the ideal breeding ground for mould spores.

How do you get mould out of a washing machine detergent dispenser?

To get mould out of a washing machine detergent dispenser you should remove the dispenser from the machine and soak it in a solution of white vinegar and hot water (50/50 mix). Allow 15 to 30 minutes to pass then scrub any remaining mould using a soft bristled brush (like a toothbrush). Once all of the mould has been removed, rinse the dispenser in fresh, clean water and allow it to air dry.

How can I prevent black mould from reforming in the washing machine detergent dispenser?

To prevent black mould from reforming in the washing machine detergent dispenser you should run a hot 90o C service wash once a month and always leave the washing machine door and dispenser drawer open when the appliance is not in use.

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