How to clean and service a washing machine soap drawer & fabric conditioner tray

Here is a step by step guide of the process:

Washing Machine Soap Drawers

The Soap drawer and boxes get mucky and they need cleaned pretty regularly this video tutorial will show you how. You get the build-up of powder, fabric conditioner or softener and, combined with the nice warm atmosphere in most people’s homes and the wet or damp environment in the soap drawer it forms an almost perfect place for bacteria to grow. (which causes mould and smells)

When we talk about the soap drawer this is the bit you pull out to put the powder into. The part that this drawer slots into is known as the (soap box).

There seems to be basically two different methods for removal, a sharp tug for most of them or, in some cases like many Bosch, Neff, Siemens or Balay washing machines, a release clip. Below is a picture of the Bosch soap drawer being removed for cleaning or maintenance.

washing machine soap drawers are easily removed for cleaning


Once you have removed the drawer, you can clean it easily using hot water and a small brush, if your water has a lot of calcium in your area you may wish to bleach the areas that have scum marks on them will also need bleaching. I have had great success when a soap drawer has been soaked in hot water with some time especially with bleach it will ensure that all the bacteria gets wiped out and will help remove any build up of lime scale.

Normally at the back of the fabric conditioner section there is a removable tube that forms a siphon to which the softener is taken into the machine on the final rinse. This needs to be removed and cleaned as if it is not clear then often the siphon will not work correctly. In almost all machines these just pull off for cleaning and the tubes need to be cleaned with a small brush.

If you don’t clean this then you will get a congealed mass of conditioner or soap detergent building up which can lead to unpleasant smells and mould in the washing machine. It can also cause other issues, like the soap drawer not clearing the water properly or may cause the machine to leak from the soap drawer in extreme cases, as well as resulting in the machine not taking the conditioner into the drum on the final rinse.

11 Responses to “How to clean and service a washing machine soap drawer & fabric conditioner tray”

  1. says : Reply
  2. Mark says : Reply

    I’ve just cleaned out my Neff washing machine.

    I would suggest that you test the drawer siphon first – just pour some water into the conditioner compartment of the drawer until it is about 1 cm over the max line. It should immediately drain all the water in the compartment. If it does not, you need to clean the drawer.

    If this does not work, it is most likely a blackage in the inlet at the top of the drawer compartment. It is worth noting that a the whole piece of plastic at the top of the dispenser drawer can be removed allowing a proper clean. In the second picture (above) the top half with holes in it will pull out in one piece if you pull hard underneath from the back – no unscrewing is needed to do this. It comes out as a W shape with the conditioner being the centre vertical of the W. Mine had a layer of black gunge film down the length of the conditioner part that was blocking the holes. The gunge would never have been removed with a toothbrush or cocktail stick.Once clean the unit will simply click back into place with a firm hand.

    • I am glad we could help a bit, I agree in some circumstances where the gunge is heavy you will have to improvises on what to use to remove it and different models of machines use different type soap drawers.

  3. Paul Connors says : Reply
  4. Silvia says : Reply

    I can’t remove the drawer, please help!! the video is so clear and usefull but my bosch washing machine doesn’t seem to have anything to be pushed to be able to remove the drawer!!

  5. Harvey Joyce says : Reply

    Thank you, just the help I needed. Will now go and clean the tray out!!

  6. Paul Titterton says : Reply

    Thanks for this PaulT

  7. Eamonn Gallagher says : Reply

    This is the easy part – my problem is the black biofilm ABOVE the water jet
    holes. It keeps oozing black snot bubbles and is/was blocking the holes.
    I have used a very small syring with tiny (compressed air spray
    adapter…) tube/strawer shoved in the end and used kitchen drain gunge
    cleaner to inject it up into the holes. Then after half an hour keep
    pressing rinse/drain rinse/drain and using an interdental tooth flosser/pic
    and a pipecleaner (taken me flipping hours over days) and still getting the
    black snot bubbles dropping through and into the laundry (gagg!) Is there
    ANYTHING I can do to clean out the reservoir above the holes – I am
    desperate here! Alison (p.s. the machine is a Direct Drive LG)

  8. MrLeao16 says : Reply

    Hi, I had this problem for a long time and decided to finally get around to
    working out what was up. I took out the drawer and there doesn’t appear to
    be any siphon attached. See pic here:

    My washing machine is an Edesa LEA-6110. I can’t seem to find any spare
    siphon parts online. Is there a one size fits all part I could purchase?

    Thanks! : )

  9. Jenny O'Brien says : Reply

    Very helpful. Thank you!

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