How to clean your washing machine – Woman’s World
You may think your handy washing machine is self-cleaning, but the truth is, it needs regular deep cleaning. But I use hot water, scented detergent and fabric softener, you might think. No matter. Even the best washing machines need a little TLC from time to time; otherwise, all kinds of smelly debris (like soap scum, lint, and other grime) can build up in the washer drum and transfer to your clothes.
Luckily, cleaning a smelly washing machine and leaving it spotless is quite simple. Read on for everything you need to know about washing machine maintenance, how to clean them and when it’s time to do it.
Why clean your washing machine?
The dirt your machine removes from clothes, sheets, and towels has to go somewhere, which means dirt and bacteria can build up inside your washing machine over time. Without regular cleaning, top load washers and front load washers will harbor soap scum, hard water deposits and mildew. You might not notice it when you walk into your laundry room, but your clothes will come out of their wash cycle with a sticky film and an unpleasant odor.
What are the signs that your washing machine needs cleaning?
Your washing machine takes care of your clothes, so it’s normal for you to take care of them yourself. With that in mind, here are some of the telltale signs that your washer could benefit from a cleaning cycle.
The Washing machine has a foul odor.
If you notice a foul smell emanating from your washing machine, consider that a sign that cleaning is needed. Washing machines are in constant contact with germs and bacteria from dirty laundry, so it’s no surprise that less-than-favorable odors build up over time.
Your clothes come out impure.
In addition to unpleasant odors, stains left on clothes after a wash cycle are a clue that your washing machine needs a good cleaning. Unless you’re dealing with particularly stubborn stains like red wine or tomato sauce, your clothes should be spot-free after washing.
The rubber seal has black spots.
Does the rubber gasket around the lid of your top load washer have black spots? This is a clear sign that your top loader needs cleaning. In a humid environment, bacteria and mold accumulate and stick to the rubber gasket. Not only do these offenders ruin your clothes, but they are extremely unsanitary. Clean your washing machine as soon as you notice these black spots.
What’s the best way to clean a washing machine?
If your machine has a self-cleaning function, choose this cycle and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to properly clean the inside of the machine. Otherwise, follow this simple, three-step DIY process to remove buildup and ensure your laundry stays fresh and clean.
Step 1: Run a hot cycle with white vinegar.
Vinegar is a great eco-friendly alternative to harsh cleaning chemicals like bleach. To effectively clean your washing machine, run a regular empty cycle on its hottest water setting and the longest cycle using two cups of white vinegar instead of detergent. This hot water and vinegar cleaning solution removes bacteria from the wash tub and prevents the growth of new bacteria. It is also a powerful deodorizer that eliminates strong musty smells.
Step 2: Scrub the washing machine.
Mix a little vinegar with lukewarm water in a bucket. Use this mixture – plus a sponge or an old toothbrush – to clean the inside of the washing machine. Pay particular attention to the inside of the lid and the opening. If your detergent dispenser and fabric softener dispenser are removable, soak them in your vinegar solution before scrubbing. And don’t forget to wipe the outside of the appliance well!
Step 3: Run a Final Rinse Cycle.
Once you’ve scrubbed the washing machine and cleaned the filter, run another regular, vacuum, hot cycle, but this time with no vinegar added. If desired, add ½ cup baking soda for freshness. After the wash cycle is complete, wipe the inside of the tub with a clean cloth to remove any remaining residue.
Now that you have some helpful cleaning tips, let’s review care and maintenance tips to keep your washer and clothes clean and fresh.
Clean it regularly.
If you live in an area with hard water, a general rule is that you clean and sanitize your top-loading or front-loading washing machine every two to three months to prevent mineral deposits. That said, if you have heavily soiled clothes or live in a hot, humid area where mold is a problem, consider cleaning your washing machine monthly. This will help you maintain a high output top or front loader.
Leave the lip open.
After running a load, leave your washer lip open. This allows the basin, pipes, drum, agitator and seals to dry out and reduces the risk of bacteria, mold and mildew growth.
Don’t let your clothes sit.
We’ve all done it: we’ve forgotten that we put a load of laundry in the washing machine and let it sit for hours before putting it in the dryer. Unfortunately, leaving damp clothes in a warm, humid environment can breed smelly bacteria.
Never store laundry products on top of the washer.
Whatever you do, don’t store or place laundry products like detergent or washing machine cleaner on top of your washer. Why? Because accidents do happen, and if something spills on the finish or the electronic controls, damage is sure to follow.
Measure your laundry.
Use the right amount of detergent based on how dirty your clothes are and the hardness of your water. Using too much soapy water can actually make things worse because the water can’t rinse effectively. This results in soap residue on clothes and in the machine.
Check for rust.
Do you find small brown spots on your recently washed laundry? Rust could be to blame. Use a flashlight to check your washer basket for chips in the finish. You can either replace the washer basket or opt for a kit to repair and repaint the porcelain coating. Follow the instructions carefully and you may be able to enjoy your washing machine for a few more years.
Do not overload your machine.
The last tip on the list, but certainly not the least, is not to overfill your washing machine with very large loads of laundry. While this can be a tempting way to cut time, it can cause your washer to overwork, which will eventually trap and clog your hoses and drains.
Cleaning your washing machine may seem silly, but it’s important. Bacteria, mold, and mildew can build up quickly over time, leading to unpleasant odors that can transfer to clothes, towels, and linens. Additionally, the appliance may also contain leftover detergent and hard water deposits, which can leave a sticky residue on laundry.
To ensure your freshly laundered items are as clean as possible, follow the simple steps above to clean your washing machine every three months. If you live in a particularly humid area, you may want to consider cleaning your machine monthly, as bacteria thrive and grow rapidly in warm, humid environments. Regular cleanings can combat this.
And if you just can’t get your washing machine to smell good no matter how hard you try, contact a technician who can get to the bottom of your problems.