How To Keep a Japanese Washing Machine Clean

For some reason, Japanese washing machines build up a sludge of some kind, out of sight, on the underside of the drum, and at some point it builds up enough that it starts randomly leaving small deposits on your clothes like speckles of mud. This sort of defeats the purpose of washing them.


It's particularly maddening because the washer we have has special cleaning features meant to avoid this, but they apparently do not work.

I thought that I could take the thing apart myself to clean it, but it turns out that to get the drum out you need a special tool not available to the general public (a hammerless flange nut turner), so at one point I had to have a service come in and clean it ($200!).

Six months later the speckles were back, and not wanting to make a habit of paying $400/year in maintenance on the washer, I gave the $4 cleaner shown at right a try. It worked fantastically.

You fill the washer with hot water, pour this stuff in and agitate for a few minutes, then let it sit overnight. All the sludge ends up floating in the water and it's really gross... but after draining and running a couple of non-load loads, our speckles are gone. At least for now.

If you live in Japan with a Japanese washer, this stuff is recommended.

All 5 comments so far, oldest first...

Could you tell me what chemical compounds are in the recommended washer cleaner?

According to the package, it contains:
過炭酸ナトリウム — sodium percarbonate
脂肪酸ナトリウム — fatty acid sodium
重曹 – sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) —Jeffrey

— comment by parv on November 4th, 2014 at 9:57pm JST (9 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Just curious, do you know what ingredients are in the cleaner?

— comment by Tom in SF on November 5th, 2014 at 3:46am JST (9 years, 5 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks for the information. It saved me money.

— comment by izvedu on December 9th, 2018 at 11:43am JST (5 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Great post, thank you so very much!

— comment by Lola on April 26th, 2019 at 10:40pm JST (5 years ago) comment permalink

did you fill the machine with hot water your self or use one of the functions of the washer? and then once you’ve let it set how do you empty the washer? I don’t think mine has a setting to just drain?? and if all the stuff was floating, wouldn’t it end up all over the drum once you’ve drained it?

I filled it to the brim with a hose. If the washer had a function to fill itself, I couldn’t figure it out. To empty, I just start a cycle. The gunk, once loose, mostly drains away or gets caught in the filters. After draining, I run another cycle with a few towels, just to make sure things are cleaned out. —Jeffrey

— comment by ashley on May 13th, 2019 at 11:08am JST (4 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink
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