While discovering a rusted washing machine drum may come as a surprise to some owners, it may be less surprising if the washing machine is very old or has had a long period of non-use. A variety of possible reasons account for why a washing machine drum may rust, and you have some potential methods to clean the drum, although completely eliminating the rust once it has developed may not be possible.
Rust might be in the water supply and affecting the washing machine, which is a possible cause for both newer and older machines that develop rust. If the water supply has a high mineral content, the build-up of mineral scale in the machine may also contribute to rust. The water supply may also have high iron content, which can be resolved with the installation of a home water filter. Inspect the water pipes to see if rust is evident. Contact a plumber if there is rust in the area.
Another reason why a washing machine may rust is persistent exposure to moisture, which can occur if wet loads are left in the washing machine for long periods before being removed, leading to mould and eventually rust inside the drum. If the area around the washing machine is not well ventilated, or if the lid or door on the washing machine is never left open to allow air to circulate, rust is more likely to develop. Always remove items promptly from the washing machine after washing, and leave the door ajar when possible.
Older washing machines that are left for a prolonged period with no cleaning or maintenance are more likely to develop rust as are washing machines that are exposed to the elements. The longer the rust is allowed to develop and sit in the washing machine, the more difficult it may be to remove. If cleaning efforts fail or if owners are unsure of their ability to remove the rust, a professional may be contacted to assess the situation and make recommendations.
Run a normal wash setting with the hottest water temperature possible, and add 2 cups of lemon juice to the water as it fills the washing machine. If the washing machine is a newer model with a cleaning option, add a washing machine cleaner tablet to the drum and use the "Clean Washer" cycle. Repeat as needed. If cleaning efforts do not seem to be removing the rust, contact a professional for assistance.