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'Horrifying': The tiny creatures living inside your washing machine

When was the last time you cleaned your washing machine filter?

In a video that promises to “shock”, Australian social media creator OneMinMicro has honed a microscope on the tiny organisms living inside his own lint catchment.

Worms, rotifers and allergy-causing dust mites can be seen squirming amongst the grime. That’s despite him frequently washing with warm water, using detergent and fabric softener.

Stills from the TikTok video showing a washing machine filter and a worm.
Worms and dust mites were found to be living inside Mr Carroll's washing machine. Source: OneMinMicro

Many of the TikTok account’s 1.5 million followers responded to the footage with horror, with one person calling the creatures “chilling”.

Anthony ‘Walt’ Carroll, the science enthusiast behind the OneMinMicro account, told Yahoo News Australia many respondents hadn’t been aware their washing machines even had a filter.

One follower promised to now clean their washing machine filter after every wash.

“Crazy they can survive through the detergent,” someone else wrote.

“This makes me want to live in a bubble,” another person added.

Other fans of the page pointed out that dust mites live wherever humans do.

More inside washing machine filter than meets the eye

Washing machine filters, dryers and vacuum cleaners were identified by Mr Carroll as a “reflection of everything living unseen in your house”.

His video was shot at 400 times magnification, transforming creatures that would usually appear as a tiny speck into detailed lifeforms.

“But I when zoomed in, they looked a lot more horrifying and I could see a lot more activity going on,” Mr Carroll said.

“It's amazing to see the life sort of grows in that environment when I'm pumping through… all these caustic chemicals.”

A close-up of a mite at 400 time magnification inside a washing machine filter
A close-up of a mite inside a washing machine filter. Source: OneMinMicro

Despite discovering a zoo of creatures inside his lint, Mr Carroll points out its far from “the full story”.

“I have this special lens that picks up bacteria, but I didn't even get to that lens (in the video),” he said.

“I had a quick look and there is there was just tonnes of bacteria in there as well.”

How can I clean my washing machine filter?

Instructions on how to effectively clean your washing machine filter vary between manufacturers.

Stock image of clothing inside a top-loader.
There are several easy steps consumers can take to clean their filters. Source: Getty (File)

Modern devices usually allow the filter to be removed once the power has been safely switched off.

The following steps then can then be applied to most models, but check your appliance instructions first:

  • Wipe the filter with a damp cloth.

  • Soak the filter in hot water for 10 minutes.

  • Scrub excess grime with a soft toothbrush.

  • Return the filter and run a cleaning cycle.

Signs your washing machine needs cleaning can include the smell of mildew on clothes and excess lint on clothes after washing.

Some manufacturers also advise cleaning the filter once every two months.

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